Spicing things up a little

There’s a brown-ish, seedy, malty load on the rise today. Gill delivered fresh yeast last night and I had no intention of allowing it to linger. I’m still using up a mix of flours that I tipped the ends of into a box together. It makes a good bread – there’s seeded rustic flour in there, plus the organic stoneground white that looks brown, plus some malted grain. I normally make soft sandwich baps from this mix but today I am going for a crusty cob in the baking dome. I’m using an autolysing approach today, to see what difference it makes. There was certainly very little effort needed in the kneading process.

While I was in the kitchen I knocked up a batch of Granola cereal. I had to ring the changes today; I had no sunflower seeds, so I doubled up on the pumpkin seeds. I also chucked in a new ingredient – some dried orange peel. I love dried orange peel in all manner of odd recipes. It imparts a deep spicy flavour, almost clove-like in some ways and the results are often not noticeably citrus-y. Sesame seeds went into the toasted mix and some Chia went in with the fruit and nuts. It should be yummy, nutritious and reasonably healthy. I have settled now on a basic toasting mix of:

  • 300 grams organic jumbo rolled oats
  • 50 grams pumpkin seeds
  • 50 grams sunflower seeds (when I have them)
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil

normally also including:

  • a goodly handful of sesame seeds
  • 100 g flaked almonds

… ringing the changes with flavour additions from time to time, but mainly just vamping the un-toasted fruit and nut elements. If I use freeze-dried strawberries, I prefer to hold the almonds back and add them un-toasted and leave out the sesame seeds.

I made coffee during one of the waiting periods and sat and watched The Incredible Spice Men on the BBC iPlayer. They are preaching to a convert here, but I was interested to see what they had to offer…

…and I was immediately seduced by a recipe for a Bread and Butter Pudding with orange, vanilla and cardamom.

I adore cardamom. I can still recall the first time that I tasted it. It was a mid-Eighties June afternoon in York, in an Indian Restaurant on Monkgate. I bit into a cardamom seed and the flavour just exploded in my head. What a revelation. Since that time I have enjoyed all manner of dishes flavoured with cardamom, including a ritually prepared Ethiopian coffee – the cardamom was roasted in an open pan with the coffee beans and, before being ground for the brew, had to be passed around the table for all present to savour the aroma. The coffee was wonderful and the best part of the meal.

The recipe for Pulled Pork with Cinnamon and Clove is also very tempting…

On the topic of spice – Sunday’s dinner was culled from Masterchef. I made John Torode’s Pappardelle with curried meatballs. The recipe says that it feeds 4 and, unlike most recipes, it certainly would feed 4 hungry adults. I lacked the fresh herbs and had to use dried but all the other ingredients were to hand, including of course (and keeping on topic)  some home made bread for the breadcrumbs.

I made a full batch of pasta dough (500g flour), freezing half unrolled and making pappardelle from the other half. There was plenty to go around. I balked a little at the quantity of egg involved but did manage to turn out what I believe to be the best pasta I have made to date. To my mind, it was faultless. Certainly it was delicious. I give my heartfelt gratitude to my lovely ladies in the garden, who produce fabulous tasty and golden yolked eggs.

A full batch of meatball mix yielded 22 meatballs. I kept half back, and we are having them reheated today with some naan and some aloo saag from the freezer. Neither of us managed to eat all 5.5 meatballs on Sunday – they were very filling.

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