My first attempt at a ciabatta.
One of the advantages of being an embittered, reclusive sociophobe, with nought but the Radio Times for companionship, is that you do have plenty of time for cooking - especially on a Bank Holiday weekend when the new meds have just started to kick in. Kitchen-wise it was so on this weekend at Skint House.
Apart from anything else, I was into days 3-5 of nurturing two new sourdough starters - a strong wholemeal one and a strong white one (the photos are of day 5).
On Saturday I found Richard Bertinet's ciabatta recipe here on this Canadian blog. I especially loved the part of the video where he shows how to stretch the dough prior to proving and thought 'hello, I fancy a bit of that!'. And really, for a first attempt, it didn't turn out half bad.
On Sunday I picked up this bad boy for £1.99 and got 3 litres of glorious chicken stock out of it; and there were, of course, meals aplenty - and five of the recipes are included below.
But the great discovery for me this weekend was a cake that proved something of a hit at the inaugural meeting, last Wednesday evening, of the Band of Bakers - an informal gathering which provides 'for people in South East London who love baking to get together and share their latest creations over a few drinks' The event was held at Bambuni. If you live in the SE15/SE22 area and haven't yet been to this cracking deli/coffee shop then shame on you. You can see what you're missing from these photos of the event. I didn't go myself (there's a strict lockdown policy in force here at Skint House) but word soon got around that a chap called Charlie had brought along a stunning rhubarb and ginger cake. Then, the very next day, he shared the recipe here on their blog. A grateful nation salutes you, big man.
This is the cake I made from the recipe and it tasted divine. Do yourself a favour and make it in the very near future.
duck egg + chicory 'caesar' salad
I hardly ever (actually, make that never) buy duck eggs, but I wanted to try out this recipe from Steve Gale's lovely Nueva Cocina blog. Then promptly forgot to buy any morcilla or black pudding. But I did have half a head of chicory in the fridge and wanted to see if I could manage to produce a mollet duck egg, so came up with this (and on Sunday I did, after all, have a duck egg 'en cocotte', but made with salmon trimmings - see below).
1 duck egg
leaves of ½ a head of chicory
cream + mustard dressing
a few sourdough croutons
1 anchovy fillet (optional), chopped
salt + black pepper
Bring a pan of water to a vigorous boil. Prick the rounder end of the egg's shell with a pin, lower into the water and boil for 6 minutes. Plunge into iced water and then gently peel.
In a serving bowl, dress the chicory leaves with a little of the dressing. Put the egg in the centre and arrange the croutons (and anchovy if using) around the egg. Scatter over some pecorino shavings and lightly season.
spaghetti with broccoli
I used to make a version of spaghetti with broccoli all the time a few years back and can't think for the life of me why I stopped. It's now firmly back on the regular menu.
a small handful of cherry tomatoes
olive oil to drizzle
balsamic vinegar to drizzle
1 tbsp olive oil
125g cooked broccoli
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 anchovy fillet
25g pecorino, grated
salt + black pepper
Coat the cherry tomatoes with olive oil in a small roasting tin, drizzle over some balsamic and season. Roast at 200C/180C fan for about 15 minutes until nice and soft. Squash them up with a fork.
Cook your spaghetti and while that is happening heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a deep-sided pan (big enough to hold the spaghetti) to fairly high. Throw in the broccoli, garlic and anchovy and fry until they're starting to brown.
When the pasta is cooked, add a spoonful or two of the cooking water to the broccoli, drain the spaghetti and add to the pan. Add the tomatoes, pecorino and seasoning and stir so that the pasta is well coated. Turn out into a serving bowl.
duck egg, smoked salmon + dill
You can pick up a 120g packet of smoked salmon trimmings for 90p at a lot of supermarkets. Not the finest quality obviously, but a fuck of an affordable price and perfectly acceptable when they're going to form only part of a dish.
1 duck egg, yolk and white separated
25g smoked salmon trimmings, chopped
1 dsp chopped dill
2 dsps double cream
Whisk the egg white briefly and fold in the salmon, dill and cream. Season with black pepper and stir. Pour into a small, shallow ramekin (I used a small tapas dish - ideal). Gently place the egg yolk in the centre. Bake at 180C/160C fan for about ten minutes or so (you should keep an eye on it all the while really) until there's only the slightest wobble factor remaining in the whites but the yolk still looks runny. Serve with buttered sourdough soldiers.
Part of the glory of making your own stock is that, with a lot of recipes, flavour-wise you're already halfway there. You couldn't, for example, begin to compare a risotto made with a stock cube to one made with proper stock.
The first call up for my chicken stock was this soup, using up some cooked broccoli, leftover haricot beans, a couple of roasties from Sunday lunch and a small chunk of pancetta at the back of the fridge. I had some rather large penne in the cupboard so par-boiled them and sliced them into thin rings. The only item bought specifically for this was a small handful of green beans. A wonderfully comforting bowl of subtle deliciousness, with roughly grated pecorino melting into the broth.
Given that minestrone simply means 'big soup', it should be no surprise that there are millions of versions, and pretty much anything goes. So it's an ideal way to use up any otherwise unwanted vegetables. Just follow these four basic stages:
chocolate + burnt sugar pots
As I was eating this a taste memory from long, long ago kept nagging away at me. It wasn't until almost the last spoonful that I nailed it - treacle toffee on Bonfire Night.
300ml double cream
100g 70% chocolate
7 tbsps caster sugar
Whip the cream until stiff and thick in a chilled bowl. Chop the chocolate up into tiny pieces and put into another bowl. In a non-stick pan cook the sugar over a low heat, stirring rarely. Diddly-squat will happen for a while and then it will suddenly melt and go a deep brown. Beat in the butter and a tablespoon or two of the cream. Scrape out onto the chocolate, stir and then quickly fold in the rest of the cream. Spoon into four ramekins and chill in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.
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