Whole lemon dressings and experiments..

It all began with Sally’s post, in which she uses whole lemons in a marinade for pork; I couldn’t help thinking it would make an interesting dressing. Then up popped Mimis post: a whole lemon dressing, by which time I needed to give this a try…

…and so I did!

So, when I say ‘whole lemon’ I really mean the WHOLE lemon. All I did was give a couple of lemons a wash, cut them into quarters, then eighths, removed any pips, then put them in the blender with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and a splash of honey. The resulting dressing is really nice, not overwhelmingly lemony because you’re not actually using a massive amount of juice from 2 small lemons. You can taste the rind flavour, which is not as sour as the actual juice, just different. And you can tone it down with some honey if necessary. I added a very very small amount of honey, more just to see what it does to the taste. 

My blender left me with some texture to the dressing which I liked. 

To store the remainders, on the advice of the eminent scientist Sally, the self same Sally as named above, I stored the dressing in a jar in the fridge. This then really firmed up the mixtures so that when I went to use it again, the texture had changed again, but in a nice way as far as I was concerned. Plus the flavour had developed more after a few days.

You can see that it’s a bit grainier. 

Then up popped Laura’s post who had also been expirementing with whole lemons: this time making a spinach and whole lemon pesto. With this in mind, I whizzed up the remains of my whole lemon dressing with some spinach, walnuts and a tabil spice mix that I’d made (equal amounts of roasted cumin, coriander & caraway seeds) to create something new…

…which went nicely with grains, homous and roasted chickpeas. 

There will no doubt be more experiments with whole lemons to come in my kitchen, but I hope you find this interesting so far. I use so much lemon juice, and I try not to waste the skins (I have jars and jars of pickled lemon skins & preserved lemon skins), so using the whole fruit is really inviting. 

Fancy giving it a try?

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An update on my fruit yeast water bread…

Further to my previous post about generating wild yeast from fruit and water, I have continued to make more loaves and experiment with different fruits and would like to share some more ideas and tips…

This loaf was made with yeast water derived from an apple

I have now made yeast water from apples, dates, dried figs and a fresh fig. They have all worked well, but so far my favourites are the dates and apples. 

This bubbly water was generated from dates 

I have observed a few things that I feel may be of use in case you are trying this method, or would like to experiment yourself. I have continued to follow the method for making the yeast waters, and for then making the bread from my previous post and they have continued to be a success…

Bread made with yeast water cultivated from a fig

I can now tell you that different fruits result in different shaped loaves; I’ve had rounded loaves from apples and peaked loaves from figs – just like the shape of the fruits! And the apple water generates the most wonderful aroma in the final loaf.

The second time that I made fruit yeast water from an apple, it didn’t generate any bubbles, but when I opened the jar it gave an audible puff of air several days in a row, and it smelt strongly, so I chanced it and it worked well – so maybe bubbles aren’t always necessary. (I know that one person who made apple yeast water tried drinking it and likened it to cider!) 

When I made date yeast water, I used up nearly all of it for a couple of loaves, then I topped the jar up with a bit more water and it generated more yeast water from the same dates. I do think that each fruit can generate enough water for several loaves – I’ve ended up with water for 2 or 3 loaves at a time so I’ve made them and frozen the loaves that I didn’t immediately need and they feeeze and defrost well. 

Following my posts on here and Instagram, I know that several people around the world have been experimenting with fruit yeast water with varying results. I do think that different fruits in different countries generate different results, and flour from different countries DEFINITELY behaves differently. Only you will know from your own experience whether the flour in your part of the world requires more or less water than mine. 

​​Making the starter with the yeast water and flour works best when made with strong bread flour. Other flours will generate a starter but it will not be as strong and could then result in less rise in the bake. A bubbly gluten free starter can be made with buckwheat flour and fruit yeast water but I’ve only seen it in use in a cake so far. 

Likewise with ovens, and this goes for any baking and cooking, all ovens behave differently, even ovens that are the same make and model! Therefore, you may need to amend my temperatures and timings based on knowledge of your own oven.

I hope these tips are helpful and that you have fun if you do try the fruit yeast water…check out Suzanne’s experience so far…

In a pickle?

After reading the post about pickled red onions from Frugal Hausfrau recently, I decided it was time for me to get in a pickle! But of course, it would have to be my way. So I filled a jar with sliced red onions, sliced garlic, coriander seeds & cumin seeds, and filled it with a pickling fluid of apple cider vinegar, salt and the tiniest pinch of sugar..

I left them in the fridge for several weeks, and then started to taste and experiment with them. What I liked the most was the pickled spices, so I filled a jar with mostly them too!

