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Archive for the ‘Food Photography’ Category

It’s been about a year since I first started dabbling with baking bread and I feel like I’ve attempted a decent variety of breads in that time. The vast majority of stuff I bake doesn’t grace these pages as if I documented them all I’d never get round to eating them, and that would be a disaster.  As well as the usual white and brown loaves I make,  I’ve also had a pop at spelt and rye bread, often plain but occasionally with something else thrown in for luck.

One thing I’ve discovered is I bloody well love bread with bits in it, and this is a great example of that. It’s a mix of wholemeal and white flour and some of the liquid is milk which makes it softer and leads to a tighter, more even crumb (I think!). There’s also a dollop of honey thrown in there which adds a slight bit of sweetness, but not so much as to overpower it.

I was very happy with overall bake of these loaves. They had a really nice crust and my single score down the middle of the loaves worked really well. I tend to overproof bread and it goes a bit flat, but this had a great rise and inside it was nice and light.

walnut & honey

As I’ve been baking my own bread for a while I’ve become fairly blasé about the smell of bread baking in my oven (now there’s a wanky sentence I never thought I’d type out) but when these beauties were baking the smell was incredible. I think it was the mix of walnuts, wholemeal flour and honey that created a really comforting smell, perfect for these dark autumnal evenings. I imagine the closer towards winter we get the darker my breads are going to get – they just feel more appropriate for this time of year.

walnut & honey 2

Now I actually added slightly less walnuts than the recipe called for (again, a James Morton one) because there did seem to be quite a few – 200g in total. I decided to lower it to 100g, partly just in case I buggered it up and ended up with a burnt loaf and 200g of wanuts in the bin. Next time I make this I think I will up the walnut quantity, as it was occasionally difficult to spot them hiding in there. It’s really tasty toasted in the morning with some butter and I also used some for a cheese and chutney sandwich. Highly recommended!

walnut & honey 3

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I have very fond memories of toasted tea cakes from family holidays to Ashbourne. I’m not entirely sure why as I really wasn’t wasn’t keen on them at the time… I was never a fan of raisins and thought they ruined pretty much anything they were in. I was obviously a fussy eater as a child.

After thinking about Ashbourne I did a little searching and I’m pretty sure we always used to stop for a hot drink and (tea) cakes at the Tuck Stop on the Tissington Trail. I’ve not idea what it was called back then, but looking at the photos makes me think that was the spot. I got a little wave of nostalgia trying to figure out where it was we used to go!

Anyway, over time I’ve realised that raisins aren’t the work of the Devil, and it turns out I don’t mind a few of the little buggers finding their way into some dishes now and then, and this bread is a perfect home for them.  I followed this recipe, but rather than making one big loaf I made two little ones. I’ll explain why in a bit…

 

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This bread uses what I think is effectively an enriched dough, so it contains milk, butter and eggs. A fair bit of fat basically. It also contains lots of other tasty things, like sugar and spice. Due to the fact it has a higher sugar and far content then most other bread I make it seemed to take on colour a lot quicker. The first time I attempted this bread it ended up being an absolute bloody disaster. Probably the first time I ended up with something completely unusable.

I put all of the dough into one loaf tin and chucked it in the oven. The top of the bread rose quickly and confidently. Then, like an oven based interpretation of the Daedalus and Icarus legend the bread drifted far too close to the sun. The top started burning so I quickly tried to take the bread out of the loaf tin and flip it upside down but unfortunately the bread hadn’t been in the oven long enough. I managed to get it out of the loaf tin and then it collapsed into a sad, gloopy mess. I was very unhappy.

So this time I thought I’d split the dough and make two smaller loaves, and it was a success! I didn’t score the tops of these, I think they were too low down in the loaf tin to reach. They’re not perfect by any means but they tasted nice.

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Due to the fat from the butter, milk and eggs the crumb was fairly tight, but it was also nice and soft. Just like the tea cakes I mentioned before, this loaf is perfect when it’s toasted and has big slab of butter spread over it. You should also definitely have it with a nice cup of tea too.

 

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This was my second attempt at baguettes. The first attempt was actually a success too but I just took a quick snap on my phone, so I thought next time I’ll try and get some nicer looking photos. Baguettes are something I don’t actually buy very often unless I’m on holiday. I don’t know if this is because I associate baguettes with family holidays to the Northern France when I was younger, but for some reason being away in the sun means that I love a bit of baguette action.

When I do get round to buying or in this case making them, then I just like tearing them apart and having them with cheese and chutney, fancy olive oil and posh balsamic vinegar or just dunking them straight into a pot of hummus. Lovely.

