Brown Bread and Rhubarb Ice Cream

It would appear that my last blog post was sometime in April. I would say that I don’t know how this has happened but I do –  I’ve been lost in the world of thesis-writing and car-building since then. And although it’s fun (it’s not) I would like it to end now. Thanks.

But I’ve also made some ice cream. And that’s because some really nice person noticed I was wishing for an ice cream maker and sent me one. This really nice person is called Alex aka the Fairy Hobmother and works for Appliances Online. He also spreads kitchen gadget love on the internet. He’s a good one. And the really great thing is that if you leave a comment on this post and make a wish, he could visit you! Certainly worth a go.

When it came to trying out the ice cream machine, I had two options: either go for a proper, custard-based recipe or be lazy. No prizes for guessing which one I went for. I had been eyeing up this rhubarb crumble recipe from Helen’s blog for a while, and it seemed the perfect thing to try. And as the rhubarb was cooking, I realised I didn’t have any butter for the crumble. Seriously, what kind of person runs out of butter?

So I improvised a bit.

Brown bread and rhubarb ice cream 

425 ml whipping cream*

2-3 stalks of rhubarb, trimmed
juice of half a lemon
sugar (to taste)

1 or 2 slices of brown bread, in crumbs
2 tbsp sugar

Cut the rhubarb into inch long pieces, place in a pan together with the lemon juice and the sugar and cook until soft – most of it should look like a puree, with some small chunks still intact. You can taste it to check how sweet you want it – remember that the cream won’t be sweetened though.

In the meantime, place the breadcrumbs in a large tray and mix with the sugar. Bake in a 200 C oven for about 10 minutes, or until crispy.

Allow both the rhubarb and the breadcrumbs to cool. Mix in the cream and pour into the ice cream maker. Churn the ice cream according to the machine’s instructions until it’s thick like whipped cream. Place in a plastic container and leave in the freezer until it reaches the desired consistency. If you haven’t got an ice cream machine, follow Delia’s advice.

If it stays in the freezer for a while, you will need to soften it by leaving it in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with some more of the crispy breadcrumbs if you have some left.

*I used double cream because that’s what I had. My ice cream was a bit too thick for my liking, but you could try mixing 300 ml double cream and 125 ml milk and that should work better.

No-knead bread

Yes, I know. No-knead bread has been around for ages. I’m late to the party. But it’s easy and delicious. It’s also incredibly exciting, unless your definition of excitement doesn’t include covering the kitchen floor and your clothes in flour and then staring at the oven for half an hour before pulling out a loaf of bread. And then doing a little dance while listening to the crackling of the crust as it cools down. I find that exciting.
This comes from the book “Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day” and, while I love it for introducing me to the concept, I also have Clotilde to thank for finally managing to make a nice loaf of bread. After many failed attempts, I read this and realised the obvious thing: I had been severely underflouring my dough.

The consistency of my doughs still varies, but most of my loaves now are successful. The wetter doughs produce larger holes but flatter loaves, and they are excellent for eating with soups and stews. A drier dough sacrifices the impressively hole-y interior but gives you nicely shaped loaves that you can use to make sandwiches. It is also much easier to handle, meaning that you can make large loaves easily.

The loaf pictured below came from dough slightly on the drier side – I probably used 600 gr of flour here. Stick to 550 if you would like bigger holes, but your loaves will be flatter. In all cases, you get really crusty exterior without drying up the inside.

No-knead bread

Ingredients (makes 2 medium sized loaves)

2 cups lukewarm water
1 tbsp active dried yeast (or instant yeast)
1 tbsp salt
550 – 600 gr flour (see notes for type of flour used)
extra flour for dusting

In a large bowl, mix the water, yeast and salt and leave for a few minutes until the yeast granules dissolve (you don’t need to worry too much about the mixture frothing up – if you’re using instant yeast you don’t really have to wait at all).

Mix in most of the flour (about 500 gr) and stir using a spoon until you can’t see any dry patches. Add an extra 50-100gr and incorporate using wet hands. Your final dough should be wet enough so that it slowly deforms and takes the shape of the bowl.

Cover with a plate or a lid (not airtight), and let it rise for at least 2 hours (up to 5 won’t harm it). You are done with the rising when the top has flattened.

You can use the dough now but it’s better to refrigerate it for a couple of hours as it will be easier to handle. The dough will last in the fridge for at least a week and probably 10 days, so you can make this in advance and even double it if you have a large enough container.

Take your dough out of the fridge, flour the surface and your hands and pull out a chunk about half the size of the whole dough*. Form a smooth ball by pulling the sides of the dough underneath it. Don’t overdo it or the top layer of the dough will start splitting! Tuck the ends underneath – the bottom might look a bit messy but it will even out during rising/baking.  Place it on a smooth chopping board dusted with flour.

