Friday, 26 April 2013

Smoked Salmon, Caramelised Red Onion and Cream Cheese Starter

The Old Red Lion in Litchborough is due to play host for it's 2nd wedding later this year and is, at present, discussing menu options with the bride and groom.
 The couple have already been for Sunday lunch to see what our roasts are like and last weekend viewed our marquee, which had been erected outside for a christening. Tomorrow they have arranged to sample some starters and desserts that will be on offer for their big day. In preparation for this I was asked to put together some starter ideas featuring smoked salmon.
 On Wednesday I put together 3 options with this one below being my favourite by far.

First I made a shortcrust pastry tart case.
The pastry was rolled and placed in a fluted tart tin, onto which I put baking beans, to weigh it down, whilst cooking. This is known as 'Blind Baking'.
Baking Blind
Once the pastry is cooked the beans can be removed and the pastry case left to cool.
Baked tart case
Whilst the pastry cooked I chopped some red onion and placed in a saucepan with brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of honey and cooked til the liquid has reduced down and a caramelised mixture had formed.
Making the caramelised  red onion
Leaving that to cool I piped some cream cheese, mixed with some paprika, around the inside edge of the cooled tart case.
Piping the cream cheese
When my caramelised red onion had cooled I spooned it into the center of my tart case.
Place the red onion chutney in the center
I got a long strip of smoked salmon and rolled it round to look like a rose and positioned on top of the red onion mix.
Smoked salmon,red onion and cream cheese starter
Simple, but very effective, I served on a square plate with some lemon.
Smoked salmon,red onion and cream cheese starter

The combination of flavours and textures tasted lovely.
It will be interesting to find out how well it will be received tomorrow at the tasting.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Sticky Buns - Bread Challenge No.15

So a month ago I set myself a challenge of completing 15 or more different bread recipes with the finishing date set at 11th April and hey, guess what, that's today!!
My former employer used to despair of me as I wasnt as organised as him and his wife and I remember him one day saying to me "you always deliver but it always at the 11th hour". To me so long as I deliver what does it matter that it's at the 11th hour? So that's what I'm doing today, delivering to you challenge number 15 at the 11th hour!!!!!
It's been a great challenge. I wouldnt say I'm a master at bread making but I have a much better understanding now of :
How yeast works,
Why it's important that the fluid added to the dry ingredients is lukewarm,
Allowing time for the dough to rise
Punching the risen dough to disperse the air
And, especially, use some decent strong flour and not a cheaper version!!!!

I'm sure I learnt much more but they are my main things and now I'm delighted to share with you my final challenge of Sticky Buns, the recipe of which came from  The Great British Bake Off cookbook. I am dieting at the moment so had to resist temptation of eating a whole bun but the litttle bite I had was delicious.
So here goes, the final bread challenge recipe.
200ml Milk
75g Butter
500g Strong white Bread Flour
1 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Caster Sugar
1 Egg
1x 7g Sachet fast Action Yeast
For The Filling:
50g Butter
75g Light Brown Muscavado Sugar
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
For The Topping:
100g butter, softened
75g Light Brown Muscavado Sugar
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
100g Walnut Pieces

Heat the milk and butter in a pan until the butter just melts, then remove from the heat to cool until lukewarm.
Mix the flour,salt,sugar and yeast in a bowl. Beat the egg into the milk/butter mixture then add to the dry ingredients and mix together to form a soft, but not sticky, dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10minutes until very smooth and pliable. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for about an hour to rise.

Punch down the dough then turn out onto a lightly floured work top and roll out to a rectangle about 24x48cm. Brush the melted butter over the dough. Mix the sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Staring from one long edge, lightly roll up the dough like a swiss roll, then, using a sharp knife, cut across into 12 slices. (If you're wondering why I only have 6, I did half the recipe quantity to resist temptation of eating them all!!)
Slightly flatten each one gently with your palm.
For the topping, beat the butter,sugar and maple syrup until thoroughly combined. Spread the mixture evenly over the base of a greased baking tray. Scatter over the nuts and gently press in. Arrange the buns cut side up in the tin spaced evenly apart. Cover and leave til doubled in size.
Uncover and bake in a pre heated oven 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20-25 or until buns are golden brown and the caramel topping is bubbling around the sides. Leave for a couple of minutes (no longer) then carefully remove each one from the tray, and turn over and cool on a wire rack. Best eaten warm
So there you go the final Bread Challenge. Thanks for joining me. The next challenge is being carefully considered. Stay tuned!!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Breadsticks - Bread Challenge No. 14

Well here we go, it's the penultimate challenge and one I was determined to attempt before the end as it was different, though the process was basically the same as making a loaf. So glad I did as they taste lovely and worked well with our salad tea this evening!!!
Not much else to say!

350g/12oz Strong Bread Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Sachet Fast Action Yeast
200ml/7floz Lukewarm Water
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Put the flour,salt, yeast and oil in a bowl, Make a well and add the water and mix to form a dough. Knead well for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth. Leave in a bowl covered with clingfilm in a warm place for about an hour til risen.
When risen, punch down on the dough and transfer to the work surface. Knead for a couple of minutes then roll out into a rectangle. Cut into strips and roll and stretch each strip and place on a greased baking tray. Cover and leave again to double in size.
Bake for 10-15 mins at 200C

Wheat Tortillas - Bread Challenge No.13

I have been determined to make these for ages and with only a few hours left before completing the bread challenge I finally made them and they tasted good!!
Easy peasy too!
 Recipe below folks!