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Whatever the reason is for not buying them when I’m back in Blighty I don’t know, what I do know is I’m going to be baking them myself a lot more regularly. I just use the usual basic white bread recipe which is strong white flour, salt, yeast and water. I’m always impressed how few ingredients turn into something as tasty as bread! The recipe I used was really similar to the one here, except I obviously shaped the dough into baguettes rather than chucking it into a tin.

two breads

Now, I’m struggling a little bit with shaping my breads at the moment. I find that when it comes to shaping them the dough is just a bit too wet to handle comfortably without my hands sticking to it. I don’t mind this when kneading, but it makes it fairly problematic when you try and create a shape but it just keeps sticking to your hand. I suspect if I knead the dough a bit more it will become smoother and more elastic and less likely to stick… I’m not too sure but hopefully this is something that comes with time.

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In the end the shaping of these didn’t go too badly, not perfect baguettes by any means but for a first attempt I’d say they’re alright!  The end results were definitely baguette like, but they did have a bit of ciabatta to them too – the holes were slightly larger than normal baguette but nothing like the size of those in ciabatta. I think this is possibly due to the amount of water I used – 350ml.  I personally quite liked this about them, they were slightly chewy which I find very satisfying. Despite being fairly thin they were also really good for sandwiches.

So I need to work on my shaping technique still which I suspect is something that will take quite a long time to get right. Apart from that, these were a pretty good success – and they were brilliant with cheese and chutney!

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Another veggie recipe! It may look like I’m scared to eat meat after this whole horse meant debacle but it takes more than that to put me off meat. I am however generally trying to cut down (definitely not cut out) my meat consumption for a variety of  reasons –  environmental, financial and trying to be a bit more healthy.

As I’m not actually a veggie myself, I may use ingredients that aren’t strictly vegetarian, I don’t check if the wine I use is suitable for vegetarians for example.

So this recipe is based on a Lamb Tagine recipe I have made in the past but I’ve taken the lamb out and chucked in vegetables and pulses instead. If you do want the lamb version (and it is pretty special) swap some or all of the vegetables and pulses with the lamb, and use lamb stock instead of vegetable stock.

Whenver I mention I’ve made a tagine (and I do bang on about it all the time) people ask if I use a tagine pot to which I have to answer no, as I do not own one. I also don’t own a tandoor but I can make a pretty good approximation of tandoori chicken when I’m in the mood, so I don’t think having the correct pot to cook this in is the be all and end all, especially when you’re cooking at home. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a tandoor in my little top floor flat but I suspect my landlord may not feel the same way.

So, the ingredients! Again a fairly lengthy list but most things here can be used in a number of different recipes and the spices last well.

Serves 4-6

  • Oil
  • 12 Shallots – left whole
  • 2-3 Cloves of garlic – chopped finely
  • 1 Inch chunk of ginger – chopped finely
  • 6-8 Dates – deseeded and chopped into chunks
  • 6-8 Dried apricots chopped into chunks
  • 1 Handful of Sultanas
  • 1 Medium butternut squash – chopped into chunks
  • 4-6 Small sweet peppers, whole or cut in half  (if you can’t get these just 1 or 2 normal peppers chopped into largish chunks)
  • 1 Tin of chickpeas
  • 1 Tin of chopped tomatos
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of dark, runny honey
  • 1-2 Teaspoons of turmeric
  • 1 Teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 200 ml Vegetable Stock (roughly)
  • A glass of wine (this is to taste really)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A cheeky pinch of chilli if you fancy it.

1. Heat up a splash of oil in a sauce pan over a medium heat and fry the shallots until they start to brown, then add the chopped garlic and ginger until they also start to colour a tiny bit.

2. Chuck in the cinnamon, turmeric and chilli if you’re using it, and stir this around for a few seconds before adding the chopped butternut squash and peppers and coat them all with the spices for a 10 – 20 seconds (don’t let the spices burn) then pour in the stock and the wine – reduce the heat to low – medium, cover and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

3. Add the chopped tomatos, dates, apricots and sultatans. Stir and then leave uncovered to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir every now and then to stop it catching at the bottom.

4. Add the honey and the chickpeas and stir. Let this keep simmering until you’re happy with the consistency. I like it pretty thick so I reduce for a while longer, maybe 20 minutes or so.

5. Season with salt and pepper if needed and serve. Sprinkle toasted flaked almonds over the top and serve with couscous or some bread of your choice. Or both if you’re greedy like me. It’s also really nice with a thick Greek yoghurt dolloped on top.

