21 February 2012

South Africa - Day 4

We're at the Hulehulwe-Imfaleze game park... It is amazeballs

19 February 2012

South Africa - day two

After torrential rain yesterday we're having the first braai of the holiday

17 February 2012


Hurrah - I'm on going on holiday to South Africa so this blog may be a bit quiet for the next couple of weeks. I am going to try and blog on here from my home but it's hard to know whether that will work. There will be posts appearing on my other blog here though so check it out. Otherwise I'll hopefully be putting pictures etc up from our trip!

15 February 2012

Sourdough Friendship Cake

I'm not really into cake, but I am in to trying out new stuff in the kitchen so when my sister-in-law offered me some 'Herman the German' friendship cake - essentially a sourdough starter - I jumped at the chance to try it out. This is the culinary equivalent of the chain letter but whether you've read the articles talking of people being completely obsessed with their starter I want to try a few things out, give a bit to anyone who wanted and put the rest in the bin.

First things first I hate the name Herman so ours was called Siegfried. Having been dismissive enough of those who got obsessed with their starter I was soon quite attached to Siegfried. It sort of sits on your worktop in its bowl bubbling away and needing to be stirred every day and fed every four. I really wanted to make bread with my starter but because it's fed with sugar I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. My friend Florence found a really easy recipe on this wonderful website - pinchmysalt.com. So I'm reproducing it here but I really recommend going there for any of your bread needs, this recipe is so fantastically yummy I've filled the freezer with sourdough.

Basic Sourdough Bread

Makes two loaves

1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups warm, filtered water
5-6 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt

Now this does take time but you don't need to hover over it the whole time so you can fit it in around other things you are doing. The initial bit you make with the sourdough is called a 'sponge' but it's not really a sponge. It's just like a super-fed bit of starter.

For the Sponge:
1. Pour the cup of starter into a large mixing bowl, add the warm water and 3 cups of flour. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon then cover with clingfilm and put it aside to work. You don't have to put it anywhere particularly warm (I left mine on the kitchen table). This period can be very flexible, but allow at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours. A longer period (at lower temperature) will result in a more sour flavor.

The Sponge

For the dough:
1. After the sponge has bubbled and expanded, remover the clingfilm and sieve in one cup of flour and the salt. Stir this in and then add more flour, a little at a time, until the dough comes together.

2. Turn it out onto a floured board and knead it for 3 to 4 minutes. Give the dough a rest while you clean out and grease your bowl with a bit of vegetable or olive oil.

3. Continue kneading for another 3 or 4 minutes, adding extra flour as needed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add only enough extra flour to keep the dough from sticking. Place the dough in the bowl, turn it once to grease the top, cover and let it rise until doubled. This can take 1 to 2 hours.

Shaping and Baking:
1. Turn the dough out and divide in half.

2. Shape each half into a loaf and place on a lightly greased, cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet. Cover, and let it rise until doubled - again this can take up to two hours.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/450F.

4. Remove the cover and slash the tops, bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. Turn the heat off, crack the door and leave for another 5 minutes.

5. Remove the loaves to a cooling rack and let them cool completely before slicing.


10 February 2012

Pomegranate Ice Cream

When I made pomegranate vodka I then had lots of leftover juice so I immediately made one of my favourite things to have in the freezer in case I need an exciting pudding at the last minute - Nigella's No Churn Pomegranate Ice Cream from Nigella Express. This is yummy, almost sherberty and a must for anyone who has a weakness for cream and sugar together.

No Churn Pomegranate Ice Cream 

Serves 8

2 pomegranates (plus seeds from a third for decoration if you want)
1 lime
175g icing sugar
500ml double cream

Now I used the leftover juice from making the vodka and as I have this to put in the freezer for emergencies I don't bother with the seed decoration bit. You need an airtight container for this I use a couple of leftover takeaway boxes so they fit into the freezer easily and you don't have to worry about the whole lot defrosting and refreezing.

1. Juice the pomegranates and the lime and strain into a bowl.

2. Add the icing sugar and whisk to dissolve.

3. Whisk in the double cream and keep whisking until soft peaks form in the pale pink cream.

4. Spoon and smooth the ice cream into the airtight container of your choice and freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

5. Scatter with some pomegranate seeds before you eat it.

7 February 2012

Pomegranate Vodka

This is a delicious present, really easy to make and although pomegranates are expensive I'm going to follow up with another recipe for Pomegranate ice cream so you use everything you can from the fruit and get maximum output. Both these recipes are by Nigella but they are from different books. This one is from Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends, Festivities and although it's quite messy, it is really easy to make.

You need to have a 1 litre kilner or sealed jar to store the vodka in and then some bottles to bottle it into. You can use the empty vodka bottles with the label removed but I get my bottles from Lakeland because I LOVE IT. Nigella says she can get pomegranate seeds from her local supermarket. Well I couldn't so I bought them from my local market which did 2 for £1 which is much better than the £1.50 for one in the supermarket. I then tapped out the seeds into a sieve so I've added that bit to the recipe. You will need to wear a pinny...

Pomegranate Vodka

Makes 700ml

150g pomegranate seeds (about 1-2 pomegranates)
1 x 70cl bottle of vodka

You will need to sterilise your storage jar but this is going to steep for 4 days so you don't need to sterilise your bottle until you need it. I used a sieve lined with a muslin over a measuring jug for this.

1. Cut your pomegranate in half, hold it over your muslined sieve and whack the back of it with a wooden spoon. I then push them around in the sieve to get all the juice off - they need to be thoroughly drained.
Pomegranate seeds

2. Add the pomegranate seeds to the cooled, prepared jar, followed by the vodka. Keep the pomegranate juice to either make ice cream or to drink.

3. Seal the jar and give it a shake before putting it in a cool, dark cupboard, or anywhere out of the light.

4. Leave it for four days, shaking it any time you remember to, before sieving it into a measuring jug.

Pomegranates after four days

5. Sterilise your bottle, pour in the steeped vodka and put the lid on tightly before storing.

6. This will keep for up to 1 year.
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