How to make your own Sourdough starter?

sourdoughstarterHi all,

I have to say, we managed to get this right at our fourth attempt! So it takes a while, but after trying this or that recipe, I finally managed to combine the knowledge from all of them to this. 

My first intention was to get a San Fransiscan sourdough starter as everyone was saying that is the best, but whilst I was there, I couldn’t get hold of one, so decided to look into other ways of finding it. Then, I realised that sourdough is sourdough, it gets everything it needs, the secret from the air that you breathe, from the flour you use. In order words, each sourdough will taste different depending on where you are. So mine is a Blackheathen sourdough and tastes very very nice : )

You will need:

200 grams white organic flour ( try to get the best you can)

200 ml lukewarm water

7- 8 dried raisins

a wooden spoon (definitely wooden, don’t ask me why, but the previous ones did not work so I stick with it)

a glass jar with a sealed top ( you will need a sealed top once it is ready, as you will put it in the fridge after a week)

a muslin 

a kitchen cloth

plastic band x  2

a measuring cup ( I used the measure which comes with my bread machine)

jar

But how?

Pick a time in the day that you can feed your starter. I chose the mornings but a couple of hours before or after does not matter too much in my experience. 

DAY 1

Pour 200 grams of flour and 200 ml lukewarm water into a glass jar. Add raisins and stir well with a wooden spoon. Don’t leave any flour balls inside. I stirred quite a lot, even though many recipes say the reverse. Cover it with muslin and attach a plastic band on top so it stays secure. Then cover it with a kitchen cloth and a plastic band again so it does not get any sunlight. I did not close the lid of the jar, it was wide open (apart from the cloth).

DAY 2 – 4

Feed 60-80g of flour and 60-90ml of lukewarm water to keep it up. Again, stir well with a wooden spoon and see the bubbles. If it starts going pink or weird colour and has very bad smell, it might be off possibly so start over. But don’t get disheartened and try adding flour and water first as sometimes it picks up. I felt like mine was about to go off as the water and the flour were separating, but apparently this is not a bad thing. As long as you have bubbles appearing once you mix well, it will be fine.

DAY 5 – 7 

It should be consistent by now and you can start taking enough out of the jar to bake your own bread around these days. 

Once your yeast is ready, feed it for a couple more days, then keep it in the fridge. Whenever you need to bake, take it out, feed flour and water then rest for a couple of hours outside. It will be ready again.

Here’s the recipe to make your own sourdough bread!

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How to cook spinach?

spinach

Of course, there are many ways but this is one of my favourites! I like cooking lovely purslane in a similar way to this as well. We need to wait for it to come into season I’m afraid:)

  1. Wash the spinach, leave in a bowl full of water and a bit of apple vinegar as it cleans the bacteria.
  2. If you’re using brown rice, boil it in a pan with water for 10 minutes to soften it a bit.  If you’re using white rice, skip this step.
  3. Peel and chop up a big onion.
  4. Peel and chop 2 or 3 tomatoes (or do it the easy way – buy some chopped tomatoes).
  5. Heat some olive oil in a pan for a bit, then add the onions.
  6. When they turn a bit yellowish, add the tomatoes.
  7. Then add the spinach and stir well. Don’t be scared to use the whole pack! It will look like too much, but it will reduce a lot.
  8. Then add a half a mug of rice to this mixture. (I like it with a lot of rice, but it depends on your choice).
  9. Then add 1 or 2 mugs of warm water depending on how thick the mixture is. Stir them altogether, the water level shouldn’t be too high above the spinach – just slightly over…
  10. Cook it for 10 more minutes then serve with a drizzle of lemon juice and a bit of yoghurt on the side.

Ember roasted Aubergine Pate

aubergine pate

Aubergine is one of the main dishes of Mediterranean cuisine I suppose, but mainly an Ottoman heritage… It is native to India and had a long journey all around the world and grows pretty much everywhere.  Once I read on a book that there are 100 different ways of cooking aubergine in Ottoman cuisine. I am not sure I can make it that much but I will try to add new ones as I cook.

Funny enough, it is rich in nicotine, but it does not make you a passive smoker, so no worries! But I vividly remember when I quit smoking I adored aubergine…(Quit fags have aubergine instead?)

This recipe is particularly nice in summer, when you have picnics. We can call it `picnic aubergine`, as it is a very nice meze, you can have it like hommus, with some pitta bread or any bread really or as a side dish to your meat, sausages, or almost as a main course for piscaterians like myself.

