Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Monday - Memories

(Found this lurking in the drafts folder so it is a few weeks late :) )
I had a rather stressful day in the office not helped by a turned ankle which made me the proverbial 'Bear with a sore head'. I made my way home in need of something comfortable to eat. During what should have been a lunch hour, I wandered to the so called 'kitchen' on our floor (well, it has a dish washer and a microwave which in modern cuisine terms is 'fully equipped' ) and one of my bosses (we have a matrix organization which has none of the romance or the facility to use a machine pistol of those who try to stop you getting the job done of the film series of the same name) was  heating a pie in the microwave. I came home wanting comfort food with 'pie' shoehorned into my psyche. Luckily I got home in time to get to Waitrose and pick up some organic pork chops. Jersey potatoes and some chestnut mushrooms to help me stay away from a pie. A bottle of cider and some cream and we were about to cook on gas (literally! My hob is gas and the oven is electric. Who the hell wants a gas oven when the heat is governed by what your neighborhood  is cooking or heating on a Sunday\?)

I threw the pans on the heat and started to cook off a dish that has evolved from my first real cooking success. Back in the annuls of time, I realized Mum and Dad had a special wedding anniversary on the horizon. I couldn't afford to send them for a nice meal (tightwads when it came to pocket money :) ) so I cooked them pork chops in a white wine, garlic, mushroom and cream sauce I invented on the fly. Their expressions as they ate this set me on the path to enjoying cooking. Not being the most socially intelligent member of the community, hugs and cuddles are an anathema but the thrill exposed by the expression on peoples faces when I 'got the food right' gave me a love for cooking.

Tonight's dish was a throwback to that first cook off. Garlic, chili (a touch) cream, a hint of vanilla, black pepper, onion and, of course, the wine to de-glaze the pan having seared tprize of the spring, Jhe organic chops. I boiled the pretender to the thrown of the spring crops (Jersey Royal's) in a little slated water and some peas to accompany the meat and sauce. Why pretender? If you asked that then you have never had the pleasure of an early Pembroke Potato. Heaven...

A nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. The remnants of a day full of sunshine and a meal full of memories. A great way to sooth the troubled waters of a stressful Monday

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Time on my hands and a new flour in the cupboard

After months of stress and chaos I now find I have a little more time on my hands. This means that I can spend a little more time on the things I love. Having returned from vacation a week ago, I have been busy sorting out my kitchen and getting it ready for some hard work. After a short trip to the store today I thought it was time for a little baking. Needless to say, this was not going to be a standard cake.

I had managed to get hold of a large bag of coconut flour. I've never used it before but the description on the packet made it sound like a challenge. I decided to use it to make a cherry and walnut cake for afternoon tea. I had my standard recipe:

100g Self Raising flour
100g Plain flour
3 large eggs
1 tbsp of milk
a few drops of vanilla essence
175g of unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
(cherries, walnuts, coconut or caraway seed depending on my mood)

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, Add the milk and vanilla extract. Add the flour and the flavourings before popping it into a hot oven at 170C for 1.25 to 1.5 hours. Never fails.

A little research told me I needed to replace the gluten with egg (or xanthan gum). Around three eggs per 125g of flour. I decided on adding 6 egg yolks to the mixture and increased the milk to 1/2 a cup before beating the egg whites to soft peaks and folding them into the mixture. I then added the cherries and walnut pieces. Into the oven for 1.25 to 1.5 hours and the result ....

Well. If I am honest, a little dry though it was better the second day. Good texture and flavour but I think that next time I will use 175g of coconut flour to replace the plain and SR flour or I might use 100g of coconut flour and 100g of white rice flour to lighten the mixture and make it a little less dry. I will keep you updated with the results