Monday, November 22, 2010

Smoked bread again

Another semi-successful loaf, this time using the last of my smoked malted flour.

520g smoked malted flour
5g salt
10g rapeseed oil

300g water
10g honey
5g dried yeast

I used a fairly basic quick method. 10 minutes autolysing before kneading, then about 2 hours rising, and 90 mins proofing in a banneton.

Then eggwashed and some salt sprinkled.

Into 240C oven on the stone, with some steam for 15 mins, then reduced to 220 for another 25 minutes.

As you can maybe see, the crumb is a bit flaky. I suspect this is a function of the low water content in the mix (<60%) although the dough felt perfectly fine when mixing. The smoky taste is more pronounced than previously, but is a lovely accompaniment to a bit of stilton.

The crust is still soft, but I think I have to accept that's all I'm ever going to get

until I build a wood-fired oven in the backyard


and I'm never going to do that.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another mackerel

The second mackerel of the weekend and I wanted to do something else. Yesterday I'd gutted it and taken the head off (apparently this, particularly the gutting, slows down any decay). At first I thought of taking off the fillets and simply frying or grilling them, but decided to go for something more cheffy. So I boned the fish, something I'd never done before. Stop sniggering. It means cutting around the backbone, so that the two flanks remain joined. What you then have is a flat, whole fish. It makes it easier to do what I then did, which is to spread the following over the inside of the fish, and then roll it and tie it fairly tightly with string.

salt & pepper
1 diced shallot
a few capers
a few herbs (sage, tarragon, some frozen coriander)
a sprinkle of lime juice (I'm sure lemon would be ok, but I had half a lime to hand)

Season the outside with S&P, sprinkle some evoo and put the package in a 180C oven for 20 minutes.

It's faff, but it's worth it. The tightness of the package merges the stuffing with the fish, making for very tasty and quite substantial eating.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Leek and rabbit

I have a friend who is currently concerned about slaughterhouse practices, which has almost made her a vegetarian.

But consider the life of the wild rabbit. A short life, filled with sex and hopping, ended quickly by a shot. Most rabbits, I like to believe, are actually on the job when shot: it's the only time they're still enough. Wild rabbits are the closest we have to an endlessly renewable source of meat. We should eat more of them.

I suppose it's not as amazing as pairing strawberries with black olives, but I'm willing to bet there's a similar kind of match-made-in-heaven-ness about rabbit flesh and leeks. I've just had a bowl, and then another, of rabbit and leek stew, and it was extraordinarily good. I'll probably never quite achieve it again, but while I remember, here's what I did.

Flour 350g diced wild rabbit and brown it in olive oil. Turn down the heat and add:

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium leek, trimmed and sliced into 1cm slices
2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Let these soften, then add:

1 medium carrot, sliced
1 unassuming parsnip, sliced
about this much celeriac (a little less than the carrot)
a few small potatoes
a thumbsize lump of ginger, half sliced, half grated (I got bored with slicing)

Add enough chicken stock to nearly cover everything. Toss in a bayleaf or two, a splash each of fish sauce (nam pla) and white wine vinegar. Stir and simmer, covered, on the lowest gas for 90 minutes.

Ladies and gentlemen, that's all. Not even salt. (The fish sauce and stock take care of that.) The prevailing taste in the sauce is that of the braised leeks, and I guess that, by happy serendipity, the other ingredients rounded it out.

Incidentally, in researching this, I find that there's a well-known and -regarded rabbit rescue centre in Leek, Staffs. That can't be mere coincidence.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bream lover

Probably nothing revolutionary about this, but here we go.

Ingredients
1 bream, bought at Lewisham market
half a head of fennel, bought at Blackheath farmers market
two small shallots, finely chopped
juice of half a lemon
olive oil
salt & pepper
a small glass of Dolin vermouth (other vermouths are available)

Method
Gut the fish and trim off the spiky bits
Rub with salt and pepper inside and out

Slice the fennel and place in the bottom of a baking dish, or a foil package
Put the fish on top and  put the shallot in the cavity. (I also put in a sprig of rosemary and tarragon, but frankly I don't think it had any effect on the result)
Sprinkle, or if you like, drizzle, olive oil, lemon juice and vermouth over everything
Cover the dish, or close up the foil envelope
Into a preheated 180C oven for 30 mins

Served with boiled potatoes and spinach, this will serve one hungry person, or if you took the flesh off the bone, I suppose two skinny girls might be satisfied by it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Maybe this time

I think, although I haven't tasted it yet, I've made the best loaf yet in the new oven.

310g (my hand slipped!) strong white flour
60g rye flour
50g strong wholemeal flour
4g salt

150g apple juice
150g water
4g dried yeast

A simple procedure: mixed, left for 20 mins, kneaded, 3 hrs rising, knockback, put in banneton, 1 hr proving. Then eggwashed and sprinkled with salt.

I'd been baking apple pies so the oven was hot. I racked it up to 240C for the first ten minutes, reducing to 220 for remaining 40, and put water in a baking tray to create steam.

It looks OK, I think, and the taste ought to be OK too. In case I don't update this post, let's just assume it is. One of the things that perversely might have helped is that it's cold today, so the heating's on, so it was easier to put the dough in a warm place.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Slightly different mackerel

Bread making might return tomorrow, or sometime next week. With cold weather forecast, any excuse to have the oven on is a good one. This entry is just to note something new I did with mackerel tonight.

I medium mackerel (small would be better) gutted
1 quarter of a big red onion
salt & pepper

Marinade
juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon grain mustard
half a teaspoon cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
about 1 red chili, chopped (I used my frozen harvest)

Grind the marinade ingredients together in pestle and mortar till the cumin seeds are cracked. Coat inside and outside of the mackerel. Stuff the fish with the onion, season on both sides, then pour the remaining marinade over. Wrap in foil and bake at 190C for 20 minutes.

It's all pretty basic, but was the first time I'd used chili, and this was only because I'd no ginger. Using red onion was also a bit new.

The two benefits of this were the prettiness of the red onion. As it was barely cooked, it still had a pretty pink colour (which went well with the accompanying broad beans). And the heat of the chillies was strong but warming rather than violent.

I also stuck a sprig of rosemary in the gut of the fish, but I'm not sure it made any difference. My rosemary's a bit mild at this time of year.