La Différence

La Différence
A passion for food

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Wholemeal Bread









It's really great for once to post a recipe that I make every single week come rain or shine.   I use a whole 3lb/ 1.5K bag of wholemeal flour to make 3 loaves that feed the 2 of us for the duration. I always put two in the freezer and leave one out for immediate use.
 I have to say that this is so easy,  I mix the dough in my Kenwood Chef mixer first thing in the morning and leave to prove for around 2 hours which time I've walked the dogs or vacuumed the house, or whatever nasty chore awaits me.  After it's doubled in size I take it out, bash the hell out of it, portion it into three 3 equal pieces and place into greased tins for around another hour or so... enough time to pop to the supermarket, have a friend round for coffee and a natter or have a potter in the garden.
Baked in a hot oven for exactly 30 minutes and the bread is ready. 




OK  the ingredients

3lb Wholemeal flour ( I like to use the one above or Waitrose Canadian) but this recipe works well with most bread flours including white

3 Teaspoons Salt
3 Tablespoons Rapeseed Oil ( vegetable oil will do)
2 Teaspoons Sugar (any)
5 Teaspoons  Dried Yeast... I use Allison's Easy Bake which can be mixed into the flour at the start but follow instructions for normal dried yeast... if you have fresh yeast or your own 'brew' then even better.
1 Litre/1¾ Pints water at body heat
A few Oats to top (optional)

I make my bread using a Kenwood Chef which is large mixer, you can alternatively make this by hand  
grease 3 2lb loaf tins or you can  hand form your own loaves on 3 baking trays

Instructions,

remove 2 or 3 tbsps of your flour and set aside for later

Place the oil into the bottom of your mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar. salt and yeast and mix together using your dough hook attachment.  ( if not using a mixer do this by hand). Add all the water.
Set the mixer to it's slowest setting and start to combine, stopping the machine and scraping the sides occasionally.  It will gradually form a solid but slightly sticky ball around the hook.  Make sure that all the flour has been taken up by the hook and just leave this mixing for around 7 minutes. The dough should now feel quite elastic and very pliable.

If making by hand then you will need to kneed the dough for at least 10 minutes ( a great way to work out any frustrations )  the dough should start to feel very pliable, it is then ready for the next stage. Put the dough back into the mixing bowl

Right, now it's time for the first prove.  I just cover the mixing bowl with a large plastic bag
(usually one of those large white pedal bin liners) .  Leave in a warm place, the airing cupboard is perfect, I leave mine on the side of my Rayburn stove...  if you want to bake within a few hours or leave somewhere cooler overnight ( my front porch is the perfect place to slow prove bread).  



When the dough has doubled in size it's time for the good bit.   Empty it out on a floured (using the reserved flour) work surface and bash the hell out of it ...I want to use a smiley emocion here LOL.
Cut into 3 equal sized pieces, shape and form it and place into your prepared tins.  Or shape as you will, cobs, rolls, etc etc and place on oiled trays.

I place my 3 tins of dough on my tea tray and cover again with the large plastic bag and leave in a warm place for an hour or so while I go off  to clean the damn bathroom or sort out the laundry.

As soon as the bread nears the top of the tins it's time to put your oven on. I set mine to exactly 200 c /400F.  I know lots of recipes suggest a higher temperature but this seems to be the very best heat for this particular bread.  You can add a sprinkle of oats at this stage if you want to.     I like to add a small tray of water to the very bottom of the oven at this stage.  The steam it creates makes all the difference to the crust of the loaf.

Place the bread in the centre of the oven and bake for exactly 30 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and nicely risen. Take out one loaf to test.  Slide it from it's tin and tap the base of it, it should sound hollow.  Just leave it for a couple more minutes if it isn't.

Remove from the tins immediately and leave to cool on a cooling tray.

When it's cold you can bag it up and place any spares in the freezer.  It will keep well in there for at least a month or so.

     
     


    Wholemeal Goji Berry Bread find the recipe here Wholemeal Goji Berry & Mixed Seed & Honey Bread
                                               White bread using the same method 



  

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Roasted Beetroot and Feta Salad




Beetroot has to be my favourite root crop. I love the sweet, nutty flavours of it and it pairs so well with the sharp, tangy flavour of cheese, especially Feta and Goat's Cheese.  

I love it so much that I have grown several varieties on my plot this year including this pretty rainbow variety pictured below.