Let it rise for 40 minutes. Turn the oven on to 230 degrees Celsius and place a pizza stone on the middle shelf 10 minutes before the end of the rising time. Place a tray on the shelf underneath.

Dust the surface of the dough with flour and make some quite deep cuts using a bread knife. Make sure the bottom isn’t sticking to the chopping board – if it is, push some flour underneath using the bread knife. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone and quickly pour a cup of hot water (from the tap) into the tray underneath. Shut the oven door as quickly as possible to trap the steam in.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is looking nice and golden. Let it cool before you cut a slice.

Not that I’ve ever done that!

To keep the outside crispy, I store the bread with the cut side flat on a plate.

*If it’s too wet to handle, you haven’t got enough flour in it. You can incorporate some more flour at this step, or choose to bake it in a loaf tin. If using a loaf tin, make sure you grease it well with some oil and let the dough rise for an extra 45 minutes – 1 hour.

King Prawn Puri (Indian #1)

Do you know how the famous Chicken Tikka Massala was invented? Apparently no Indian chef has been able to claim it. Instead, it was first made in London, when a Bangladeshi chef added tomato sauce and spices to a Chicken Tikka to satisfy a diner who asked “Where is my gravy?”. Not sure if that makes it English or Indian and I’m undecided on whether that Londoner should go down in history as an ignorant diner or, in a sense, the father of the most popular Anglo-Indian dish. Possibly both.

So where does one learn about Indian food? If the story about Chicken Tikka Massala is anything to go by, visiting a curry house is probably far from an authentic Indian experience. I’ve been trying to do a little bit of research on the internet but it’s not always easy to distinguish between traditional Indian food and a spiced up English stew.

Having said all that, the first thing I’m making is a curry house favourite: King Prawn Puri. I’ve combined a few recipes off the internet, picking the best (i.e. easiest) bits from each one of them.

King Prawn Puri

For the puri

250g wholemeal flour
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
Lukewarm water
Oil for frying

Mix the oil, flour and salt, and slowly add water to make a dough. Knead until smooth, place in a bowl and cover with a towel. Let it rise for about an hour. I find that it’s better to roll each one out as you go, rather than preparing them all first and then frying, as the dough gets quite sticky. 

 

Heat some oil (or ghee) in a wok or some other deep pan and drop a puri in. It should puff up, either a little or possibly fully (the one in the picture is my most successful one, but they all tasted good!). They only need a few seconds on each side, do not let them brown or they’ll turn crispy. You want them cooked but still soft. Put each one on kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oiliness and prepare the next one.

For the prawns

500g raw king prawns
2 tbsps tomato puree
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tsps of mustard seeds
2 tsps of turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
Salt to season
A little oil or ghee (clarified butter) for frying
Some chopped coriander

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Move away from the pan and let them fry until they pop! Add onions and garlic and fry until soft. Add the rest of the spices, the prawns and when they are looking cooked (i.e. pink), add the tomato puree and some water to make it saucy. You don’t want too much liquid, but it shouldn’t be completely dry either. Cook for a few more minutes until the prawns are cooked through and the flavours are combined.

Serve each puri with some of the prawns and the sauce. I forgot the coriander leaves, as I was quite panicky with all the frying (big containers of hot oil scare me a little) but it was still very good. The puri is soft and chewy and perfect when combined with the juices of the sauce.

I haven’t got any onion in mine as I had run out so I think it looks a bit drier than it should, but the flavours were brilliant. Serve with a squeeze of lemon: I love the acidity of it as it cuts through any oiliness that you get from the fried bread. Prawns and lemon are best mates anyway!

I’ll therefore declare my first Indian dish a success, and move on to the next one with a lot more confidence! If you have any suggestions or tips or just some more knowledge on authentic Indian food, please leave a comment!

Next time on Round the World in 100 recipes: My first Indian dessert!

Pork Souvlaki with homemade Pita (Greek #7 & #8)

When I lived in Greece there were some things I never thought of making myself. To be honest, I didn’t do a lot of cooking back then, being a student and all, and having my mum to cook yummy food for me! And it never crossed my mind to make some souvlaki with pita, given how many places there are around that make it so well! But in England, most Greek food places (fancy or not) try to prove every bad stereotype about Greek food true.

It was Tsiknopempti a couple of weeks ago (I am slow at posting recipes!) and I was also feeling quite homesick so I decided to put some Greek music on and make something traditional. Tsiknopempti is what in other countries is called Fat Thursday and because it is 10 days before Lent starts people eat a lot of meat, traditionally barbecued.  The name comes from the word tsikna which is the smell that meat has when grilled or barbecued.

