Posted in Food, tagged baker, baking, bread, dough, Food, frugal, homemade, loaf, low GI, recipe, sourdough, Sourdough September, starter, yeast on 10 September, 2013|
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It’s not all cake in the Vicarage. There’s bread too. Last week I made my first couple of loaves of sourdough.
I’ve been making my own bread on and off ever since we lived in Singapore and the only bread to buy was either ridiculously sweet chewy sliced rubber stuff or tastier but eyewateringly expensive. I started with a bread machine that broke from overuse and since then I’ve generally used my Kenwood mixer to make the dough. I very often make dough for pizza at home or for breadsticks for our weekly Cake and Chat community coffee morning. Although, after watching The Great British Bakeoff the other week, I think I may be making the sticks all wrong – they’re doughy rather than snappy. Still tasty though. I hardly ever make a proper loaf.
I’ve been thinking about sourdough for a while. It’s the bread of geeks, as you’ll see if you google it, made without any added yeast but a starter made from flour and water which is left to brew its natural yeasts. And then I was reading the side of my flour bag (I suffer from acute narrative hunger and need to read everything – one reason why the internet is so bad for me) and there it was – a sourdough starter recipe. So I consulted Annalise Barbieri’s lovely blog because I knew she made sourdough and also some recipes I found online. And then I gave it a go.
The flour and water concoction magically became my starter over the course of a week and a very sticky dough became my first loaf. Although it spread out rather alarmingly, it came out of the oven with a lovely crust and proper airy texture. The second loaf was less airy but less spread too. I’m finding it a fun way to make bread, especially since the recipe I’m using doesn’t involve much kneading, just a brief punch a few times over the course of a morning. It also keeps really well, although there’s not much been kept. Sourdough has a low GI and is easier to digest than bread made with added yeast. And a loaf cost less than 50p to make. Brilliant.
A couple of days after starting my starter, I discovered that it’s Sourdough September. So I seem to have timed it quite well. Anyway, I’ve just pulled a new loaf out of the oven and I’m going to call a friend now and invite her over for coffee and a slice of bread.
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Posted in Food, tagged bacon, beans, cooking, filling, Food, frugal, Italian, lunch, recipe, soup, tomato, vegetables, Vegetarian on 9 May, 2012|
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This recipe is the favourite of Surfer, who is Godfather to the Joker. I used to make it when he came to pray with the Vicar back in the relaxed days of theological college. It’s loosely based on minestrone, but without the pasta. Pasta is a pain in soup cos it goes revoltingly soggy if you have leftovers, or want to freeze it. So this has beans instead and is easily made from things I normally have in the fridge and pantry.
- 4 rashers bacon, finely chopped, or small pack lardons
- Medium onion, diced
- 2 sticks celery, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 leek, quartered lengthwise and then finely sliced
- Tin of beans – haricot, borlotti or canellini
- Tin of chopped tomatoes or jar/tetrapak of passata (sieved tomatoes)
- Olive (or other) oil, mixed herbs
Fry your onion in a little olive oil and then add the bacon and cook until the fat begins to crisp. Then add other veggies, fry a little and add tomatoes and tinful of water or more to dilute to a soupy consistency.
Bring it to the boil and simmer for 10-15mins until the vegetables are tender. Rinse the beans and add to the soup, along with a smattering of mixed herbs or just oregano. Heat through and serve with crusty bread. This is good for May lunches, given the temperatures this year!
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Posted in Food, tagged bacon, easy, Food, frugal, healthy, hungry, pork, quick, recipe, root veg, vegetables, Vicarage Recipes on 21 March, 2012|
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This recipe is a Vicarage favourite that crosses the seasons – it’s hearty enough for winter, but the light sauce means that it suits a chilly day in June aswell. It’s also speedy, cooking in about 20 minutes. So if you can pre-prepare most of the veg, you can get it on the table within half an hour of getting in from work, or the swimming lesson or whatever. It was swimming for us yesterday – and the Queen and the Joker had to get to Kids Club, fed, in less than an hour after our return.
- Pork steaks (I chopped the ones I had in half and so fed six of us, with seconds, from a pack of four) or chops
- Bacon, about 4 rashers, chopped
- Large onion, roughly chopped
- Potatoes and vegetables – select from carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, parsnips, leeks – all chunked. I use a smallish potato per person plus a couple of each of about 4 other vegetables to feed six of us.
