In My Sourdough Kitchen – Jan 2015

In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's Table Happy New Year to you all! I hope that you all had a wonderful time over the festive season and have set some achievable intentions for the coming year. It’s always good to have goals, right? In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's TableI (together with several others) received THE most brilliant gift over the holidays – a sachet of dried sourdough starter from Celia. For those of you who don’t know, Celia is a prolific bread maker and has the most wonderful sourdough starter called Priscilla. As in Priscilla, Queen of the Refrigerator! When Celia offered to send me some, I was quite beside myself with excitement – I have always wanted to have a go making a starter but was put off by how long it took to get one going. In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's TableIn anticipation, I pulled out my two bread baking  books to read up on the history, methods and recipes and before I knew it, an envelope covered in colourful Australian stamps landed on the doormat – I could not get to it fast enough! So holiday food aside, this is what has been going on in my kitchen.

Several types of bread making flours have been purchased. White bread flour, organic spelt flour, organic rye flour, organic white bread flour and organic wholemeal bread flour…

The flours have been decanted into large air tight jars which are awaiting the new chalkboard stickers. A few years ago, I had a kitchen with a terrible damp problem which rendered the cupboards useless. So I used to keep everything out on a large 4 tier steel rack. One day, I noticed a few tiny white specks on a box of cereal – when I took a closer look, I could see that EVERYTHING on the rack was covered in these tiny white bugs – I felt sick as I threw out a huge amount of food – really, waste makes me very upset. I washed and disinfected everything and all the while, I had the heebie-jeebies – honestly, it felt as if my hair was standing on end! I went straight for a shower after I finished. I also placed a large order for airtight bottles in various sizes so that I would never have to go through it again. Apparently, the bugs come into one’s home on the packaging from the shelves in the shops/storerooms/transport etc.

I’ve named my starter Twinkle as she’s just so shiny and bubbly and I love anything with a sparkle. Twinkle came to life much to the delight of Celia, who followed, encouraged and cooed via our Twitter conversations. In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's Table In My Sourdough Kitchen | Selma's TableThis was my first loaf with Twinkle *chest swells with pride* I have been using Celia’s method and half the recipe from her Overnight Sourdough Tutorial.

Then I tried a 50% spelt loaf and also a 50% wholemeal loaf. The spelt loaf was quite heavy but still really tasty. The wholemeal loaf was sensational!

There is always left over starter from all the feeding so I made sourdough pancakes. I added cinnamon to Celia’s recipe and also made a fresh blueberry compote to go with them.

While a lidded pot isn’t essential, it does give the loaf a great shape. I’ve been using my 26 cm oval Le Creuset but the high heat has been staining the enamel which I’m not particularly happy about, considering how much those babies cost. So I’ve bought a 30 cm Lidded Enamel Oval Roaster. It’s only just arrived so I haven’t had a chance to use it but I know that it is what Celia uses for her breads. It will stain from the heat but I’m not going to mind as it’s less than a tenth of the cost of my beloved Le Creuset!

I’ve dried some of the left over Twinkle and revived her to make sure she worked and she did. I shall be spreading the love and sending out sachets to a few of my friends as well as keeping some as a back up in case of a starter-disaster!

Well, that is it from my kitchen – huge thanks to the lovely Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who hosts this monthly event – peeking into everyone’s kitchens all over the world is so inspiring!  Make yourself a cuppa and have a little browse – all the links to the participating blogs are on the right hand side of Celia’s post. I have linked her post to  her blog name so click on it and take a little tour! Have a wonderful January, everyone!

Gorgeous Tiny Cheese Muffins

Tiny Cheese Muffins

Tiny Cheese Muffins

During my early school years, my father would collect me at lunch time, to go home to eat a delicious meal around the dining table, all of us together, before he dropped me back and carried on his way to work. This was in the days before Nairobi became so congested with traffic and people so as to make it impossible to go anywhere quickly. When I started secondary school, for reasons that are not clear to me now, I was signed up for school lunches.  After a week of leathery grey slices of meat in thick brown gluey gravy, grey mushy vegetables and claggy puddings with skins on them, I told my mother that I thought pork was being served and that of course I wasn’t touching it so I wasn’t eating a thing and therefore starving in the afternoons. The double whammy of forbidden meat and a hungry tummy had exactly the effect I had hoped for. No more inedible food in the smelly dark dining hall but glorious packed lunches eaten under the trees in front of the school tennis courts with my friends. Our cook, Migaleh, had come to work for us via some ambassador’s house and would cook the most scrumptious “european” food – roasts, chops, steaks, chips, sausages, mashed potatoes, omelettes – for me and my brother at tea time. Now he was making me a thermos of hot chunky chicken soup or thick roast beef or chicken salad sandwiches to take to school…oh how I pitied those boarders trapped in the dining hall with the nuns as we sat in the sunshine shaded by the Jacaranda trees!

