Friday, 26 February 2010

Beef Stew Bread Boule

I realised when making the bread dough for my home-baked cheese explosion that I could use the bread to recollect a vague memory I had when living in my country of origin. In the latter part of my teenage life, I remembered hearing people talking about a certain establishment which came up with "Curry in a Loaf". A simple idea, it involved wrapping pre-cooked chicken curry with bread dough, and baking the whole lot in the oven. Sometimes the curry was bagged in plastic before being wrapped, apparently with no due concern to plastic melting under high heat.

Eating bread with a gravy dish has got to be one of the simple pleasures in life. With this in mind, it is perhaps a bit puzzling that the idea of baking stew into bread has not really caught on. I hope to mitigate this with the post that I'm about to write.

I have acquired the entire range of the recently-introduced Basics stock cubes some time ago, and am currently trying to work my way through them. The beef stock cube was found to be acceptable, although to be honest, I really could not taste any difference from using it.

This might be the only time I took a photograph of all the ingredients I will use in a post. Perhaps I should do this more often.

If you have not already, follow the bread dough recipe found in the home-baked cheese explosion post, link found above. Then prepare a simple beef stew by sauteing some mushrooms before browning some beef fairly quickly. Feel free to fry onions before all that, if you want to; I refrained from doing so this time because our kitchen was running out of them, and I was rushing for time, given the long process needed to make a stew and prepare the bread boule.

As ever, the Basics mushrooms come in all shapes and sizes.

For seasoning, I used some mustard, the herb mix, pepper, and crumbled up one beef stock cube. This was followed up with half a bottle of white wine before the whole thing was allowed to simmer.
In the meantime, prepare the bread dough, according to instructions found at the cheese explosion post. You will want to make it as flat as possible, with just enough thickness so that it will not tear when wrapping the stew. A rolling pin, or in the absence of one, a wine bottle would do the trick nicely.
When the stew is ready, spoon it onto the centre of the flat sheet of dough. Take the corners of the dough and wrap the stew by folding the corners above it, such that all the corners meet. Somehow.
Bake at 225 degrees Celsius, until bread has a dark hard crust.

This was hailed by my flatmates as the first true success of this blog, something that actually looked good and tasted good (in their opinion; I've always thought my food was okay!) as well.

I never realised that I would actually have this much fun baking my own bread. It is a real pity then, that I did not prepare enough dough for one more post. One possible idea, for example, would be to come up with some sort of reinterpreted cheeseburger, where a ragout of minced beef, mustard, a bit of tomato or ketchup and cheese is whipped up and put into a bread bowl.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Beef Stock Cubes£0.2910+£0.79No palm oil. Skip both and buy OXO or Bovril instead.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Home-baked Cheese Explosion

In a previous life, I was a member of a national performing group, and remember fondly the memories had and the friends made. Said friends have since moved on to better and greater things, scattered across the globe, but somehow we still manage to stay in touch with one another through social networking and whatnot. One of them has settled down and found time in the kitchen to experiment. Today's blog post is an attempt to recreate one of her creations that she shared with others, and so, credit must be given to her for her contribution.

I have never experimented with bread making before, although I have several colleagues who do this regularly. When one considers that a kilo of flour and a tin of dried yeast costs only £1 and would last you longer than two loaves of white sliced bread, it's easy to see why making bread at home is popular.
The main problem however is that bread making is not a trivial task. A lot of the traditional recipes seem to involve a lot of mixing, kneading, bashing and general heavy arm work. In addition to that, yeast has a tendency to be rather temperamental. However, in recent times, a pair of chefs have managed to actually work out the very basics needed in a bread recipe, and in doing so, have come up with a very simple recipe that is much more convenient than others. Their original site is found here. My friend discovered the recipe here, and has since used it for various other things.

Amongst these, she tried to stuff cheese into the dough before baking, hoping to get buns with melted cheese in them. To her surprise, the cheese exploded, resulting in buns which actually looked very appealing, and pretty soon friends were asking her to either deliver to their place or for the recipe.

