A week in my kitchen (including River cottage bread baking)

I can’t believe it’s a week since my last post. It’s not through lack of cooking/baking though so this post is a bit of a catch up with my River cottage bread baking experience and a few other things I have cooked and want to bookmark (plus share with you) for future cooking over the last 8 days.

Pizza

I’ve been baking my own pizza’s from scratch for some time now to the point where I know longer look at a recipe to make the dough or remember where the recipe came from. But in the spirit of baking my way through the River Cottage bread handbook I followed the recipe in the book last week. I’m so glad I did! The River Cottage recipe uses half plain flour and half bread flour making the resulting dough much softer than I am used to and the end result was a perfectly thin pizza base. I also used a recipe in the book for garlic infused olive oil to make a garlic pizza bread as well. The topping in the photo above was spinach, feta and prosciutto. This pizza dough recipe was previously published in the guardian here.

Sourdough

I baked my first full sourdough bread last monday following the recipe in River Cottage Bread. It started with making the sponge the night before and then the following day I followed the recipe to make the dough and let it rise as directed. You can find a sourdough recipe here on Belleau Kitchen. The bread turned out well, I’m just not sure we enjoyed the sourness enough to be worth the time it takes to make sourdough. I’m still keeping my started alive as I think I will use it to try some recipes from Dan Lepards the handmade loaf but I’m not sure if I’ll make another sourdough (even though there are several different sourdough recipe I haven’t baked in RC).

Simple pasta sauce

I shared my secret to delicious, simple pasta sauces here.

Malted and seeded loaf

I’ve updated my post on the malted grain loaf to include details of a very similar bread.

Pikelets

I baked a big batch of pikelets from the River cottage book. I love crumpets but don’t have any of the rings needed to cook them in. Pikelets are really simple to make and they taste delicious toasted spread with butter (the recipe made a lot so I froze most of them and I am happy to report they toast well straight from frozen). I can see these being baked a lot in my kitchen.

Smoked mackerel and pea risotto


In an effort to eat more sustainable fish, I cooked a smoked mackerel risotto. I just cooked a basic, plain risotto and added frozen peas and flaked up smoked mackerel with the last ladle of stock and finished it off with a squeeze of lemon juice. If your looking for more of a recipe to follow you can find one here.

Mackerel with Asian spices

I don’t know about anyone else but I am loving the new River cottage series (channel 4, Thursdays, 8pm) and finding it very inspiring. Last weeks episode was on fish. I’m fairly new to eating fish, I hated it when I lived at home. These last three years of living with my boyfriend and really getting in to cooking has pushed me to try more and more fish. He loves his fish and seafood (except prawns which unfortunately I love). Now when we eat out I regularly order fish (I had a gorgeous risotto of saffron, shrimp, chorizo and peas with a fillet of sea bass on top a few weeks back which can eat every week it was that good). I’m starting to cook more fish at home too. I like recipes which give the fish flavour or where I can serve the fish with something with lots of flavour (I’m not keen on fillets of fish (particularly white fish) with simple potatoes and veg).

This summer we have eaten a lot of mackerel, that my boyfriend and his dad, have caught off the coast of Anglesey. Mostly I’ve cooked it quiet simply (I find mackerel much more flavourful than the white fish fillets I was used to, so simple was ok), either on the griddle or in a foil parcel in the oven with a bit of oil and lemon.  Then I saw River cottage last week, where Hugh also cooked mackerel in a foil parcel but as well as oil he added a fennel, fresh ginger, chilli, garlic, star anise and soy sauce. Inspired to try this idea, I put it to the test last night. I omitted the fennel as I personally don’t like it. The flavours were taken on really well by the fish and we both loved the recipe. I served my fish with some green beans (stir fried with some sunflower oil, grated fresh ginger and a splash of soy sauce) and some noodles. Hugh’s serving suggestions are noodles, mash or rice and some wilted greens, such as spinach, pak choi or choi sum which would equally be a perfect accompaniment. We’ll certainly be having this recipe again, it’s just a shame that this was the last bag of mackerel in our freezer.

Mackerel with Asian spices
Serves 2

Sunflower oil
1-2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tsp grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
Half a star anise, broken up
2 medium mackerel (fillets would also work)
Soy sauce

  • Take a piece of strong kitchen foil, big enough to sit your fish on and then form a parcel. Cut slits in to the fish, on both sides, so the flavours can infuse the flesh. Place your fish in the middle of the foil, sprinkle with sunflower oil. Sprinkle over both fish the ginger, garlic, chilli and star anise. Season with soy sauce, then bring up the sides of the foil and scrunch them together tightly to form well-sealed but baggy parcels.
  • Place the parcels on a baking tray, transfer to an oven preheated to 190°C/Gas Mark 5 and bake for 15 minutes. Open up the steaming, fragrant parcels and pile the contents, including all the lovely juices, on to 2 warm plates.
  • Serve with noodles, mash or rice and some wilted greens, such as spinach, pak choi or choi sum.