Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Category: Recipes (page 3 of 5)

The ultimate ‘I’ve just been ill and need vitamins’ meal

The ultimate veggie stir fry-001

I challenge anyone to look at that photo and not start salivating. This was dinner on Wednesday night, it was a thrown together meal and it was AWESOME. Both the lady of the manor and I had been ill since Sunday with tonsillitis, our meal plan had been forgotten and we’d been mainly eating soup. On Wednesday we started to feel better and were craving some vegetables, something full of flavour and goodness to recharge our bodies.

We did what every normal person does in this situation and opened the fridge. Peppers and mushrooms were grabbed along with some broccolli, then we spotted some bacon at the bottom. From the cupboard came pine nuts and egg noodles.

All the veggies, bacon and pine nuts were thrown into a wok along with some rapeseed oil. Cooked until just soft and then tipped on top of the hot egg noodles. Pretty damn tasty already but then I had a flash of inspiration.

Put a poached egg on top.

Honestly, there are few meals that a freshly cooked poached egg can’t improve. Even better that our eggs come from chickens owned by a guy on our street making them incredibly fresh and tasty.

We added a good dash of soya sauce to the plate and then devoured it like we hadn’t eaten for a week.


Sourdough magic

We have a new tradition in the Fool’s household and that is eating a whole sourdough loaf on Saturday’s (and possibly another one on Sunday’s).

And you know what? We don’t even feel guilty.

sourdough Let me explain, you know I love bread and more than that have become a little bit obsessed with baking my own. It started around this time last year with trying to make the ultimate white loaf. It took a bit of a backseat after Henry was born as spare time became non existent for a few months. But with the discovery of how to make sourdough the urge to bake bread every week has been awoken.

Sourdough is bread making wizardry, just flour and water used to make the most amazing bread. I’m still not convinced that some little pixies don’t creep in at night and sprinkle some yeast in there. But however it works I don’t think there is a loaf better than sourdough and there certainly isn’t toast better than sourdough toast.

Making sourdough is all about routine, once you get into the habit of the weekly cycle you can have a fresh loaf every Saturday morning with less than 20 mins work. Sound good? Then read on:


First you need to get your starter going and I warn you this definitely gets better with age so don’t be surprised if the first loaf you make isn’t amazing, just be patient.

  1. For your starter you’ll need a jar with a secure lid, I use a Kilner style one so it’s nice a secure.
  2. In the jar put 75g of wholemeal or dark Rye flour (I really like the Rye for flavour) and enough water to make a mixture like thick paint. Give it a good stir then pop it on your kitchen worktop.
  3. Repeat this every day for the next 4 days, you should start to see bubbles forming in the mixture as the natural yeasts work their magic.

Now you’re ready to make a loaf, if you want to eat your loaf on Saturday then make up the dough on Friday evening. It then proves overnight ready to be baked when you get up. With no yeast added it needs a nice long, slow prove.

  1. photo 3In a bowl put 460g of strong white bread flour, add 10g of salt and 300g of your starter.
  2. Now add enough warm water to make quite a wet mix that should hold together well but be a bit sticky on your hands. A wetter mixture is definitely better than a drier one.
  3. Turn out onto the worktop and knead for 10-15 minutes until you have a nice smooth and springy dough. The best way to kneed is to put one hand on the end of the dough nearest you and then use the other hand to stretch the dough out away from you. Then fold it back up and repeat.
  4. Once you’ve finished kneading place the dough in a bowl and cover it. The best thing to use to cover it is a shower cap, which sounds a bit random but it keeps the moisture in and can be reused unlike cling film. Leave it to rise like this for 3-4 hours.
  5. Now you also need to feed your starter again with 75g of wholemeal or rye flour and some water, but this time pop the starter in the fridge. This slows down the fermentation and means you don’t need to feed it again.
  6. photo 1Just before you go to bed, take the dough out of the bowl and gently shape it into a loaf. So far I’ve only used a loaf tin to cook it in so you just make the dough into a rectangle and pop into a well floured 2lb loaf tin. Cover it again with the shower cap.
  7. In the morning the loaf should have nicely risen, heat up the over to 230 degrees and pop the loaf in. After 10 minutes turn the over down to 200 degrees and cook for another 20 minutes.

