Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Cook with Jamie

I got a new cookbook from Jamie Oliver. Well, it is not his newest one, but for me it is new: "Cook with Jamie - My guide to make you a better cook". It's somehow like a cooking course. There are of course a lot of delicious recipes. Moreover, there are also a lot of other information on how to do things in general. After I have read most of it, I can start doing things a bit more practical. This would be a good book to cook through completely. Maybe then I have the chance to become a better cook.
So far I have read a lot about salads - I should really eat more salad - and not just the standard ones.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

French baking - boule et bâtard

It was time for baking again. Although it is a Sunday and the opportunity for staying in bed longer is there I want to start early. Well not so early as a normal baker does, but 7:30 in the morning for a Sunday is already something.
Since I got all the ingredients at hand now - even this type 812 flour, which is a spelt flour, things can go.
Basically the procedure is the same as with baguettes. So the part were it comes to the kneading for twenty minutes is involved as well. I don't like to use a machine for that, so I go for it by hand - for twenty minutes. This is quite some effort - exercise while baking bread.
Again several times for raising. In fact the only thing now that is different from preparing baguettes is that I took half type 550 flour and half 812. This time I used also a tiny bit more yeast, since I had the feeling the bread was not raising properly last time. 
This time then things seemed to go well with the raising, but in the end in the oven not much more happened as to increasing in size. Someday I will figure out what goes wrong or what I have to do differently.
But back to the steps before. Obviously the shape of the bread is different. A boule is a ball and a bâtard, well, my dictionary said it is a bastard. Whatsoever! The picture rougly shows how the breads look like, although I haven't seen them in reality in a French boulangerie or supermarché before. Therefore I have no real comparison.


In the end then I'm not quite sure wheter I should be satisfied or not. Again, though, the taste is what counts in the first place. Room for improvement is always there - practice, practice, practice. Time will tell!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Cookbooks

Again, I got three new cookbooks. What's the use of having so many cookbooks? I have stopped counting how many I have and I never even thought of how many recipes are waiting to be cooked in all these books. I think lifetime will never be enough to try all these recipes. So why get another one!?
On my special shelf I have eleven books. Maybe I should at least choose one of these and try all recipes of it. This reminds me of the movie Julie & Julia - not that I would want to try to do the same thing. I also have this cookbook from the movie and from a first glance it seems to me quite a feat to do this, to cook all the recipes from it within one year.
If I would try something similiar I would maybe use one of Jamie Oliver's books. That would not be so hard. Maybe I will think about it.

French baking - flour

Now I took the time to look through some shops to find flour type 812. It is really hard to find. They also don't put these type numbers on all flours. However, today then, finally, I found a shop that has this type 812 flour. By the way, the flour type 812 is spelt flour. Then I can try thre recipe in the book as it is written - I only need to find time again for this. After all I also need to prepare something going with the bread. On top of it I also still have some baguette I bought from the shop.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

French baking

After trying a recipe for baguettes from the book "Confessions of a French baker" I thought I could bake myself through the whole book bread by bread and write how it goes. Next would be "boules" and "bâtards".
The recipe mentions the usage of flour type 812 - to use half of the amount this flour and half type 550. However, it refers also to the base recipe for the bread dough, which just uses type 550 alone. So far I was not able to locate a shop selling type 812 flour. Before I find it somewhere I might just try it with using one type of flour instead. Since it takes some time to make bread, I can continue only once in a while.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Baguette at home

Well, I thought I would need a baguette for the weekend. Unfortunately, in all the shops I looked for them they didn't have any left (maybe I should have gone a few hours earlier). So, no chance. There is still a baguette resting in peace in the freezer. I can't exactly remember how it ended up there, but I didn't fancy that particular one so much to revive it again. From experience I know this only leads to disappointment.
So, I have this book about French baking. Just got it yesterday. I went for it and tried making baguettes for myself. As a rough calculation that I took from the book for raising times, kneading, baking and so forth, I ended up with 3.5 hours. Not too bad.
First sifting the flour (Type 550) with a bit of salt, adding the yeast and 300 ml water - kneading for ten minutes - resting for ten minutes (the dough - not me) - kneading for 20 minutes - rising for 45 minutes - pre-modelling four baguettes - rising 25 minutes - finish forming of baguettes - 45 rising again - baking for 20 minutes - cooling for 30 minutes - enjoying.


