Sour Dough Bread

 

A great sourdough bread is a wonderful  addition to a bowl of warm soup or a great sandwich. A nice warm slice of bread is also just perfect still warm from the oven with a nice slather of butter. I have a starter that I have had in my fridge for the last year. You can simply start one and continue to feed it and keep it going in your fridge indefinitely. The starter makes a nice sour flavour for your bread.

 

 

You will need:

 

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups flour (2/12 cups to start and more for bench)
  • 1 tsp salt

 

 

 

Step 1: remove starter from the fridge and let come to room temperature. Add 1 cup of warm water and 1 cup of flour to starter. Leave for 1 hour until bubbling.

 

 

Step 2: In a large bowl add the active starter, water, honey, yeast,  2 1/2 cups of flour and salt.  Mix as much as you can in the bowl and turn out onto the counter kneading the dough until you have a soft dough. Add the remaining 1 cup only as needed adding as much as necessary until the dough is no longer sticky to the touch.

 

 

Step 3: place dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm location for 12-14 hours until doubled in size. The starter works slower than store bought yeast.

 

 

Step 4: Turn out dough onto counter with a bit of flour and knead into a nice smooth ball.

 

 

Step 5: place the ball of dough on a sheet of parchment paper and place in a large bowl. Let rise another 2 hours. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Place a heavy enamelled cast iron pot with a lid in the oven to heat for 20 minutes.

 

 

Step 6: carefully lift heavy pot from the oven and remove lid. Place the bread and the parchment inside the pot. Place the lid back on top and place in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the pot from the oven and take off lid.  Place bread back into the oven for another 20 minutes uncovered until browned and baked through. The pot acts as another oven to really get the bread hot enough to bake a nice crust. You can back it further than I have baked it to get an even crunchier, darker crust.

 

 

Remove bread from oven and let cool before slicing.

 

 

Serve with a nice bowl of soup.

 

If you have any bread you can’t eat it can be frozen quite nicely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herb and Lemon Roasted Chicken

 

 

 

Ah! the beautiful, simple roast chicken. A glorious smell on a Sunday afternoon. I like it because it is so versatile. You can have a roast chicken dinner, then the next day you can have the perfect Club House Sandwich and still have loads left over for the perfect chicken soup! 1 bird so many meals.

 

You will need:

 

  • 1 chicken – if you can get a free range/organic I assure you it is worth the money!
  • 3 tbsp mixed chopped fresh herbs – I used rosemary, sage, thyme
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp butter room temp
  • 1 tbsp salt and pepper in a small bowl
  • more herbs and another onion for the cavity of the chicken while roasting
  • potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic cloves and carrots

 

Get a good free range or organic chicken, it is worth the extra cost. Wash and pat dry with paper towels. Let the chicken air dry uncovered in your fridge for a few hours.

 

 

Step 1: chop some fresh herbs. I have used sage, rosemary and thyme.

 

 

Step 2: add some lemon zest.

 

 

Step 3: add the herbs to some softened butter.

 

 

Step 4: add some salt and pepper to a small bowl so you don’t contaminate the rest while you are sprinkling over the raw chicken.

 

 

Step 5: carefully run your fingers under the skin of the chicken to loosen. Add you herbed butter under the skin of the breast and legs. I like to add some full sage leaves and thin slices of lemon as well for more flavour.

 

 

Step 6: generously sprinkle inside with salt and pepper. Tie legs and tuck wings under the bird to prevent burning. Sprinkle outside generously with salt and pepper. It can handle lots and the salt is what makes a nice crispy skin. I also put 1/2 cup water in the bottom of the pan to avoid the fat from smoking when it drips on the pan.

 

 

Roast in a 400 degree F oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour I remove it from the oven and add a variety of root vegetables tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper. Then put back into the oven to continue to cook for another hour to hour and a half .

 

 

 

This is my lovely roast chicken dinner.

 

 

The next day I made a hearty chicken vegetable soup .

 

and there were even enough leftovers for great chicken salad sandwiches!

 

 

Raspberry Mango Lime Cheesecake

This can be any cheesecake you like. If you want to top with strawberries or blueberries just add the topping you like best. I like this cake because it is only half the size of a normal cheesecake. It still feeds a lot of people because you only need a small piece to satisfy your craving but, for a smaller crowd it is perfect.

