Thursday, July 29, 2010

Grainy Bread

 If you know (and like) the 'Vogel's' brand of bread, then you will love this recipe. This is a similarly moist and delicious bread and is great for toasting, it's also really hearty when eaten with soups. The recipe makes one decent-sized loaf but I like to make one small-medium loaf and place blobs of leftover dough on a tray to create a few bread rolls (to have with soups). Obviously the smaller bread and rolls will take less time to cook, but this is easy to judge by sight and a tap on the bottom (they should sound hollow when done).

What you need:
  • 200ml lukewarm water
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 500g wholemeal flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 65g of grains and/or seeds of your choice (I find the store "Binn Inn" has a cheap and good range of pre-made mixes, I like the one with linseed and flax seed)
  • 300ml lukewarm water.

How to do it:

If you want to make one loaf then the ideal size of tin is about 28x11cm. Grease it.

Combine the 200ml water with the honey, sprinkle the yeast over then set aside for 10min 'til frothy.

Mix flour, salt and seeds in bowl, pour in yeast liquid and 300ml water. Combine til dough is soft and sticky.

Spoon into prepared tin, and/or put blobs on a greased tray to create rolls.

Cover and set aside in warm place to prove, (about an hour, but this will vary).

Bake for 45min at 200 Celsius.

Let it cool for 10 min before removing from tin.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Leek and Potato Soup

We're on a pretty tight budget and I find vege soups are an easy and cheap option. They're especially filling when accompanied with home-made bread, and are perfect in this freezing cold weather we've got going on at the moment. The addition of lemon zest really brings this dish together, so don't skip it.

  • 1 leek, sliced finely (I will include a tiny bit of the green if it's tender.)
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Boil the potatoes 'til cooked. Purée them with a mixer, immersion blender or just mash them. Use some of the cooking water to help blend it, until it is a thick soupy consistency.
  • Fry the garlic, ginger, onion and leeks in butter until the leek is soft.
  • Put the mushy potato and leeks into a big pot.
  • Add salt and pepper, lemon zest, chicken stock, and add as much water as you need to make it a thinner soup consistency (probably about one cup, but this will vary).
  • Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the soup becomes thick and creamy.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Zopf (Swiss bread)

This has to be my all-time favourite bread recipe, it's simple, delicious, and also sentimental. It's a Swiss recipe that my mum used to make as i was growing up, and I learnt most of my cooking and baking skills from her so I guess it was inevitable that I would become rather attached to it.
Making your own bread is so rewarding, plus it can be really therapeutic and relaxing.Last year I attempted to teach one of my flatmates how to make bread, he became so enthusiastic he broke through our wooden bench while kneading. Martial Arts training combined with a poorly reinforced bench, makes for an interesting disaster in the kitchen.

What you need:
  • 500g flour (I use High Grade)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons yeast (I use Active Dried Yeast)
  • 60g butter or margarine
  • 300ml warm milk
  • yolk of one egg
How to do it:

Put 150ml of the warm milk into a bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside somewhere warm for 10 -15 minutes until frothy. It's very important that the milk is not hot or cold, but just lukewarm.

Add the yeasty milk to a bowl of flour, salt and butter. Add the rest of the milk. Mix.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Don't cut this short otherwise you won't get such a nice texture, so be prepared to get a good workout. Or if you are lazy (shame on you) and use a mixer, then I guess it would take only 5 minutes.

Leave the dough aside somewhere warm until it doubles in size. The time will vary, but I tend to just leave it for 2 hours. Be sure to keep it covered (I like using a damp tea towel.)

Knock the dough down by giving it a few good punches (this releases all the carbon dioxide) and divide it into three pieces and plait it and pinch the ends and roll them under slightly. Let it rise for another half an hour.

Brush the top with a beaten egg yolk.

Preheat your oven to 220 Celsius, but when you put your bread in turn it down to 180 and cook for approx 50 minutes.

How to eat:

In my experience this bread is more of a breakfast bread. I remember visiting my grandparents and sitting down for breakfast and tucking into slices of zopf with lashing of fresh unsalted butter then having jam smeared on top. So perfect. But it is fine for sandwiches as well, but just note that it does have more of a sweeter yeasty quality. And it's best to let it cool before eating.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Making Chapati

Rolling chapati & chapati served with an eggplant curry

One of the things I miss from living in a big city is the access to such a variety of ingredients. Where I live I'm unable to buy one of my favourite vegetables, bhindi (okra). This sucks. Back in Auckland I could easily buy it fresh and frozen, but here I can only find it pre-packaged in a ready-made curry. Thankfully though, the curry is delicious. So to accompany it I love to make my own chapati. Nothing beats fresh warm chapati. They are easy to make, though making them a nice round circle...not so easy. I'm slowly getting there, but I still form some duds which I pass off as awesome artistic shapes. Oh and they are good not only with curries, I love to spread jam on them to have with coffee. Yum.