Pork Souvlaki

a joint of pork shoulder
a small onion
2 lemons
olive oil
oregano
salt and pepper
skewers (soaked in water, so they don’t burn under the grill)

First of all, cut the meat into squares (sides approximately 2cm), keeping some of the fat on it. To make the marinade, grate the onion on the thick side of the grater and mix it with the meat, the juice of a lemon, olive oil, oregano and the seasoning. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge, ideally overnight, but if you’re feeling impatient, for as long as you can wait.

When you are ready to cook it, put pieces on the skewers and cook them under a medium grill, turning the skewers round half way. You want them to be crispy on the outside but make sure you don’t overcook them.

Serve with some more lemon on the side and this easy and tasty pita bread. I am never buying pita from the supermarket again.

Pita Bread (recipe from Kalofagas)
makes approximately 6 big ones

3 cups plain flour
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

oil for greasing the pan
flour for dusting

Mix the water, olive oil, yeast, salt and sugar and leave for a few minutes. Add the flour slowly and mix with a wooden spoon until it becomes a dough. When it is too difficult to do it with the spoon, start mixing with your hands. When the flour has been incorporated, knead until the dough looks smooth. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave for half an hour.
Pull pieces off the dough, the size of an orange (although it depends on how big you like your pita!) and roll them out into 1/4 inch thick round sheets. Use a fork to poke holes into the dough, without going all the way through it.

Heat your pan and spread a little oil on it. Place your flat dough on the pan and cook on each side for about 2 minutes, or until golden. When each pita is cooked, put it inside a towel to make sure it doesn’t dry out while cooling down. Serve warm, or if you want to serve them later, let them cool down inside the towel and reheat on the pan.

It’s perfect Greek food, so easy to make, quite healthy and very tasty. Serve with some Greek salad, and my favourite Greek dips: Tzatziki and Roast Pepper and Spicy Feta dip. Actually, this pita is so yummy that a couple of times last week my dinner consisted of it and these dips.

Previously on Round the World in 100 Recipes:
Spetsofai
Stuffed Onions
Lihnarakia
Beef with Aubergines
Ladopita 
Cheese and Salami Pie

Next time on Round the World in 100 Recipes: It’s a cute animal, but it’s also pretty yummy.

Chocolate bread and butter pudding

Sometimes I get a craving for chocolate. I keep some in the cupboard for emergencies. But it has to be of the non-dangerous kind, i.e. no praline, no mini eggs and no chocolate hobnobs.

And more often, I crave carbs. Apparently that’s a sign of winter depression, lack of sunlight, etc. I’ll blame it on that. My main addiction is pasta, but I wouldn’t exactly turn down some crusty bread or a toasted crumpet with loads of melting butter on top.

You see, I am not really very good at resisting temptation. I can pretend I’m not going to finish that box of cookies, but then I’ll spend half hour thinking about them. And then I’ll be angry that I’ve wasted so much time thinking about cookies. And so I’ll eat them. Once, I had to throw a bag of hobnobs in the bin because I couldn’t stop eating them although I was feeling sick. It’s a good thing I live in a shared house and people help me finish off everything I bake, or I would be twice my size.

The reason I’m saying all this and making myself sound so greedy is to explain how I got round to making this intensely rich pudding.

I read this post on Life’s a Feast.

It’s Jamie’s fault.

Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding (from Delia)

Ingredients:

9 slices of stale white bread, no crusts
150 gr good dark chocolate
75 gr butter
425 ml whipping cream
4 tbsp dark rum
110 gr caster sugar
3 large eggs
pinch of cinnamon

Cut the bread slices in 4 triangles. Place the chocolate, whipping cream, rum, sugar, butter and cinnamon in a bain-marie until everything is melted, and give it a good stir. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, then pour the chocolate mixture over them and whisk very well.

Spoon about 1/2 inch layer of the chocolate mixture into the base of a shallow dish, about 7 x 9 inches, which you have buttered lightly. Then, arrange half of the bread triangles, add half of the remaining chocolate, then the rest of the bread and finally the last bit of chocolate. Make sure the bread is well soaked by pressing down into the chocolatey liquid.

Ideally, you need to leave this outside the fridge covered with clingfilm for a couple of hours, and then in the fridge for a day or two to let the flavours develop.

Cook it (without the clingfilm!) on the top shelf of a preheated oven (180 degrees) for 30-35 minutes or until the top looks nicely crispy. Be patient and wait for 10 minutes when you get it out of the oven as it will be very hot. Serve with cream or custard or ice cream. Or all of them.

We didn’t manage to finish it on the first day as it was so heavy, but it was possibly even better for the next couple of days and the texture developed into some kind of rich fudge cake with a layer of crunchy chocolatey bread on the top.

The concept of Monthly Mingle was new to me, but I couldn’t resist Jamie’s invitation to make something combining two so special ingredients and when I looked at the recipe I realised it would be a winner: really, you can’t go wrong with chocolate, cream, bread and eggs. If you like bread and butter pudding, try this version – I’m sure you’ll love it. And let me know how it went!