This is a somewhat belated post and I fear it's likely to be a bit in need of the odd picture... so apologies upfront (this is becoming a bit of a recurring theme...).
I've finally decided to start making my own sourdough again. The catalyst was a delicious loaf of fig and walnut sourdough that I bought close to Broadway Market in East London on Saturday. The organic bakery had set up a little table on the corner of the street with a few loaves piled up - nothing more. Simplicity was the key and I was an easy customer. Moist bread with a lovely open structure punctuated with pieces of dried fig and walnuts... so good.... and shortly to be partnered with some delicious cheeses from one of the stalls in the market.
Back to the sourdough - I've done this once before, made a starter dough, an acidic mixture of seemingly simple ingredients to create a natural fermentation process which, over the course of days and weeks, leads to a wonderful starter dough that adds a delicious acidic tang and natural rise to your bread without the need for more yeast (well that's the idea anyway).
Starter doughs have been known to last for years, fed and watered by their loyal owner. Go on holiday, they have to go to a friend or loved one for feeding - a kennel for starter doughs you could almost say. Alas, my last starter ended up as an exploded mass in my mum's fridge... After feeding a starter dough with some flour and water, it's crucial to leave it unsealed to allow the gases to escape for a day or so (I did explain this to mum)... mum decided to close the kilner jar and nature took its course... you can imagine the mess.... needless to say my frustration after having nurtured it for months beforehand.....
So, I begin a relationship with my new starter dough tonight, August 30th 2010. It's bound to be a rocky one until we understand exactly how eachother works - taking the rough with the smooth....even a starter dough has a mind of its own. Let's hope it'll work out though! I'll be logging our progress here each week to keep you fully up to date.... Don't buy a hat yet...
To make my starter dough, I've cooked about 70g of finely chopped and peeled red potato with about 1 1/2 tea cups of water. I simmered it till really soft and then mashed it together before pouring into a large kilner jar and allowing to cool to room temperature. Then I added about 180g strong white flour, mixing it in well to make a smooth thick batter. I needed to add a little more cold water as the batter felt too thick (maybe that was a good idea, maybe it wasn't. We'll soon see!). I then covered it with cling film. Now I need to leave it to ferment... it's 9.09 in the evening - I need to look at it in the morning and go on to stage 2!
Secret Supper Clubs
I went to my first supper club on Monday, courtesy of Eat Me Magazine. I had a great evening. Some good conversation, an interesting bunch of people and I quite enjoyed being snapped!
We each had to change into a snazzy outfit and go on to be shot for a spread in issue 3 of the magazine! I was wearing the skinniest of trousers I've ever put on in my life and a purple shirt, sleeves rolled up in a 'I haven't rolled these sleeves up in a purposeful way' kind of way. Snap snap snap.... all quite fun!
On the food side, it was good, but I think the emphasis of the night was more on the styling aspect. However, I enjoyed it nonetheless. Some great bread, a superb peach salad with chilli and basil, some lovely beetroot and a great cheese board....oh and a really good aubergine starter. A great night and I look forward to seeing the magazine![slideshow]
I must go to another supper club - Miss Marmite Lover, here I come.
I'm entertaining on Saturday and made a component of my dessert yesterday - I won't give away the entire menu until next week...
This recipe for pear sorbet is delicious. It's a Leiths recipe - absolutely delicious.
4 conference pears, peeled and cored and cut into pieces
120g caster sugar
You'll also need a sugar thermometer.
All you have to do is put the pears in a saucepan, cover with water and add the sugar and rind from the lemons. Cook on a medium heat to dissolve the sugar and continue to simmer, covered with a lid, until the pears have turned glassy (about 20-30 minutes depending on the ripeness of your pears).
When the pears are soft, remove with a slotted spoon and put into a blender - remove the lemon peel. Next, turn up the heat on the sugar syrup and boil rapidly until it reaches 108°C (use a sugar thermometer).
As soon as the syrup has got to temperature, add to the blender and blitz with the pears until smooth. Add as much lemon juice as you want to get the right level of acidity (I'd add the juice from all 3 lemons - but I like things to be quite sharp...). Now freeze for a few hours. When it's pretty hard, remove from the freezer, cut into blocks and then blitz in the blender/magimix again until the mixture becomes all sorbet like! ... return to the freezer to set firm. It's excellent!
Goodbyes in Broadway Market
Saturday was spent saying goodbye to some good friends who are on their way back to Australia. Sarah helped me at the start of the cookbook journey - a couple of bottles of wine and some good cheese in Leadenhall market was where it all began. I've only just realised that was my last meal with them too at the market. We've come full circle. I'll miss you guys. x