Seeded Soda Bread

 

Seeded Soda Bread

This is my eldest niece’s favourite bread, especially when topped with smoked salmon, or when in Cardigan, smoked sewin for an extra special treat. It is a very easy recipe using cup measurements. The size of cup I use is a standard teacup, which equates to 200ml. It is perfect party food, if you cut the soda bread into small squares and top with smoked salmon; ideal with your favourite glass of fizz.

 

Ingredients

 

3 cups of wholemeal flour or seed and herb blend flour from Y Felin, St Dogmaels

1 cup of rolled oats

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

450ml natural yoghurt

 

Method

 

  1. Turn the oven to 200’C
  2. Combine the flour, oats, bicarb and salt
  3. Add the yoghurt and mix together to form a sticky mixture
  4. Place in a lined 2lb baking tin, or shape into a free form round shape
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes until cooked.

 

Note:

To check if the loaf is thoroughly cooked you can insert a skewer, as for cake testing. However, most bread bakers use the time honoured method of the thump test. To do this, remove the loaf from the tin or baking sheet, turn upside down and tap on the base. It will sound like tapping on a hollow tree if the loaf is cooked through. It’s hard to explain but after a number of times, you get to know.

Best eaten the day it is made, it is quick and delicious. It is important to use good quality flour as this makes all the difference. We like to buy ours when on holiday from the mill in St Dogmael’s, but Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Seeded Flour is also good.

Foolproof Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Chocolate Mousse close up of chocolate mousseA classic, no frills, chocolate mousse recipe. It is worth seeking out some unusual little glass pots to serve this in. I often use plain glass tea light holders which hold slightly less mixture, stretching the recipe to feed eight.

Quantities for 6

Ingredients

110g good quality dark chocolate, or a mix of dark and milk if serving to family

4 Tablespoons of icing sugar, sieved

4 medium eggs

4 Tablespoons of double cream

 

Method

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water
  2. Separate the eggs and whisk the whites until stiff
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the icing sugar until foamy
  4. Add the double cream and mix in thoroughly
  5. Pour in the chocolate and give the mixture a good whisk for 2-3 minutes
  6. Carefully fold in the egg whites and pour into a serving dish or into your prettiest individual dishes
  7. Refrigerate for a minimum of three hours before serving
  8. Decorate with tiny white chocolate stars and edible glitter -as above

 

 

 

Easy Spelt Bread Recipe

Spelt Bread Recipe

After extensive research into what goes into the bread we buy I decided to make as much of my own bread as possible. Experimenting with some white spelt flour from Wessex Mill, I was delighted to discover how easy it is to work this dough. It quickly forms a dough ball without too much clinging to your fingers and needs very little oil or flour for kneading.  The dough felt light and elastic when kneading. The resulting loaf was really tasty, so much so that I made another batch and formed into rolls after the first rising. For 12 rolls follow the instructions below but cook for 13-15 minutes. You could also leave to rise the first time overnight as in The Weekend Loaf

INGREDIENTS

500 g   White Spelt Flour or Wholegrain Spelt Flour

3 tsps  Salt

7g   Quick Yeast

300ml Warm Water

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Method

  1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, and quick yeast.
  2. Add the water and oil and roughly mix it into the flour in the bowl.
  3. When the dough has come together enough, turn out onto a lightly oiled or floured surface and  knead well until it feels smooth and pliable.This normally takes 4-5 minutes.
  4. Leave the dough covered with oiled cling film in a draught free place, for it to double in size. (This should take about an hour).
  5. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough firmly for five minutes.
  6. Shape the dough and put it into an oiled 1kg/2lb bread tin or place it on an oiled baking sheet.
  7. Cover with oiled cling film and leave dough to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place.
  8. Pre heat oven to 220°C/Fan200°C/425°F/Gas 7
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven, slide the loaf upside down onto your hand, protect form heat with a clean cloth. Tap the bottom to listen for the “hollow” sound, which will indicate if your loaf is done. See
  11. If you think it still needs a few minutes, but is brown on top, return to oven upside down to finish off cooking the base of the loaf.
  12. When the loaf is fully cooked, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack to cool.

The Best Salmon Nicoise Recipe

Perfect Summer Party Food

This is the easiest summer lunch/dinner food for a crowd of people, and a delight to serve as it is all prepared in advance and delivers a wow factor when brought to the table.  This isn’t a recipe as such, more an indication of the quantities needed for 10 people. Serve with a bowl of Jersey Royal potatoes, tossed in unsalted butter with a touch of salt, pepper and fresh, chopped parsely and you have the perfect party food. I make a lemon mayonnaise with three egg yolks, and use the whites to make baby meringues .

For 10 people

2 handfuls of salad leaves

1 packet French beans

2-3 bundles English asparagus

6 x hard boiled eggs

4-6 vine tomaotes, cut into quarters

large handful of black oilves

140g per person of salmon fillets without skin  (either in one piece, or in individual fillets)

 

1. Cook the salmon. I place the salmon fillets on a large piece of foil, placed in a roasting tin or baking sheet. Add a small glass of white wine, a tablespoon of olive oil, some lemon slices and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the salmon loosely in the foil, and cook in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes. This is where you need to use your own judgement, and keep checking in the oven to see if it is cooked. Remember it will continue to cook as it cools, so remove from the oven when it is just turning opaque. If your oven is uneven in it’s heat, you may need to remove some cooked pieces of fillet before removing the others. Leave to cool.

