2 cups fresh brown cup mushrooms (sliced into 2 – 3 slices per mushroom)
4 cloves garlic, crushed / finely chopped
Good pinch freshly ground salt and of pepper
2 cups fresh spinach leaves (about 2 heads), sliced up into large pieces
2 tbs fresh cream
Pre-line a loaf tin with cling film / saran wrap
With the water on a rolling boil in a large pan, add the butter, stock powder, and dried rosemary, mixing with an egg whisk.
Whilst continuing to whisk the stock, slowly pour the dried polenta into the water. The mix will thicken suddenly, so remove from the heat, and transfer the ‘dough’ to the lined loaf tin. Press down into the base and corners of the tin with your fingers or the back of a spoon, trying to get the surface level.
Allow to cool completely (at least 30 minutes, ideally overnight in the fridge).
After cooling, turn out onto a chopping board, and slice into very chunky chips.
Coat both sides with a little oil.
Line a roasting dish with some parchment, and bake in a pre-heated oven, at 200 degrees C, for 45 minutes, tuning once at around 30 minutes, until golden.
Transfer baked chips to a couple of sheets of kitchen paper towel. Whilst preparing the topping.
Fried Creamy Garlic Mushrooms & Spinach
Pre-heat a thick bottomed pan on a medium heat, with the tbs oil and butter.
Carefully lay each slice of mushroom into the pan, where the oil mix pools, and then drag the slice to a dry edge of the pan, until the whole pan is covered with a single layer of mushrooms.
Cook for 3-4 minutes, largely undisturbed, until the face-down side is golden.
Now sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and crushed garlic. Then carefully turn each slice of mushroom over, and fry for a further 2 minutes.
Add the chopped spinach, and stir through the hot pan until wilted (about 1 minute).
Add the cream, remove the pan from the heat, stir through carefully to pick up all the seasoning into the liquid and coat the ingredients.
Spoon out the mixture onto the bed of fresh chunky hot polenta chips.
Eat immediately. The polenta chips will soak up the creamy flavoursome sauce brilliantly.
*To make pumpkin purée, cut a sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, lay face down on a tin-foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh. Purée in food processor. Freeze whatever you don’t use for future use.
1. Sauté onions in butter, add garlic, ginger, spices: Melt butter in a large thick-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the minced garlic and ginger, cook another minute.
Add the curry powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and salt. Cook for another 2 minutes.
2. Add stock, bay leaves, and pumpkin purée: Add the stock and the bay leaves. Add the pumpkin purée and the water. Stir to combine. If the soup is too thick for your taste, add more stock or water to thin it.
Increase heat to high. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Purée soup: Remove bay leaves. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup.
4. Stir in cream: Right before serving, stir in the cream. Add black pepper and adjust seasonings to taste. Add more salt if necessary.
Drizzle with plain yogurt that has been thinned with a little water and sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds to serve.
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
1 white onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the leek, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring regularly, until soft and wilted, about 10 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary so as not to brown.
Add the potatoes, veg stock, bay leaves, thyme leaves (rubbed off the twigs, and discarding the twigs), salt and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft.
Fish out the bay leaf, then purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth. (Alternatively, use a standard blender to purée the soup in batches; see note.) Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If soup is too thin, simmer until thickened. If it’s too thick, add water or stock to thin it out. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.
Note: If using a standard blender to purée the soup: be sure not to fill the jar more than halfway; leave the hole in the lid open and cover loosely with a dishtowel to allow the heat to escape; and pour blended soup into a clean pot.
Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen, without the cream, for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. Once heated through, add the cream and bring to a simmer before serving.
A rich, deeply flavourful meal that is as hearty and satisfying as the non-vegetarian version, and this one is healthier for you!
It takes awhile to pull this together, as you want to leave plenty of time to let the red wine cook down, and then let the stock thicken into a dense sauce.
The flavours develop particularly well with the left-overs (if you have any).
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Yield: 3-4 servings (without the mash)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 large portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 1/2 cups button, brown or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup cooked brown lentils
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon flour
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup pearl onions, peeled
1 pinch salt and pepper to taste
In a large, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and saute them until they soften, about 3 minutes. Add the butter, garlic, thyme and mushrooms and cook the mixture until the mushrooms soften and begin to brown.
Add the lentils and cook for about 2 minutes, then add the wine. Continue to cook for 7-10 minutes, or until the wine has almost cooked off.
Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to evenly blend it in. Add in the vegetable stock and tomato paste.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until the sauce is thick and dark and the mushrooms are tender.
While the mixture is simmering, drizzle a small skillet with olive oil and place it over medium-high heat. Add in the halved pearl onions and saute them until they are soft and begin to brown. Add them into the mushroom mixture, give everything a stir, and taste to adjust salt and pepper seasoning.
Serve the bourguignon hot with creamy mashed potatoes, or over roasted vegetables. Enjoy!
A lovely, light, egg-free fruitcake, made in the mould of a traditional vinegar cake – that is, it’s the baking powder in the flour, combined with a splash of cider vinegar, that creates the “rise”. Serves eight to 10.
250g self-raising flour
125g cold butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
125g soft brown sugar
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 large cooking apple (such as a bramley), peeled and sliced
Demerara sugar, to finish
Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Butter a 20cm, round springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
Put the flour in a bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mix resembles breadcrumbs (or do this in a processor). Stir in the sugar and sultanas. Combine the cider and vinegar, pour into the dry ingredients and mix lightly but thoroughly. Finally, fold in the slices of apple.
Spoon the cake mix into the prepared tin, smooth it out until reasonably flat and scatter the top generously with demerara sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool before serving.
This has been my ‘go to’ rice dish for many years. It started as a Caribbean style (coconut rice with kidney beans) in around 2005, and then gained influence from a bunch of other regions from around the world over the next few years, to add a multitude of contrasting flavours and textures.
It typically uses white rice and a regular rice cooker. Then after buying a pressure cooker in 2016, there is now a variation with brown rice too.
Serves 2 people
1 small tin coconut cream / coconut milk (165ml)
1/3 cup washed basmati white rice (use the small coconut tin as a volume reference)
1 regular tin regular black beans (unflavoured)
1 small tin whole sweetcorn kernels
1 small block marinated style tofu, drained, but also optional.
a small handfull pine nuts
a dash of soy sauce / tamari sauce
a small glug of sweet chilli sauce
a big pinch of yeast flakes (optional)
In a regular rice cooker, add the small tin of coconut milk or cream, refill that tin with the basmati rice and put in the rice cooker, and then fill the tin again with water and put that in too.
Give contents a good stir, and then start it cooking (10-15 minutes or so).
After a couple of minutes, add the rinsed black beans to the rice cooker, stir briefly, and then continue cooking.
Meanwhile lightly fry the optional pre-marinated tofu, diced up, in a little oil on a medium heat, to get the surfaces a little crispy whilst soft in the middle (about 5 minutes or so).
About 2-3 minutes before the rice is cooked (most of the water has been cooked off, add the drained tinned sweetcorn, and mix in briefly.
Once the rice cooker is done, add the small handful of pine nuts, stir through the mix.
Transfer to serving bowls. Top with the fried tofu as appropriate.
Add a small dash of soy sauce, and a bigger dash of sweet chilli sauce. Top with a pinch of yeast flakes if desired.
Method using brown rice & pressure cooker:
Add just the coconut milk, brown basmati rice, and 160ml of water, to the pressure cooker, give it a stir, cook for 10 minutes at High Pressure, and then allow to ‘warm’ for 10 minutes after.
If using tofu, fry this first (as above) and then set aside.
Using the same fry pan (emptied of tofu), fry the rinsed and drained black beans in a non-stick pan with a little oil (and crushed garlic if you’re so inclined) for about 8 minutes.
Add the sweetcorn to the pan, stir, and cook through for a few minutes.
Once the brown rice is done, add that to the pan too, stir and cook off any remaining water for a couple of minutes.
Then turn off the heat, add the handful of pine nuts, and transfer to serving bowls.
Add the tofu, dash of soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce to taste, plus the yeast flakes as desired, but don’t mix through too much.
Sour dough is not as easy as ‘instant yeast’ loaves, but the results to me are well worth it. Apparently Sour Dough is easier to digest, plus as you can see it has fewer additives. More importantly though, it tastes delicious.
It requires a little more planning ahead than an instant yeast loaf, and multiple stages of the process to make the best loaves. But nothing in this is inherently complex. Just something you should allow time : I start mine on the Friday evening to have a loaf ready to bake on a Sunday morning. Or if the weather is reasonable (or if you live in a house) a Friday morning to have one ready to bake on a Saturday morning.