- Cabbage, sliced – I used about half a Savoy
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 tbspn vegetable (or chicken) bouillion powder or a stock cube
- 200ml cider
Using a large pan or cast iron casserole dish, fry the pork in butter to brown and then set aside. Then add the bacon and fry until a little crispy. Then fry the onion until soft and add the vegetables and fry them a little too. Then add cider and enough water to almost cover the veg. Add your bouillion powder and bay leaves and bring the liquid to the boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Pop the pork steaks back on top, cover the pan and set your pinger to 15 mins. After 15 minutes, pop in the shredded cabbage and leave for another 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables are all tender. Serve in soup plates if you can, with spoons handy to slurp up the lovely broth or chunky bread to mop it up if you’re very hungry.
If you’re lucky, there may be some leftover veg to have with hunks of bread for lunch tomorrow…
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Posted in Food, tagged budget, casserole, cooking, family meals, Food, frugal, hotpot, lentils, main course, recipe, sausages, slow oven, value, Vicarage Recipes on 3 January, 2012|
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One of the things I love about my Vicarage cooker (my treat when we moved here) is its small slow oven. The slow oven is a bit titchy – only big enough for one large pot or only a single baking sheet of meringues, but I am using it more and more for winter casseroles. Tonight I cooked sausage casserole – one of our top favourites which has a few variations but is always very popular with the kids (and grown ups too).
I make this using Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference chipolatas. I’d recommend using good quality ones as cheap ones can come out rather spongey. And you only need to use a single packet to feed a family and can get that for about £2 if there’s an offer on.
The Vicar's dinner
- 1-2 onions, finely sliced
- Pack of sausages
- 2 cups (500ml) lentilles vertes or green lentils
- Bay leaves, mixed herbs
- Red wine (about a glassful) and stock
- Optional – tin of tomatoes, chunked carrots
Brown the sausages in your casserole dish and then remove them to a plate or bowl whilst you pop in a little oil or butter and the onions. Leave the onions to get nice and soft then return the sausages, chopped up into bite sized chunks, to the pan. Tonight I chopped the sausages with a spatula before I removed them and fried the onions, otherwise you can slice them with a knife once removed – I recommend pinning them to the chopping board with a fork rather than fingers (I speak from experience of burnt fingers and escaping sausages).
To the onions and sausages add the lentils, bay leaves and herbs and wine and stock (I use hot water and vegetable stock powder). This evening’s casserole also included a tin of chopped tomatoes. The liquid needs to be added to a generous level above the lentils and sausages – say 5cm/2″ in your pan. This gives space for the lentils to swell and liquid to evaporate.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for at least 1/2hr on the hob, or pop in a slow oven at about 140ºC (Gas Mark 1) for a couple of hours or more. The slow cooking method has the advantage of keeping the Vicarage kitchen warm, so this is obviously my preferred option.
I tend to check the casserole every hour or so if it’s in the oven, just to make sure that there is still enough liquid. If you’re adding carrots it’s best to do so about half an hour before the end of the cooking time, otherwise they can get a bit soggy. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving and add a little extra liquid if needed to ensure a bit of sauce to soak into the essential accompaniment of mash.
As you can see, I served the casserole with mashed sweet and normal potatoes, and some braised red cabbage. This is a great winter warmer and excellent value for money. We had leftovers that will do well with a bit of chunky bread for lunches whilst the kids are at shcool.
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Posted in Food, tagged cheap, cooking, diabetes, diabetic, diet, frugal, lentils, low GI, lunch, meal, money-saving, recipe, rural, Scotland, soup, vegetables, Vicarage on 20 September, 2011|
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Things in parish have been a bit crazy since the new school term began and my blogging habit has rather dried up. But today I’ve just about got my act together and thought I’d share a great recipe for autumn – my mother-in-law’s lentil soup. The Vicar comes from a small town in the Scottish borders with views over heather clad hills and a high street of family run shops. This warming soup is very inexpensive and simple to make and feels like a little slice of old fashioned rural life. Lentils are especially great for those on low GI diets and for diabetics as they are low in carbohydrates and release their energy slowly.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 or 2 leeks, sliced
- 2 or 3 carrots, sliced
- Other diced vegetables such as swede, butternut squash or potatoes, even leftover veg from Sunday lunch such as mashed potato or runner beans can also be used
- 1 cup (250ml) orange lentils
- Ham stockcube (or genuine ham stock if you’ve cooked a ham recently, but usually I haven’t, or the ham’s been cooked in coke, which isn’t so great in soup)
- Approx 1.5l boiling water
Gently fry the veg until softened, then add the lentils, stock cube and hot water. Simmer for about 20minutes until veggies and lentils are soft. Then use a stick blender to create a smooth soup. If you don’t have a blender, a potato masher will give you a slightly chunkier soup. The Vicar likes to add a lot of pepper – no need for salt because of the ham stock.