I was reminded of this today as I shopped for after school snacks. School has begun; the children are off the streets and out of the shops and can now be seen looking tired and despondent in their school uniforms on their way home for tea. It is difficult to get back into a routine in those first couple of weeks but all too soon the summer holidays will be but a distant memory as the unrelenting schedule of early mornings, lunch boxes, sports practices, clubs and societies, music practice, homework and a regular bedtime establishes itself. Until half term that is.

IMG_4019My friend C alerted me to this recipe for cheese muffins from a wonderful New Zealand book of traditional home baking compiled from old community cookbooks by Alexa Johnston, called  Ladies, A Plate. I found great pleasure in reading the stories that hark back to “a gentler time” which are attached to many of the receipts. C sometimes makes these for her packed lunches and once I had a taste, I was smitten! I make these quite often as they come together very quickly and it’s just so handy to have a few stashed in the freezer.

Dry ingredients

Dry ingredients

They are incredibly quick to make. Measure out the dry ingredients into one bowl and use a whisk to aerate and mix at the same time. I’ve substituted bouillon powder for the salt for a more savoury flavour.

Mix in the parsley and the cheese

Mix in the parsley and the cheese

Then, add the parsley and about 2/3rd of the grated cheddar cheese and mix again to coat the cheese.

Whisk the dry ingredients in the measuring jug

Whisk the dry ingredients in the measuring jug

Pour the wet ingredients into a measuring jug and whisk.

Lightly mix the batter

Lightly mix the batter

Gently add to the dry ingredients and mix very lightly until it has just about incorporated – don’t overwork the batter otherwise the muffins will be tough. It’s perfectly alright if there are some tiny pockets of flour visible.

Coarse grated parmesan

Coarse grated parmesan

Grate some parmesan  using the coarse side of a box grater to get lovely long pieces of cheese rather than the finer more powdery output that is usual.

Filled muffin cups topped with cheeses

Filled muffin cups topped with cheeses

Divide as equally as possible among the cups of a 24 mini muffin pan (which have been very well  greased, hopefully with a saved butter wrapper). Use a dessert spoon and a rubber spatula to fill the cups and then top with the two cheeses.

Lovely and golden!

Lovely and golden!

IMG_40Tiny cheese muffins18

Cooling on a rack

I am submitting this recipe for September’s Cheese, Please! Recipe challenge as hosted by the informative and delicious blog Fromage Homage. Do go over and take a look at what she’s been up to – cooking with cheese, tasting it and travelling for it and making her own cheese. And she’s a mother – I am in awe!

Fromage Homage

Gorgeous Tiny Cheese Muffins

  • Servings: makes 24 mini muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Barely adapted from Alexa Johnston, Ladies a Plate

INGREDIENTS

  • 180G flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Marigold bouillon powder or Knorr Aromat  powder or salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder (chilli powder)
  • 80g strong cheddar cheese coarsely grated
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 190ml milk
  • 2 or 3 Tbsp coarse grated parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 190C/375F and thoroughly grease a 24 cup mini muffin tin.
  2. Measure out the flour into a medium size mixing bowl; whisk in the baking power, bouillon powder or salt and the cayenne. The salt either in the bouillon or itself is important as it activates the baking powder when the wet ingredients are added.
  3. Stir in the chopped parsley and 2/3rds of the cheddar cheese with a table knife, coating all the cheese and parsley with the flour mixture.
  4. Pour the milk into a measuring jug, crack the egg into it and whisk together.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry and mix gently with the table knife until it is just combined. Don’t overwork the batter.
  6. Spoon into 24 mini muffin cups as evenly as possible. Top with the reserved cheddar and then with the parmesan.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
  8. Remove to a wire rack to cool. They should pop out really easily.
  9. These are best, greedily devoured, warm of course but are delicious cold. They freeze well and are ideal to pop into a lunchbox where they will have thawed out by the time you are ready to eat. Lovely with soup or as a rustic nibble with drinks!

SUBSTITUTIONS

-Replace the parsley with finely chopped spring onions (scallions)

-Replace parsley with a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped sundried tomatoes and/or olives and one tsp of very finely chopped rosemary or dried oregano. Replace the cheddar with crumbled feta or goat’s cheese.

-Use smoked paprika instead of the cayenne