Pretty simple isn’t it? Now you just need to get into the cycle of taking the starter out of the fridge on a Friday morning, giving it a feed and then making your bread on Friday evening. Feeding the starter again after you make your loaf and then popping it back in the fridge and so on.

Nothing says happy valentines day quite like….

The ULTIMATE sausage roll:


The lady of the manor is working a night shift tonight and her phone has broken, she has no idea that she gets to come home and eat one of these for breakfast. She would choose a fresh sausage roll over all the chocolate in the world. FACT. So yes I shall be collecting my award for greatest husband in the world in the very near future (and no, not THAT kind of award, she is 6 months pregnant don’t forget).

Oh and if you ask me very nicely I may tell you the recipe.

Recipe – Chorizo and butternut squash risotto

Risotto is one of my favourite dishes and definitely a go to recipe during the week when the fridge is looking empty. Once you’ve mastered the basic risotto bianco you can add whatever you like to it, we often just add whatever veg and meat we have left in the fridge.  Courgette is good as is some left over roast lamb, really anything works, you can either add before the rice or cook separately and add at the end.

But this recipe was planned and is a really nice flavour combination, you do need quite strong flavours in a risotto otherwise it can just taste of cheesy rice.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)
250g arborio rice
Half a chorizo
Handful of mushrooms
Half a butternut squash
2 brown onions
2 cloves garlic
Glass of white wine
500ml of vegetable stock
Parmesan cheese grated
  1. Chop the butternut squash into smallish cubes, drizzle over a little olive oil and roast in the oven (190 degrees) until soft and a little caramelised. (15-20 mins)
  2. While the squash is cooking, finely chop the onions and garlic, gentle soften in a large pan with some olive oil.  Add the chorizo cut up into chunks and the mushrooms thinly sliced.
  3. Once softened stir in the rice and ensure that all the grains are coated in some oil. Then add the glass of wine, simmer and stir continuously until all the liquid is absorbed,
  4. Now start adding the stock a little at a time, each time stirring until fully absorbed before adding more. A ladle full is about the right amount to add each time.
  5. After all the stock has been added test the rice, if it’s soft then you’re done, but if it’s still a little crunchy then add some hot water until nice and soft.
  6. Take off the heat, grate in a nice amount of parmesan and add a good chunk of butter. Stir in, place a lid on the pan and leave to stand for 1 minute.
  7. Now gently stir in the roasted squash and serve.

Chorizo risotto

Almost a master baker…

Yes you guessed it my obsession with baking bread has continued, in fact I reckon I’m starting to get pretty good at it. Since my last bread based post here I have changed recipes and am now using one from the new Fabulous Baker Brothers cook book. As these guys are one of my biggest food heroes and make amazing bread I figured it was worth a try.

YeastThe recipe is really nice and produces an amazingly elastic dough. I’ve also learned 2 very
important tips from this book. Firstly don’t use quick action yeast, no need to use fresh yeast but make sure to buy normal dried yeast. I’m using one from Allinson which seems to be very good and gives a tastier bread that what I used previously. The slower action of this yeast gives more time for the flavour to you see. Secondly when you put the bread in the oven put a small cup of water into a hot metal baking tray in the bottom of the oven. The steam from this makes a real difference to the crust that develops on the bread.

Here’s this weekends effort, starting to look like something you’d buy in a bakers I reckon. But still a few things I want to play with; at the moment I’m just using bog standard flour from the supermarket so plan to try out some more artisan flours. I also need to find a knife to cut the top with, it needs to be really bloody sharp and my knives just aren’t doing it. The last thing is the recipe uses oil in the recipe, I’ve used extra virgin olive oil so far but want to try out some different types and rapeseed in particular to see how it changes the flavour.

A quite fascinating process all in all and a quite enjoyable way to spend some time while Matilda naps at the weekend.


Recipe; Beef Hash and home made baked beans

I’m linking up with this weeks RecipeShed with this post, you can see all the other entries here.