   
Now I like to cook my beets in two stages.  Firstly I boil the washed and trimmed beetroots for around 5 minutes.  I then leave them to cool in the pan with the water until I'm ready to peel them.  Doing it this way is so very easy as the skins just slide off with your fingers. The beets will still be firm with a little give to them  You can do this well in advance...they can then be left until you're ready to roast them.   Don't forget to wear rubber gloves or you'll have purple hands for days.

You can make this salad with whatever leaves you have available but I like to use crispy Little Gems. They look so lovely as they line the dish waiting for the rest of the ingredients.

This recipe will serve 2-3 hungry people as a main course or 4-5 for a starter

Ingredients :-     

2 Little Gem lettuces washed and the leaves separated
8-10 Golf Ball sized Beets prepared in the method described above
3 Tbsp Aged Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp Olive Oil 
a handful of Pine-nuts toasted ( or roasted sesame seeds)
12 cherry tomatoes halved ( I used Sun Gold)
half a small Cucumber diced
200 grams/ 7oz Greek Feta   
Fresh Thyme leaves and a few Thyme flowers is available
Black Pepper
Sea Salt.

 Method:-

To roast the beetroots set the oven to 200c / 400f /gas 6

Quarter the beets, place in a baking tray.
Pour over the oil and balsamic and mix well together
Sprinkle with a little sea-salt and a few grinds of black pepper
Roast in the oven for around 15-20 minutes. stirring half way through.
The beets should be almost tender with a little bite to them... if you prefer them cooked a little more then turn the oven down to 150c/ 300 and roast for another 5 minutes or so
Sprinkle with thyme leaves.
Save any residue juices to use as the salad dressing. If there's not much juices you can always add a little more Balsamic to the baking tray scraping any residue . Pop on the stove for a minute or two to reduce the acidity and use this for your dressing. 

While the beetroot is roasting assemble the salad.

Line a 10" bowl with the salad leaves.

 Either cube the Feta or crumble it as desired.
  Now carefully and artistically as you can, pile ingredient by ingredient into the centre of the salad bowl leaving the Feta and Pine-nuts to the very end as the beets will leak their colour onto everything else if you mix everything together. 

Alternatively you can dish up onto individual plates

If you have any Thyme flowers then sprinkle them over.
Any remaining pan juices can now be trickled over.

Serve immediately
 
If you like a lot of dressing then just mix 1 tsp of Dijon mustard with 2 tablespoons of Balsamic, whik up and serve.

  
If you like this wonderful combination of flavours then here's a really lovely pasta dish that I regularly make.  I actually cook the pasta in the beetroot water to create a beautiful purple pasta. I also use the beet leaves in this dish so absolutely nothing is wasted.  You can find the recipe here  Beetroot & Feta Pasta with Pinenuts  
    
 



   

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Strawberry & Almond Cake with quick Strawberry Jam




Perfect afternoon tea material. A lovely light almond cake with a hint of strawberries and accompanied with a little tangy strawberry jam. Makes a real change from scones, jam & cream.

The jam is a quick one....it doesn't keep out of the fridge for longer than a week.  It can be frozen though and served with toast or on pancakes for a lovely breakfast.

If you prefer to measure your ingredients rather than weigh them here's a link Easy Conversion Chart

Jam Recipe

Around 1kg....2lbs strawberries hulled and cut into halves or quarters depending on the size
500 gms /1lb caster sugar
the juice of a large lemon (at least 2tbsps)


Place the fruit and the sugar in a large glass bowl and leave to marinade.  This can be done overnight
Place this in a sieve to remove all the juice
Add the lemon juice to this and pour into a pan and bring to a rolling boil, boil for 5 mins
Carefully add the fruit, stir well, and continue heating until the 'jam'  approaches setting point  105c /220f . Approx 10 minutes
Test to see if it's setting by placing a spoonful on a cold saucer....if it wrinkles when you run your finger through it ...it's done
This is not a firm setting jam and a little give to the consistency is a bonus.

Pour into a sterilised jar and seal. Alternatively wait until cool place in a tupperware box and freeze.


The Cake:-  set the oven to 160c/325f

Grease & line a 2lb  loaf tin with parchment

approx 10 medium sized still frozen solid strawberries (coat these in a little flour just before adding to the batter)
6 oz/175g butter
6 oz/175g caster sugar
6 oz/175g self raising flour
3 eggs beaten
1 tsp almond extract
approx 2 oz /60g flaked almonds
a little milk to loosen the batter




Place the butter, sugar, flour, almond extract & eggs into a large mixing bowl and combine together using a hand whisk. The batter should be of dropping consistency, add a little milk to loosen if not
Place half the batter into the prepared tin, scatter the strawberries over this then place the remaining batter on top
Sprinkle over the almonds
Bake for around 40 mins but check after 30 mins. Test with a skewer, which should come out clean  The cake should be golden and firm to the touch. 
Cool on a wire rack for around 10 minutes or so.
Leave the cake in the parchment and serve when cold.