The end result was not too bad, though something seemed to have gone wrong with the rising. The taste, however, was as good as I would expect from a fresh baguette. So despite some friends telling me you can't do a baguette for yourself, it worked.
But, if you want to do it you have to be ready for some work and really need to take time for it. Thinking about what was behind making baguettes for myself ...  well ... we are really spoiled and too often don't appreciate the things we buy.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Cookie mania

Lately I flipped through the pages of one of the latest issues of the Jamie Oliver Magazine (http://www.jamieoliver.com/magazine/recipes.php). There are always nice recipes inside. So I ended up trying a recipe for cookies with cranberries and white chocolate. The result was very delicious. However, within two days all the cookies were gone again.
Well - I took time and started making cookies again today. I followed the same recipe again. But this time I also felt a bit like experimenting and did additionally two other kinds of cookies:
First 100 g of butter mixed toegther with 85 g of caster sugar. This was the beginning, like in the recipe for the cranberry cookies. But now I added lemon zest and pieces of almond. Then some baking powder and some starch and finally flour until I got a nice dough.
The third kind of cookies were a bit more - hm, strange. It were going to be ginger-chilli cookies with chocolate chunks. Therefore I put some chopped fresh ginger and chilli in and pieces of dark chocolate. Apart from the flour, the starch, and baking powder I added also a few spoons of rolled oats.
However before you can start baking the cookies, you need to wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge for an hour. Then you cut the dough in 1 cm thick slices and bake them for 15 minutes at 180°C.



Well, the cranberry cookies taste fantastic - really. The almond-lemon cookies are also fine, however, a certain extra crunch is missing. About the ginger-chilli-chocolate cookies - ok - you have to like ginger and chillies ... if you don't try, you don't know.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Leftover upgrade

Often you have leftover food. What can you do with it? You can have the same meal again (might be great if it was a great dish). However, you could also upgrade it and turn it into a new dish.


I had some leftover polenta, wish I fried and put some self-made rocket pesto on it. I also had some broccoli left. Then a quick salad on the side and finish.

Sometimes the new dish tastes better, but sometimes not ...

Whatever, there are many ways you can upgrade your leftovers. You can stuff bell pepper with leftover risotto, you can fry your leftover spaghetti with some eggs and somethings, you can ... do a lot of things. The only thing you need is an open mind.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Omelette

Well, I never thought an omelette would be very interesting. It's such a simple piece of food, but it tastes very delicious - that is if you like eggs. Mostly it is just eggs, but you can do it in so many a different ways - with different fillings, or toppings, or whatever you would call it.
I was talking to friend today and he said he had been away for the weekend and the most things they did, was going to have a meal together. One of his highlights was an omelette with feta cheese. So when I came home I tried to make one myself.
I just took three eggs, whisked them together and seasoned them with salt and pepper. The saucepan was heated up with some olive oil and then off it went. Just throwing some pieces of feta cheese on and letting the heat doing the job. After a short while I just had to fold it together and ready was a quick and nice meal.
Many good things in life are just simple.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

What is this all about?

Hello out there!

I am Chris from Germany and I would like to write a few thoughts about cooking and/or food, well things that have to do with food, eating, and cooking. There is a lot of good information, you can find on food and cooking on the internet or also in books. There are quite a few people out there who know their job.
I first got interesting in cooking in connection with Mexican food, like doing tacos and enchiladas. So the first cookbook I got myself was a Mexican cookbook. Then I tried Turkish, Caribbean, and then did only the necessary cooking for a while. That was a long time ago.
Some month back from now, I started getting cookbooks from the library and so I got interested in cooking a bit more, because I found some things that tasted really good and were also not so difficult to prepare. So I started trying quite some new things.

Chris