500g chapati flour (if you can't find this just use sifted wholemeal flour)
Approx 5 Tablespoons of oil (you could also use ghee or butter)
Salt (optional)
Approx one cup warm water

How to make em':
  • Mix the flour, oil, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Add the water gradually, and mix until it forms a soft workable dough. Knead it a little bit.
  • Break the dough up into 6 to 10 equal sized pieces. About golf-ball shape is what I aim for.
  • Dust with a bit of flour and roll them to about 8-10cm in diameter. I use a chapati roller and board, but a standard rolling pin would suffice. Don't worry so much about shape at first, just make sure the thickness is even.
  • Heat an oiled frying pan until medium hot. Fry one side of the chapati until you see bubbles appear (will take just a couple minutes), then flip over and cook the other side.
  • Repeat until they are all done.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rhubarb Muffins

We had a heap of rhubarb growing at the community garden, so I diced some up and froze them to use at a later date. And this recipe is where they mostly end up. I find it really needs the addition of the spices to give it extra zing. One day I would like to try this recipe with some orange zest, but I never seem to have one lying around when I need it.

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups finely chopped rhubarb (I add them pre-chopped straight from my freezer)
  • 2 teaspoons of spices ( I grind my own mixture of cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, but use what you like. I like to go quite heavy on the cardamom)
Also, if you have a very sweet tooth you can sprinkle over a cinnamon sugar mixture (1tsp cinnamon with 2 Tbsp white sugar) before baking. However I often prefer to make them without the topping.


Heat oven to 180 Celsius, and grease or line 12 muffin cups.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk, oil, vanilla, and egg. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in the rhubarb.
Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups.
Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar, if desired.

Bake for 20-25min until light golden brown.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I happened to notice that we had a giant jar of peanut butter sitting in our cupboard. And while I’m not a huge fan of PB sandwiches, I am a big fan of cookies. So I decided that this jar of PB was destined for greater things. I think I discovered the recipe from the internet, and it was so perfect that it is now a staple in my baking repertoire.


· 3/4 cup margarine/butter (or whatever’s your bag. I’m a butter girl)
· 1 cup white sugar
· 1 cup brown sugar
· 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
· 2 eggs
· 2 teaspoon vanilla essence
· 2 1/2 cups flour
· 1 t baking soda
· 1/2 t salt
· 250g milk chocolate, chopped ( I like using the Whittaker’s brand, and chop it fairly chunky)


Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius. Beat butter/marg, sugars, and PB until light and fluffy. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the chocolate pieces. Drop heaped teaspoons of dough onto a lined/greased cookie tray. Bake for 12-15 min or until lightly browned.
Let them stand before removing from tray. They will crisp up on cooling.

Note: The recipe makes heaps, approx 70 cookies. Also, the balls of dough also freeze really well. I like to keep a stash in the freezer in a zip-lock bag, and just bung them straight in the oven.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Vension Meatballs

These meatballs were a random creation using a few of my favourite spices and the only herb I that I had handy (some mint from my wee garden). Luckily it turned out to be the perfect combo, and I’ll definitely be making these again…and I that I’ve started writing my recipes down!

For the meatballs:

  • 500g venison mince
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (this is optional, but I like adding oats as it makes the mince go further)
  • salt & pepper
For the sauce:

  • 1/2 an onion chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped or crushed (I use marinated garlic)
  • 400g tin peeled Roma tomatoes in juice
  • extra water, approx 1/4 cup
  • salt & pepper

Combine all the meatball ingredients together, and with wet hands form the mixture into small balls. I like making the balls small as they take less time to cook, but do what you prefer.

Fry the meatballs until golden and remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, fry the onion and garlic. Add the tomatoes and a bit of extra water. Crush the tomatoes a little bit and bring the mixture to the boil. Let the sauce simmer and reduce slightly before returning the meatballs back to the pan. Simmer until the meatballs are cooked through.

Season to taste.

Makes approx 24 small balls.