This weekend has been a cooking weekend. I've had lots of gorgeous veg from our organic box scheme, which inspired me to make lots of soup and roast veg. Which, of course, made me have to bake some bread!
I also decided to cure some of the pork I butchered last week. The bacon I made using a wet cure was ready today as well and tasted delicious. I don't want to post any pictures of it though, it looks good, but I just didn't want lots of shots of pork in the post!
Here is how I made bread. I'm getting a 6ltr Dutch oven so I can start baking bread when I'm staying on the land. I can't wait to do that!!!
1.5kg Malted flour
3tbs runny honey
2 tsp fine sea salt
3 tsp dried yeast (the Doves farm one in the little orange pack)
1.5 pints of warm water (or thereabouts)
I used 1.5kg organic malted flour. This is quite a lot, but I wanted to make some rolls as well as a loaf. 1 kg makes a decent sized family loaf, normally, adjust the recipe to suit. Remember that if you're using white flour you wont need as much water.
Dissolve the honey in the warm water.
Put the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl and mix together.
Make a hole in the centre of the flour and pour about half the water mixture in it. Bring the flour in from the sides to the middle and gradually mix with your hands.
Add half of the water mix that you have left and continue to work it with your hands.
You can then add more water, in little bits, until you have the right consistency.
The dough should feel sticky and a little bit wet. It'll probably be stuck to your hands quite badly.
Then turn it out onto a floured surface. The surface you knead on shouldn't move around, your going to be shoving the dough about a lot so you need it to be pretty solid. If you're using something, like a chopping board, that might move around, stick a folded tea towel underneath it and that should help keep it still.
Knead the dough thoroughly for 10 mins. Time yourself, as you'll never do it for long voluntarily! Kneading is basically a series of actions where you try and push the dough away from you, pull it towards you, pull it apart and scrunch it together. Be really tough on it! You're trying to build up the gluten in the bread which will give it it's lovely consistency.
Put the dough into a floured bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Put it in a draught free, warm place to rise for 1 hour. Time it so you don't forget!
Then turn the dough out on to your floured surfaced and punch it over and over to get the air out of it. Odd I know.
This is where you make the shape of your loaf. I made a square loaf by putting it into a square cake tin and 6 long rolls, I shaped them by hand and put them on oiled greaseproof paper on a baking tray.
Then I covered them with a damp tea towel and put them back in the draught free, warm place. This next proving is REALLY important. Don't bang or open and close doors near the dough now. Treat it like a sleeping baby. DON'T rush this second proving either, this is the proving that will give you a lovely light bread instead of a brick.
I gave mine over an hour.
In the meantime I put the oven on so it was up to temperature (I've got an electric oven, it was at 190c).
I then REALLY CAREFULLY, without banging or subjecting the dough to a draught put it in the oven and baked the loaf for 30 odd minutes and the rolls for 20 mins.
Leek and potato soup.
2 Large leeks
4 medium potatoes
2 pints of any good stock
1/2 pint of milk (if you like)
3 dried bay leaves.
knob of butter and some oil to stop it burning
Slice the leeks and add to the heated oil and butter. Stir well until all the leek is covered in the butter, cook until soft.
Chop the potatoes into inch - ish cubes and add to the soften leeks. Stir well until the potatoes are coated in butter.
Add the stock, bay leaves and seasoning to taste.
Put a lid on it and cook until the potatoes are very soft.
Remove the bay leaves.
Blitz with what ever you have to blitz things with. I use one of those handheld blitzers.
NB: If you don't have a blitzer use a potato masher, mix well and remember to cut everything small initially.
This is where I would add the milk if I was using it. Make sure the soup is still warm after adding the milk. If it isn't, warm it up GENTLY making sure it doesn't come to the boil.
I fried up some of our bacon that had been wet cured and added it to my bowl. It worked very well. mmmmMMMmmm...very, very well...slobber....
I have displayed my wares on the willow platter I made the other week. I LOVE it. I think it would make an excellent tray/place mat thingy. A bit full on maybe, but I like it!!
1 giant parsnip
4 medium potatoes
1 huge onion
4 large carrots
Dried or fresh Rosemary
butter and oil
Loads of different veg, whatever you like, as much or as little of each thing. Chopped into inch and a half cubes - ish!
Bung it all in a roasting tray with some seasoning, butter and oil, cover with tin foil and bake at 180c (electric) for 45 mins.
Take it out and sprinkle 3 cloves of chopped up garlic (or whatever number is siutable for the amount you're cooking!) and any herbs you want to add. Give it a mix and cover with tin foil. Bake for a further 20 mins.
Take the tin foil off and then bung it back in the oven for about 15 mins.
Bobs your uncle.
Dry curing some pork
750g fine sea salt
250g dememera sugar
all mixed together in a clean bowl, with clean hands and clean utensils.
Belly or any other cut suitable for this sort of crazy thing.
Put the pork on a clean surface. I slashed the skin and fat of the pork at this stage to push the cure into.
Then rub the cure into the meat, all sides, all crevices. Really work it in. When you've got a complete covering of the cure put it in a NON-METALLIC container. [pork reacts with metal, it gives the meat an unpleasant taste]
You'll have cure left over, keep that as you'll need it.
If you have more than one piece of pork to cure, repeat the above technique and place it on top of the original piece of pork in your NON-METALLIC container.
Again, saving any cure that's left over.
Then every 24 hours remove the pork from the tub, drain the salty liquid, rub more cure over the pieces of pork and put them back in the container. However, this time put the piece of pork, that was originally on the top, on the bottom and turn them both upside down. Repeat this everyday for a minimum of 4 days and a maximum of 10 days. The longer you leave it the more salty it will be but the longer it will last.
I plan to do ours for 5 days. As it's been reported that it will be very tasty by then. After the 5 days I'm going to give it a good wash under the cold tap and dry it off with a clean cloth. I'll then wrap it in muslin or greaseproof paper and keep some of it in the fridge. What we wont use I'll wrap in greaseproof paper and put it in a freezer bag in the freezer.
This recipe is a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe and is widely discussed as too salty. Have a mooch about the net to find other cures and advice. Keep yourself, your tools and your work area as clean as possible to help win the race against the bacteria.
Brawn or Head Cake, as I like to call it.
No offence but this was a harrowing experience for me. I don't look forward to having to do it again, but I will if I ever end up with another pig head.
We took half the head of the pig and removed it's eye. Well, Leo did. I'm not normally squeamish but I'd had enough of the gruesome nature of dealing with the head so took a break and let poor Leo remove it.
I then put the head, trotters and a hock (the bit of the leg above the trotters) into my stock pot and covered them with water. As I had chosen to make this as dog food for Willow I didn't add any herbs, onion or seasoning. There are brawn recipes out there for humans.
I then boiled the lot up for 4 hours. Yes, 4 hours. Skimming away any scum that developed. The smell was unpleasant and I found it disturbing when the head bobbed.
After the 4 hours, yes, that's 4 hours, I removed what was left of the bones and pushed off any meat still attached into the remaining liquid. I then strained the liquid off into a loaf tin. I flaked the meat and added it to the liquid in the loaf tin. Let it cool and then covered it and put it into the fridge. Over night it turned into this...
It's sliced up now into portions for Willow. She'll have it as a treat every other day. Most of the slices are frozen.
Making brawn just wasn't my cup of tea. Not my cup of tea at all.
Lots of people will be aghast at the fact I've made it for Willow, what a waste! Perhaps one day I will make it using the human recipe and try and enjoy it. Not this time though I'm afraid.
Now playing: Dick Gaughan - The Father's Song