Veggie Tagine

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When I first started my recent job I realised I was spending quite a bit of money on fairly manky sandwiches from various supermarkets when hurrying to work in the morning. I also spotted the odd over priced ‘veg pot’. They looked tasty but I also thought there is no chance I’m paying that much for something I can make myself for a quarter of the price. Then bought a £3 ham sandwich instead…

After repeating this same daft move on a number of occasions I thought I’d actually give it a shot and make my own healthy, tasty and cheap lunch. So here is my recipe! It’s really nice to have with rice and any sort of flat bread. Or any bread actually. I bloody love bread.

It may look ingredient heavy but the main bulk of it is actually pretty cheap and it’s easy to cook loads at once and box it all up for a later date. It freezes very well, and you can include some rice if you freeze it quickly.

Ingredients – Makes 4 – 6 servings depending on what you serve it with.

  • 250g red Lentils
  • 1 medium Onion – finely chopped
  • 2 -3 cloves of Garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 inch cube of ginger – finely chopped
  • 1 chilli (if you want) – finely chopped
  • 1 medium Sweet Potato – chopped into chunks
  • 1 head of Broccoli – cut into florets
  • 150g of Peas – I used frozen peas
  • Roughly 1 litre of stock – this is partly to taste. I started with a litre and added more as I went along

Spices and other bits (I cook a lot of curries etc so I have all of these in stock, if you don’t I’m sure a curry powder of your choice would work well)

  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp onion seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • handful of fresh coriander – optional 
  • juice of half a lime – optional 
  1. Chop up the onion and fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes (the longer the better to be honest, just don’t let it burn). When it’s softened nicely chuck in the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add all the spices apart from garam masala and fry for a 30 seconds to a minute, being careful not to let it burn. Then add the sweet potato, red lentils and stock and let it bubble away for a while. I think I usually leave it around half an hour or so but I think time is important to bring out the flavours. I prefer to have my lentils disappear completely so they are effectively a thick sauce.  Keep checking on the stock and make sure there is enough to let everything cook through.
  3. When the lentils are cooked, partly cook the broccoli (don’t cook it fully as it will be cooked in the sauce too). Stir this, the frozen peas and the garam masala  into the sauce and cook for 5 – 10 minutes (until the broccoli is just soft enough to pierce with a knife but don’t let it go soggy).
  4. Stir in the fresh coriander and lime juice.
  5. Now you can serve it fresh and it’s lovely, or as I said before store it in Tupperware and it will save in the fridge for a few days or you can freeze  it.

Veg Pot

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Going to baking classes last year forced me into trying lots of new recipes that I would probably have otherwise avoided. One of these was Almond Biscotti which I ended up really enjoying, especially with an espresso (and some Amaretto). They take a bit of time due to the double baking, but are actually pretty easy.

I cook a fair bit but I don’t bake that often. I’m quite comfortable winging it when I cook but that doesn’t work so well with baking so I try and follow the recipes pretty strictly. I guess when I become more experienced I’ll be happy to to experiment a bit more but lets not run before I can walk eh? We all know how that ends up…

The recipe I followed for this particular photo was one provided by the teacher at the baking classes and it was a great recipe and I followed it precisely and it worked brilliantly. Then I lost it. Wonderful. So the next time I try I’m gonna use the good old BBC recipe found here!

Now I think this will be really nice with different nuts, fruits or different bits and bobs added. Cranberry and pistachio would be pretty good I reckon, or even a peanut butter and chocolate one… I might have to try that last one actually!

So here is the photo and I definitely recommend having them with an espresso to hand.

Biscotti

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Whilst doing a bit of food shopping the other day I found a little basket of these one clove garlic bulbs. I hadn’t come across these little oddities before but they looked pretty interesting so I snapped them up. It turns out they’re technically not actually garlic, but a variant of the species Allium ampeloprasum which is the same species as a leek. Thanks Wikipedia!

I thought I’d get a couple of quick snaps whilst I was doing it – for the photo folk excuse the massive colour balance difference, I didn’t realise I was shooting in JPEG and I was in a  hurry anyway as I was bloody starving.

Here are the little buggers. The ones that I got were actually pretty small considering the name, but I do believe you can get bigger ones.

Garlic

Anyway, I had been planning on giving some garlic a good old roasting for a while, and I thought this would be a good one to use as it would be good for dipping and I was generally quite excited about eating a weird massive garlic clove. I wrapped it in a little foil parcel with a glug of olive oil, put it in the oven on a medium heat (170-190) and let it sit there for a good 30 minutes I then took it out the foil and let it cook again for another 5 or 10 minutes. It should be really nice and soft at this point and perfect for dipping nice crusty bread into it. I put mine in a ramekin with balsamic vinegar as I wanted to get the garlic and the vinegar with each dip, but just on it’s own with another drizzle of oil would also be great.

Roasted Garlic

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