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Use your loaf

10 Jul

I mentioned in my previous post that I had an elderflower bread starter on the go. Well, it’s now good and fizzy, smelling pungent, zesty and floral; so the time has come to try it out and see what kind of bread it’ll make… For those of you not familiar with sourdough bread then Dan Lepard is a great place to start. He’ll show you how to do it in a far superior way then I ever could so I won’t be attempting here. I will however give a very brief photo journal of the progression of the starter to give anyone interested an idea of what’s good and what is not. This post actually has taken a little longer then intended as my first starter attempt succumbed to a carpet of very blue mould and went bin-wards; if at first you don’t succeed…
Bread Starter IngredientsBread Starter Day 1Bread Starter Day 2Bread starter day 3Bread
When making bread, white flour is often the best place to start, it has a higher gluten content which means that your loaf is more likely to rise to the occasion. Because this was my first loaf with this starter I used predominantly white flour but added a handful of wholemeal plus a couple of tablespoons each of buckwheat and spelt grains for texture and flavour.
Sourdough Bread Dough
I’m really happy with how the loaf looks on the outside and the inside structure has made it a lovely light loaf . Incredibly the flavour of the elderflower really comes through in the cooked loaf too. Success!
Sourdough Loaf


The great eScape

5 Jul

A brief break from elderflowers whilst my elderflower bread starter gets its fizz on – more on that later. In the meantime I’ve been getting in a pickle. Scapes are the immature flowering stems of a garlic plant, the stems are delicious with a light gralicky flavour. But it’s not the stems I’m interested in this time… scape buds
I got my hands on a decent quantity of the unopened flower buds. Since capers are also flower buds I thought I’d try pickling the scape buds in a similar way. So here goes…
pickled scape buds
I made a pickling mix using cider vinegar and a few aromatics; coriander, bay, fennel and peppercorns. I think they look pretty good, because of their size I’m leaving them a week in order for the pickle to really work its magic. Thumbs up!
Pickled scape buds

I’ll let you know how they taste soon!

Put a cork in it!

26 Jun

You can’t fail to notice the heady scent of summer that hangs in the air at this time of year; it is of course the all too brief elderflower season.
botanical elderflower picture
With their penchant for inhospitable climes even wastelands are turned into pockets of wild beauty. But it’s not their looks or their scent I’m after, rather the deliciously summery flavour they impart, so it’s time for a run of experiments… The first, elderflower champagne.
After finding a suitable tree with flowers in full bloom and their aroma hanging heavy in the air, pick yourself around fifteen decent sized heads and return to the kitchen.

I used Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe which can be found here
I used a bucket for the brew and love how the lemons bob amidst the flowers, let’s hope it tastes as good as it looks.
elderflower champagne
I find a pair of tights is a good defence against marauding ants!
elderflower champagne covered
I’ll be back with an update in two weeks – fingers crossed for fizz!

Sprout forth

10 Apr

DSCF0603I’ve mentioned before the wonder of the sprouts. Tiny seeds, just off the starting blocks of life. Delicious, moreish and seriously good for you. I thought I’d share with you one of my favourite sprout salads, which, after the couple of days needed to get the sprouts grown is super easy to construct. Here too the recipe for raw hummus, something that anyone who is a fan of those tubs you find on countless supermarket aisles, should try at least once. Nuttier, fresher and somehow an entirely different beast, delcious on crusty bread or dipped into with veg or fingers.

All the ingredients you need for a super scrummy sprout salad!
sprout salad ingredients
All the ingredients you need for the hummus
raw hummus ingredients
A perfect lunch for a sparkling spring day.
raw hummus and sprout salad

Pie in the sky

24 Mar

I woke this morning to find not just a gentle flurry but a full on snow storm outside my window. Any ideas I may have had to get on with some plant based activities were thwarted, so instead of battling the elements, I dove into my local fruit and veg shop and bought a selection of edibles to inspire my growing. I’m a big fan of leafy greens; dark and mysterious curly kale, sweet spinach and beautiful chard in all the colours of the rainbow are a few of the faves. Here’s what I made… Iron rich and very comforting.

vegetarian greens pie

I found the pastry in one of my local Turkish supermarkets, I’m not sure this is a very traditional way to use it but hey, it worked a treat. Brushed with plenty of melted butter it came out crispy and pretty delicious.Green leaves pie

The chard, celery, spincach and dill were braised gently with onion, garlic, chilli, turmeric and a little lemon; layered up with the sheets of pastry and dots of sharp, tangy feta. What a treat.
vegetarian pie mix

Something for the fish

20 Mar

I’m a huge fan of bulbed fennel, it is so delicious, both cooked and raw. One of my favourite things is thick slices of fennel browned until the sugars in the fennel begins to¬†caramalise, sublime either with fish or nibbled on whilst standing at the hob! Unfortunately I ¬†won’t have space for the bulbed variety but I couldn’t resist a packet of fennel bronze that I spied in my local garden center. I’ve never seen this bronze variety, the picture looks like they’ll come up as a rusty dark mauve colour. More interesting then the standard variety and I’m looking forward to seeing them grow.
The seeds are sublime! Love the fact that they will grow into beautiful bronze fronds.

fennel seeds

Grow grass grow!

5 Mar

Not in this instance the green stuff but rather the slightly more exotic, less grassy, lemongrass. I cooked a noodle broth the other evening in order to reincarnate and finish off a rather splendid roast, it included the zingy and delicious lemongrass. As my growing progresses I get more and more obsessed with it, hence why I now have a jar of lemongrass sticking out of water in the hope that they take root and I can add them that to my meagre collection. Finally a photo with an actual plant in it – no matter that I didn’t grow it!Lemongrass

Couldn’t resist adding the latin name for these babies, Cymbopogon… potentially the most luxurious word to say ever?