The process is not an exact science, but working with something living that might want a few variations as you work with it. In my experience it gives good feedback when you have a feel of what to look for, and I’ve not had any disastrous loaves yet.
I’ve also found wholemeal sour dough to be pretty easy, even living on a boat and without a fridge or a warm cosy place, it just requires a bit more patience and working with your environment. Just try to keep it away from cold drafts.
Some of my wholemeal loaves have taken 3 days to make in the winter. You can also mix partial wholemeal with white flour to make it a bit quicker. Or use the same process for 100% white flour.
The better the quality of flour you use, the better the results. Even the best organic stoneground flour is not significantly priced, so the cheapest flour is a false economy. Especially when you’re giving the loaf a lot of attention, why skimp on virtually the only ingredient?
Sour Dough Starter : Ongoing Care
Feeding is normally a heaped teaspoon of quality flour, with a dash of water. Personally I like to feed it the flour I’m going to make the loaf with, so if I’m mainly making wholemeal loaves, I feed the starter with a little wholemeal flour each day.
I generally feed mine every day at my own breakfast time. You can also keep it in the fridge and feed it once a week, but depending on what else you keep in the fridge, this can adversely affect the starter due to the cross-contamination in the space.
I try to keep my starter around 1/2 cup (125ml) in volume, plus/minus 50ml or so each way, depending on the season (because our boat is not inherently well insulated).
In the winter period, I normally maintain my starter to be a little larger (around 175ml). In the summer when it’s warmer and thus more hungry, around 80ml in volume. This way, I can just continue to feed it around one heaped teaspoon of flour each day, with a little water. Discarding any excess starter to maintain an even size either at the end of each week in the winter, or multiple times a week during the summer.
Of course if I made a loaf every day, I probably wouldn’t have much starter to discard. But these days I don’t make a daily bread.
I keep my starter in a small ceramic jar/pot, with a bit of waxed fabric as a lid. You can also use a regular glass jam jar. Don’t every seal the lid on tight though, due to the gases produced (and thus pressure build up). A bit of fabric held in place with an elastic band, seems to work well.
Once a week or two, when the starter is on the larger side particularly, I transfer it to another container, give the normal home a good clean (scraping off the grey dry caked on stuff, above the waterline), and then return it home again.
If you forget to feed it for a few days, and a vinegary liquid pools on the surface, all is not lost. Don’t mix it in. Just pour the wateriness away, and possibly the top layer of the starter as needed. Then feed it well for the first few days particularly.
Makes 1 regular loaf
For the leaven:
1-2 tablespoons living sourdough starter
~40 grams flour
~40 grams water
For the dough:
200-300 grams water (or 1 cup at 250ml)
300-400 grams wholemeal/white flour (around 2 level cups, plus around 2-4 heaped tablespoons more as you mix)
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt (dissolved in about 1 tablespoon of warm water and set aside, mixing occasionally to ensure it’s dissolved)
Make sure your sourdough culture is active: This normally means for me, giving it slightly larger meals the couple of days before. If you keep yours in the fridge, you’ll want to take it out a few days before, and go back to feeding daily again to re-energise the starter.
Make the leaven and leave overnight or longer: (I normally do this on a Thursday night, to make a loaf on a Saturday late morning. If it’s a warmer environment, you may be able to do this the night before, for a lunchtime loaf the following day): Combine a good tablespoon of active sourdough culture with the flour and water for the leaven. Mix thoroughly to form a thick batter. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight+, ie for about 8-15 hours.
Test that the leaven is ready: Generally, if the surface of the leaven is bubbly, it’s ready to be used. You can also check by dropping a small spoonful of the leaven in a cup of water; if the leaven floats, it’s ready. If it’s not bubbly yet, don’t worry too much if it looks like it’s happy and the yeasts have combined throughout the leaven mix.
Mix the leaven and water: Combine the leaven and 1 cup of water, in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a spatula or use your hands to break up and dissolve the leaven into the water. It’s okay if the leaven doesn’t fully dissolve and a few clumps remain.
Add the flour & oil: Stir in around 1.5 cups of flour into the water mix, along with the quality oil, with a spatula until you see no more visible dry flour and you’ve formed a very shaggy (wet) dough. Don’t expect the mix to be dry enough to knead by hand at this stage, it’ll probably be pretty stringy.
Rest the dough (30 minutes, or up to 4 hours): Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes or ideally a few hours. This is the autolyse stage where the flour is fully absorbing the water and enzymes in the flour begin breaking down the starches and proteins.
