Monday, 12 January 2015

Lemon and honey in a jar

This is a recipe from a few years ago after a wonderful walking holiday in the south of Spain. I returned with quite a few lemons just picked of the tree in our hosts garden and made this marmalade in Rowallane Gardens kitchen. 

Lemons   1kg
Water       2.5 ltrs
Sugar      1.75 kg
Honey     200grms

I started by scrubbing the lemons in cold water then juicing them, leave the juice to one side. Now this is the most important separate the pith from the zest I cut the lemons into quarters and cut of the pith and set aside, next i sliced up the zest into fine strips. The next step is to put the pith into muslin and tie it up then I put the zest, lemon juice and water and muslin bag into a preserving pan and brought to the boil and simmered for just under 2 hours. Next I removed the muslin squeezing any remaining liquid in the bag back into remaining liquid now I added the sugar and honey to the pot and brought to a rolling boil until it reached the setting point before jarring. This made 9 275grm jars 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Chemotherapy a week in

Well this time last week I was very nervous of the treatment ahead, I still am but have only 3 days of tablets left to take. Despite the weather I have been out walking with Rory the dog which helps me keep my head in the right place, too much Radiohead :) 
No side effects so far other than constantly eating and feeling the need for super fresh green veg as well as eating lots of apples. 
I gave notice on my rental house today as it is not fit for someone with my needs to live in step stairs and a damp kitchen also adding to the problem is the lack of a walk in shower. The hospital where not happy for me to return there so my poor mum has to put up with me in the mean time. Thanks Mum :) 

Talking of a cut back in independence I was meant to be traveling to Turin this week to attend Slow Food Terra Madra via Paris and Lyon on the TGV ah well always next year :) 
Have fun everyone ! 
For lunch today I cooked pasta with broccoli lots of garlic lemon juice a real health kick at 12 every morning I start off taking my meds and lots of water while my porridge soaks. Jumbo organic oats with prunes, dates, cinnamon and nutmeg topped of with flax seeds and a little honey. I had given up coffee for a while but back on a morning cup not too strong just to get the system going. 
Very glad this treatment has not effected my taste buds like radiotherapy did but still early days brush my teeth many times to get rid of the taste of the meds.  Steroids, Kepra, Chemo drugs and a few anti sickness. 
Going to check out a project I helped start in Holywood tomorrow Redburn Community Cafe, by all sounds it has been going very well. Next step is a community kitchen when I am back up on my feet. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Cancer fight again

I have had two years of good progress after brain surgery and radiotherapy,  a few weeks ago I started to feel a little unwell and had a few seizures. 
After a few days in hospital with a change in meds and a chat with my medical team, it was decided that I should start Chemotherapy as soon as possible. It's not as bad as you see on TV as I only had to have an IV of chemo to start with that lasted no longer than 10 minutes. I also have tablets to take at home every day and steroid tablets so eating lots :) made a sourdough today keeping up normality as much as I can. 
I am also hoping to return to college soon and other activities so watch this space.

Thanks to everyone for their suppport over the years especially Belfast Cookery School and Mourne Seafood bar 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Bread and Butter

 Last Saturday while I was in London I visited Crystal Palace Food Market this is what I came away with.

As well as a lot of inspiration after talking to organisers and producer and bakers thank you all. 
Oh nearly forgot 4 LPs all for £1 playing now perfect Stevie Wonder Songs in the key of life. 

So a few days later I still had some amazing Sourdough left some butter and a small tub of raw cream, bread and butter a must make.
All I need was organic eggs, I had raisens in the cupboard as well as marmalade. 
The cream was solid a wonderful thick grassy fruity tasting cream, I whisked it together with two egg and added a little water just to losen it slightly and a teaspoon of sugar.  
Cut the remaining sourdough spread it thickly with butter and marmalade then layered it in a Pyrex dish with raisens and poured over the custard mix pressed down the bread so it soaked up all the wonderful raw goodness. Set it in the fridge for a few hours to allow the sourdough to soak up the custard. Before baking I let the pudding get to room temp and sprinkled a few teaspoons of brown sugar on top. Then baked it for about 35 mins at 165 oC I kept a good eye on it as I had never used the oven before, I would recomend adding a ban Marie but didn't have a dish suitable in the rented apartment. 
Served on its own wonderfully rich. 

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Soulful Bakers

I have been planning to visit and watch our Real Bread Bakers of Ireland North and South for some time. Last week I had the chance to visit Cloughjordan Eco village for a conference so it was a great chance to visit Joe Fitzmaurice of +Cloughjordan Wood-fired Bakery while I was there.