 

You will need:

 

 

  • 1 and1/4 bricks of cream cheese (350 grams) – softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lime zest – finely grated (if you prefer lemon or orange use that)
  • 1 tsp vanilla or rum
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 eggs

 

Crust

 

  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp butter- melted
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp sugar

 

Topping

 

  • mango with lime juice and sugar – cooked 5 minutes
  • raspberries with 1 tbsp jam and sugar cooked 5 minutes

 

 

Step 1: in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment add softened cream cheese, sugar, salt, sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla or rum. (I use my own vanilla rum that I make by slicing vanilla pods and leaving in a small bottle of rum) Mix well, scraping down sides and paddle to ensure cream cheese gets mixed well.

 

 

Step 2: add lime zest, egg yolks and eggs, Mix until incorporated well.

 

 

Step 3: in a small bowl mix all ingredients for crust. Press the graham cracker crust into a small spring form pan or I have used a small (8 inch x 2 inch tall) tart pan with a removable bottom. Make sure to spray the pan with an olive oil or vegetable oil spray to avoid sticking. You can also make this in 2 or 3 small disposable foil pie pans. This is a great way to share a small cheesecake with friends. Everyone gets their own and no one has to return your plate!

 

 

Step 4: fill the cheesecake mixture and place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes, then turn down oven to 325 degrees and bake for a further 40 minutes.

 

 

Remove from oven and let cool completely. Then you can chill in fridge before serving

 

Make your topping with your favourite fruit a sprinkle of sugar and a heaping tbsp of jam (I have used blackberry) Cook for 5 minutes and let cool. You can pour through a sieve to make a smooth sauce or just spoon over cake as it. I also always add a few fresh fruit pieces for a nice contrast.

 

 

I did the same with a mango, a sprinkle of sugar and a splash of rum.

 

 

It is a dense and rich cheesecake with a hint of lime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smoked Salmon with Lemon Dill Spread

This is a simple appetizer, snack or even part of a great lunch. Smoked salmon, some great crackers and a smear of tasty cream cheese and finally topped with a few sliced red onions. Perfect and elegant.

 

You will need:

 

  • 2 tbsp slice of cream cheese – 2 cm slice if you are slicing a bar of cream cheese
  • 1 spring onion – finely diced
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped dill
  • 1 tsp finely zested lemon
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp chopped capers
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • sliced smoked salmon
  • wasa crackers
  • thin slices of red onion

 

 

 

gather your ingredients. Chop onions, capers and dill. Zest lemon and add all other ingredients to a small bowl. Mix well.

 

 

Add a few slices of smoked salmon to a great cracker, top with some smear and a few onions. You can also add a bit of salt and pepper if you like.

 

 

Easy and delicious. Add a nice salad and lunch is served.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florentine Meatballs

 

 

Florentine meatballs have spinach and loads of other aromatics that make them taste fantastic. Served over a simple marinara sauce or made into a wonderful meatball sandwich. If you have any leftovers they even make an awesome topping for Friday night pizza.

 

 

You will need:

 

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 9 oz of baby spinach = 1 cup cooked
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic – chopped fine
  • 1 onion – grated
  • 2 spring onions – chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 3 sun dried tomatoes in oil – chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes – peperoncino
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped bread soaked in 1/2 cup milk (10 minutes)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Sauce

  • small can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic – crushed
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasonings
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil – best quality

 

Step 1: start by quickly cooking your spinach in some olive oil with salt and pepper. It will just take maybe 4 minutes. The leaves will wilt and then some of the water will start to cook out. Once cooked you can chop until finely minced.

 

 

Step 2: add your pork and beef to a bowl. Add chopped spinach (you could use frozen spinach here just squeeze out most of the water. Add chopped garlic and grated onion.  If you prefer you can add all the ingredients except the meat to a food processor if you would rather not chop with a knife.

 

 

Step 3: chop spring onion and parsley. Chop sun dried tomatoes. Grate Parmesan cheese. Add everything to the bowl with the meat along with grated nutmeg, zested lemon, dry oregano, chili flakes and egg.

 

 

Step 4: soak chopped bread in milk.

 

 

Step 5: add bread, salt and pepper and mix well.

 

 

Step 6: using a large ice cream scoop make balls enough for dinner for your crowd.

 

 

If you have leftover meat you can make the same size to freeze or I am making small ones for my next spaghetti and meatball dinner which I will freeze and then place in a Ziploc bag.

 

 

I make a simple sauce and heat just before serving.

 

 

Step 7: Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes. You can drizzle a bit of good oil and a grating of cheese to the tops before baking.

 

 

Plate with a scoop of hot sauce and a bit of fresh Parmesan on top. You can also make these into great meatball sandwiches and if you like you can top with a bit of mozzarella and put back into the oven to melt.