In My Bits & Bobs Kitchen

Try as I might, I’ve not managed to find a pithy topic to unify this month’s IMK post. Hence the title: Bits & Bobs, a very British way of saying bits and pieces, a miscellaneous assortment of small things. Well, it happens sometimes – the mind goes __BLANK__. Although, come to think of it, much of what has been happening in my kitchen this past month has been experiments from various cookbooks – both old and new.

bits&bobs_featureSome of the books that I’m cooking from this month.

One of those experiments was a hybrid – Dan Lepard’s hoggan filling (from Short and Sweet) combined with Richard Bertinet’s pastry recipie for Cornish pasties (from Pastry), but substituting saffron water (from Paula Wolfert’s The Food of Morocco) for the plain water in the dough recipe. A hoggan, derived from a Cornish dialectical word for pasty (hogen), is traditionally made with pork. It has not recieved protected status (PGI – European Protected Geographical Indication) like its peppery beef, swede, potato counterpart, but it is, nonetheless, a traditional Cornish pasty. Although, I must admit I substituted the English mustard in Dan’s recipe for the lovely Dijon style moutarde de Bourgogne that we brought back from France. Next time I might add a bit of apple….

hoggan
hoggan_cut

I have discovered a whole new world of tagines from Paula Wolfert’s The Food of Morocco – the book under review by The Cookbook Guru for March and April. Who would have thought that squid would make an excellent tagine? I posted on this in A Most Unusual Tagine. Then there was the kefta tagine – lucious meatballs in a lemony, spicy sauce – made twice, once with minced lamb and once with beef (both delicious). I would have posted on the kefta tagine, but Glenda @ Passion Fruit Garden beat me to it! I will probably cook my way through Wolfert’s book – fantastic feasts with brilliant insights into the culinary culture of Morocco. Perhaps next birthday I might even get one of those lovely conical hat tagine pots. Am holding out for a big, nicely decorated one – a showpiece as well as a functional cooking pot.

kefta_tagine

I’ve also discovered ways of using up one of last year’s batches of overcooked, thick orange marmalade. I’ve made Jaffa cakes several times – much to the delight of my husband, his colleagues, my son, his lab mates, and numerous friends. They were inspired by Anne @ Mud Splattered Boots in her March In My Kitchen post. Then I saw marmalade filled baked muffin-like doughnuts posted by Serena @ Rustic Plate. It reminded me of a recipe that Francesca @ Almost Italian posted last August: Orange, Almond and Marmalade Cakes. I was also tempted by Dan Lepard’s marmalade sponge puddings, again from his book Short and Sweet. In fact, I believe there are quite a few recipes in Dan Lepard’s book that use marmalde. Note to self: must look through the book again. Too many choices, really, but I have last year’s marmalde to use up. Yes, couldn’t help myself, I made more this year and the pantry shelf is groaning under the weight of so many jars.

almond_marmalade_muffinsWent with Francesca’s recipe – great breakfast muffins
Still more marmalade left for Serena’s doughnuts and one or two of Dan’s recipes

Another item constantly on my mind is ways of using up old bread. Both Mary Taylor Simeti (from Pomp and Sustenance) and Aglaia Kremezi (from Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts) discuss a condiment made with toasted breadcrumbs fried in a little fragrant olive oil (sometimes flavoured with garlic or anchovies) and mixed with a combination of almonds, hot pepper flakes, and chopped parsley. This is a staple Sicilian “poor man’s” topping on simple pasta dishes, on grilled or fried fish, or even sprinkled on some vegetable dishes. Although, it is also sometimes mixed with a little of that expensive ingredient, Parmesan. Mine was made sans almonds (nut allergy considerations) with the end of a pain de compagne loaf made with my sourdough starter, Vaso.

conza
conza_pasta

Of course, going back a stage in bread making, is the sourdough starter which also needs to be used on a regular basis. So, earlier in the month I was exploring uses for sourdough starter – that is, other than bread. Sven, my 100% rye starter was a bit of a problem, particularly if one does not care for rye pancakes, biscotti, crumpets or muffins. Rye would not be my choice of flour for these sorts of baked goods, although some of you might not feel the same – so, please go ahead and experiment with those rye pancakes. I was inspired by reading about rye crispbreads in Scandinavian Baking by Trine Hahnemann. Working with the low gluten properties of the rye starter, I came up with rye seeded crackers for a crisp alternative.