The object of visiting different Real Bread makers is to highlight how a reawakening of real food is emerging, how a true craftsperson works to create a wonderful bread free of additives and all the nasty stuff used in factory bread. 
You can't create great bread with out knowing your dough and Joe is at one with the dough, I had the pleasure of talking to Joe while he handled the dough with care, shaped wonderful loaves and while he was doing that check in bread that was in the wood burning oven. 
A real honour to watch someone so skilled focus and relaxed at their work, the long hours of baking are offset by having the family home next to the bakery a true family effort. 
This all shows in the finished bread to highlight this pictures do more justice than words.
Joe will be doing bread courses soon I can't wait to get down to one of those. 
Thank you Joe for the amazing bread. Roll on a bread revolution! 
More photos to come!  Look out next month for another Baker #realbread on a roll in Ireland 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Bread and Thoughts

On Friday the 16th of May I headed to the Balmoral Show to do a demo on bread intitled Bread & Thoughts a mixture of verses, poems and a demo on how to make sourdough flat breads.
The reason I mention the 16th of May is that it the patron saint of bakers day, a fitting day for such a demo.
The main theme was real bread, asking what is bread and what is not bread. To do this I enlisted the help of a supermarket loaf read out the contents of this factory product then smashed it to bits with a rolling pin. 
So next time you are in a supermarket have a look at what's in their bread and remember that bread is flour, water and salt at its purest and sometimes yeast. It should never have E numbers, acids, improvers or added proteins.
Bake your own or support your local Real Bread Bakery, why not do both! 

So to return to a calm I have an old Scotish verse for you to read.

Be gentle When you touch bread. Let it not lie Uncared for - unwanted. 
So often Bread is taken for granted.
 There is so much beauty In bread - Beauty of sun and soil Beauty of patient toil. 
Winds and rain Have caressed it. 
Christ so often blessed it. 
Be gentle When you touch bread.

I think it's fundamental that when you are baking bread or cooking anything that you understand the ingredients, know where they are grown, raised. 
Connect to the soil, which all life on earth depends.
 Grow your own food where you can even herbs and salads in a window box is a start. 
You must also be calm and in a positive mood when baking bread, the dough will know. 

 Sourdough recipe 

The starter - mix equal amounts of flour and water leave uncover until it starts to fizz then add more flour and water and cover with cloth in a cool place. Keep refreshing the starter with equal amounts of flour and water every other day until you have around 500g of starter now you are ready to bake.

Making the bread in 10 steps 

Strong white bread flour 500 grams 
Soft sea salt 10 grams
100 grams of starter 
Water 375 ml 

1. Weigh out flour and salt mix in bowl 
2. Measure water in jug and add starter to jug stir until start is well mixed with water 
3. Mix water and starter with flour until a light dough is formed 
4. Cover with a cloth and leave in a cool place for 8 hours 

5. Lightly flour a surface and gentle turn out dough from bowl at this stage you can either make 1 large loaf or 2 small ones. Either way you should fold the dough twice and shape into loaves. 

6. Leave in a cool place for around 8 hours 

7. When ready to bake ( the dough should spring back when you gentle press with your finger) place a baking stone or heavy frying pan with metal handle in the oven a set temp to its highest. 

8. When the oven is hot add a tray of water to the bottom.

9. Turn out bread onto floured baking stone slash the top of the loaf and spray with water place in oven and bake until golden, the base of the bread should have a nice hollow sound when tapped if not bake a little longer.

10. Leave to cool for at least an hour then enjoy 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Looking for inspiration in bread

Last month I took a trip to London to see my Sister Abby aka @minibeastgirl and her soon to be husband Andy @andyskipper and of course their son my nepthew Toby aka @minibeastbaby, it was wonderful spending time with them. 
Being in London also gives me a chance to experience restaurants and food that are only available in such a huge city almost a counrtry of its own. 
I had one main place on my list and that was Borough Market believe it or not a market I had never been to before. This visit I left to my last day the other food experiences I will deal with in another post. 
So I left the hotel near Bayswater on my last morning in London walked across Hyde park and down exhibition road to Kennsington south station. I like to walk in the parks in London a calm from the busy world only a short distance away. 
So I got off the tube at Monument and walked across the bridge and into the wonderful world of Borough Market. 
I took time to walk around soaking in the atmosphere tasting loose leaf tea buying some, buying a great doughnut from the Bread Ahead stall before finding their new bakery and baking school at the market. 
The bread classes are run by Aidan Chapman aka @DoughAnarchist, Aidan also runs the bread course at River Cottage. I was very kindly given a tour of the bakery and spoke to one of the students who insisted I try the pizza she had just made, it was very good and wonderful to see someone getting so much pleasure from dough. I think Adian must have one of the best jobs in bread passing on his skills and passion for bread in two great locations. May thanks to Bread Ahead and Aidan for the tour and thank you to the student for feeding me great pizza. 
Below are a few photos of the stall and Bread Ahead school even and action shot of @DoughAnarchist teaching.

There are so many food experiences to be had at this market below are a few photos, I was particularly impressed with the chefs demo area. I think something like that would be great in St George's market in Belfast.