2. Blanch the French beans – that is to say, cook the trimmed French beans in boiling water for 5 mintes, remove and plunge immediately into cold water. Drain and leave in fridge until ready to use.

3. Wash the asparagus thoroughly then snap along the stem until it breaks easily. Discard these snapped off pieces. Cook the spears on the hob in gently bubbling water until cooked. This will take 5-10 minutes, depending on how fat your spears of asparagus are. I use a large frying pan for this and hover over the stove, piercing the spears from time to time with my pointed knife. When they are just cooked, remove from the pan (some may be cooked before others) and refresh in cold water. Drain and leave in fridge until ready to use.

4. Hard boil eggs – Place medium size eggs in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Plunge into cold water and leave to cool. Then peel the shells off and leave in the fridge until ready.

5. Wash and quarter the tomatoes.

6. Make a simple dressing of 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard, juice of half lemon, 3 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper

7. To assemble, toss the salad leaves in the dressing and place on the bottom of a large serving platter – a long salmon plate is ideal for this. Then scatter the asparagus and French beans on top of the leaves . Add the salmon, breaking into large chunks and arrange on top of the leaves, beans and asparagus. Scatter the tomatoes  and olives over and around the salmon, then place the eggs on top. Drizzle the finished dish with a dash of olive oil and serve.

 

 

 

Fabulous Canapes at Guild of Food Writers Awards Party

 

Creative canapes
Creative canapes

Guild member Aggie MacKenzie, columnist for delicious. magazine and internationally renowned TV broadcaster, will be the presenter at this year’s Guild of Food Writers’ Awards, the UK’s biggest food book, writing and media awards.

The 2013 Awards party will be on Wednesday 29 May at the RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD.

A memorable canapé menu has been developed with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (www.alaskaseafood.org.uk), to showcase wonderful sustainable wild seafood from Alaska. The Guild is thrilled that Alaska Seafood is supporting the Awards for the sixth year running.

To accompany the splendid menu equally exciting wines from Virginia will be provided by Virginia Wine.

Drinks and canapés will be served from 6.30pm, and the Awards will be presented at 7pm.

Places are limited, so if you want to come to the party of the year, contact Jonathan Woods as soon as possible by emailing jonathan@gfw.co.uk or by telephone on 020 8659 0422. Places cost £25 for members of the Guild and £50 for guests; please send cheques made payable to the Guild of Food Writers to Jonathan Woods, The Guild of Food Writers, 255 Kent House Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 1JQ.

Can older learners still cut it in the classroom?

A few years ago, I  left home for three months to live at Ruskin College, Oxford on a Ransackers Course. This was an incredible initiative designed to inspire older learners who had not previously benefited from higher education. An intensive course it’s aim was enable new students to write a full dissertation and included tuition, accommodation, free meals and most wonderfully, a pass to the Bodleian Library.  Ransackers was aimed at those from a generation that has had limited opportunities for education and who have burning questions or a project they are deeply committed to. I applied for the course  and went along to meet the tutor and to present my project and discuss if I would be able to commit to the learning process. They seemed to think that I was eminently suitable, but I wondered how I would take to full time study. I know that I am capable; I have run a business for over 20 years, but reading for me has been more entertainment than for learning.

When I left home in Wales  I had a clutch of O Levels and a lot of enthusiasm for life. My first job was in London employed by the BBC as a secretary in The Urdu Service at Bush House in London. Whilst I learnt a lot about people in that building and their very different cultures , I was a terrible secretary. My typing was so bad that for important letters, my boss, a journalist called Towyn Mason, would type them himself very quickly and accurately with two fingers.

After working in different areas of the BBC, I finally found my niche in food by winning Cosmopolitan Cook of the Year Competition. The first prize was a year at Leith’s School of Food and Wine, sponsored by The Butter Council. In fact I won a whole new career via this prize and my first job was as the chef of Justin de Blank’s country house hotel in Norfolk. From then on I ran various kitchens and set up my own outside catering business, specialising in large events.

Now after 27 years of marriage and combining bringing up our two boys with running a catering business I  left home to study. After a life as a food writer and caterer I was able to explore  the way we eat now and the lost cooking skills of at least one generation. More specifically I examined the benefits of cooking from scratch and  the lack of knowledge the youth of Britain have towards the food they eat. I am always interested in hearing how people manage to cook, eat and share food with their families, whilst juggling different timetables, jobs and social commitments.  As a caterer I learned  to be highly organised, how to manage people and organise my time.

I was so inspired by the Ransackers experience that I am now studying for a BA (Hons) degree in Philosophy & Psychological Studies with the OU and aim to take a Masters in Business Psychology. I am particularly interested in technology from a psychological aspect and how we are evolving (or otherwise) to cope with the rapid changes taking place in our work and personal lives .

 

A Fashionable Dinner

 

specially designed menu for fashion launch
specially designed menu for fashion launch

I recently came across this old hand written menu, which was created for a fashion launch way back in 1989. The designers of fashion house, Workers for Freedom, launched their new all-white collection and we designed the dinner around this theme. There were around 100 guests, who we seated at one huge, long table in the Mall Galleries on The Mall, London. I organised the menu with tiny little punctuations of colour, such as the glossy green lime leaves for the main course and three tiny raspberries for the pudding. The cheese sables were sprinkled with a shower of white sesame seeds, the cocktail was clear and the chocolate truffles were white.

By all accounts it was a massive success, but having worked hard on all the details of the event,  I was on a plane bound for Australia so wasn’t there on the evening.