Monday, 30 January 2012

Making Yogurt and Creme Fraiche

The way we make yogurt is very simple indeed.  We use UHT milk as that means there's no need to scald the milk to rid it of any unwanted bugs that may be lurking within.

So, with our one litre of milk and a small carton of fresh, live, natural yogurt ready for action, this is what we do....

We start by adding about a dessertspoonful of the fresh yogurt to the yogurt maker's pot.  Then the milk is added and lightly stirred.

This is then put into the electric yogurt maker and left for 24 hours.  The maker we use is a bulk one from Lakeland and here is a link to their site.

After this time, the yogurt starter has worked its magic on the lactose in the milk and we have a lovely pot of home made yogurt.

To make it thicker, it can be left to strain through a sieve lined with muslin /jelly bag which makes a Greek style yogurt.
We also make creme fraiche in a similar, although more labour intensive, way.  We place double cream in a lidded saucepan and bring it to just boiling point (this needs watching carefully as it will boil over very quickly, usually at the moment you look away!)  It is then taken off the heat and allowed to cool to about 40C.  Then the same method as for yogurt is used... that is, we add the scalded cream to the yogurt starter, place in the yogurt maker and leave for 24 hours.  Et voila!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Doughnut Sticks

 When @CoeliacStudent Saara posted that she'd made some Gluten Free Sticky Doughnut Sticks on her blog  it was only a matter of time before Sous Chef J and I were having a go at making them!

The recipe calls for very few ingredients which is always something that catches our eye.  As a tester batch, we decided to make half the quantity the Saara used.

So, we gathered together flour (65g Plain and 65g Self Raising from Dove's Farm and, of course, in this recipe we use gluten free) and 15g caster sugar.  Weighed out 200g water (yes, really) and added a Tablespoon of oil.

The water had the oil added to it and was then put into a pan and brought to the boil.

This hot water/oil  mix was then added, gradually, to the flour/sugar bowl which had also had a pinch of salt added.

 The mixture was brought together with a fork until it formed a rough dough ball.

Next, small amounts of the dough were rolled into stick (we used a silicone sheet and a little flour for dusting).  We were as quick as possible and, whilst this was happening, we had a small frying pan heating with oil on the hob.

 Once the oil was heated to 'bubbles when you drop a bit of dough in temperature' we carefully added the dough sticks, in batches, to cook (remembering to turn them) til lightly browned.

The cooked sticks were drained on kitchen towel and cooled slightly before being rolled in granulated sugar.

Finally, the Doughnut sticks were served ... and they didn't last long!  
 Thanks again, Saara for sharing your recipe... we think we'll be making these quite often from now on.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Chilli Con Carne

 We needed an easy slow cooker meal so, having checked the ingredients available, decided on Chilli.  This is a bit of a 'make it up as you go along' recipe at the best of times.

The ingredients we used were

1 Tablespoon oil 
2 onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon tomato puree
2 tins chopped tomatoes
450g pork mince
1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into large dice
dash of tabasco
slop of red wine
tin red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)

To serve -
Taco trays (we use Discovery ones)
Grated cheese (cheddar for us)
Guacamole and Sour cream dip - from a prepacked Tex Mex trio.

First of all, the oil was heated in our wok over a medium heat.  The chopped onion was added and left to soften for a few minutes.  Then the tomato puree was added, mixed through and the heat was reduced for about five minutes to allow the paste to cook through.  At this point, the slow cooker was switched on to the high setting.

Then the green pepper was added to the wok and left to cook for a minute. Next the mince was added and browned, the tinned tomatoes, wine and tabasco was stirred through.

Once the chilli was mixed, it was transferred to the slow cooker and the setting was reduced to low.  It was then left for about 5 hours.

When we were almost ready to eat our meal, the red kidney beans (which had been drained and rinsed) were added to the slow cooker mix and stirred through.

The taco trays were warmed under a low grill and the dips were placed on the table.

Finally, it was a case of 'self assembly' and eating without cutlery (always the mode of choice for Sous Chef J).

