Nothing Like a Bit of Naan to Go With Your Curry…

You know the weather is leaving summer behind a bit when the ovens start getting used frequently.  This weekend, though it has been humid, I have been in the mood to bake.  Goodies fresh out of the oven are hard to beat.

My husband was in the mood to cook and we all voted for a curry which I’ll post about tomorrow.  Let’s just say it was amazing!  🙂  Of course a great accompaniment to a curry is Naan, a golden flat bread.  We really enjoy it, the melted butter doesn’t hurt!

It is fairly easy to make but does require rising time.  Once again we rely on the “Best Ever Curry Cookbook” as inspiration.

I followed the recipe for the most part with just a few deviations.  I made a few changes based on how it came out the previous time.

In a small bowl I added 5 T of lukewarm milk.  It calls for 4 T but with our flour it was too dry.  Recipe called for 1/2oz of fresh yeast which was about 3 tsp of our dry yeast.  Mix as well as you can.  The yeast if starting dry does tend to clump a bit.  Let it sit for 15 minutes.  Occasionally work the yeast a bit.

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In a medium mixing bowl add 8oz/2 cups flour and 1/2 tsp salt.  Add 1 egg, 1T of vegetable oil (I used olive oil), 1T plain Greek yoghurt, and the yeast mixture.

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Mix together until it forms a soft dough.  If the dough is still a bit dry, add equal bits of milk and yoghurt until it is the right consistency.  I added a couple of teaspoons of each.  Turn out onto to a floured surface.

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Knead until soft.  This took me about 5 minutes but could take up to 10.  Cover and keep in a warm place for an hour until it doubles in size.  I usually wet a tea towel with hot water, ring it out, then drape over the bowl.  Once doubled turn out on a floured surface again.

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Preheat  oven to 450F/230C.  Knead the dough for a couple of minutes then divide into small sections.

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Stretch out into shapes somewhat resembling teardrops.  That part is harder than it looks!  You want to hand stretch the dough rather than rolling it.  Kind of like a pizza dough.  You also want it to be fairly thin as it will puff up when it bakes.

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The recipe says to bake 3-4 minutes then broil.  We just bake until done which is about 6 minutes on convection.  We get a nice golden crispy crust.

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While it is baking melt some butter so you can brush it on as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Add a bit of sea salt and serve.

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It goes really well with the mango chutney we made.

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And it went really well with the curry!

 

 

I Blame my Daughter – Why I’m Hooked on Instagram

It started innocently enough.  My daughter and I were in the car chit chatting about various things and I asked her what her friends were picking for social media.  My daughter is in middle school and at that age where it starts to get crazy with all the things her friends are doing.  I’d read articles how Facebook might not be “cool” so I was curious.  She mentioned Instagram was big in her group.  Instagram?  That photo thing?  I knew about it of course but not in a social media context.  Clearly I had to do some research.

The cool thing about my kids is they never do the “but everyone else is doing it!” whine so we do try to do things for them when it is age appropriate.  And they know the rules.  If they are on the internet guess who they get to be friends with?  Me!  Or at least one of the parents.  🙂  So I thought hey, I’ll check it out, join, then have my husband set up the laptop in the den for her to use.  She doesn’t have a smartphone or an iPod Touch.  I mean those things are $200!  Which boggles my mind when I see how many kids out there have them.

First roadblock.  You need a smartphone.  Nuts.  There had to be a way.  I thought well maybe I could put her pics on my iPhone and she could use that.  Oh no, pics only go one way.  So after much digging and looking about I figured out we could use my android tablet.  Woot!

Second roadblock.  Apparently contrary to the belief you can load pics from your computer directly to the tablet via the usb, you can’t.  You have to use the mini SD card.  And a SD card adapter because my computer doesn’t take the mini size.

Third roadblock.  I have no idea how old her phone is as her mother gave it to her used.  (I’m the bonus mum, lucky me!) But like all cameras I’ve hooked up to my computer we could get the pics off of it.  Except hers.  Facepalm.  The computer didn’t have the drivers for it.  So it got passed to my husband who works with computers for a living. (thank goodness)  He figured out she had a mini SD card in her phone.  So to make this work she has to remove the SD card and put it in the tablet.  Then for the tablet to read it you have turn off the tablet and turn it back on.

And we were finally in business!  And through all this I really got hooked onto Instagram.  I love taking photos and am having a blast with the filters.  It is a really quick way for me to get a creative fix during the day.  I thought I’d share some of what I’ve taken so far.

