Tag Archives: cooking

Uses for spice mixes…

Picture the scene: you’ve got a selection of spices mixes in your cupboard that you’ve made or bought for a particular recipe and never used again…or someone has bought you a great set of spice mixes from the lovely people at Spice Kitchen, for example, and you don’t know what to do with them, here’s some ideas for you. In fact, this is why I love making spice mixes because you can use them so easily.

Whatever the spice mix, whatever the origin, these ideas will work with whatever you’ve got to hand..

An easy dip

Stir a teaspoon of any spice mix into a small bowlful of natural yoghurt, ideally Greek yoghurt, or a mix of half yoghurt/half mayonnaise. Allow at least an hour for the flavour and colour to develop before serving. Stir again before serving. 

Pimp your homous:

Add a teaspoon of any spice mix to a pot of shop bought homous, or a small bowl of homemade homous. Allow at least an hour for the flavour and colour to develop before serving, it will be even better the next day. Stir again before serving. I particularly like using my Moroccan spice mix or harissa spice to do this. 

Eggs:

Sprinkle a pinch of spice mix over cooked eggs prior to eating.

Stir half a teaspoon of spice mix into scrambled eggs or an egg mixture prior to making an omelette. Try a Mexican spice mix for starters. 

Eggs and tomato sauce in one!

Tomato sauce:

Make an easy tomato sauce and add any of the spice mixes as it cooks.

Soups:

Add a teaspoon of the spice mix to any premade soup, or add several teaspoons to your own homemade soups as you cook the base ingredients.

I’ve made a lot of soups recently, for example, this soup above is made of olive oil, onions, garlic, carrots, water and baharat spice mix. I’ve made similar in the past with Mexican and Indian spice mixes. 

Whereas this soup is made with cauliflower and a Japanese curry powder. 

Roasted chickpeas:

Drain a can or jar of chickpeas and toss with a tablespoon of oil and a couple of teaspoons of spice mix and roast in a single layer at 180C until the chickpeas look roasted and tasty, and before they start exploding in your oven.


Roasted nuts
:

Pretty much the same as above, more details on my post here. 


Rice/grains
:

Stir some spice mix through any cooked rice or grains prior to serving.


Salads
:

Mix a pinch of spice mix with homemade or shop bought salad dressing, or just sprinkle some spice mix over a salad just before serving.

Salsas:

Finely chop fresh mixed herbs, garlic, maybe a chilli, with olive oil, lemon juice/your choice of vinegar, and add some spice mix.


For marinading
:

Cut 2 your choice of vegetables or meat into chunks, put them into a plastic bag (preferably one without any holes) in it, add 2 heaped teaspoons of spice mix and shake the bag to mix it round and cover all of the chicken. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour, maximum 24 hours before cooking. 

Alternatively, mix a couple of teaspoonfuls of spice mix with a couple of tablespoons of oil and create a paste. Add you choice of veg/meat and thoroughly stir it through the paste. Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour, maximum 24 hours before cooking. 

Or, add a couple of tablespoons of spice mix to a couple of tablespoonfuls of natural yoghurt, below, and marinade as above. 


These work well if you are then grilling/broiling or barbecuing the vegetables/meat.


Roasting vegetables

Toss prepared vegetables in a drizzle of oil and a couple of teaspoons spice mix and roast until ready. More details here

OR…..throw some spice mix into your bread dough! 

I’m taking my spice mix ideas along to this week’s Fiesta Friday, co hosted this week by the lovely Ginger and Suzanne

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Moroccan spiced carrots, chickpeas and spelt…

It’s no secret that I love autumn, I love everything about it: the cooler temperatures, the beautiful colours, the changing leaves, the abundance of root vegetables…I didn’t mean to make something that almost epitomises autumn in a bowl, but that’s how it ended up! Maybe it’s just in my soul?!

In the beginning it was going to be a soup, but I can’t always bring myself to blend up the vegetables, they look too good whole, so this morphed into something else, not really a stew because it’s not very liquid, maybe a warm salad, or just as the title of the post says: ‘Moroccan spiced carrots, chickpeas and spelt’. I just kept adding things until I thought it was perfect!

I didn’t measure anything but I do remember how I made it so hopefully I can still share the process and it might be interesting…

In a large saucepan I heated some coconut oil, and added some chopped red onions over a medium heat; after several minutes and once the onions looked liked they were starting to brown, I added chopped garlic, cooked for a minute, then added liberal amounts of a Moroccan spice mix that I made previously. 

Again I cooked this for no more than a minute then added water to stop the spices from burning. I then added a great pile of peeled and chopped carrots, topped up the water until it covered them, added salt and pepper, then brought it to the boil. As the carrots cooked, I added some spelt, then later some chickpeas and chunks of butternut squash that I’d already roasted, chopped coriander (leaves and stalks) and finally some dried barberries for the colour and little surprise shots of their tart sweetness. 

And pretty much left it to bubble away until the carrots were cooked, but not mushy, and the spelt was cooked, adding water when necessary. 

Eating some with some tahini, as I did when it was just made above, you can still see the lovely colours of the individual ingredients. 

By the next day, the flavour had developed even more but the colours had all merged together and become one autumnal palette..

It’s the kind of dish that just gets better and better, and one I’ll be making again and again, and no doubt evolving as I do!

Happy Autumn everyone ๐Ÿ™‚

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. 

โ€‹โ€‹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…

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 

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

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…

Smoky aubergine & lentil dip, preserved roasted red onion relish, and everything in between…

This week I made this lovely dip from Hanady’s blog, it’s made with gorgeous soft aubergine flesh and lentils – the recipe calls for green lentils, i used brown ones and they worked great. 

With the leftover lentils, I mixed them with chopped fresh coriander & parsley, garlic and spring onions, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses, and left them to marinade for a few hours. This is what I served some of the dip with, above, and then threw over some dried barberries, below..

Which I ate with grilled slices of courgette…

Do check out Hanady’s recipe, it’s lovely, as is all of her blog

With the leftovers of the leftovers I made myself a little platter of the aubergine and lentil dip, the lentil and herb salad, and I blended some of the herb and lentil mix with some yoghurt and tahini to form a third concoction…

And then the rest of the herb and lentil salad got added to some more chopped herbs and spring onions and quinoa…

Which I ate with some of the preserved roasted red onion relish…

….which brings me onto Laura’s excellent recipe

I love roasted red onions, and I love the idea of any relish, but not all of the sugar that they usually require. Laura’s recipe includes no sugar at all! Hurrah!!!!! It’s just the onions, salt, and apple cider vinegar. 

I’ve now made a couple of batches of this, and I will probably continually remake it as my stocks diminish. I’ve added the onions to everything: salads, dips, grains, veg, my husband has added it to his homemade chicken burgers and thrown some over pizzas, it’s so fab to have a jar of in the fridge. 

This week’s onions are so purple, the colour is lovely, last week’s were more red..

The slight amendments I’ve made to Laura’s recipe is that I roast my onions in a tiny drizzle of olive oil, uncovered, and keep them moving during the roasting time; then I chop them quite finely. I also scrape out all of the sticky bits of roasted onion from the pan into the mixture. But otherwise, it’s all thanks to Laura for this one ๐Ÿ™‚

This adds to the collection of jars of goodies that I have in my fridge, always jars and jars of homemade goodness…

A shot of all of the jars of my creations in my fridge last week – I do love having a fridge full of possibilities!!! 

I hope you’ve had a great weekend, and have a great weekend to come. I’m going to take Hanady’s and Laura’s inspirations over to this week’s Fiesta Friday and share my leftover creations with this month’s Cook Once Eat Twice collection…