Right let`s begin then:

Serves 4

What do I need to buy?

2 big aubergines
half a pack of feta cheese (if you don`t have enough you can replace it with some yoghurt)
3 – 4 cloves of crushed garlic
dill (optional could use parsley as well or may be coriander? It is all up to your taste)
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil

How do I cook it?

1. The best way to cook this is to have hot embers of course or a fireplace but if not, you can grill the aubergines till the skin turns dark and literally burns. But score through the skin a few lines so that the inside will cook better. (I would say grill about 20 – 25 minutes, but check occasionally as you might make the smoke alarm go off like mine!)
2. Remove the skins, don`t worry about little bits of leftover skins as they give nice smoked taste.
3. Put the flesh in a bowl, then add the crumbled feta, crushed garlic, more than half of lemon juice, a little bit of olive oil and half a spoonful of yoghurt and stir them well. Feta should become almost invisible, you can mash them if it is easier.
4. Add some chopped dill or parsley, have a taste if it is not lemony enough add more.
5. Serve on a flat plate topped with dill or parsley and possibly black olives.

Enjoy!

Spinach and Feta Borek – Filo Pastries

Yummy! I have never ever rejected anyone offering borek. If you want to find out why, try this recipe. It is perfect for picnics as it is edible hot or cold, any time of the day.

You can call anything cooked with filo pastries “borek” actually, but this dish is cooked happily in the Balkans as burek, in Greece as spanakopita (with spinach and feta), in Israel as burekas (with cheese).

You can fill your borek with anything you want, but usually cheese and spinach is used.  Flat parsley or minced meat are also good options.

Let’s begin:

  • 500g filo pastry
  • 1 glass of milk
  • 5 spoonfuls of olive oil or butter
  • 3 eggs
  • some sunflower seeds or black seeds
  • 250g feta cheese
  • 1 pack of fresh spinach leaves (alternatively a big bunch of parsley)

1. Spread some butter onto your cooking tray, this will stop your borek from sticking the tray.
2. Filo pastry is usually sold in a round shape so leave one sheet aside and cut the rest to fit to your tray.
3. Mix your butter or olive oil, milk, and eggs all together in a bowl.  Stir well.
4. Put the sheet of filo pastry in your tray, leave the corners out, you will close them at the top once you finish layering.
5. Spread the oil-milk-egg mixture with a brush over each sheet, and put each sheet on top of the other.  Use half of the sheets.
6. Soften the spinach in a pan quickly, cool it down and mix with crumbled feta cheese. (if you use parsely, you do not need to cook it.)
7. Pour this mixture onto your filo pastry layers in the tray.
8. Then, carry on putting the filo pastries one by one over this mixture and each time do not forget to spread some butter-milk-egg mixture onto the sheets otherwise they will become dry.
9. When there is no filo pastry left, cover the corners of the first big sheet onto your borek and spread the rest of the butter-milk-egg mixture on top.

10. Sprinkle some seeds over it.

11. Cook it for about 20 minutes in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 200C, until the top and the bottom gets brownish. It is delicious eaten with a spoonful of yoghurt.

Bon appetit!

How to make butternut squash taste delicious?

butternut squash

Well, easy, having tried this recipe, butternut squash is no longer an unknown! Everytime I saw this yellow funny shaped thing in the market, I wanted to buy, but had no idea how to cook except in a soup. Eureka! It is a recipe Ebru suggested but she says it is some well known chefs recipe, so as soon as I learn, I will let you know. (Now I can confirm that it is a recipe from Hugh Fearnley – Whittingstall )

Lets start now, ingredients for 4 people:

two equal sized butternut squash
feta cheese
parsley
olive oil
garlic cloves 2- 3
paprika, black pepper, salt

1. Halve both butternut squashes into two so, now you have for pieces.

2. Crush the garlic cloves then put some olive oil paprika, black pepper and the crushed garlic in a bowl and mix them well then brush this mixture onto the butternut squash.

3. Heat the oven to about 200 c then put the butternut squash halves onto a tray, leave for about 15 minutes. Check them with a fork if they are not soft enough, leave more.

4. Once they are softened, take the tray out, with the help of a knife, scoop out the flesh of the squash then mash it with feta. After that, add the mixture inside the butternut squash skin.