Friday, 29 May 2015

Sourdough Battered Onion Rings

I love a challenge, and after my visit to Rockfish in Brixham I found a new one.

There were Pickled Onion Rings on the menu, and they were fantastic, it got me thinking, surely I could do the same? And given my love of sourdough, surely I could incorporate the two. And maybe if I part cooked them I could freeze them for re-heating in the oven later. It was time to experiment. There were no pictures of the original, they disappeared too quickly and anyhow, Yvonne complains if I stop eating to take pictures during a meal.

I cut a large onion and made some rings, which I marinaded overnight in Red Wine vinegar. (home-made)

I also made up a sourdough leaven from 50 g starter with 50 g each of flour and water, mixed to a paste. This will ferment overnight.

Next morning I prepared to cook. I will drain the rings and dust with white flour before I start,
then a dip in the batter, which is foaming nicely.

I've heated oil, and lowered the rings in for about 5 minutes,

 then turning for 3 more. The oil should not be too hot, definitely NOT smoking. About 170° C is good. Take the rings out as they start to brown and drain on paper.

Let the oil warm up a little before frying the next batch.

I'm freezing these as an experiment so I've let them cool and put them on a metal tray.

I covered the tray in a plastic bag and laid it on top in the freezer. After about 6 hours I can move the rings into a storage bag. The next part of the experiment will be to reheat them and see how they behave. I'll let you know.

Monday, 25 May 2015

A quieter Week

What a relaxing week after the rushing around, apart from the Oats order and the Millie order of 150 rolls that is. The good news was that with the new oven I was able to do them in just under 4 hours, a bit of an improvement.

I went down to Brixfest on Saturday and they were selling well,

but I didn't buy one back unlike last year.

Naomi and Eamon came down for the weekend, it took them 8 hours to get here from Kent, around 220 miles, both the M4 and the A303 were very busy.

I made Sourdough Croissants and Pain au Chocolate for Saturday breakfast,

 and we went out to  Rockfish in Brixham for a meal in the evening. It's only just opened here, we have been to the one in Dartmouth before so knew what to expect. And we were not disappointed, a beautifully cooked meal in great surroundings, no photos but I'm sure you can imagine. Yvonne and Naomi had a grilled Plaice and Eamon and I had a mixed plate, Prawns, Squid, Cod and Hake. All with unlimited chips (I love a challenge) and some amazing Pickled Onion Rings. Not forgetting the Mushy Peas, an essential part of any meal!

As it was Yvonnes birthday she had made a Cheesecake instead of a birthday cake. This time it was a take on the Bakewell Tart, with A Digestive (Homemade Sourdough) and Amaretti base, Morello Cherry Jam, White Chocolate and Cheese filling, topped with Toasted Almonds and Morello Cherries.

Is that enough pictures of gratuitous calories?  It was incredible as I'm sure you can tell.

We have a nesting pair of Blue-tits in the garden and found one of the young attempting his first flight yesterday, in the time it took me to get the camera he was off and I only got a fleeting picture, nice to see that he was able to master it though.

My Black Tomato is in flower now, I've been leaving it out in the day and it's just about ready to stay out now. The other plants are still small and will be living in the conservatory for a while yet.

The Grape vine is also benefiting from a little TLC and grapes are starting to form.

In fact the whole garden is coming to life.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Totnes Good Food

A day at Totnes Good Food Market on Sunday, a chance to catch up with a few old friends and meet some new people. After the Fair on Saturday it was nice to see the other side of the stall so to speak.

Here are a couple of shots of my stall.

Readers of the bread blog will have seen these, I was shocked to see where the lack of exercise has shrunk my right arm. I'm building it up slowly, the consultant told me it should be fully functioning by Christmas. Yvonne reckons its just the camera angle though!

As usual we went down to the Leechwell in Totnes for a moment of quiet contemplation and a drop of the waters. There is a plaque up on the wall now telling of the history of the wells and a few offerings had been left, along with a stone circle on the path.

After that we went to the Beanbug Coffee Tricycle for a refreshing cup.

I don't know how they get the energy to pedal it.

We managed to get Steak and Sausages from Evergreen Farms Butchers and lunch from Red Earth Kitchens which was fabulous as usual.

I got talking to Suus from Honest Foods, who was selling delicious Pesto and Chutneys, they are very local and I suggested a collaboration with my Crackers and Focaccia. We will have to see where that leads.

So a nice day and the chance to relax. Monday brought the start of the weekly orders, including 150 Rolls for Brixfest, back to the grind.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

LoveLife Brixham

The first Lovelife event in Brixham was a roaring success for Well Bread! And for everyone else, the place was packed from 10 till 4 and all the stalls seemed to be busy. My initial plan was to offer samples and advice but I soon found that people wanted the loaves I had on show and were less interested in what I had to say, preferring to take one of the handouts I had printed and try a few things.

I set up my stall to show the variety of things you can do with Sourdough,

and I think a lot of the people were surprised.

The products that I had thought people would consider a bit 'strange,' such as the Baked Potato Rosti, flew off the stall and other things such as the Chocolate Brownies were languishing.