250g/9oz Plain Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
55g/2oz Lard or Butter
175ml/6floz Lukewam Water

Method :
Sieve the flour,baking powder and salt into a bowl. Cube the lard/butter and rub into the dry ingredients with your fingertips.
Ready To Rub In The Butter
Make a well in the centre, add the water and mix together to form a soft dough. Wrap in oiled clingfilm and leave to rest for half hour. 
'Dough Bal'
Unwrap from the clingfilm and divide into 6 equal portions. Roll each one out into as best a circle that you can and as thin as you can.
Rolling Out The Dough
Heat a heavy bottomed frying pan or griddle pan and brush with oil. Transfer one of the dough circles to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, then turn to cook the other side. The dough will bubble and brown patches will appear.
Cooking In The Frying Pan
Remove and transfer to a cooling rack and cover with a tea towel to keep warm. Repeat the process with the other 5 circles.
Hot Tortillas Straight from the Pan
Spread with your favourite filling, roll up and serve as a snack or light lunch wrap.
Homemade Wrap With My favourite Filling
Mine was delicious!!!!!!!!

Lemon & Poppy Seed Plait - Bread Challenge No. 12

I flicked through the telly channels this week and came across an episode of last years 'Great British Bake Off' featuring bread making. Of course I 'flicked' no further and sat myself down to watch it with great interest. As the contestants made their show stoppers at the end of the episode I heard one of them say Lemon & Poppy Seed amongst their bread flavours and I thought how nice that sounded so I decided that would be my next recipe to try, and, because I want to challenge myself decided that this bread would be in the form of a plait.
I used my basic loaf ingredients with the addition of poppy seeds, lemon zest and lemon juice and took a chance that all would turn out well!

500g Strong White Bread Flour
1 1/2Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Sugar
25g Butter, cubed
1 Tsp Fast Action Yeast
2 Tsp Poppy Seeds
2 Lemons, zest and juice
7 Floz Lukewarm Water
For The Top:
1 Egg White
1 Tbsp Water
2 Tsp Poppy Seeds

Place in a bowl the flour,salt and sugar and rub in the butter with your fingertips. Add the yeast,poppy seeds and lemon zest.
Add the juice from the lemons to the water and add to the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix together to form a dough. Turn on to a lightly floured board and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth. Return to the bowl, cover with clingfilm and put in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
When risen, punch back and turn out onto a board and knead for a couple of minutes then divided into 3 equal pieces.
Stretch and roll each piece, lay beside each other and plait. Cant plait? Basically it's over one and under the other repeatedly!
Tuck in the ends, cover and leave to rise for a further hour.
Before baking, mix the egg white and water together and brush over the top of the loaf and sprinkle the poppy seeds on top. Bake at 200C .for about 20-25 mins.
The smell of lemon from the oven as the bread baked was lovely and I'm pleased to say, when eaten, the lemon flavour isnt over powering and the poppy seeds give a lovely texture. Would certainly recommend this one!!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Parmesan & Garlic Rolls- Bread Challenge Number 11

So as I am nearing the end of my bread challenge now, the final challenge date being 11th April, I have to admit I have only really shared with you the best of my recipes and have not disclosed the disasters!!
 I seem to have mastered a basic loaf with different flavours and textures but, as yet, cannot master a basic bread roll. The main 2 problems usually being under cooked or over cooked.
On Wednesday I attempted iced buns but they were not successful at all, tho I believe that may have been due to the flour. Note to self "cheaper flour does not always produce best products"!
 So yesterday I allowed Vicky to pick the next recipe and she chose to challenge me with Parmesan & Garlic rolls from the bread book as I really need to master the art! So glad she did!!

So first I stir-fried 3 crushed cloves of garlic in 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan for about a minute.
I added this, with 300ml lukewarm water, to a bowl containing 400g strong white bread flour,1 1/2 tsp salt,1 sachet fast action yeast, and 40g finely grated parmesan cheese. I mixed it all together to form a soft dough then turned it out onto a floured surface and kneaded it for 10minutes.
I left this to rise for about an hour then punched down the dough and gave it another kneading just for a couple of minutes. I then divided it into 12 equal pieces, shaped each piece into a smooth round and placed on a baking tray.
Parmesan & Garlic Bread Rolls proved and ready to go in the oven
I left them for another hour in a warm place, covered until doubled in size then brushed the tops with milk and sprinkled some extra grated parmesan on each top (about 15g) before baking for 12  minutes in the oven at  200C.
The recipe says 12-15minutes, but I wasnt taking any chances, and at 12 minutes they looked a nice colour brown so I took them out.
They looked lovely!
Parmesan & Garlic Bread Rolls
The final test was to cut one open and to check there was no raw dough in the center, and guess what?
Challenge number 11 completed with a perfect bread roll!!
Parmesan & Garlic Bread Rolls