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I love taking pictures of flowers but this one of the bleeding heart is my favourite.

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This weekend they had a festival at the Wyman Tavern to showcase the 1700’s and there some really interesting things to take pictures of.  Including the fruit and veg they used as dyes.

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I did find an interesting bit about Instagram.  When you use filters it saves a copy for you as a square.  But if you just upload without filters it doesn’t save a square copy so this one I uploaded didn’t change parameters.

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I am curious if any of you do Instagram and what you’ve found.  A big question I have is does it drain your phone battery?  My battery life is terrible all of a sudden and wonder if it is because of the app.  I did keep my username as ourgrowingpaynes if any of you would like to see what else I’ve posted.  And let me know yours as I’d prefer to follow those that I’m familiar with and we have similar interests!  🙂

Bring me back to Italy with homemade pizza!

Like a lot of people out there we really enjoy pizza.  If we have the time we make our homemade pizza dough.  The recipe we use is from our go to book “Local Breads” by Daniel Leader.  It comes from Antico Forno in the Campo de’ Fiori in Rome.  Let me tell you, this is the real deal, over the top amazing.  If we ever get back to Rome we are heading to that place.  This is a bubbly light dough that just makes you want to eat all of it yourself.

The level of difficulty is low but it is time consuming.  Completely worth the effort.

In a mixing bowl pour 1 3/4 cups of tepid water (70-78F/21-25C), 1 tsp yeast, 3 1/4 cups flour (unbleached and high gluten if possible), and 1 1/2 tsp sea salt.

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Using the dough hook blend the ingredients until it comes together.  This is a wet dough and will be clumpy and sticky at first.

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At this point grab your tablet or a book, you’ll be standing here for awhile.  Turn your mixer up to at least medium-high speed which is 8 on the Kitchen Aid.  You will need to hold the mixer with one hand as it might “walk” while you surf the web or read.  This needs to be done for about 15-17 minutes, sometimes longer.  It will start to smooth out.

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The test is to make an opaque window with the dough without it tearing.

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Once you are done kneading then it needs to rise for 3 1/2-4 hours (told you it is time consuming!).  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film that has been sprayed for this.  It will triple in volume.

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At this point preheat the oven to 500F/260C with a large pizza stone in the oven.  Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide the dough into about 8 sections.  Cover with the cling film.  Let this rest for at least 10 minutes.  This is about the time we go walk the dogs.  🙂

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Get all your toppings in order.  We usually like to have fresh mozzarella, veg, garlic, prosciutto, etc.  Dust a baker’s peel with flour then hand stretch the dough out.

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Stretch it out onto the baker’s peel and lightly coat with olive oil and some sea salt.

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We usually bake a couple just with olive oil and sea salt so we can snack on this while we do the pizza with our toppings.  Bake until golden and bubbly.

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It is so good right out of the oven!  I like to make white pizzas but as these are individual pizzas go wild and have fun with your toppings.

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So much better than takeaway!  🙂

White Soda Bread

Years ago I thought I would try soda bread.  Can’t remember the recipe but it is just as well as that attempt produced something closer to concrete than delicious bread.  You could do some serious damage with that thing!  A few years ago my mum and dad gave me a cookbook called “Irish Traditional Cooking” by Darina Allen.  It’s a lovely cookbook with tidbits on the history of recipes and ingredients.  I had some buttermilk left over so I thought it was as good as time as any to try my hand at this again.  Really glad I did.  So much better than the previous attempt.  🙂

Preheat the oven to 450F/232C.  In a mixing bowl add 4 cups flour, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp baking soda.  Mix that well.

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The recipe calls for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk.  Basically start with the lower amount and add if you need to as it depends on the flour if it needs more moisture.  You don’t want it overly wet or sticky as a dough.

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Mix it all together.  You can tell if it needs more buttermilk as mine did.  It looked very clumpy.

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After adding another 1/4 cup of buttermilk the dough came together.  It needs to be kneaded a few times to, as Darina said in the book, “tidy it up”.

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When preheating the oven I put in our large pizza stone that we also use to bake bread.  So for the next step I laid the dough out on parchment paper for ease of transfer.  Work the dough into a round disc.  About 2″ thick or so.  Then, and I love this part, “cut a cross on it to let the fairies out!”  🙂

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Bake for 15 minutes at 450F/232C and then lower the temp to 400F/204C for 20-30 minutes until it sounds hollow on the bottom.

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It says to cool but I love hot bread with butter melting into it.

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This is a great quick bread and it will be wonderful with homemade soup.

