Thursday, 28 February 2013

# 330 Two completely unrelated bits of news

Today we had another eventful morning here in Berkeley with 2 more boilers removed from the Power Station to be taken all the way to a processing plant in Sweden.

We're lucky that we live some distance from the main street and so these movements don't cause us any problems but not so for the people living along the route of the boilers. Because these are so big some of the overhead cables have to be removed for them to pass which means no electricity, and possibly no phone, for an hour or so everytime they go through the town.

If you're interested there's a few more photos on my Flickr here and I also found an interesting video online on the Magnox website, just click on the link on the site.

Now for the other bit of news. In the post today I received this book sent to me for free because I provided them with a few balls of T-shirt yarn as seen on page 29.

They were kind enough to mention my name and my other blog and I must say I'm chuffed to bits to see my name in print albeit in a very small way.

The sun is coming out just now, which has further cheered me up no end.


Monday, 25 February 2013

# 329 Abnormal loads passing through Berkeley again

A year ago I wrote about a few giant boilers being removed from Berkeley Power Station to be transported all the way to Sweden to be dismantled. You can read about it and see the photos here and here.

This month and the next the last 10 remaining boilers will be removed and today was one of those days. Their size really is impressive, you can read more about it on this article in the local Gazette.

Just to give you an idea of their size, here's one as it went past the Town hall and the group of people gathered there to watch the manoeuvers .

I have a few more photos on my Flickr account here if you'd like to see them.


Thursday, 21 February 2013

# 328 Cabbage and chorizo rice with fried fish fillets in a lemon batter

The plate of food you see below was our Sunday lunch the other day. This cabbage and chorizo rice is the perfect accompaniment to any fried fish, fish pastries or fish cakes and it also goes very well with these turkey breast steaks in breadcrumbs.

For the fish fillets I used frozen white fish fillets, pollock works well too. These were marinated from frozen, overnight, in milk, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, pinch of salt, pinch of ground paprika, a few chili flakes and a few drops of lemon juice.

Below are the recipes for the lemon batter and the rice. Hope you enjoy them.

Lemon batter for fish fillets

1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup cold water
Juice of 1 lemon

Mix all of the ingredients together until well combined. You may need to add a little more flour to this mixture if it's too runny. When you're ready to fry the fish, dip each fillet in this batter and deep fry in hot vegetable oil until golden brown on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain the excess oil.

Cabbage and chorizo rice

1/2 onion, chopped
Olive oil
1/4 Savoy cabbage, shredded
6 chorizo slices
1/2 cup easy cook white rice
1 chicken stock cube
3 tablespoons chopped tomatoes, tinned
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Pour a little olive oil into a pan, add the onion and the chorizo slices and cook for a couple of minutes over a low to medium heat. Add the shredded cabbage and cook for about 5 minutes before adding the rice.

Stir with a wooden spoon and when you feel the rice is just starting to stick to the pan add the chopped tomatoes, the stock cube and the boiling water. Stir again, put the lid on the pan and cook over a low heat until all the water has evaporated and the rice is cooked.

Serve immediately and enjoy.


Monday, 18 February 2013

# 327 A handmade birthday gift

This year my mum's birthday gift was, in part, dictated by the changes made to our local Post Office.

These changes mean that the Post Office is now open from 6am to 11pm as opposed to the previous 9 to 5 opening time with 1 hour lunch break and also that you can no longer send packets abroad over a certain size. So, after much thinking I settled for this.

A Sunbonnet Sue appliqué on felt and mounted on an embroidery hoop. Mum seems to be pleased with it and I have one or 2 more crafty projects on the go envolving embroidery hoops, felt and fabric.

If you'd like to see a few more of my craft projects please feel free to visit my other blog here.


Thursday, 14 February 2013

# 326 Sweet anise bread

I speak with my mum on the phone every Saturday and it's usual for us to ask what the other is cooking and sometimes to exchange recipes over the phone or in the post. This is one of those recipes which arrived in the post together with a few others for other types of bread, sweet and savoury.

This sweet bread is made with fresh yeast which I've been using a lot lately in my breadmaking with great results. In April last year I posted another recipe for a sweet bread with star anise and cinnamon, of the 2 the recipe I'm sharing with you today is by far the best in my opinion. They're both delicious in terms of flavour but I like the texture of this one best.

