Rhubarb mania part 4: rhubarb and date chutney

rhubarb chutneyBy this time, I was nearly out of rhubarb so I ended up making only half of this recipe, still good for 3 jars of chutney. Just the right amount for a father’s day present! My dad is a big rhubarb fan and part of the reason why I didn’t like it much growing up: he doesn’t have a sweet tooth, so he would fill a tart case with as much rhubarb as possible and sprinkle very little sugar over it (or at least, that’s what it looked like as a child), so I always thought it was way too tart for me. But now I was ready to try it again, and I’m a big fan! So I might add some more recipes if I can get my hands on my dad’s rhubarb… Here’s how to make the GoodFood chutney:

Chop 500 g red onions and put them in a large pan with 50 g grated fresh ginger and 300 ml red wine vinegar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 min. Add 500 g chopped apples, 200 g dates (pitted and chopped), 200 g dried cranberries (or use raisins instead), 1 tbsp mustard seeds, a pinch of curry powder (the recipe calls for a tbsp, but it gets very overpowering so a pinch is enough), 400 g sugar and 2 tsp salt to the pan and bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 min until the apples are tender. Meanwhile, slice 700 g rhubarb into 2 cm chunks.

Stir in the rhubarb and cook, uncovered, until the chutney is thick and jammy, about 15-20 min. Leave the chutney to sit for about 10-15 min, then spoon into warm, clean jars, and seal. Label the jars when cool. Keep for at least a month before eating. Enjoy!

Delicious start of the weekend: homemade bread

BreadIt’s been very busy at work, so I didn’t get much time to bake. Now that things are slowing down again, I’m getting back into the baking mood. I love baking my own bread, too bad I don’t always have the time to do so! But when I do, I make them in bulk and store a couple in the freezer so we can enjoy them for a long time. Wether you are making white bread or brown bread, the basic recipe is the same, the only difference is in the type of flour you use. Do check the ingredients when buying a flour mix: most of them contain a lot of suspicious E-numbers and additional elements to allow you to keep the flour very long. You don’t necessarily need all that anyway.

Another benefit of baking bread, is that you don’t need a lot of ingredients: you only need bread flour, a bit of butter (can be omitted if you prefer), yeast (fresh or dried), tap water and salt. This recipe is for 2 breads (it takes the same amount of time so why not make one extra for the freezer). Here’s how you do it:

Put 1 kg strong bread flour in a bowl (use white flour for white bread, multigrain for brown bread or a mix of both for a lighter brown bread) and make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, mix 540 ml lukewarm water with a package of dried yeast (you need 11 g – if you prefer using fresh yeast, you need 25 g) until you get a foamy liquid. Add this to the flour and start mixing. You can do this in an electric mixer with a dough hook or you can do this by hand. When you get a sticky mix, add 15 g softened butter and 20 g salt (when using a brown dough mix, you may need less salt, about 15 g should do) and mix again. Resist the temptation to add more flour, you’ll see, it’s not necessary.

Now the kneading starts: you need to knead the dough for at least 15 minutes. Again you can do this by hand (it’s a great work-out, believe me, I also find it very soothing somehow) or use your electric mixer (still on my wish list). When using an electric mixer, make sure it’s on a slow speed so the dough can take up all the water and make enough gluten.

Now let the dough rise for 30 min at room temperature. If you cover it with a glass bowl, it will rise even better. Do not put the dough on the heating. After that first rise, knock the dough back and let it rise for another 10 min. If you want, you can add any other ingredients (grains, sunflower seeds…) and quickly knead a couple of times to incorporate them (try not to knead too much). Put the dough in a loaf tin (no need to butter or flour the tin, the bread will come out without issues) or on a baking sheet and allow to rise again for 40 min at room temperature.

Now you are ready to bake: preheat the oven to 200 C and put a cup of water on the bottom of the oven to create a bit of steam (this will prevent your bread from being too dry). Bake the bread for 30-35 min.  When ready, take the bread out of the oven and tap of the bottom. When it sounds hollow, you know your bread is ready. Leave to cool. Enjoy!

I usually give you a song to listen to while enjoying your freshly baked dessert, but in this case, all the work is in the kneading, so you’ll need some moral support there. One song immediately came to mind: enjoy kneading while listening to Sweat by Snoop Dogg vs David Guetta!

Savoury baking: foccaccia rolls

Foccaccia rollsI wanted a change from regular bread so when my parents came over for lunch on a Sunday, this turned out to be the perfect recipe. It’s a twist on a classic bread which I found in the GoodFood magazine of September. The recipe is by Angela Nilsen and it was absolutely delicious! Lucky me, I had enough left for lunch the next day.

First, make a batch of white dough: put 500 g strong white bread flour in a bowl with 1 and 1/2 tsp salt. In a bowl, mix 300 ml hand warm water with 7 g dried yeast until it starts to froth. Make a dip in the centre of the flour and gradually add the water, mixing in the flour as you go along. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the mix as well (if you want to make regular flour, use 1 tbsp melted butter instead). Gather the dough with your hands and put it onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 8-10 min until it feels smooth and elastic, adding a minimum of extra flour if the dough gets too sticky. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface and cover with an upturned, clean, large glass bowl (this was a really great tip, I definitely recommend using the glass bowl). Leave for 45 min – 1 hr or until doubled in size (if you don’t have a glass bowl, just leave the dough in a bowl and cover the bowl with cling film).

Knock back the dough by gently kneading just 3-4 times. Cover with the glass bowl again and leave for another 10 min. Now shape your loaf. Cut the dough into 10 even pieces and shape each into a ball (if making a regular loaf, shape the dough into the form you want – a ball for a round bread or put it into a rectangular cake tin for a square one). Sit the balls onto 2 baking parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave for 40-45 min, or until about doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200 C and put a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven (when adding the bread to the oven, add 250 ml cold water to the tin – this will create steam that ensures a crisp crust. Alternatively, put a cup of water in the bottom of your oven when you add the bread). Meanwhile, prepare your toppings: slice 100 g roasted pepers, chop 85 g camenbert and chop 10 black olives (you don’t need the stones obviously). Finish the foccaccia rolls by pressing a wide indent in the middle of each roll with your fingers. Scatter over the roasted peppers, cheese and olives pressing down quite firmly into the indents. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and add a good pinch of dried oregano (I totally forgot about the oil and oregano, and it was delicious all the same, so don’t worry if you don’t have any or you forgot it as well). As the recipe indicated, I also added some rocket leaves to the mix, but that looses it’s taste in the oven, so I suggest you add them when the rolls come out of the oven, instead of before they go in.

Bake for about 20 min and drizzle with a little extra oil when they come out of the oven (I forgot this as well). Don’t forget to add your water or cup of water when the bread goes in the oven! If making an entire loaf, allow for 35 min of baking time. You know your bread is ready when tap the underneath of the loaf: it should be firm and sound hollow. Enjoy!