Poached Eggs on Toast

I love eggs and usually have them for breakfast but I don’t have poached eggs often.  Not sure why as I love them.  But this past weekend I have a craving for them.  They aren’t difficult to make but you need to watch your timing.  I learned my technique from my dad who has made some fabulous breakfasts over the years for us.

Start with a medium pan and pour 1/4 cup of white vinegar into the water.  Bring to a boil.

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While it is coming to a boil place the eggs in separate cups.  You want to keep the eggs apart so one can go on each piece of toast.

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Once the water is boiling it’s time to put the eggs into the water.  You don’t want to plop them in!  You need to roll the eggs in gently.  Because of the timing of cooking you don’t want to poach a bunch of eggs at the same time otherwise you’ll have some overdone and some underdone.

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I prefer my yolks runny so I cooked them for 2 minutes and 45 seconds.  My dad prefers the golden colour but not runny so he cooks his for 4 minutes.  Once done remove and place on the buttered toast.

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I used this bread.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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A quick but delicious breakfast!

Sourdough Bread Stuffing

I came up with this recipe years ago.  I wanted to make something simple, delicious, and a step up from the stove top stuffings.  As much as I like those, this is Thanksgiving!  The bar has to be raised.  🙂

It is important to start the day before with the bread.  I bought a Sourdough Boule ( I know I didn’t bake it, but this is a huge time saver with all the cooking we have to do!) and it gets torn up the day before to turn it a bit stale.  This allows the absorbing of the broth without making it super soggy.

On the day of I slice up some cranberries and celery leaves.  I usually use celery but right now all I have left in the garden is a few small stalks and a ton of leaves.  I’m amazed I have that!  Turns out the leaves are a better choice for colour and flavour.

I toss the cranberry and the celery into the bread and set aside.  Next I chop up some garlic and onions and saute in olive oil.

Once the onions have softened a bit then I add about 4 cups of veg broth.  Several of my family members are vegetarian so it is important that all the sides are vegetarian so they can eat.  🙂  Bring the broth mixture to a boil then simmer for a bit.

Now it is time to put it all together.  Add a bit of the bread mixture to the baking pan and then add a bit of broth.  It’s important not to add the broth all at once otherwise you will have  really soggy spots.  At this point I also add in shredded Italian cheeses.  I usually get the 4-6 cheese variety.

Make sure you have plenty of bread as it will shrink down as you add the broth.  Once it is filled up I top with cheese.

We had an oven already heated at 350 F so I covered the stuffing and baked for about 15 minutes, then I uncovered it until it browned on the top a bit.

It works really well with the turkey and I like putting a bit of the gravy over the stuffing.  🙂

 

Baguettes

As I’ve probably mentioned previously we don’t buy bread very often.  In fact it is quite rare.  We prefer to bake our own for many reasons.  It is very inexpensive, we can pronounce the ingredients, and it tastes better right out of the oven.  So a few years ago we decided to branch out and really learn how to bake different kinds of bread but we needed a good bread book.  We were lucky enough to find “Local Breads” by Daniel Leader.  I can’t recommend this enough, it is that good.  It is chock full of European breads from artisan bakers around Europe.  With each recipe he talks about the area the bread is from and the person he learned the recipe from.  It is easy to follow if you are a beginner and doesn’t get old if you are experienced.

This recipe is the Parisian Daily Bread and takes about an afternoon to make with all the rising.  We usually bake this up if we want a wine and cheese night.

To start add 1 1/2 cups of tepid water, 1 teaspoon instant yeast, 3 1/4 cups of flour and 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.  Now he describes the flour needed as “Type 55-style flour from King Arthur or Guisto’s or unbleached all-purpose flour”.

Mix together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to it looks like a clumpy mess.

Cover and let rest for at least 20 minutes.  This develops the gluten.  Now there are two ways to knead, by hand or with the Kitchen Aid.  This bread needs to be kneaded for about 10 minutes so I use the mixer to save my wrists.  And I’ve found it comes out better this way.  So I knead it on setting 2 of the mixer for 8 to 10 minutes.

It starts to come together quickly.  As it is kneading often little balls of dough come off and when that happens, stop and mush it together.

When you get to the 8 minute mark start checking to see that it has been kneaded enough.  Take a small bit of the dough and stretch it.  If it stretches and becomes translucent without breaking then it is done.  If not, knead a bit more.

Spray the bowl and put the dough in and cover with a hot wet tea towel and let rise.  Now here is where I accidentally deviated from the recipe.  And it was a good thing.  It says to let rise for 45 minutes and it will increase 25%.  Well I let it rise until double.  Normally the baguettes come out a bit flat but not this time!