Sweet anise bread

10g fresh yeast
125ml milk
325g + 50g strong white flour
90g caster sugar
1 tablespoon anise (ground or seeds, I used seeds)
40g butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
Pinch of salt

Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm milk and add 50g of strong white flour. Mix until well combined and prove in a warm place until it doubles in volume.

Mix the 325g strong white flour with a pinch of salt, the sugar and anise. Make a well in the middle and add the butter, the eggs and the milk and yeast mixture and mix until well combined. You can do this in a stand mixer with the dough hook.

Tip the dough on to a work surface and knead for about 5 minutes. You may need to add a little more flour as you knead if the dough is too sticky.

Shape into a ball and prove in a warm place until it doubles in volume again.

Knock back and knead for a few seconds. Shape the dough and place in a tin lined with baking paper. I used a standard size loaf tin and 6 mini loaf tins.

Prove for a last time in a warm place until doubled in volume and then bake in a preheated oven to 180 ºC for 20-30 minutes ou until golden brown.

This sweet bread is delicious on its own or spread with butter. It also goes very well with savoury fillings such as ham, cheese, parma ham or cooked bacon.



Wednesday, 13 February 2013

# 325 A Winter Walk

It's bitterly cold, it's wet and it's grey and gloomy but even on a day like today you can always spot a little colour here and there if only you pay attention.

I managed to convince A. to go for a walk earlier today, there were a few snow flurries when we left the house and it was snowing hard and fast by the time we got back but it stopped just as quickly as it had started. It's been raining since.

I love these soft colours, don't you?


Monday, 11 February 2013

# 324 Fish pastries

These fish pastries or rissoles are very popular in Portugal, you'll find them in most cafés where they are sold as savoury snacks or as part of a meal usually with white rice and a salad.

Mum makes them often and they are perfect to take on a picnic or in a packed lunch. The filling may vary, you can use meat, fish, or seafood (usually prawns but other shelfish is also used.) These pastries are not difficult to make but they do take time which is why when people make them they usually make 2 or 3 dozens which they then freeze. Then as the need arises, they are taken out of the freezer, defrosted and fried in hot vegetable oil.

Smoked fish is not much used in Portugal, in fact I think the only smoked fish you'll find in most supermarkets is smoked salmon but I love the taste and so decided to add some to my pastries. If you're making these, you can use only white fish if you want and maybe add a prawn or 2.

Fish pastries


150ml water
100ml milk
Rind of a lemon
50g butter
300g plain flour
Pinch of salt

Fish filling

2 white fish fillets
2 smoked fish fillets
A little milk
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon butter
Chopped parsley
Pinch of salt
2 beaten eggs
Vegetable oil for frying

Start by making the pastry.

Pour the water and milk into a pan, add the lemon rind, pinch of salt and butter. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat, remove the lemon rind and add the flour in one go stirring energetically with a wooden spoon mixing it until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball.

Tip the pastry out of the pan and knead for a few minutes until smooth and cooled a little. Be careful at this stage though as the pastry will be very hot. Wrap in clingfilm and set aside while you prepare the fish filling.

Pour some milk into a pan, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Cut the fish fillets into chunky pieces and add to the milk with a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the fish looses its rawness.

Remove the fish from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Let the milk cool a little before adding the cornflour and the butter. Stir constantly over a low to medium heat to thicken, you want a really thick white sauce.

Break the fish with a fork and add to the white sauce with a little chopped parsley, mix well and remove from the heat. The photo below shows you the sort of consistency you should aim for.

Let this mixture rest for about 30 minutes so it firms up a little.

Roll out the pastry as thinly as possible without overdoing it. It needs to hold its shape once you've sealed the filling inside.

The way I do this is I roll out the pastry once or twice and then lift it up and turn. Roll out again, lift it up and turn. You don't need to flour the work surface.

With a teaspoon place small portions of the filling on the pastry, fold it up so it covers the fish mixture and cut into a half-moon shape with the help of a round cookie cutter.

 It's best not to cut the pastry too close to the filling as it will open up during frying and make a mess.

Pinch the pastry gently all the way around to make sure it's sealed. Dip each pastry in the beaten eggs, then in breadcrumbs, pat gently to remove any excess of breadcrumbs and fry in vegetable oil making sure the oil is not too hot. Fry the pastries until golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and serve.

These are good warm or cold, preferably on the same day while they're crispy. I served mine with white rice and a lettuce salad.



