Friday, January 27, 2012

Rustic White Loaf

This is the first time I have tried making bread using a poolish. It worked out well and is easy to manage- I made the poolish early in the morning before work, then made the bread in the evening so the poolish had a good 12 hours to ferment. You can also leave it overnight. This loaf had a nice flavour and great crust (it erupted!)


-50 g strong white bread flour
-50 g rye / whole wheat flour
-250ml water
-1/4 tsp dried yeast


-500g strong white bread flour
-1tsp dried yeast
-2 tsps salt
-350ml warm water

1. The night/ morning you wish to bake, mix the ingredients for the poolish together,  cover with cling film , and leave in the fridge for 12 - 24 hours.
2. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Mix together the flour, salt, poolish and add the water and stir. Knead for 5 -10 minutes, the dough will come together and form a smooth ball. Leave this covered with greased cling film for 1 h or until doubled in size.
3. Preheat oven to 250C. Take the dough, punch it down and shape it, place in a 500g baking tin, cover with greased cling film and leave for 1 - 2 hours until well risen. 
4. Remove the cling film and bake for 10 minutes at 250C then lower the temperature to 200C and bake for a further 20 - 30 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash stuffed with Beetroot 'tartare'

This is a simple midweek throw-together dish...

Serves 2


-1 butternut squash, halved lengthways and seeds removed
-2 cooked beetroot
-1 slice feta cheese
-1 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds, or chopped walnuts
-Sunflower oil
-Fresh mint to garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 250C. Brush the butternut squash halves with sunflower oil and season. Transfer to a roasting tray and roast until tender - about 30 minutes.
2. Finely dice the beetroot and feta, then mix with the toasted sunflower seeds. Season to taste.
3. Spoon the beetroot mixture into the cavities of the squash. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and finish with a drizzle of oil, then return to the oven for 5 minutes. Top with chopped mint.

Enjoy with a green salad or rice/ couscous/ quinoa. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Poached Pears

A thin, vanilla and spice soaked chocolate sponge topped with poached pears. Can be served hot or cold.

Serves 6 -8


For the pears:

-6-8 pears (I used conference pears, which hold their shape well)
-75g sugar
-1 vanilla pod
-1 clove
-1/2 tsp mixed spice
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-200ml water
-100ml ginger wine

For the cake:
-125g butter, softened
-125g self-raising flour
-125g caster sugar
-3 eggs
-2 tbsp cocoa powder
-50g dark chocolate, finely grated

1. First start with the pears. Keeping the stem intact, carefully peel the pears and take a slice off the bottom so they can stand upright. Using an apple corer and sharp knife, remove the seeds from the centre of the pear, cutting into the pear from the bottom. 
2. In a large saucepan gently heat the sugar, ginger wine, water, vanilla (split) and spices. Lower in the pears, cover, and poach for 15 - 20 minutes or until just tender. 
3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 23cm spring-form tin.
4. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Crack in one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition (adding a spoonful of flour with each egg will prevent the mix from splitting). Finally, sift in the flour and cocoa powder, then fold in with the grated chocolate. 
5. Pour the cake mixture into the tin and spread out to the edges, it will be a thin spreading as this will not be a thick cake. 
6. Bake the cake on the middle shelf for 30 - 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. 
7. To serve the cake, remove the pears from their poaching syrup and put to one side. Reduce the remaining syrup over a medium - high heat until thickened. Use a fine skewer to pierce the cake all over, then pour over some of the syrup spreading it over the cake as you go. Arrange the pears on top of the cake. 

Can be served with cream, custard or ice cream.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Home-made Granola

In line with my 'eat more wholefoods' New Year's resolution, I made this granola to take for breakfast at work during the week. I've been having it with slices of banana and soy milk. 

I've used almonds, hazelnuts, dates, coconut and apricots as the main flavours but you really can add whatever dried fruits and nuts you have to hand. I admit I just saved this batch from burning but it still tastes good :-)


-300g rolled oats
-100g shelled almonds
-50g hazelnuts
-30g pumpkin seeds
-1 tbsp golden linseed
-1 tbsp wheatgerm
-2 tbsp honey (British / local - save our bees!)
-2 tbsp golden syrup
-2 tbsp apple juice
-2 tbsp walnut oil (or sunflower oil)
-20g toasted coconut flakes
-75g pitted dates, chopped
-75g dried apricots, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 180C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. In a small pan, mix together the honey and golden syrup and warm over a low heat. Mix this together with the rest of the ingredients (apart from the dates, coconut and apricots) in a large bowl.
3. Divide the mixture between the two baking trays and spread out. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes until browned and crisped, stirring at 10 minute intervals.

4. Mix with the dates and apricots and leave to cool entirely before storing in an air tight container.

Serve with milk, yoghurt or as a crunchy topping for desserts.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Yellow Split Pea Soup

This soup is comforting, nutritious and extremely cheap to make. The 500g bag of organic yellow split peas I used cost me just 99p, and the whole soup can't have cost more than £2.50 to make. So it complies with more than one of my New Year's Resolutions- a good start to 2012!

Serves 6 as a starter or 4 as a main course


-500g dried yellow split peas, rinsed
-1 onion, peeled and chopped
-1 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
-1 small red chilli, seeds removed and chopped
-1 tsp turmeric powder
-1/2 tin coconut milk
-1 litre vegetable stock
-1/2 soy sauce
-Juice of one lemon
-1 tbsp sunflower oil for frying

1. Gently fry the onion, ginger and chilli until soft. Add the split peas to the pan with the vegetable stock and turmeric, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the split peas are tender but still with some bite to them. You may need to top up with water as the peas cook. 
2. Remove 1/3 of the split peas from the pan and put to one side. Purée the rest using a hand blender (or transfer to a food processor). Pour the reserved split peas back into the pan.
3. Stir in the lemon juice, coconut milk, and soy sauce then season to taste.

Serve with chunky bread and a swirl of yoghurt if liked.