rye_crispbread_feature

I’ve also dried and sucessfully tested Sven. I wasn’t sure how he would react to dehydration and regeneration as he really is different from my other two starters, registering about 8% protien (gluten) compared to the almost 15% of my regular bread flour starters. But, it all worked out fine. It just took a bit longer for the bubbles to activate in the starter. Now with this extra starter, maybe I shouldn’t be such a wuss and make myself try more things – expand the rye repertoire. I think I saw something in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen that can be adapted…or, I might even try those rye pancakes.

sven_reconstitutedSourdough starter “Sven”.
Left: dried. Right: regenerated (after 24 hours)

My bubbly white sourdough starter (Muriel) formed the basis of English muffins from a recipe in James Morton’s Brilliant Breads. Well, the book’s title says it all. The muffins were brilliant! And, they freeze well, too. It’s another use for this unique sourdough starter other than pizza bases and baguettes which I make regularly with Muriel.

english_muffins

My new baguette tin that bakes 4 loaves at a time is a bit of a disappointment. True, it was inexpensive (perhaps for a reason?), and it baked the loaves well enough – even if they were a bit knobbly. However, its simple aluminium construction proved to be quite flimsy and care had to be taken when lifting it in and out of the oven. I guess I’m back to square one, searching for the perfect – but elusive – large baguette baking tray.

4-baguette_tin

On the other hand, my new and very (very, very) economical “bowl quilts” are fabulous. They are placed in between nested bowls to minimise knocks, nicks and cracks. Simply fashioned in various sizes with scrap fabric and cotton batting I had leftover from a few DIY sewing projects. They were quickly made on my recycled, reconditioned 1957 Singer sewing machine. Feeling very Pinterest!

bowl_quilts
nested_bowls

That’s about it for this Month’s In My Kitchen – lots of bits and bobs!

A monthly IMK (In My Kitchen) post. Check out the fabulous Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who lists all of us IMK bloggers, writing about what’s been happening in our kitchens each month. A chronological listing of my In My Kitchen blog posts can be found on a separate page, just click the link or look under the heading of Diaries in the Menu bar above.
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54 comments

    • They are all great books. Wolfert’s Moroccon book and Kremezi’s Mediterranean one, in particular, are enjoyable reading as they both contain little stories about the food and an insight into the cultures. This is my kind of book! And, my kind of food!

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  1. Lots of fascinating bits and bobs this month Debi, and several of your books are already on my wishlist….I also admire your dedication in keeping three starters going, I struggle with one!

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    • The rye starter is the only one I really struggle with as we don’t eat rye bread all the time. The white one (Muriel) that I got from Celia is used regularly for pizza and baguettes – on a weekly basis. Vaso (my part spelt one) is also used once a week for our basic bread – for breakfast, sandwiches, etc. It is routine now! Keeping the starters in the refrigerator helps slow down their growth so that weekly feedings are normal. I have found that they can even be left for 2 weeks with no harm done. May yet try those rye pancakes. After I wrote the post, the thought of them would not leave me!

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      • I have made ‘100%’ rye bread, but have to confess I just took a bit of my normal starter and fed it with rye flour, so it probably doesn’t quite count for purists – the bread was great though πŸ™‚

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  2. Wow! There’s been a lot happening in your kitchen. I’m intrigued by the Scandanavian cookery book – Scandi seems to be the in thing at the moment. Your poor man’s pasta topping reminds me of something my mother used to serve with pork – must go and dig that recipe out now. Always good to have a few ideas for using the very end of the sourdough loaf.

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    • The Scandinavian baking book is quite good. A little under half of it is on bread and similar, and the other part on rather luscious looking cakes and other sweets. My only gripe about the book is that it requites specialist ingredients for many of the bread recipes – like rye flakes or cracked rye – which are not readily available to me in the supermarket. Otherwise, a good read. My next post is all about those breadcrumbs…mollica as they are called in Italian.

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    • I have a number of others on my wish list, but chose this one first since it had the best reviews on amazon. It is good, but I have not tried any of the sweet recipes yet – just breads. It has some limitations – particularly on specialist ingredients. You might find it easier to get things like rye flakes in Germany, but I will need to go on a search party for them.

