Thursday, 4 August 2011

Happy Holidays!

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside......!
Thanks to the heavens that it's warm this week and I can feel like it's the summer holidays.  I was worried for a moment that we were to have a repeat of last year with wet, cold and wind being the main characters....

Today (1st Aug)  is the ancient Pagan celebration of Lammas, which was originally celebrated at the time of the first harvest on the 1st of August.  Bake some bread today and light a fire in celebration of the harvest.  Be grateful for the earth and her abundance!

Went camping this week to a lovely campsite in the Witterings (near Chichester), called Stubcroft Farm.  Very low key, clean and full of eco ideas, my children had a ball cycling round and round and round and staying up late, and I had a ball with lovely friends and baking Orange Muffins in the embers, Mushroom Risotto for tea and Wheat-free Pancakes for brekkie.  The Orange Muffins were from The Cool Camping Cookbook, a must for all adventurous and easily bored cooks!  Check it out

Hope everyone has a lovely time wherever they are!  Get some fresh air and sunshine - they really do make the world go round!

Easy Bread

500g strong bread flour (or spelt)
35g butter
10g fast acting yeast
10g sea salt
300ml (approx) hand hot water

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C/gas mark 8.  Mix all the ingredients together to form a dough, then keep pushing and folding until it feels springy and silky.  Place in a bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for an hour, then gently form it into the shape you want.  For a basic round loaf, knead gently to retain all the gas and fold the edges underneath to form a ball, slightly stretched over the top.  Sprinkle with flour and leave to rise for another 20 minutes.  Slash across the top four or five times, then bake for 30 minutes.

Orange Baked Muffins (Serves 6)

6 oranges
100g plain flour
80g butter
1 egg
80g brown sugar
80ml milk
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Cut the top of the oranges and scoop out the insides, until a shell is left (easy with a teaspoon).
Make the muffin mix by mixing all the ingredients together, whisking to mix thoroughly.  Pour the mixture into the empty shells, to about half full.  Wrap well with tinfoil.

Place the oranges on the embers of the fire and leave for about 20 minutes.  Or we also cooked them on the grill but they take a bit longer.  You can check they are cooked when they are puffing over the top of the orange.  Delicious!!  (I took the dry mixture in a sealed plastic bag and just added the wet stuff when we were going to cook)

Mushroom Risotto

A knob of butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
a small handful of dried, wild mushrooms
250g risotto rice
100ml white wine
200ml vegetable stock
a handful of fresh herbs, roughly chopped
Another knob of butter
a good grating of Parmesan cheese (about 4-5 tbsp)
Salt and pepper to season

Cook the onion and garlic in the butter until golden.  Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains.  Pour in the wine and stir every few minutes until the liquid is nearly absorbed.  Add half the stock and stir occasionally until absorbed, then add the rest of the stock and repeat.  When nearly all the liquid has gone, add the herbs, butter, Parmesan and season well.  Taste, beat vigorously and serve with more Parmesan.

Wheat-free pancakes

200g wheat free flour mixture
Wheat free baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 egg
About 150ml milk to mix
Butter for cooking

Heat a frying pan on a moderate heat.  Tip the flour and baking powder into a bowl.  Make a well in the centre and crack in the egg.  Add half the milk and whisk, adding the rest of the milk until you get a stiff batter.  Add a knob of butter to the pan, swirl around, then add large tablespoons of the batter with a little space in between.  Cook until holes appear on the surface, flip and cook for another 2 minutes.
Serve with blueberries, maple or agave syrup and butter.

What I have been cooking:

Tuna melts:  paninis split open, covered with tuna/mayonnaise/mozzarella/seasoning and toasted, then closed up and toasted briefly on each side.
Orzo with vegetables and Halloumi: cook Orzo (rice shaped pasta) according to the packet.  Meanwhile, fry a chopped onion with garlic in olive oil then add mixed fresh herbs and cubed halloumi.  Add two chopped tomatoes and 2 tbs sun dried tomato paste and season well.  Toss with the pasta and serve
Pasta pomodoro: Cook some spaghetti, meanwhile fry a chopped onion and a clove of garlic in olive oil, tip in a little red wine if you have it, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a sprig of basil.  Season well and bubble until the spaghetti is cooked, then serve with Parmesan grated on top.