This made enough for 4 generous or 6 smaller portions.  Half of the chilli was cooled, transferred to a pyrex dish and put in the fridge for a midweek meal.  It could easily be frozen but make sure it's reheated thoroughly after defrosting and, more importantly, MARK UP what you put in the freezer! (It's my New Year's Resolution to only put things in the freezer that have been labelled... so far I am sticking to it)

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Lemon Drizzle Loaf

Inspired by seeing a tweet from @utterlyscrummy about her baking and looking at her blogpost, we decided to give the recipe she posted a try with gluten free flour.

The recipe calls for the following ingredients -
200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
200g self raising flour, sifted (we used Dove's Farm Gluten Free Self Raising flour)
3 free range eggs (we used medium eggs)
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
for the lemon drizzle:
Juice of the zested lemon
50g of sugar  (add 5g more if you used a rather large lemon)

After gathering the above ingredients, Sous Chef J set about creaming the butter and sugar... for once, he was happy to give it a go with our electric hand mixer (this may have something to do with the promise of "cook's reward" of licking the beaters at the end of mixing).  He made a good effort and managed to handle the mixer quite well.

He then grated the zest of the lemon and mixed this into the creamed butter and sugar.

Next we added in the flour - about one third at a time, with one of the eggs - and mixed some more.  By the end of this time, the mix was quite firm so Sous Chef J had swapped back to being photographer.

Finally, the cake mix was dolloped into a pre-lined (we use the ready made loaf tin liners) tin. the mix was evened out before the loaf was put into a warm oven (170C fan) for 40 minutes. It was checked with a knife at this point but was still very batter-like so it was left in the oven for a further 10minutes (obviously this stage depends on your cooker and the ingredients/tin you've used so you need to keep an eye on it).  After this time, we turned the oven off but left the loaf in for a further five minutes.  It was then removed to cool slightly in the tin.

The lemon drizzle mix was prepared using the juice of the lemon and sugar.  It was poured over the warm cake which we'd 'stabbed' all over.  Then we had to be patient and let it cool a little more before we could eat it!

Having waited as long as we could, we cut a slice of cake each and were delighted at the light, lemony lusciousness we were rewarded with!  Sous Chef J did comment that "we've used too much baking powder" having seen that the middle had sunk... however, this will have been the result of our frugal oven use as we also cooked 2 pizzas and a tray of coconut biscuits so the oven door was opened a few times.  Anyway, to use a favourite phrase of Sous Chef J ""it all goes the same in your tummy; YUM." So we weren't put off by the saggy bit... in fact it absorbed the drizzle very well indeed.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Quick Chicken Nuggets

Needing a quick meal for tea, we decided chicken nuggets would be a good idea.  Gathering together a chicken breast, a packet of salted crisps and an egg we made a speedy meal in less than 15 minutes. 

The packet of crisps was left closed and the crisps were crushed.  Then they were placed in a bowl.  Some butter and oil was added to a frying pan over a medium heat.

A beaten medium egg was put in another bowl and the chicken was cut into bite sized chunks.

Having dipped the chicken in the egg wash, it was coated in the crisps and added to the frying pan.  After a few minutes, the chicken was turned and it was left to cook through.

Sous Chef J declared this to be "brilliant"... and, seeing as he ate the lot in record time, it did seem to be a successful quick meal to make!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Slow Cooker Jacket Potatoes

 One of Sous Chef J's favourite meals is jacket potatoes and we wondered whether we could use our slow cooker to make them... so we gave it a try.

First of all, we placed a little scrunched up tin foil in the base of the cooker then arranged six mid sized potatoes around the slow cooker.  The lid was placed on (it needs to be a snug fit to stop water/heat escaping.)

The cooker was set to high... and, as we needed the potatoes for lunchtime, we left them on high for about four hours and they were done.

This is what the cooker looked like at during cooking... you can see that there is quite a lot of moisture inside the cooker. Some has also escaped out.

Here is what the potatoes looked like after cooking.  They are moist and soft.  The points where the potatoes touched the ceramic pot were crisp.

The pot was switched off at this stage and care was taken removing the potatoes as they are hot and very soft.  We found some tongs worked well.

A good amount of butter and some freshly ground black pepper were added and our meal was ready.

We have tried this when going out for the afternoon - starting the cooking off on high for about an hour and then reducing to low for the remainder of the cooking time.  We find 4-5 hours will cook the potatoes through but, obviously, that depends on their size and also the power of the cooker.  Ours is a very basic, 3 litre cooker with settings labelled as High, Low and Warm.