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  3. I have squares of paper towel protecting my precious bowls from impact. I also have a cupboard full of interesting fabric off cuts. Time to pull out my 40 yr old sewing machine and make some bowl quilts. Brilliant idea! I’m enjoying reading Wolfert’s book enormously

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    • It livens up the cupboard with flashy fabrics! And, of course, the bowls don’t clink – certainly more upmarket than paper towels. πŸ˜„ Can’t wait to see what you come up with from Wolfert. Beans for me next in a week or two. Great reading! The best so far from CBG.

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      • Sorry, I have a bent finger which inadvertently hits the send on the touch screen!! I’m enjoying the read but not have not had much joy in the kitchen so far.

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      • Those darn touch screens! Am glad you are enjoying Wolfert’s book and it is a shame we aren’t in the same room to be able to talk about it. I have a few others of hers, but this one was the first that really hooked me with its stories and fabulous recipes. I may make everything in the book – well, maybe not the aubergines stuffed with brains. Or…anything else with awful offal. But, everything else makes my mouth water just reading the list of ingredients.

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      • Sadly for me, Wolfert uses huge quantities of onion, garlic and dried fruit which has thrown my diet a curved ball. I’m halfway through a whole braised lamb shoulder adaptation plus I’ve tried a couple of salads, standby for posts. Don’t you just love it when you can get really excited by a book with delicious recipes..

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  4. I LOVE the bowl quilts! They’re a great idea. Actually, I have a mountain of polarfleece I could simply cut into squares – why on earth have a never thought of that before? Thanks Debi! Your pasties look very good, and I have Paula Wolfert’s Clay Pot cooking book – it’s fantastic! The marmalade muffins look amazing, and are the fried breadcrumbs what they call pangritata? I make them too, but adding anchovies and almonds is a new idea to me, thank you! x PS. So glad Muriel is behaving for you! x

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    • Polar fleece is a brilliant idea – and no sewing involved! Next month we will all have nested bowls snugly nestled in their own little blankets. Muriel is doing well – so well that she regularly churns out pizza, baguettes, and these English muffins along with other goodies. I don’t know what I would do without her now. I have numerous other Wolfert books, including her clay pot cooking, which I love. However, this Moroccan book is even more spectacular (if that is even possible). Really need to track down a good quality clay tagine!

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    • Oh, forgot – the breadcrumbs are simply called mollica (which is Italian for breadcrumbs) – so recipes are things like “pasta con mollica”. Also, there is a Sicilian term called conza which translates as condiment – that is, a toasted breadcrumb condiment. I’ve worked up a post about it – to appear next week. Had not heard of the term pangritata – must look it up.

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  5. Thanks for sharing that info about hoggan. I had never heard of it and now it’s piqued my interest. I’m very familiar with the traditional pasty as my husband’s family are from Plymouth which is of course in Devon but right on the border of Cornwall. They love a peppery pasty! I love the look of those simple breadcrumbs. As to the bowl quilts, I have my own 1972 Elna sewing machine still going strong (they don’t make ’em like that anymore!) so I think that’s a grand idea and will be having a go. A truly tasty tour.

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    • The things you learn on Wikipedia! After seeing Dan Lepard’s recipe for a hoggan (which appeared simply as a pork version of a Cornish pasty with a bit of mustard), I began to wonder about it. Interesting, isn’t it? Very good, too, but I think a pork and apple one might be better. The swede goes much better with the beef version.

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  6. Your homemade crumpets look amazing – was that with the sourdough starter from Celia? I would love to know how you made the will you be sharing a recipe with us? I’m looking forward to trying your marmalade muffins – yumm πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing IMK

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    • The muffins were, indeed, made with my sourdough starter I got from Celia. I named her Muriel. The English muffin recipe came directly from James Morton’s book, so I wasn’t planning on posting the recipe. It is essentially the same dough for bread, only a bit firmer (i.e less water), rolled out flat after the first overnight rise, then let to rest before cutting into rounds. The rounds are then placed on a greased (clarified butter) griddle for a few minutes before turning over and cooked until they are golden on top. The muffins will rise more on the griddle. Morton says he uses the scraps left over for bread sticks or as a preferment on his next loaf of bread. The book is well worth it, and relatively inexpensive. I have it on kindle – instantaneously available. A recipe for sourdough bagels follows the one for English muffins…

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    • Hello, my name is Debi and I’m a cookbookaholic. Sorry, couldn’t help that bit of parody! I am definitely a non-repentant cookbook collector. My favourites are those that can be read as well as cooked from. Am finding that I am now collecting them in e-book format as well!

