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