26 Nov 2015

Wheat & Spelt English muffins

I am so ready for a full month of Christmas cheer. 
This Christmas is extra special: the Man and I are going to get our first Christmas tree for our first house as a couple, set up an advent calendar in the kitchen, decorate our new lounge with fairy lights and our front door with a Christmas wreath...
I feel like a grown up, but for once being a "grown up" involves a lot of fun! (Paying the bills and dealing with plumbing issues are not grown up tasks I particularly enjoy).
It feels a bit silly to start feeling like a grown up at 33. Maybe I took my time to grow up, or maybe it's just part of being a Londoner to feel like a youngster a bit longer than the rest of the population...who knows?
Anyways, I hope you have got your order for mince pies and your spices for mulled wine? 
Ready, steady, Christmas!

Spelt and Wheat English Muffins

Ingredients (for 8 muffins) 
150g strong white bread flour, plus extra for flouring
150g spelt flour
6g fast-action yeast
6g salt
15g caster sugar
15g softened butter, cut into small pieces
1 medium free-range egg, lightly beaten
170ml milk (should make a soft dough – you can add up to about 30mlextra if needed)
oil, for greasing
15g semolina or polenta, plus extra for dusting
1/ Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on one side of the flour and the salt into the other side of the flour. Add the sugar, butter, egg and milk, then mix all the ingredients together to form a soft dough.

2/ Turn the mixture out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until soft, smooth and stretchy.

3/ Lightly grease a large bowl with oil. Place the dough in the oiled bowl, cover and leave to prove for about one hour, or until doubled in size.

4/ Dust the work surface with a mixture of the semolina/polenta and flour. Tip the dough out onto the work surface and roll out to about 2.5cm thick.

5/ Lightly dust two baking trays with half of the semolina or polenta.

6/ Using a 9cm straight-sided cutter, cut out eight muffins. Place four muffins, evenly spaced apart on each of the dusted baking trays. Dust the remaining semolina or polenta over the top of the muffins.

7/ Leave to prove for another 30 minutes.

8/ Preheat the hot plate or a heavy-based frying pan on the hob to a very low heat. Griddle the muffins for approximately 5-6 minutes, then flip over and griddle for another 5-6 minutes on the other side.

Recipe from Paul Hollywood

2 Nov 2015

Mac n' Cheese, the real deal

The food we eat as kids is as much a part of our culture as the cartoons we used to watch on TV and the songs that used to play on the radio when we were growing up. 

Take The Man and I for example.
I grew up with Coquillettes-Ham (little pasta served with cubed ham), knacki-mash (frankfurt sausages cut in small pieces and mixed with mash potatoes), chocolate Danette (chocolate custard) and Nutella on Toast.
The Man grew up munching on beans on toast, fish finger sandwiches, apple crumble and jelly & ice-cream.

Realising our respective lack of knowledge, we've decided to discover each other's kids food.

I am not sure I will post here the recipe of fish finger sandwiches (this blog has a bit of self-esteem after all), but I had to share this Macaroni and cheese recipe, which makes you wish cheese and pasta were two of your five a day!

Mac n' Cheese, the real deal

There are not many dishes that beat a Mac n' Cheese in the comfort food category. 
On a rainy Sunday morning, I adapted here a recipe from the god of comfort food, Jamie Oliver, changing little things here and there to get a dish perfect to my taste. 
NB: I cooked my Mac n' Cheese a bit too long in the oven, which is why it looks a tiny bit dry on the pictures. That's why I've adapted the timings in the recipe below, so yours should be perfect!
Ingredients (for 4 people)
45 g butter
3 heaped tablespoons plain flour
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
6 bay leaves
1 litre semi-skimmed milk
600 g dried macaroni
150 g Cheddar, grated
100 g Parmesan, grated
a few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
Worcestershire sauce
1 grating nutmeg, optional
3 big handfuls fresh breadcrumbs or 1 slice of bread
olive oil, salt and pepper

1/ Bring to the boil a large pan of salted water.

2/ Melt the butter in a large ovenproof saucepan over a low heat, then add the flour and turn the heat up to medium, stirring all the time, until you get a paste. Add all the sliced garlic. Keep cooking and stirring until golden and the garlic is nice and sticky. Add the bay leaves and slowly whisk in the milk a little at a time to ensure you get a nice smooth sauce. Bring the mixture to the boil, then leave it on a low heat to simmer and tick away, stirring occasionally.

3/ Preheat your oven to 220ºC.

4/ Add the pasta to the pan of boiling salted water and cook them al dente according to the packet instructions. Drain the pasta, keeping a mug of pasta water and add the pasta it immediately to the sauce. Give it a good stir and take the pan off the heat. Stir in the grated cheeses, and thyme leaves.
Add a few splashed of Worcestershire sauce, and a little grating or two of nutmeg. You want the mixture to be slightly too wet because it will thicken up again in the oven, so add some of the saved pasta water, around 1/2mug 9up to a mug depending on the consistency of the sauce).

5/ Make the breadcrumbs: in a food processor, whizz the bread, a few leaves of thyme and a drizzle of olive oil until it forms breadcrumbs. Keep aside.

6/ If the sauce has been made in an ovenproof casserole pan, leave everything in it; if not, transfer it to a deep oven proof dish. Bake it around 10 minutes in the oven. Add the breadcrumbs, and bake for 5 more minutes until golden and crispy.

7/ Serve the Mac n’ Cheese with a salad