Mix in the dissolved salt: Pour the salt over the dough. Work the liquid and salt into the dough by pinching and squeezing the dough. The dough will feel quite wet and loose at this point.
Begin folding the dough (2 1/2 hours): To fold the dough, grab the dough at one side, lift it up, and fold it over on top of itself. Fold the dough four times, moving clockwise from the top of the bowl (or giving the bowl a quarter turn in between folds). Let the dough rest 30 minutes, then repeat. Do this ideally 6 times, every half hour, so a total of 2 1/2 hours. The dough will start out shaggy and very loose, but will gradually smooth out and become tighter as you continue folding. You’ll probably want to add a few spoons of flour with each kneading stage, to get a dough that’s more manageable. You may can also use a heavy duty mixer with a dough hook, but don’t over-mix.
Let the dough rise undisturbed again (30 to 60 minutes): Once you’ve finished the folds, let the dough rise undisturbed for 30 to 60 minutes, until it looks slightly puffed. This dough won’t double in size yet, the way regular, non-sourdough breads will; it should just look larger than it did when you started.
Shape the dough into a loose round, and rest again for 20-30 minutes: Sprinkle a little flour over dough. Use your pastry scraper to shape each one into a loose round — this isn’t the final shaping, just a preliminary shaping to prep the dough for further shaping. You can also flour your pastry scraper as needed to keep it from sticking to the dough. Once the dough is shaped, let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes to relax the gluten again.
Prepare bread proofing baskets, colanders, or mixing bowls: Line bread proofing basket, colander, or mixing bowl with clean dishtowels. Dust them heavily with flour, rubbing the flour into the cloth on the bottom and up the sides with your fingers. Use more flour than you think you’ll need — it should form a thin layer over the surface of the towel.
Shape the loaf: Dust the top of the ball of dough with flour. Flip it over with a pastry scraper so that the floured side is against the board and the un-floured, sticky surface is up. Shape the loaf much like you folded the dough earlier: Grab the lip of the dough at the bottom, pull it gently up, then fold it over onto the centre of the dough. Repeat with the right and left side of the dough. Repeat with the top of the dough, but once you’ve fold it downward, use your thumb to grab the bottom lip again and gently roll the dough right-side up. If it’s not quite a round or doesn’t seem taut to you, cup your palms around the dough and rotate it against the counter to shape it up.
Transfer to the proofing basket: Dust the tops and sides of the shaped loaf generously with flour. Place into the proofing basket upside down, so the seams from shaping are on top.
Let the dough rise (3 to 4 hours, or overnight in the fridge): Cover the basket loosely with plastic, or place it inside clean plastic bags. Let them rise at room temperature until they look billowy and poofy, 3 to 4 hours. Alternatively, place the covered basket in the refrigerator and let it rise slowly overnight, 12 to 15 hours. If rising overnight, you can bake the loaves straight from the fridge; no need to warm it before baking, unless your fridge is too cold then you may want to leave it out for a bit.
Preheat the oven to 260°C: If you have one, place a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pots with lids in the oven (i.e. casserole dish), and heat to 260°C. You can also use a good heavy baking sheet or a clean roasting tray.
Transfer the loaves to the Dutch ovens / baking sheet: Carefully remove the pre-heated Dutch oven from the main oven and remove the lid. Tip the loaf into the pot so the seam-side is down. Or just tip out onto the baking sheet.
Score the top of the loaf: Use a sharp or serrated knife to quickly score the surface of the loaves. To be fancy, you can score the surface at a slight angle, so you’re cutting almost parallel to the surface of the loaf; this gives the loaves the distinctive “shelf” along the score line.
Bake the loaves for 20 minutes (part 1 of 3): Cover the pots and place them in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 230°C and bake another 10 minutes (part 2 of 3): Resist the temptation to check the loaves at this point; just reduce the oven temperature. If you didn’t have a lid because you’re using a baking sheet, just carry on with these timings sans-lid.
Remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 25 minutes (part 3 of 3): Continue baking until the crust is deeply browned; you can aim for just short of burnt. It might feel a bit unnatural to bake loaves this fully, but this is where a lot of the flavour and texture of the crust comes in.
Cool the loaves before slicing: When done, lift the loaf out carefully. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Wait until it’s cooled to room temperature before slicing (otherwise the loaf may still seem too soft in the middle)