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Saturday, 20 July 2019
Charcoal bread is not quite as impressive as the first landing on the moon (hard to believe it is 50 years ago today and still blows my mind) but this is definitely a great small step for me!
More overnight sourdough bread recipes:
Carrot, onion and poppyseed bread
Chocolate, cranberry and apricot sourdough bread
Malted loaf with chocolate, figs and brazil nuts
Overnight sourdough bread with mashed potato
Savoury monkey bread
Sourdough fruit bread with poppy seeds
Sourdough cheesymite scrolls
Charcoal overnight sourdough bread
Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe
Makes 2 loaves or 16 rolls or a mix of both
300g of bubbly starter
20g activated charcoal powder
950g of flour
[A few hours before making the loaf, take sourdough starter out of the fridge and feed it so it gets nice and bubbly.]
About an hour before going to bed (or first thing in the morning) mix everything together. It is easiest to mix everything except flour first and then add flour. (Make sure you stir in the charcoal well so there are no lumps.) Use hands to mix if required. Set aside covered with a tea towel for half an hour. Knead in the bowl for about 15 seconds. Cover with greased clingwrap or a bowl cover and leave at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.
Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured board. Shape into a loaves (or cut and shape into rolls - if doing rolls I let them rise in the casserole as they don't need much in the way of slashing but slashing loaves is hard in the casserole).Place on a floured surface and cover with the lightly greased clingwrap or beeswax. (I used semolina here.) Set aside to rise for 30 minutes. While the loaves rise, preheat oven to 240 C. I use enamel casserole dishes and don't heat them but used to heat them when I used ceramic casseroles.
Slash the loaves and put in the heated casserole dishes with lids on (or on a tray or in a tin). Bake for 20 minutes with lid (or foil cover) on. Remove lid/foil and bake another 20 minutes. Then reduce oven heat to 180 C . Bread is ready if it sounds hollow when tapped. If needed, return to oven for another 10 minutes to make sure the crust is crispy and sounds hollow. Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.
On the Stereo:
So Frenchy, So Chic: the unofficial soundtrack of the French Film Festival
Sunday, 14 July 2019
I haven't knitted for years but as a student I loved to knit and made myself a few jumpers. Then lately I decided to knit a patch for a jumper that was falling apart. I decided to knit more. A friend gave me some unused wool. Firstly I made a beanie and decided to make more. We have been watching Line of Duty on Netflix late at night when I have made some good progress in my knitting (amazing albeit disturbing police drama). Meanwhile I have shown Sylvia how to knit so she can make a scarf.
Cat Cafe with E. On my day off in the first week while Sylvia was away, I met up with a friend Jane at Gopals. It is a long time since I have been there but it hasn't changed much. E and I went a lot before Sylvia was born and it was a challenge to take a pram up the stairs.
Jane and I were over ambitious with ordering the Feast menu for about $12. It was indeed a feast with lentil soup, kofta, korma curry, 2 salads and a sticky date pudding with custard (out of a squeezy bottle). I also had a dark green apple and wheatgrass juice which I enjoyed. It is a great place for cheap hippie food and it is all vegetarian.
The above dish is the Bun Chay (tofu and vegetables on vermicelli with spring rolls $14.50) from Dumpling 88 (88 Grattan Street, Carlton). It was delicious and so were the vegetarian dumplings. I figure that this place much be well regarded as we ran into another group from our workplace when we were there.
Purple Peanuts with Sylvia after she got back from my parents' place. It does such nice Japanese food. I bought a onigiri rice ball which was lovely but not appreciated by Sylvia. For myself I had the Japanese vegetable curry. It was fantastic. The tofu was nice and crispy. The rice, the almonds, pickled veg, carrot, potato and rice were delicious with lots of sauce that was spicier than other curry don bowls I have had.
