A very good gluten-free loaf

IMG_4024I promise I am not on a mission to simplify other people’s recipes, but I saw a recipe in this weekend’s Guardian newspaper that I was keen to try, but didn’t actually have all the ingredients to hand. However, I couldn’t see anything in the list of ingredients that couldn’t be replaced with something I already had lurking in my pantry, so threw caution to the wind and gave it a go. And the result was excellent, even though I say so myself.

And before you think ‘uh oh, bread, complicated and time consuming,’ think cake mix rather than bread dough. For this loaf, you literally have a bowl with some (gluten-free) flour in it, plus a jug of wet ingredients, then you pour one into the other and mix with a spoon. No kneading or stretching, just a quick mix, then a little wait while it proves and you get on with something else. Continue reading “A very good gluten-free loaf”

33p sourdough loaf

IMG_3997.JPGEvery time I switch from Cornwall to Turkey, and vice versa, I give away my sourdough starter to other bread-making friends and neighbours, then begin a new one when I get to the other end. However, when we went back to Turkey last September, and having managed to produce a particularly potent batch, I decided to take some with me. Unfortunately, despite being in a sealed plastic pot inside two zip-lock freezer bags, it sort of exploded while in the hold of the plane, and then got out into my suitcase. Ooops. This was not ideal, as we had a two-day stopover in Göcek on our way back to Kaş, so I had to sit and pick lots of little concrete-like blobs of dough off the least-affected garments, so that I had something to wear. The other slightly unexpected outcome was that all of my clothes had a vague whiff of a brewery about them. Oh dear.
Continue reading “33p sourdough loaf”

Banana oatmeal muffins

IMG_3706 (600 x 450).jpgWe seem to be making a habit of going to St Mawes – one of Cornwall’s prettiest towns – at the moment. It must be the lure of the £13.95 crab sandwiches in the pub there – or possibly not! Thinking they must be the most expensive crab sandwiches on the planet, that illusion was quickly dashed by our friend Jean spotting that the ones on the terrace at the Hotel Tresanton just pipped them at the post at £14. At least at the Hotel Tresanton, there are lovely waiters who bring you things, you get an amazing view and you might very well end up rubbing shoulders with the great and the good, as opposed to fighting off your fellow tourists in the yard at The Rising Sun. There is also homemade ice cream… Perhaps I will persuade Robin to save up and take me there for lunch for my birthday next June. Continue reading “Banana oatmeal muffins”

Oven-bottom bread (and my life as a water spaniel)

IMG_3401Raining. Again. And I’ve been in the country less than a week and I’ve got a cold. How did that happen?

My life at the moment is a whirlwind of ibuprofen (throat/headache), pholcodine (irritating cough), Strepsils (anything not covered by the above) and gallons of water and tea. The upside is that I don’t have to go out for anything, there are no urgent jobs to do, there’s plenty of firewood, we’ve got English telly and I’ve got about a squillion second-hand cookbooks to work my way through. Continue reading “Oven-bottom bread (and my life as a water spaniel)”

Fruity banana muffins – egg-free, dairy-free, vegan

IMG_3248Have you ever seen such a forlorn fruit bowl? A couple of pomegranates – fresh from the tree in the garden of Erol’s garage, where our car had its pre-MOT checks this week – alongside the inevitable black bananas (see last week’s post) and a lonely as-yet-unripe avocado.

Last week’s banana drizzle cake had an undignified ending. Having no Tupperware box the right size or shape, I put half in the freezer and wrapped the rest in clingfilm and put it inside the cold oven, where I thought it would be safe from the attentions of Annie Cat (the four-legged midnight stealth shopper). It had companions in the form of a half loaf of soda bread and some leftover simits. I am sure you can guess where this is going – the following day when I turned on the oven, I only remembered they were there when I smelled the plastic melting. The banana bread was totally shrink-wrapped in a coffin of melted clingfilm. Its friends were similarly entombed and also had to be jettisoned. Ooops. Continue reading “Fruity banana muffins – egg-free, dairy-free, vegan”

All-in-one banana drizzle cake

IMG_3241Is it just our household that only ever seems to have black bananas? I am sure they are yellow when I buy them (or green, even) but by the time I glance at them again, they look as though they are suffering from terminal black spot.

Over the years, I have made squillions of variations of banana bread, all pretty straightforward, but I think this one is hands-down the easiest. As long as your bananas are really soft, you just chuck everything into the bowl at the same time and give it a vigorous thrashing with a wooden spoon (if your bananas need a bit of help, mash them well with a fork first or just mix the cake in a food processor). Continue reading “All-in-one banana drizzle cake”

Fruity banana bread (vegan)

IMG_3013We’ve been back in Cornwall for three weeks and, ahem, I believe there have been no blog posts during that time. We’ve been busy trying to get the house finished and there has also been the lure of the unusually fabulous British weather, so we thought we’d squeeze in some walks and see a few more places before the mass arrival of tourists when the school holidays start in a couple of weeks time.

On the house front, we are nearly there – it has been almost a year since we started, but we are delighted with the result. We are far from tidy and there are plenty of finishing touches to do (like swapping the Turkish carpet in our living room, which doesn’t remotely complement the furniture, for the one that is currently underneath the dining table in our  house in Turkey – despite our best efforts, it was too big to go in our largest suitcase, so ended up being left for our next visit). Continue reading “Fruity banana bread (vegan)”

‘Village’ bread

IMG_2325I am surprised that some of my friends, many of them accomplished cooks and bakers, are afraid to bake with yeast. I find this slightly baffling and try to persuade them that now we have rapid action dry yeast, it is much like using baking powder, it just takes a little longer.

I think another reason many people shrink away from baking bread is that they think it will take up too much of their day – really, it won’t. The great thing about yeast is that it is pretty resilient as long as you keep it away from the very few things it hates – too much heat, too much salt or too much acid, so you can pretty much leave the dough to get on with things once it is mixed. Oh, and don’t feed it too much sugar or the dough will climb out of the tin and try to take over an entire floor of your house. Continue reading “‘Village’ bread”

Salted almond & cranberry granola

IMG_1938 (600 x 450).jpgI’ve just noticed that it’s been nine days since I last posted anything on this blog – really must do better. I have thought about it several times – I’ve even taken photos of things I’m cooking, with the intention of posting them. Unfortunately, things conspire against me – either the dish I had great hopes for turns out to be mediocre or it tastes nice but looks like a dog’s breakfast once it’s on the plate. More often, I get half way through cooking something, the phone rings or someone calls round, then I get distracted and remember about photographing the rest of the process about five minutes after we’ve finished eating the evidence. Continue reading “Salted almond & cranberry granola”

Sweetcorn fritters (Maryland style)

IMG_1886You can take the girl out of the 70s… Or so says Nigella Lawson, I think when she was expounding on the virtues of prawn cocktail – and what could possibly be wrong with that?

My first ever slightly grown-up date, at the age of 16 and a quarter, involved being picked up in a car borrowed from a parent and being taken to the dizzy heights of The Buttery at the De Vere Hotel in Coventry. In 1979, it was the swankiest place in town. Obviously we will gloss over the other, not-so-swanky, offenders. To be honest, I am not sure how much we’ve actually moved on since then. Continue reading “Sweetcorn fritters (Maryland style)”