Now get the kettle on and I'll be around shortly ♥ Dor








Saturday, 29 April 2017

Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Cake



I think I may be a little obsessed with blueberries. I have a handful on my porridge or cereal most mornings.  I love that gorgeous juicy explosion as you bite into them.  I also loved them baked in a cake or muffin and they taste particularly good with a little bit of added citrus, lemon and orange are wonderful additions to any blueberry recipe.   

They were just reducing a whole pallet of Blueberries when I went to the supermarket the other day... What a great excuse to buy a couple of boxes to bake into these delicious Blueberry & Lemon Drizzle Cakes.

As you can see this recipe will make two 1lb loaf tin cakes.  I lined them the easy way using Lakeland's loaf tin liners ( no going back to the old method for me).  The recipe is the all in one sponge mix, so very easy.... just make sure your butter or margarine ( I used Stork) is at room temperature before you start to mix.


Ingredients for 2 loaf cakes

6 large eggs,
400gms of  Fresh Blueberries  ( just under1lb)
3 large lemons zested
350 gms caster ( superfine) sugar   ( US one and a half cups)
350 gms Self raising flour ( US 2 ½ cups)
350 gms softened butter of margarine ( I used Stork)   (US 3 sticks)
3 level teaspoons baking powder  ( measure this carefully too much will cause the cake to rise quickly then fall )
2 Tsps Vanilla Extract 
a little milk if needed ( see the recipe below)

The Drizzle

150 gms caster sugar 
the juice of 2 lemons 

The Glaze  (optional) 

3 heaped Tbsps icing (powdered) Sugar
enough of the remaining lemon juice to make a pourable glaze

Method:-

Heat the oven to 160c (fan)/ 325F  / gas mark 3

Place all of the dry cake ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Add the eggs and softened butter (margarine), Vanilla and lemon zest. Don't add the blueberries just yet.

Slowly whisk together with a hand held beater until everything is combined.   

If the mixture falls easily from a spoon then it's fine... if it doesn't then slacken the batter with a touch of milk.

Sprinkle a little flour over the blueberries then fold them into the batter.

Place the batter in equal proportions into the prepared tins.

Bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the cake is springy to the touch and an skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Whilst the cake is baking prepare the syrup, place the sugar & lemon juice for the drizzle in a pan and heat through until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from the heat.

Remove from the oven and poke little holes through the cake whilst it's still warm and pour over the lemon syrup.

Leave in the tins until the cake is quite cool.

Glaze with a little lemon icing if wanted and decorate with a few blueberries  (optional)


    
This cake freezes perfectly well, we have already eaten one...it was yummy... the other is in the freezer ready for any expected visitors 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Seafood Cous Cous 'Paella' with chilli & lime





My weight has rocketed over the winter too many cosy nights in by the woodburner eating rich warming food and drinking too many glasses of my favourite tipple, nicely chilled Sauvignon Blanc.
Something just had to give, the warm spell before Easter caught me out. There was absolutely no way I was going sleeveless and showing off my fine pair of 'bingo-wings' to anyone. So it's back to the only diet that works for me Weight Watchers and this time I'm doing it online.
I lost over around 30lbs 4 or 5 years back, just by eating lovely healthy food and increasing my daily activities, mainly dog-walking combined with my Rosemary Conley exercise DVD two or three times a week. Of course starting my blog hasn't helped, cooking all these lovely dishes wasn't enough, I also ate the damn things.
Well it's only week one and I'm not all bored with the diet, I'm enjoying carefully working out the points in each dish that I have devised. I will try to add a points value to my recipes from now on just to give all of you who are watching their weight an idea of how much you are consuming.

So here we go with WW recipe no 1 Seafood Cous Cous Paella with chilli & lime. It's a really quick and easy meal that can be prepared in no time and will cook in around 10 minutes maximum. If you don't like cous cous then you can substitute it with pasta ( just make sure to check on the points first though). If your not on a diet then you'll still enjoy this dish guilt -free.

This is for 4 portions if you're Weight Watching and perhaps two large portions if your not. You can enjoy this either hot or cold. If you'd like it cold then add the Seafood to the rest of the cooked ingredients once they have cooled. Great for taking to work in a tupperware box for lunch.