Vegie Bar in Fitzroy with Faye for dinner on a cold wet weekday night. The sort of night I expect no one else to want to go out. But it was packed and we could only find a couple of seats on the communal table. We both had the Better than a Big Mac: "Two house-made 100% no-beef patties, special sauce, iceberg lettuce, vegan cheese, pickles & onion in a three-part brioche bun. Served with golden potato fries. $18" It wasn't quite as amazing as my first time. The burger patties seemed slightly mushier with less structure. But it was so fantastic. I really love a burger I can pick up and eat, and it does imitate the iconic Big Mac of my teenage years. We also had wonderful crispy rice balls with satay sauce. But it was too filling for us to have time for dessert.
Mom's Apple Cake. It uses an impressive 6 apples and bakes for 1 1/2 hours. I didn't have a big enough ring tin so I used two loaf tins, and I used lemon juice instead of orange juice. It was absolutely delicious with a layer of soft apple in the middle and on top but it was rather overbaked around the edges. My mum says the shape of my tin was to blame. But it is worth trying again (perhaps with a double lined tin). I also made a nut roast for a roast dinner. More about that later.
With regards to the film, I feel we (and Justine Clarke) have done a good job in Sylvia's musical education that she is quite familiar with the Beatles. The film is about a struggling musician who wakes from an accident to find he is the only person in the world who remembers the Beatles. There is a theme about fame and how it changes him. But the Beatles huge influence on music/fashion/cultural history is too big for the film to really grapple with. It does raise an interesting idea to ponder.
True North and then went for a swim. I have wanted to go to Vegan 365, a Vietnamese cafe in Coburg that opened earlier this year. Inside are tiled walls, plants on table, laminated pictures of the meals and vegan posters (stay calm and go vegan). It is clean and neat. Upon arrival we were given a thermos of green tea.
I would return to try the vermicelli noodle dish. Next time though I will take cash as the only other option was a bank transfer and mine was playing up so I had to go and get cash to bring back.
2 Munro Street, Coburg
Opening hours and prices change next week
Happy Cow listing
Tuesday, 9 July 2019
Above is my chopping board when I was making split pea soup a few weeks back. Perfect winter fare.
overnight sourdough bread. It is a scraper I found in my drawers. Great for cutting dough into smaller pieces. And when I finish and have to clear up, it is useful for scraping all the semolina into a pile for disposal.
chocolate pudding and cooked it topped with these marshmallows.
macaroni cheese with broccoli. Winter is presenting many challenges with taking photos of food in natural light. When light is drawing in early, a favourite place is by the back door. I often share the space with our cat Shadow who loves to stand at the flywire door to sniff the fresh air or demand to go outside. Well, we are past the winter solstice and have lighter days ahead, albeit chilly ones.
I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month. Or just head over to her blog to peek into more kitchens.
Thursday, 4 July 2019
I do not claim great authenticity as an Australian who has only visited America a few times (and you can see from the sub-par photos in above collage that it was some time ago). However Australia has drawn greatly on American culinary traditions because like America we have a fine magpie approach to traditions. As settler societies, we have brought our immigrant traditions and adapted them to a new country. For the USA, think pizza, tex-mex, pretzels, apple pie, pancakes and scone. Americans have taken these foods and made them their own.
Before I began blogging I thought I was pretty familiar with American cusine because we had so much of it here: think fast food, hot dogs, apple pie, bagels, chocolate bars. But as a blogger I became curious about the American that we didn't see so much in the rest of the world: think spoonbread, grits, biscuits and gravy, fried plaintains, Graham crackers, Brown Betty, key lime pie, rice krispy slice etc. So today I share 10 American foods that comfort and amaze me.
Five Savoury American Recipes
If I have just one thing to thank America for, it would be baked beans. We always have a tin in the cupboard. I also love making a big pot of baked beans from time to time with a more traditional flavours of mustard and maple syrup that hark back to cowboy days. It took me years to discover that baked beans didn't come from a tin but now I like them any way they come.
Long before I had even heard of MacDonalds style fast food, my dad was ordering the burger with the lot from the local fish and chip shop in a quintessentially Aussie fashion. But it seems the the idea for putting a meat patty between two buns was popularised in America, even though the original idea is claimed by many. I have eaten many burgers both with meat and vegetarian in my time, I can tell you what is in a Big Mac and I have experimented a lot with making vegetarian burgers on my blog.