Turn it out on a floured counter and flatten into a rectangle and fold like an envelope in thirds.

Put back into the bowl and let rise to nearly double again.

Turn out on to counter again and divide into three baguettes.  Place on parchment paper and slice the tops.  Cover with cling film that has been sprayed with oil.

Let it rise again for another 45- 60 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 450 F.  You will need to place a large rectangle pizza stone on the top shelf and an iron cast skillet in the bottom.  When it is time to bake slide the bread on the parchment paper onto the pizza stone.  Put about 5 ice cubes in the skillet and bake for 15-20 minutes until nice and golden brown.

Of course we quality check the bread with some butter.  🙂  This is the bread I used in my gourmet cheeseburger recipe.

Cornbread

Whenever I make chili I usually bake cornbread to accompany it.  Which I did last time but then I forgot to take a final picture of it so all I was the raw mixture to show off.  Not quite the look I was going for.  And would you believe I nearly forgot again this time round?!?

This is a quick bread that is traditional with chili and is great served hot so the butter just melts into it.

I use Indian Head brand corn meal for the bread and follow their recipe on the back.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

In one bowl combine 1 cup corn meal, 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt.  In another bowl combine1/4 cup oil, 1 cup milk and 1 egg beaten.

Add the wet mixture gradually to the dry ingredients.  Mix until smooth.  Pour into a 9 x 9 x 2 pan that is greased.

Pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes until baked.  You want the toothpick to come out clean when you do the test.

As you can see we’d already tucked in to the cornbread before the light bulb went off and I remembered I needed a picture.  It goes quickly with the chili.  🙂

French Onion Soup

For the longest time I wasn’t a fan of French Onion soup.  It was always overpowering and heavy on the stomach.  Then I met my husband who loves this soup.  But he had the same problem of finding a decent recipe.  We found one from Hannafords and then changed it a bit and now we have a soup that is very easy to make and we all love eating it.

To start melt 2 T of butter in a saucepan.

I thinly slice about 1 1/2 large onions and saute in the butter.  Cook until they start to soften and then add a tablespoon of sugar.  Stir well.  I found a lot of recipes called for 3 large onions but it would be too much of an onion flavour and you wouldn’t get a balance of all the flavours.

Saute for another 5 minutes or so.  Add 4 cups of broth.  We use the veg broth though most recipes call for a beef broth.  Heat until simmering.  Add a few squirts of stone ground mustard, 3 T of cognac, 3-4 T of Worcestershire sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I like it to simmer for awhile if I have the time for the flavours to really come together but once it is heated through it can be served.  I butter some bread and toast them to top the soup.  Then grate some Jarlsberg cheese over it all.  Broil until melted and serve.

This is perfect on a cold day or when your schedule is hectic.  And if you want a variation of this try the french onion grilled cheese sandwiches.   A big hit in my family.  🙂

Gourmet Cheeseburgers

We enjoy a good cheeseburger from time to time.  Earlier this year I was feeling creative and we had some fresh ground beef from a local farm.  So I didn’t want to do a basic cheeseburger.  It needed some pizzazz!  I came up with this recipe.

In a medium bowl, put in the ground beef, a few cloves of garlic minced, about 1/2 a cup of grated parmesan, 1/3 cup of panko bread crumbs, salt and pepper, a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.  I’ll admit it is hard to tell if you put enough in as you can hardly taste the raw meat.  So occasionally I find I didn’t use enough Worcestershire sauce.  Which is a shame as it really makes this burger.

Mix with your hands but be careful not to overwork the meat.  It will mess with the texture.  If the meat isn’t sticking together enough add a bit of olive oil.  With meat from local farms it can be a toss up on the moisture level.

Form into patties and get the grill going.  While the grill is going, butter some baguettes and toast for the buns.

Also while grilling the burgers I saute up some mushrooms and onions in a bit of olive oil with some salt.  I cook them until the mushrooms are nicely browned.

Once the burgers are done, let them rest a few moments.  Now we use different cheeses.  My husband prefers Jarlsberg on this so I melt the cheese on the burger in the grill.  I spread goat cheese on mine when it’s resting.  Then it is time to put it all together.  I like to layer ketchup, then the burger, the goat cheese, mushroom and onions for my burger.

Yes it does get to a silly height!  🙂  So I just smush it a bit and enjoy all the flavours.  It is messy eating but who cares!  🙂