Serve with crusty brown bread if you remember to pick some up. This soup is very filling. I often make a double batch, which fills a casserole dish and keeps us going for Vicarage lunches for most of the week. Lentil soup has the strange property of thickening every time it is cooled, so you may have to add a little water on reheating or after freezing. It freezes brilliantly.
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Posted in Craft, Kids, tagged activities, Children, Craft, easy, frugal, Fun, homemade, Kids, Messy Church, playdough, recipe, simple, toddlers on 29 June, 2011|
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Last night we had a great time at Messy Church – the next one in our series on the ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus. This time we were looking at ‘I am the True Vine’ and the craft team decided that they’d like one activity to be making playdough grapes to place on a vine drawn on a paper plate. The Vicar then volunteered me to make the playdough, knowing that I had a recipe up my sleeve.
Every playgroup leader has a recipe for playdough – that ubiquitous soft dough which mums hate to find in carpets. But many folk I’ve spoken to have found their homemade dough to be too sticky or oily. This recipe always seems to come out well, though, as long as you don’t mind your fingers getting a bit stained with food colouring. It lasts a few weeks if kept in an airtight box in the fridge.
- 1 cup (250ml) plain flour
- 1 cup (250ml) water
- 1/2 cup (125ml) salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- Few drops food colouring
All you do is pop all the ingredients together in a pan (preferably non-stick) and heat it up, stirring, until the dough magically forms. You can also do it by heating it in a covered dish in the microwave for 1-2 minutes but it’s so fast on the stove top I use that method. Also, the food colouring can make the inside of a microwave dish look rather interesting.
I know these were meant to be grape coloured, but the local shop only sells colouring for pilau rice and Indian sweets, so the colours are a little lurid and approximate. For Messy Church I made a quadruple batch, which was ample. It’s great fun to hold and knead – we gave a couple of handfuls away to some of the teenage tearaways who were lurking in the church yard. One came in especially as he reckoned it would help him to deal with stress.
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Posted in Food, tagged bacon, cooking, cream, dinner, Food, frugal, gammon, Italian, leftovers, main course, meals, pancetta, pasta, recipe, spaghetti carbonara, supper, tea, vermouth, Vicarage on 4 November, 2010|
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This week I’ve not got a baking recipe for you. Instead I thought I’d share a Vicarage supper recipe. For Sunday lunch this week I cooked a gammon joint (I really must blog that recipe sometime soon aswell). The Vicar had bought the gammon, and it was on offer. Being a Scotsman, therefore, he arrived with a joint that was larger than usual. We love gammon and very much enjoyed our lunch, but there were lots of leftovers.
Normally, I’ll use leftover gammon for sandwiches and a pasta bake with cheese sauce. But I didn’t feel like a pasta bake and there was far too much left for sandwiches. So I did what all social media junkies do: I tweeted my request for recipes for leftover gammon. And bingo! Spanish hotpot, rissoles and many other great suggestions. One of the dishes I was reminded that I could make was a spaghetti carbonara. I often find recipes a bit of a pain when they are for four, as we almost never have an easy number eating. So I’ve organised this carbonara recipe per person:
Per adult, you will need (I used 5 times this recipe for 3 adults and 3 kids):
- 1 egg yolk (look at it as an opportunity to make meringues)
- 2tbspns double cream and 2 tbspns creme fraiche (or other proportion to make a total of 60ml if you’ve not got those in the right quantities)
- 40g grated parmesan (or emmental, gruyere, mature cheddar)
- 70g cubed gammon, bacon or pancetta
- 1tbspn dry vermouth (or white wine, or leave it out altogether)
- chopped parsley, black pepper to garnish
First put the spaghetti on to cook.
Then mix the cream and creme fraiche with the egg yolk and cheese. I mix it in a jug so it’s ready to pour out when the spaghetti is cooked.
Then fry the bacon/gammon until sizzling and crispy. Add the vermouth to the bacon and wait until the liquid has reduced and you have a good saucey consistency.
Then all you do is wait for the spaghetti to be cooked. Drain the cooked pasta and return it to the saucepan. Add the bacon with its sauce and the butter. Put it on a low heat and add the egg mixture. Gently stir until the sauce has warmed up. Serve with parsley and black pepper (or not, if your kids are fussy or you’ve run out).
Enjoy with a glass of wine. Or you might have to wait until after the trek down the M5 to piano lessons.
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