A typical pickling juice is vinegar boiled with some salt and sugar then poured over whatever you wish to pickle. Then it’s down to you to enhance it with whatever aromatics take your fancy. Apple cider vinegar is quite a gentle acid, and works well, but white vinegar works just as well. It all depends how sharp you like your pickles. 

I’ve also pickled lots of whole garlic cloves – and they turn blue! Which is meant to be a good thing – healthy blue food, who knew??? (See below)

Aside from eating my pickled onions with a meal, I’ve also added them to various concoctions…

This is a ‘salad’ of chopped fresh parsley and coriander with lots of the pickled red onions and garlic and whole spices, using some of the pickling liquid with olive oil to create the texture. 

Tasty with everything, including roasted cauliflower with added leaves, tahini and dried barberries, providing a pop of sweet against the acidity of the pickles.

Or atop roasted aubergine slices topped with a Greek yoghurt & ricotta dressing, topped with pul biber chilli flakes and extra roasted coriander seeds.

I also used some of the pickles as a marinade, mixed with olive oil and roasted cherry tomatoes above.

And some more with cooled roasted aubergine slices and added pickled garlic – see the blue garlic slices? 

I left this mix to brew for a couple of days before adding some of both creations to some chopped leaves, below, with added roasted seeds..

I’m definitely a pickling convert, and having them in the fridge proves very useful. You can pretty much pickle anything, whether raw or cooked, so…

….what will you pickle today?

Date yeast water bread…

Following on from my previous post about making bread from fruit yeast water, this was the outcome from the yeast water that I cultivated from a handful of dates. 

The dough was lovely, the rise was good, and the actual bread was very very tasty! It was wonderfully chewy and very holey…

…I will definitely be soaking some more dates very soon!

Let me also draw your attention to my new Appalachian Bow Saw bread knife…

This artisan handmade beauty is THE best bread knife I have EVER used! Plus it’s beautiful! This was handmade in the U.K. by a gentleman who calls himself ‘thegarlictun’ on Instagram and Facebook. Perfect for any bread lover – I love mine 🙂 

Fruit yeast water bread…

This loaf of bread was created with yeast cultivated from an apple and a jar of water…

…and so was this one…how cool is that???

I saw a mention of yeast water on Instagram so set about investigating it and discovered it’s all about capturing the natural yeast in fruit, and literally, all you need is fruit and water. I didn’t find any hard and fast rules, just people talking about what they’d done, so I took the ideas and had a go myself. 

I washed an apple (to remove any nasties), cut it up, then put it in a jar with water. The jar was clean, but I didn’t sterilise it; I used water from the tap because I know that our tap water is okay for my sourdough starter, so I assumed it would be okay for this. You might need to boil and cool some water if yours is heavily chlorinated. 

And then I left it, for a week. Initially I thought nothing was happening, I gave it the odd shake, and left it to brew, then the water got cloudy and bubbles began to appear, and eventually the water looked as ready as it might be to my untrained eye…

I then mixed equal parts of water with strong bread flour and left it overnight and this is what happened…

Lovely bubbly starter! I guess you could call it a starter or a biga or a poolish, it’s basically flour and water and yeast to create the base of a dough, but in this situation the yeast is wild yeast from fruit. It smells sour like sourdough starter, and acts in pretty much the same way. 

Having read about raisin water, halfway through the week I also filled another pot with a handful of dates and some more tap water and this also yielded some lovely yeasted water after 5 days, with which I created this starter…

You can literally see the strength of the yeast!

To create loaves I have followed guidelines that I use for my sourdough loaves. So once you’ve cultivated the yeast water, this is my suggestion for then making a loaf like this…


Day one

Strain 150g of yeast water from the jar and mix well with 150g strong white bread flour

Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and leave on the counter for 12-18 hours

Day two

Your ‘starter’ should be lovely and bubbly; add 500g strong white bread flour, 280g water and 1 tsp salt 

Squidge it all together roughly so that the flour is all covered, then cover the bowl with the plastic bag again and leave it for an hour

After an hour, perform a series of folds and turns in the bowl; you don’t need to take the dough out and knead it on a surface, just lift a handful of dough from one side and fold it in, turn the bowl, lift and fold, turn the bowl and repeat until you have a lovely smooth ball of dough 

Cover again with the plastic bag and repeat two or three more times over the next few hours 

After the last folding, place the dough in a banneton sprinkled with rice flour

Cover with a plastic bag and place in the fridge overnight 

Day three

Remove the dough from the fridge and leave on the counter for a few hours to come up to room temperature – if your kitchen is very warm maybe only leave it for an hour or so 

Preheat the oven to 250C 

When it’s ready, turn the dough out into a roaster with a lid, with a layer of baking parchment underneath the dough 

Slash the dough

Put the lid on the pan, place it in the oven, turn the temperature down to 220C and bake for 25 mins

Remove the lid, turn the oven down to 180C and bake for 20 mins

Remove and check that if you tap the base of the bread it sounds hollow, and that it doesn’t have any soft areas that look uncooked; if you think it needs a couple more minutes, place it directly on an oven rack to finish off 

Cool on a rack for a few hours before slicing – if you slice into it too soon, steam can fill the loaf and render it gummy 

And enjoy!