I made another recipe from the fabulous Pieminister cook book at the weekend which is fast becoming my favourite book. This time the lady of the manor and I fancied the look of the beef hash and baked beans. I won’t reproduce the whole thing here, but I will give some space to the baked beans which were excellent.

The beef hash was pretty simple, a brisket joint is gently simmered in stock until falling apart (about 3 hours), it is then mixed with some roughly chopped potatoes that have been boiled and 5 onions that have been sliced and gently softened in enough butter to stop your arteries. Throw in a bit of chopped parsley, grate some cheese on top and pop in the oven.

However the beans were something else, very tasty and to top it all Matilda loved them! Will be definitely doing them again with other dishes. To make them you do the following;

2 celery sticks finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
a pinch of chilli flakes
400ml passata
400g tin of haricot beans, drained

IMAG0441-001You soften slowly the celery, onion and garlic. Once that’s done add all the other ingredients and season. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until the beans are soft. Such a simple recipe and the lack of sweetness vs. a tin of beans really helps with a rich dish like this.

The beef hash we liked, but found it a bit boring with just potatoes. I think we’ll make again at some point but leave the skins on the potato for a bit of flavour and also add in some other root veg. I’m thinking celeriac, parsnip, sweet potato and maybe some swede. With that extra bulk it would actually be a pretty cheap meal for 6 people as brisket is a cheap enough cut.

Proving a point

Baking bread has become my obsession for 2012, every weekend so far has seen me kneading flour until my arms hurt with mixed results.

I love the magical process where this strange brown coloured stuff called yeast somehow makes flour rise and stretch
I love the anticipation during the first and second prove of whether it will turn out as you hope
I love the smell of fresh bread baking and watching through the oven door as the crust forms
But most of all I love EATING bread

However as I mentioned here I had a new recipe to try last weekend that hopefully was going to solve all my issues. I’ve used a few so far, including one from the Great British Bake Off that just didn’t work for me. They didn’t rise properly or the lacked flavour or they simply didn’t look very good. So I asked on Twitter and the fabulous Bye Bye Birdie shared with me her fail self technique. (Do take a look at her site, beautiful photos and she makes some fabulous baby clothes).

IMAG0407-001I won’t reproduce the recipe but it’s a Jamie Oliver one that can be found here. I think the best tip Bye Bye Birdie gave me was to mix the yeast and sugar with the warm water and leave for a few minutes before mixing into the flour. It really kick starts the yeast and made a massive difference to how much the loaf rose. By the time I tipped the yeasty water into the flour it had begun to bubble away nicely.

I made one batch of this and it provided 2 pretty large loaves as you can see, if you wanted to make them just in a loaf tin it would easily stretch to 3 if not 4 loaves. They won’t keep for long as there are no preservatives added like in shop bought bread, so best to freeze what you won’t eat in a couple of days.

DSC_0074-001Feeling inspired by this baking and the Fabulous Baker Brothers earlier last week (who I would like to point out were one of my food heroes back in June 2011, you might almost say I discovered them J) I then made pizza on Sunday. I love proper thin and crispy pizzas from Northern Italy but have never been able to get anywhere close at home.

I love in their recipe that you blind bake the pizza bases first before adding the topping.  Such a clever idea and perfect for getting a nice

crispy base. The recipe made 8 base’s so we ate 3 and froze the rest. Now all we have to do is grab one out of the freezer and add some topping. It takes less than 5 minutes to cook the topping so is amazing fast food and full of fresh healthy ingredients. Sure it takes a bit of love and time to get the base’s made but really the activity is in 10 minute bursts with a few hours proving in between.


We had parma ham, mushroom and mozzarella this time with a few small pieces of chorizo added for extra flavour. But my favourite all time topping is a Margherita base with shaved parmesan, parma ham and rocket on top. Yum!

So there you have it some fabulous baking and now that I have a good bread recipe the experimentation can start with different flours, seeds etc. I also have ‘wood fired pizza oven’ on the requirements list for our next house purchase.

P.S I’m linking up with Reluctant House Dad’s recipe shed with this post, to see more fabulous recipes check out his page here.

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