Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Home Made Sourdough Bread

I have my brother to thank for getting me into the sour dough craze.

When I last visited Brett he had made some delicious and light sour dough bread.
He offered me sourdough starter in a jar with instructions to feed it 
every second day with equal amounts of plain flour and bottled water.  
So I dutifully took it home, stored it in the refrigerator slightly ajar and attended to it 
every second day (almost). When there was enough product I asked Brett for his recipe.

Here is the dough ready to be baked at 180 celsius.
I know it's good for you, but I have only liked purchased sour dough loaves, when toasted ... until now.
This bread is light and delicious.

Brett's Sourdough Bread

2/3 cup sour dough starter culture
1 1/4 cup filtered water
1 dessertspoon natural sea salt
1 1/4 cups plain flour

In a large bowl place the sour dough starter culture with the water and salt.  Stir until mixed.
Add flour and mix together, using your hands to incorporate the flour.
Knead lightly just until all is combined.
Cover with glad wrap and let rise for at least 7 hours in a warm place.

Heat oven to 180 celsius.
Grease a loaf pan with butter.
Pour sour dough batter into pan.
Splash a little water on top and bake on lower shelf for 40 minutes turning once through cooking.

Bread is cooked when the mixture has left the sides of the pan and it sounds hollow when tapped on top.

Thanks Brett, for the sour dough starter and this great recipe.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Merryn's Menu: July 2014 Garden Share Collective

Merryn's Menu: July 2014 Garden Share Collective: Welcome to another monthly viewing of all great gardens shared through   The Garden Share Collective  hosted by Lizzie at Strayed From The Table ...

July 2014 Garden Share Collective

Welcome to another monthly viewing of all great gardens shared through

  The Garden Share Collective hosted by Lizzie at Strayed From The Table.

I am so pleased at how well the new herb garden has evolved. 
 Marjoram sits next to oregano, thyme, lemon thyme, tarragon, sage, 
coriander, holy basil, chives, parsley and perennial coriander all growing happily together.

There are 6 custard apples on our custard apple tree that was planted 3 years ago, how exciting!

There is lavender planted around the garden, a delight for the honey bees.
Also beneficial for it's gorgeous aroma and delicate flavour to ice cream and biscuits.
My daughter informed me that everyone should have at least one lavender bush for the bees to enjoy. 

The first blush of colour on the red papaya, though we have enjoyed some grated into a green papaya salad.

I hadn't noticed the ripening locquats
until my husband asked if the yellow burst
were flowers, fruit or dead leaves.

The fruit is much larger this year
and will undoubtedly also be sweeter.

The brassicas are slowly growing.  Cauliflower and broccoli with a little spinach.
Notice the recycling of the old trampoline frame, upturned to provide a frame for shade cloth.

We had a hail storm here last weekend.
The lovely lettuce were slightly shredded
but I removed the outer leaves, 
giving these to the chickens
and they are still growing strongly.
Picking the outer leaves from a dozen plants 
daily are enough
to offer the family fresh salad.

The curly endive (escarole)
survived the hail storm.
Like lettuce, I pick what leaves 
are needed and rarely
pluck the whole plant 
from the ground.

 Our winter shallots are ready for picking, aromatic and delightful.

We are eagerly awaiting this bunch of bananas to ripen, it will be picked in one month.

The piece de resistance are the July tomatoes, 
remember we are in the mid north coast of New South Wales
and I am picking one nearly every day now.
So delicious.
The tomatoes are sharing their bed with celery, continental parsley and coriander.

The rampaging chickens now have an outdoor run.
They are still allowed to free range but there is now a good balance between
vegetables for human consumption and everything-else-that-chickens-eat.


This week I planted two rows of snow peas,
a small bed of Australian garlic,
an elderberry shrub, 
some more lavender cuttings 
and horseradish.

Who says winter gardening is boring!!?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn

Monday, 30 June 2014

Merryn's Menu: Apricot Danish with Custard - a simple version

Merryn's Menu: Apricot Danish with Custard - a simple version: I clearly remember the first rock concert that I ever saw, it was Robert Plant supported by Jimmi Page on lead guitar at the Sydney Entertai...

Apricot Danish with Custard - a simple version

I clearly remember the first rock concert that I ever saw, it was Robert Plant supported by Jimmy Page on lead guitar at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.

As a teenager freshly moved to the city the excitement was enormous and it was a huge event.
I was so excited I just wanted to get on the train into the city and not bother with dinner, so my friends and I stopped at a bakery on Bondi Road and bought various pastries to eat on the train.
I chose an apricot danish - my very first bites of this delight.  It didn't quite look like this one, and had a cream cheese filling but it was still the start of a love affair!

Needless to say Robert Plant was fantastic, performing largely Led Zeppelin songs and the crescendo of Stairway to Heaven was phenomenal.   The adrenalin of the performers and the audience was electric.

There are some things in life you just look at and decide you can do too. I was determined to make danish. I have been making apricot danishes periodically since then and Led Zeppelin are still great listening.

This is my super quick adapted recipe, perfect for everyone.

# Take 4 sheets of ready made puff pastry out of the freezer and place on their plastic sheets, on your bench.
Turn on an old Led Zeppelin album, to create the mood.
# Make 2 cups custard, you can create an egg custard or even a packet mix will do for this recipe.  Let cool.
# Open a 800gram can of apricot halves and drain in a colander.
# Beat one egg yolk with one tablespoon milk for egg wash.
# 2 tablespoons apricot jam warmed, for glazing after cooked.
#  Lightly butter two baking trays.
#  Heat oven to 200 Celsius.

Cut the sheets of puff pastry, when defrosted, into four quarters.
Place a big tablespoon of custard into 2 corners of the pastry, as shown.

Place an upturned apricot half on top of the custard.

Fold over one side and lightly press to keep it's shape, as shown below.

Then turn the other side over on top of your first layer, lightly pressing to seal.
Carefully remove from plastic and place onto buttered baking tray.

Brush the egg wash on top of the apricot danishes.
Sprinkle the middle of each one with a little white sugar.

Bake at 200 celsius for approx 30 minutes, turning heat down to 190 celsius if browning too quickly.
Rotate your trays every 10 minutes.

Remove from oven, place onto cooling rack and brush the middle lightly with apricot jam.

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn.

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