I have used the water in batches and it continues to be bubbly. I then discarded the apple but next time I would add more water and see if it maintains some strength to use it again. I am also drying out some of the prepared starter to see how it goes, and I’ve saved some bubbly starter to see if it can be re fed like sourdough starter, I’ll let you know about these.

What I can tell you is that my sourdough connoisseur is loving the bread, it’s basically a sourdough if you ask me. It smells and behaves the same way. When the dough went in the oven, you could really smell the apple, but the smell and flavour didn’t continue into the baked loaf. Apparently some people add more of the fruit water to the dough in place of water to add more flavour to the dough, but I haven’t done that yet. 

PLEASE NOTE: flours around the world act differently, some require more water, some less. If you know how your flour behaves, keep this in mind. Otherwise, go by feel. 

Enjoy!

I hope that everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday enjoys my fruit yeast water bread, especially co hosts Liz and Jenny

A salad of dreams…

…well, to me anyway!!! 

I’ve made this salad several times recently because it’s been so good! It’s eminently pimpable, and even better 2-3 days later, so a winner in my book.

When I think of the salads of the past, of a bit of limp lettuce, a few slices of tomatoes and a bit of cucumber, I can see why people might think salads are boring…but this is nowhere close to boring. Not to me anyway….red onion, tomato, chickpeas, sweet potato, spices, flavours….it’s all good 🙂

Having just thrown this together, I have guesstimated the quantities that I used, feel free to amend based on taste and discovery…

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, washed and cut into chunks

2 medium tomatoes, sliced

2 medium red onions, sliced

1 can/jar chickpeas, drained and washed 

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tbsp tamarind paste

1 tbsp lemon juice

1-2 tsp cumin seeds

1-2 tsp pul biber chilli flakes 

1 tsp amchur (dried mango) powder 

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped 

Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped (optional) 

Olive oil 

Method

Mix together the tomatoes, red onion, chickpeas, pomegranate molasses, tamarind, lemon juice and spices. Stir it well then leave it for the flavours to develop and the juice to emerge from the tomatoes. 

*I leave mine overnight in the fridge for use the following day, although, it is already tasty once you’ve made it, it will be even tastier after a few hours. 

A few hours later, or the next day, boil the sweet potato chunks until they’re nicely cooked but not disintegrating. Drain and allow to cool slightly.

Put the salad together by adding the sweet potato to the tomato and onion mix, add your coriander and parsley, if using, and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve on its own as a meal, or with a meal, and be prepared to want to lick the plate! 

Note: if you find the mixture of tangy flavours too sharp, swap the pomegranate molasses for some a little bit of honey.

I’ve also made this with lots of extra coriander and parsley and minus the sweet potato and the flavours are still so good.

It would also be great with any kind of grains soaking up those lovely flavours…actually, now that I’m reminded of how good it is, I think I’ll make some more, right now….

I’m taking my salad of dreams to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted by the lovely Jhuls and Ai…check it out for a great collection of recipes…

Herbs and nuts ‘pesto’…

I had a green day this week; I basically had lots of lovely fresh herbs in my fridge and decided to use some of them in some pastes.

I made a coriander and walnut paste that I’ve made and shared before – I’d forgotten just how tasty it is! And I also threw together a kind of pesto idea at the same time..

This is made of lots of fresh parsley and not as much coriander, several handfuls of almonds and cashews, garlic, olive oil, a little lemon juice and some parmesan. You could easily use nutritional yeast instead of the parmesan to make it vegan if you wish. 

I was careful not to overblend this once I’d added the nuts to retain some crunch. 

It was so good, and, as ever, even better the next day once it had had time to develop the flavours. All you really need is a spoon to eat something like this, but I did force myself to add it to some meals instead. 

Including adding it to bulghur wheat with lots more fresh herbs, dried barberries and grilled aubergine slices one day..

…and similar again but with a pile of grilled courgettes instead the next day…

I did also eat some with some edamame bean spaghetti too, of which I don’t have a photo, and it worked well stirred through the warm ‘pasta’. 

I do love a concoction, especially a successful one!!! 

I hope you’ve had a good week, I’m taking my green concoction to this week’s Fiesta Friday, being looked after this week by the lovely Jhuls and Monika, and for now I’ll leave you with a shot or two of the semolina sourdough loaf I have just baked…