Category Archives: bread

beer bread (in which i attempt to emulate the fine cooks at ‘good neighbour’)

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We”ve got a new pub in our neighbourhood: “Good Neighbour“, & by George it’s good! We rocked on down there the day after it opened – the place was buzzing, the service & food were great, & I am now a fan of their plum cider! And of the beer bread, which we devoured while waiting for our (equally delicious) mains to arrive.

In fact, I’ve been trying to come up with a similar loaf at home. The first time I made it, the beer was probably too ‘light’ (in colour & flavour, but then I am not a beer connoisseur), so the next time I used a ‘hoppier’ version that gave a lovely flavoursome loaf, slightly sweet & pleasantly chewy without losing softness. In fact, I’ve got another lot rising at the moment, & this time I’ve used the pub’s own sparkling ale, so we’re really looking forward to it coming out of the oven! What follows is the kneaded-by-breadmaker version – if making by hand then make a ‘sponge’ with the yeast, sugar, about a cup of flour & some of the liquid, then add the rest of the flour & the softened butter & knead away.

Into the pan of the breadmaker, measure: 4 tsp ‘surebake’ (red-top) yeast, 2 Tblsp honey or brown sugar, 1 c wholemeal flour, 3 c white flour, 3/4 tsp salt, 50 g softened butter, and 1 & 1/2 c of the beer of your choice. Set the machine to ‘dough’ & leave it to work its magic – you might want to stay within earshot just to check the consistency once it starts kneading, as I’ve found that I’ve needed to add perhaps another 1/8 c warm water to the mix.

Once the machine goes ‘beep’, then shape the dough as you desire. I made buns the first time, but second time round I knocked the dough back, divided it in half & then split each half into three pieces that I rolled into long sausages (about 30 cm long). This gave me 2 plaited rolls, which I put to rise on the baking sheet before baking at 180 C for about 25 minutes. But it would be yummy in loaf tins as well.

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a sort of cassoulet

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Yesterday, when we did the shopping, there were nice meaty pork bones in the supermarket butchery. So I bought them, along with a packet of 3 chorizo sausages & also the things that were actually on the shopping list. And today I made a sort of cassoulet. It’s based on a recipe in Alison Holst’s collection of crockpot & slow=cooker dishes, but as usual I tweaked it a bit to suit what was in the herb garden & pantry.

You’ll need to start this off in the morning if using a slow cooker as it takes 6-8 hours on ‘low’ to get the meat nice & toothsome & the sauce thick & rich.

First I sliced a couple of brown onions & softened them in olive oil on a medium heat, along with 4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced. Then I tipped them into the bowl of my trusty slow-cooker, and added a tin of chopped tomatoes in juice, a tin of cannellini beans, 3 Tblsp of tomato paste, the leaves of several sprigs of time, a couple of Tblsp of chopped fresh marjoram, 1/2 tsp salt and a couple of bay leaves, & mixed everything together. (The original recipe calls for sage, but I haven’t had a lot of success with sage. If we enlarge the courtyard garden I’ll try growing it there as it doesn’t seem to like life in pots. Not at our place, anyway.) The chorizos I sliced about 1cm thick before adding them to the dish, and then the pork bones, and mixed again so the meat was well covered in sauce. Then I left it all to its own devices.

After a couple of hours I gave it all a stir. The mix looked a bit dry so I dropped in the half-dozen small tomatoes from the bowl on the bench, added about half a cup of water, & went away again.

A little before dinner time I fished out the pork bones & separated the now meltingly-soft meat from the bones & skin, popping the meat back in the cooker bowl & wrapping the other bits for the rubbish. Check to see if it needs seasoning – ours didn’t as the chorizos were pleasantly spicy – before sprinkling with chopped parsley & serving. Or you could use gremolata. The dish would go well with steamed greens and baked potatoes (or mash), but we had it with slices of beer bread (the recipe for which I will provide shortly ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

It might not have been authentic, but it was certainly tasty.

parmesan-&-basil bread, with soup (pumpkin, of course!)

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Yesterday we had family coming to lunch. I had to go in to work for the morning (yes, I know it was Anzac Day, but we were running a practical exam for the NZ team hopefuls for the upcoming Biology Olympiad in Switzerland), so I got the soup ready the day before & put the bread in the bread maker. (The husbandย can cook, he just avoids it where possible ๐Ÿ™‚ )

I’m sure there are heaps of recipes already out there for pumpkin soup! This is what I put together on Saturday night: first, roast your pumpkin. Actually it was pumpkins in this case – 4 of them, halved, seeds scooped out, & into the oven at 180 C until tender. While they cooked I melted 50 g butter in one of my big pans, along with a goodly slosh of olive oil, & added 2 thinly-sliced brown onions to soften & go transparent. There was garlic in the soup too, but as we’re getting rid of the little heads from summer’s harvest before getting stuck into the big stuff, I sliced the tops off 8 of them & wrapped them in foil (with a splash of oil) before putting them in the oven with the pumpkins. Once they were cooked, all I had to do was squeeze the lovely rich pulp into the soup pan. At which point I also added 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, & just a soupcon of ground chili, & stirred it all together.

The pumpkins took around 30 minutes to cook, after which (wearing oven gloves, cos they were HOT) I scooped the flesh into the pot, followed by 1 L vegetable stock & 4 medium potatoes, cut into very small dice. I should have added them with the onions but I forgot; anyway, it all worked out ๐Ÿ˜€ I left them to simmer gently, with the occasional stir, for 20-30 minutes & then used my stick blender to puree everything together. The result was a very thick puree indeed, so I thinned it a little with water and 1/2 c cream (because it was in the fridge), then put the lid back on & left it for the morning – with strict instructions to the husband to stir carefully while reheating, because otherwise it was highly likely to catch & burn at the bottom.

And before I biked in to work in the morning, I put the bread in the bread maker. This is a riff on an Alison Holst recipe from a few years back, enriched with butter & an egg. And it’s just as easily made by hand, in which case you’d make a ‘sponge’ of the yeast with a little of the measured flour & water, before working in everything else.

Into the pan of the bread maker, I measured 4 tsp active yeast (here in NZ it’s the kind in the red-topped jar), followed by 4 c flour – yesterday I used 100% white flour but 1 wholemeal:3 white is nice too, 2 Tblsp white sugar, 1 tsp salt, 50 g butter cut into small pieces, 1/2 c coarsely grated parmesan cheese, & 1/2 c finely chopped fresh basil. This was followed by an egg and enough water to make up a total liquid volume of 1&1/2 cups. On my machine that gives an XL loaf. I set the crust to ‘light’ & set the timer so that the loaf would be ready around lunchtime, pressed ‘on’, & headed off to work, happy in the knowledge that there would be lunch when I got back.

And there was.