Still I managed to get rid of just about everything, a few Muffins and Scones plus a box of Brownies are now in my freezer, they will be good for family visits and I have the promise of orders to come.

A highlight of the show was the pedal-powered Smoothie Machine, where you could make your own drink with effort. Mine would probably be rather lumpy.

Light relief was provided when the plastic gazebo blew away in a gust, it flashed past the door and out of sight up the road, chased by several shouting gentlemen.

A good day then, but an exhausting one and lots of preparation as well. Time for a visit to Totnes Good Food Sunday today. After yesterday I will view the stalls with a new perspective.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

In the Doghouse

You might have noticed that there was a strange comment on my last post, it deserves an explanation so here goes.

I went to Gravesend on Friday morning for my retirement party courtesy of the PLA. Before I went I checked the drain wasn't blocked and fixed a small leak on the cold water tank in the loft. Realising that the problem was caused by the float valve I decided to buy a new one in Gravesend and fit it when I got home.

Imagine my surprise when I got a call in the afternoon to say that there was no cold water in the upstairs taps or the toilet cistern. Of course Yvonne was a bit annoyed (to put it mildly) and so was I, clearly we were back to the "everything break down as soon as you leave the house" routine that used to plague us back in the past. Hence the comment, which the spell check sanitised slightly.

Being at home everyday for the best part of a year had lulled me into a false sense of security and I guess I was a bit remiss.

But worse was to come, on Friday morning the phone line in the house packed up mid call, things were clearly getting serious and my return was required.

When I eventually made it home, I raced upstairs and looked a the water tank. The float had jammed shut and the tank was empty. I fitted the new valve and waited for it to fill. When it did, no water was forthcoming from any tap and only a trickle into the cistern.

So its the emergency plumbers tonight, and there was a large dose of hot tongue and cold shoulder for me, plus the job of carrying buckets of water upstairs. Maybe I deserve it.

In the end, the plumber was here for about a minute, and that included the time it took him to get up and down the stairs. The pipes were airlocked and he showed me a trick to get them sorted. If I had have blinked I would have missed it. 

To catch you up after that fun packed episode, my party in Gravesend was very well attended and I was flattered by some of the comments of my (ex) colleagues. Just before I went to the pub, I was loading the gear from my locker into the car when I saw an old friend, the Transpulp, coming in for Tilbury.

There's a job I won't miss, especially backing into Tilbury Lock at 4 am.

When I got home I found that my potatoes had broken the surface in their bags, just 8-10 weeks and we will be eating new potatoes with mint from the garden.

Not only that, the bread that I made on Thursday, which was for a party, had gone down really well, I found these photo's from the event on Facebook and thought how good Sophie had made the spread look.

Now I have a busy week, I'm seeing the consultant about my shoulder tomorrow, then baking for Oats Tuesday and into Wednesday. Yvonne is seeing the Doctor on Wednesday and then I start preparing for Lovelife on Saturday. 

Sunday is Totnes Good Food again so I expect I will need a rest by Sunday evening. But I will have a selection of excellent produce to keep me going next week.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The new Oven proves its worth.

I had a big(ish) order for Millie and Me today, 30 Panini Rolls, A Ciabatta, A Pesto Twist and two Focaccia. (One Sundried Tomato and One Olive)

In the old days, that meant a five o'clock start and finish around nine.

Enter the new oven, doubling my capacity and meaning I can keep up with the flow of proved dough.

I was finished at eight!

Maybe I'm entering the big time, the thought of larger orders no longer fills me with dread and I can start canvassing for business secure in the knowledge that I can keep up.

Incidentally, here are the finished articles.

Of course the next test is the prep for Lovelife, where I intend to make around 10-12 different Sourdough products for sampling and hopefully ordering. The fun will start on Weds after I've delivered to Oats.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Stir fry

This has all been about food just lately, after my shoulder injury I haven't been walking the dogs so there is a lack of outside pictures. I did get round for a stroll yesterday but forgot my camera and phone.

The Blossom is out on my fruit trees though and the garden has awoken,




Acer in an old bath

My Black Tomato has shot up and has flowers, it's gone mad since I re-potted it.

I'm using up the last of the cooked beef joint that I had frozen, there was only the ends and badly carved bits left so I thought I would do a stir-fry.

I cut the meat into small pieces,

mixed up a marinade of Mustard Oil, chopped Garlic and Ginger and rubbed it in.

I cut Onion and Pepper and soaked it in some of this,

and to finish some carrot batons and sweetcorn left from yesterday with cucumber julienne,

now it just needs frying, with Couscous and Pita to accompany.

As you might have seen on the Bread Blog, my new Oven has arrived and is ready to go,

suddenly I can now cook 8 loaves at a time, or 60 Rolls, hopefully it will help me out and mean I can start a little later in the morning.

I've been trying to perfect a Sourdough Scone for a while and with the added bread making activity I have had lots of spare starter to practise with. 

Today's effort was the best yet, Yvonne had one warm from the oven for breakfast and pronounced it " the best since Mrs G's". That was a teashop we used to frequent in Stoke Gabriel years ago, now sadly no longer in business. After an accolade like that, maybe my recipe is ready to be unleashed.