3. Waldorf salad
Ironically I learnt about Waldorf salad as a kid from a British comedy (Fawlty Towers) but as an adult learnt it originated in a fancy hotel in New York. Apparently it was first made for a charity ball at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1896. It is a fine simple salad of apples, celery, walnuts and mayonnaise that must have appealed to high society in the last nineteenth century for requiring the fresh ingredients. (Apparently grapes too but they never mentioned that on Fawlty Towers so I am never sure it is true.)
I've never had a traditional Reuben sandwich with corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing but I have had a few vegan versions. A few years ago I made a great vegan version with vegan swiss cheese, beetroot, sauerkraut, apple and a tomato/mayo/pickled dressing. It was not at all traditional but I loved it.
I confess that the American idea of stuffing remains as mystery to me as their Thanksgiving. I have tried stuffing once but it didn't work as I expected. The main problem though was that the chunks of bread are no match for my memories of my mum's breadcrumb and sausage meat stuffing of my childhood. However I do love how the Americans incorporate lots of other add-ins to their stuffing and still harbour dreams of discovering just how it should be.
Five Sweet American recipes
Brownies with peanut butter
Brownies are another recipe for which I am forever grateful to Americans. A good brownie is my idea of heaven. I love my chocolate cake on the rich and dense side of the spectrum. I am sharing a brownie recipe with peanut butter here because although I grew up loving peanut butter on toast, it seems particularly American to add peanut butter to sweet foods. It not something I bake often because since making this recipe, my daughter has been diagnosed with a peanut allergy but sometimes when I am out I eat a peanut chocolate bake.
Chocolate chip cookies
It took until I was an adult and started to eat freshly baked choc chip cookies to appreciate how good they are. When you have biscuits that are chewy on the outside and soft inside with melting choc chips, it is such a joy. What a gift Ruth Graves of the Toll House Inn gave us.
I had to include doughnuts for personal reasons. While they were not invented in America, they were certainly popularised there. And my daughter went through a phase of being fascinated by doughnuts. We baked lots and ate lots. But my love of doughnuts started many years earlier. From my early childhood we used to visit the American Doughnut Kitchen Van at the Queen Vic Market. They do the best jam doughnuts ever! My dad though will buy jam doughnuts anywhere - at the footy, at festivals and at a food van. So you might say doughnuts are from American but they are part of my family.
When I watched Sesame Street as a child, they would talk of milk and cookies. It always seemed foreign to me. I never drank milk by the glass and we never used the term "cookies" for biscuits. One of the American biscuits that I really love are Oreos because they are so intensely chocolatey and because they are fun for decorating novelty cakes.
We had lots of bonfires as kids where we toasted marshmallows. Occasionally we even baked bananas and chocolate in the coals. But never s'mores. I confess I still find the idea of melting chocolate and marshmallows on Graham crackers a mystery. Last year we made Graham crackers and s'mores. And I made a s'mores slice to play around with the components. I am all for the crispy toasted marshmallow coupled with melted chocolate even if putting them together is not something I learned to do as a child in America.
Monday, 1 July 2019
I was lucky enough to be in Ireland for Bloomsday many many years ago so commemorating the day is a nice way to remember a fun day of travelling around Dublin in the steps of the hero, Leopold Bloom. It also is a way to remember my honours thesis which looked at literary relationships including the one between Joyce and Sylvia Beach, who was brave enough to publish his difficult book in Paris when lawsuits were being issued elsewhere for obscenity.
Boy Swallows Universe is a fine poetic slice of life in 1980s Brisbane that I highly recommend. I almost missed bookclub as I had been too busy to find a copy of the book. Then I bought it just a week before bookclub. And what at first propelled me to read it late into the nights was the thought of someone else telling me what happened before I read it. The the joy of reading took over and I was hooked. I was glad I finished it. Even though it meant reading late into the morning and barely having an hour to wrap the cooled tea cake before taking it to the bookclub.