So now that you know the background to this, we can proceed with the photos. The recipe itself can be found in the links I have already provided, so I will refrain from reproducing the steps here, and limit myself to a little commentary here and there.

I added some herb mix to liven it up a little.

For the cheese stuffing, I went with something that I used during my first year at university. I have been fond of strong, rich cheese, but when I got here it dawned on me that mature cheddar is pretty expensive. Not wanting to eat mild cheddar I settled for the next best thing. Red Leicester has a distinct reddish orange hue, which is added during the manufacturing process. According to the British Cheese Board, the colouring was added in order to mimic Double Gloucester, a high quality cheese, which was naturally orange owing to the high carotene pastures on which the cows grazed. Most people I know are used to cheese that is yellow, not orange in colour, so Red Leicester would have been good for food, being very versatile and going with a lot of things, if not for its colour.

To those who are thinking that the bread looks like a jacket potato, you are not the only one who is thinking that. I have a feeling the reason why the buns didn't expand as much as I hope them to is probably related to my taking them up 3 minutes into baking so that I can rearrange them to avoid them merging when the expand. The bread otherwise tastes really good; crusty on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. The cheese was found to be acceptable as well. There have been some reports that Basics cheese tends to be oilier than their regular counterparts, however this is something which I am unable to verify.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Red Leicester Cheese£5.18/kgN/A+£1.49/kgNot known; some reports say less oily cheese

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Poor Man's Paella

Shrove Tuesday marked the start of Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter, and usually commemorated with the eating of pancakes, as it is the final day that one can consume sugar, fat, eggs and other nice things before observing Lent through abstinence. Traditionally, meat was also precluded from the fast, and fish and other, plainer items are consumed instead.

I thought it would be fit to acknowledge the run up to Good Friday with a recipe that incorporates the frozen fish and prawns that I have bought quite a while ago, and seafood paella was one of the things that came to mind. I've had experience cooking rice in a wok before, and thought that this recipe should be relatively simple.

While I was getting the rice from my local Sainsbury's though, I came across a newly launched line of products in the Basics range. I have never seen the stock cubes before, and am genuinely excited by their introduction. So excited, in fact, that I have bought all three products in the line, the chicken, beef and vegetable stock cubes. Thankfully, they are much cheaper than their regular store brand counterparts. I might have more stock cubes than ideas now however, so if you have any suggestions how I could incorporate them in future postings, contact me through the usual channels. For this post, I will use the vegetable stock cube to enliven the paella. I could have used the chicken stock, but then I would have meat in the pea

Paella is usually coloured with saffron, which is a very expensive item, and definitely not something you'll find in the Basics range. I resorted to using Basics English Mustard instead, a poor substitute, having a completely different taste to the herb. The mustard itself is not very sharp; I find myself able to actually spoon this into my mouth without any severe reaction.

Start by preparing chopped onion and garlic, and cutting your fish into small cubes.

Heat oil in a pan and brown onion and garlic.

Add fish and prawns and continue to fry until fish turns white.

Add the rice and dry fry for a while. Season with herb mix and then stir a teaspoon of mustard thoroughly through the rice.

Add a can of Basics tomatoes. Start with the tomatoes first...

... followed by the liquid in the can.

Top it up with water used to defrost the fish. Avoid putting too much water or you will end up with very soft rice. Add just enough water to cover your fingernail when you dip it vertically into the wok.
Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and cover pan. Once the rice has expanded and is soft enough, it is ready to serve.
It is interesting to note that the Spanish consider the toasted rice at the bottom of the pan a delicacy. Overall the paella was a success. It could be further augmented by the addition of Basics Frozen Vegetables, but I did not have the heart to go through yet another bag of that.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Vegetable Stock Cubes£0.1910+£0.89No palm oil
English Mustard£0.45180g+£0.19Sharper tasting mustard
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...