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  7. Debi, I’ve only managed to get in on the In My Kitchen thing once so far, but I try to visit as many of the listed blogs as I can each month. Loved your ‘bits and bobs’ — and your English muffins look great. I recently posted my muffins and will be posting my sourdough English muffins this week. Your pasties are gorgeous!

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    • Jean – the pasties were delicious! So were the English muffins… I had a good cooking month, there is no doubt about it. Love writing my IMK posts and peeking into others’ kitchens. Will drop by your kitchen for a good look around. Thanks for visiting.

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  8. You have been very busy baking. Good to see that the little orange marmalade cupcakes worked for you- yours look lovely. A great end of winter post reminding me that this winter, I must make more pasties as I really love them. I was also impressed with your little home made layers for bowls- I have had a few wrecked in the drawers and must copy this sensible idea.

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    • I love pasties, too. They are really creative as lots of things can go in them – especially good at using up bits and bobs from the refrigerator or leftovers. The dough made with margarine is pliable, but still strong if rolled out thin, so you can get more filling and less pastry per bite. The “bowl quilts” were an idea from a friend’s very creative mother who is a whiz with the sewing machine. Celia suggested polar fleece – another good idea (minus the sewing!).

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  9. Debi, I love the bowl quilts! I think you could probably open a little Etsy shop with a few stacks of those! I must take a look at the recipe for the lemony meatball tagine, it sounds delicious. The crumpets look fabulous – do you need a ring to cook them in? I foolishly gave a whole bunch of them to the local charity shop when I last moved, in the interests of streamlining. I didn’t know then, that Priscilla would have such an impact on our lives!! I have Lebovitz’s new book on my Amazon list (which is such a ridiculous size that it’s not worth talking about) – have you cooked from it yet? Francesca’s marmalade cakes look fabulous and I know what I am doing with all those bread heels I have accumulating in the freezer! Thanks Debi – great post as always!

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    • Selma, The bowl quilts were a fabulous idea. Celia (in her comments) suggested scraps of polar fleece which would not have to be sewn – so much easier. Wolfert’s book is fabulous. I haven’t been this excited about a book since Diane Henry first came out with Crazy Water Pickled Lemons. The “crumpets” are actually English muffins – a firmer dough than crumpets, so no rings required. Although, I did use a ring to cut them. James Morton’s book is really very good and clearly explains how to make them. I may try crumpets next which is a loose dough batter and subsequently requires a ring otherwise it becomes a dough puddle. Priscilla seems to have taken over the world! I am loving baking with my Muriel (daughter of Priscilla) and looking at ways of using her. I have not cooked from Lebovitz’s book yet as I am in the paging through and reading stage. Some recipes look really good. He also has a blog and Facebook page where he posts lots more recipes. Worth looking at. My most recent post is all about those breadcrumbs – or mollica as they are called in Italian!

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      • I did see Celia’s comment about the polar fleece which is brilliant too! I’ve been following David Lebovitz’s blog and facebook page for such a long time now – the fact that he comes from the Chez Panisse stable, in my mind, endows him with a fabulous palate and also a taste for not fussed with food – if you know what I mean? Thanks for the explanation about the English muffins – I can give those a shot without the rings!

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  10. So much deliciousness. I think my favourite is the breadcrumb topping for pasta, I love that idea. Making a mental note…
    Kavey (fellow IMKer)

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  11. There are a lot of us cookbook adicts out there! Even worse, I sometimes buy them as an ebook and then, liking them so much, end up with a printed book as well. My problem with the kindle cookbooks is that I cannot easily bookmark my favorites, and there is something about seeing smudges and spots that remind me of past cooking adventures.

    Wonderful things going on in your kitchen this month, you have been deliciously busy.

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    • I don’t collect many things, but hardback cookbooks are one of those things. And, yes, I am also guilty of buying kindle AND hardback editions of the same thing. However, there is a reason for my growing kindle library – ease of transport and an instant cooking library where ever I set up my iPad. You can bookmark recipes as well as make notes on the kindle books – both of which I have done. What I find frustrating is trying not to touch the screen with dough covered hands. I think I need to invest in a good stylus. However, you are absolutely right, the screen images of an e-book can’t compare to paper pages splattered with marks. There is something special about those well used books.

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  12. I love your drop down menus and search engine on your blog site. So easy to use. I have landed at this page again as its Cornish Pastie time here – first day of winter- and this is the page I need to get the pastry reference. Thanks once again Debi.

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