Cakelaw also sang its praises.) This was a recipe that is drawn from traditions but is continuing to develop with our modern traditions. In quite a few parts of the recipe I was uncertain. It made me reflect on how I learnt to bake with my mum saying "a bit of this" and "a bit of that" which helped develop my confidence in the kitchen. It is so much harder to learn to bake from a recipe.
So here are my questions:
- Firstly I could not help but notice the "anachronisms" in the recipe - teabags, clingfilm and even a fridge might not have been part of traditional Irish baking, but then again I reminded myself that traditions have always changed over time and generations. After all, once upon a time, any dried fruit would have been a luxury in Ireland.
- How important is it to keep the soaking fruit in the fridge overnight. Usually I keep soaking fruit at room temperature. Does it make a difference?
- And does the fruit being in the fridge make a difference to the baking? Advice on recipes often says to keep eggs at room temperature or they will make a difference to baking time. Does the fruit go in the fridge to slow down the baking. (Or to imitate a cold Irish kitchen?)
- What consistency should the batter be? Adam Liaw says it should be "pourable". Mine was creamy but clung to the spoon rather than being pouring consistency.
- Adam Liaw says that the skewer should not be "wet" when testing the cake for doneness. Well a skewer is often damp from the steam of the heat so this confused me a bit. Does he just mean no uncooked cake mixture clinging to it (which is my usual way to check)?
- Why are we asked to make so much glaze? After lots of experimenting with hot cross buns I have decided one lick of glaze is enough (especially as my mum warned me the glaze could be a bit damp). So then 1/4 cup of liquid and 1/4 cup of sugar makes a lot of glaze. Hence I decided to half mine and even then had some over. Was it meant to be thicker glaze or brushed over until it was used up?
I wish I had the answers to these questions. While recipes can be harder to follow than cooking with someone with more experience, I think at least being able to have conversations online can help give guidance. And despite my questions here, I highly recommend this cake to all but the fussiest of kids.
More Irish-inspired recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Guinness chocolate cake
St Patrick's soup and sweet potato soda bread
Irish no knead bread
Seeded soda bread
Irish tea cake
Adapted from Adam Liaw in The Age Good Weekend
1 Irish breakfast tea bag, or other black tea (I used Yorkshire Gold)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup dried prunes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries - I used sultanas and a few more apricots
225g plain white flour
2 tsp baking powder
150g soft brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp castor sugar
2 tbsp soaking liquid or water
The night before baking the cake, make up tea with 1 1/2 cups of boiling water and the teabag. Cool and add fruit. Chill in fridge overnight.
The next day when you are ready to bake the cake, drain the dried fruit and keep the liquids. Grease and line a loaf tin and preheat oven to 170 C. (I used two smaller 20.5 x 10.3cm loaf tins but one tin would have meant more rise.)
Place flour, baking powder, brown sugar and spices into a large mixing bowl. Sir in egg, drained fruit and as much of the soaking liquid as is needed to make the batter easy to stir (ie mine was soft and creamy but not a pouring consistency).
Scrape the batter into prepared tin and bake for 75 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean (and not damp). My cake started to get a bit brown so I covered it with foil after about 30 minutes.
Once cake out of oven, make glaze by simmering sugar and soaking liquid if you have any (or water if you don't) just long enough to melt the sugar. I did it stovetop but think microwave might be easier next time. Brush over cake(s) once to give them a shine. Cool cake(s) on wire rack.
Wrap cake(s) in clingfilm or beeswax for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight. My cake lasted a week easily. I suspect it would last longer but enjoyed it too much to trial this. It is excellent spread with butter or eaten plain.
I forgot to cool the tea before adding the fruit. Perhaps this meant it took longer to cool. In hindsight I would have added an iceblock or two as I had very little liquid leftover and could have used it in mixing the batter or making the glaze. I think the beeswax was a sturdier wrap and would use this again over clingwrap (as well as being better for the environment). If I had cranberries I would be happy to substitute these for sultanas but either seem to work. This cake is oil free unless you slather it with butter!
On the Stereo:
Set List: The Frames