8 to 12oz cooked seafood. The mixture I bought had prawns (shrimp), squid and mussels
150gms Giant Cous Cous cooked as per instructions on the packet & add 1tsp Ras-el-Hanout (optional)
2 shallots finely diced
2 red chillies (larger mild ones) sliced
1 medium sized yellow or orange pepper diced
16 cherry tomatoes cut in half.
2 tsp good oil. I use rapeseed but Extra Virgin Olive Oil is fine
Juice of 1 lime
lime & coriander (cilantro) or flat leaf parsley leaves to decorate
Salt & pepper to taste

Just sautee the shallots, chillies & peppers in the oil until beginning to soften.
Add the cherry tomatoes, warm through but do not cook
Add the cous cous & Seafood (if you want it hot if not add after all the other ingredients are cold & refridgerate)
Stir through & heat gently until piping hot.
Add the lime juice at the last minute & check the seasoning.
Sprinkle over some coriander or parsley leaves and serve.

Approx 5-6 points per serving.

Hope you enjoy it !



  

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Spaghetti Primavera



Such a lovely dish to serve as the wonderful Spring vegetables become available. Use whatever you like but make sure it's colourful & fresh. Here I have included Ruby Chard, asparagus, mange tout
, shallots & chilli, with lots of freshly chopped basil to finish.

To serve 2 good portions

275g Spaghetti cooked al-dente according to the instructions on the packet

for the sauce
1 large shallot finely diced
a 50g tin of anchovies in oil (leave them out for any vegetarians)
1 red chilli chopped ( optional)
1 large tomato chopped
the juice of 1 small lemon
1 tbsp good quality virgin olive oil

for the vegetables

I used the veg below, but just choose what you like

12 asparagus spears, woody ends removed then sliced in half lengthwise
4 large handfuls of Ruby Chard with it's stems chopped (spinach will do if you can't get it)
around 12 mange tout (snow peas) sliced in half lengthwise
Basil leaves chopped for garnish (around 1Tbsp)
A little glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to serve
Curls of Parmesan Cheese ( I used a potato peeler and ran it down the edge of the cheese)


Method

In a large frying pan gently fry the shallots & chilli in the oil until soft
Add the anchovies and break them up while cooking
Throw in the tomatoes
Squeeze in the juice of the lemon.
Season to taste ( you shouldn't need any salt if using the anchovies)

While this is cooking steam the vegetables for just around 3/4 minutes, so that they are cooked but still have a little crunch.

To assemble just add the veg to the sauce in the frying pan and stir through well
Add the spaghetti with a little of the pasta water
Mix the whole lot together well, add a little more Extra Virgin Olive oil and the chopped basil.

This was my lunch today and it was just delicious and so very simple to prepare .

Serve in warmed bowls adding the Parmesan curls to the top to garnish.







Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Italian Rice Creams With Gooseberry And Elderflower Puree

Italian Rice Creams with Elderflower & Gooseberry Sauce




Not long now until The Elderflower season yay!!!!!

This recipe is to die for... so deliciously rich & creamy with the added fragrance from the Elderflowers and the tartness of the gooseberry sauce.  A perfect dinner party dish to impress your guests ♥    

The photos ares mine the recipe is deliciously Delia Smith's. You will find it below.  


INGREDIENTS












You will also need 6  3" buttered Ramekins

METHOD

First pour the milk into a saucepan and add the sugar, nutmeg and lemon zest. Stir and bring everything up to simmering point, then add the rice, giving it several good stirs.
Then turn the heat down to its very lowest setting, put a lid on and leave it for about 40-50 minutes, giving it a stir every now and again. If you heat is not low enough you may need to use a heat diffuser.
What you need to end up with is a mixture where most of the liquid has been absorbed.
About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, measure the cream into a jug and whisk the gelatine into it to soak.
Then, when the rice is ready, pour the cream and gelatine mixture into it, followed by the egg yolk, butter and vanilla extract, and stir to mix everything very thoroughly, still keeping the heat very low. When it is all heated through – after about 2 minutes – remove from the heat and pour the mixture into the ramekins.
Leave them to cool completely, then cover with clingfilm and chill till needed.
To make the gooseberry and elderflower purée, simply place the gooseberries and sugar in a saucepan over a very gentle heat. Cover with a lid and allow the gooseberries to come up to simmering point to release their juices.
Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the skins are soft.
Then put the whole lot into a blender and whiz to a purée, or else press through a nylon sieve. When cool, stir in the cordial, then cover and chill till needed. 
To turn out the rice creams, slide a small palette knife round the edges and ease away from the sides using your finger. Invert on to small serving plates by giving a hefty shake. 
Serve with gooseberry and elderflower purée poured over, and garnish with sprigs of mint.