Note - To freeze, dip each pastry in the beaten eggs and breadcrumbs, pat gently and place them in a food container lined with kitchen paper and preferably with a lid. It's best to freeze only 6 or so per container,  then defrost at room temperature and fry.

Friday, 8 February 2013

# 323 Fluffy pancakes

It's Pancake Day on Tuesday, did you know?

These are lovely and fluffy and really do justice to the name, A, was not so keen on them as he thought they tasted too much of the natural yoghurt but I loved them. I got the recipe from the Morrisons website here but you can read on if you don't want to click on the link. This is the other pancake recipe I use quite often and they're A.'s favourites.

Just a note before I move on to the recipe, I made a couple of little changes to the original recipe namely I mixed the oil together with the eggs and yoghurt instead of using it to grease the pan. I also heated a small knob of butter in the pan to grease it before adding the pancake batter.

Fluffy pancakes

175g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
25g caster sugar
2 large eggs
200ml plain natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder and sugar. Make a well in the centre.

Beat together the eggs, yoghurt and vegetable oil and pour into the well. Beat well to form a smooth batter. Heat the pan and add a small knob of butter, when it's melted drop tablespoonfuls of batter into the pan making sure they're set well apart (I made 2 pancakes at a time).

Cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes then flip over and cook on the other side until golden. Repeat with the remaining batter adding a little more butter if necessary.

I served mine hot with honey and blackberry jam.



Wednesday, 6 February 2013

# 322 Photo Friday: My environment

Here's my entry for this week's challenge at Photo Friday.

This photo is a recent one taken at the beginning of last week. You can see how high the river is, almost touching the bridge, usually you can't even see the water from this point on the road. The water level was so high in fact that it went over the bank and flooded the field.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

# 321 Fresh yeast bread

There's something very satisfying about baking your own bread and contrary to what many people think it's not at all difficult or time consuming. It is true that the proving and baking take a while but you can always use those periods of time to do something else.

Depending on the day of the week I'm baking and on what I need to do I use the proving time to go and do my shopping (usually on Saturday mornings), go for a walk if the weather is nice, clean and tidy up, check and answer emails, etc. Baking takes usually 30 to 40 minutes and I usually find something to do around the house or read for a while. This way it doesn't feel as if bread making has taken up most of my day and I get other things done at the same time.

This bread was made with fresh yeast instead of the fast action one and the result was great, the bread tasted better, more yeasty and had a better consistency too. I buy it through the local bakery, they order it in for me and it costs 30p for 2 oz which is enough to make 2 to 3 loafs depending on the recipe you're using. I also use the stand mixer to combine all ingredients to form the dough and then I knead it by hand.

Fresh yeast bread (basic recipe)

500g strong bread flour *
315ml tepid water **
15g fresh yeast **
Pinch of salt

Dissolve the yeast in the tepid water.

Pour the flour into the bowl of your stand mixer. Add a pinch of salt and open a well in the middle of the flour. Pour in the water and yeast mixture.

Mix all ingredients with the dough hook until well combined into a ball of dough. Tip the dough on to a work surface and knead by hand for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough feels smooth and elastic, it shouldn't be sticky. Dust the bowl with flour and put the dough inside, cover with clingfilm and set aside to prove until it doubles in volume.

If you want proving to be quicker place the bowl with the dough in a warm place and set your timer for about an hour, that should be enough for the dough to double in volume. Proving can also be done at room temperature and depending on the temperature of the room it may take a little longer.

Knock back the dough, knead for about 30 seconds, shape it and place in the tin or tray of your choice. Prove a 2nd time until doubled in volume and then bake in a preheated oven to 180 ºC for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.

I always line my tin or tray with baking paper as I find it easier to then remove the bread from the tin.

* When weighing out the flour you can use only one type of flour or a mixture, I like to mix strong white flour with brown or wholemeal flour and when I do that I usually weigh 300g strong white flour and 200g brown or wholemeal.

**  The amount of water and yeast depends on the type of flour you use. If using strong brown or wholemeal flour you may need to slightly increase the quantity of liquid and yeast used. For this loaf made with strong brown flour I used 20g fresh yeast and added a little more water. When adding more liquid it's best to do it in very small quantities so the dough does not become too wet.



Monday, 4 February 2013

# 320 January photo scavenger hunt

The new photo scavenger hunt is now being hosted by Greenthumb, the lovely lady that writes Made with love.  If you'd like to join in the fun please check her blog for more information.

I'm missing 1 photo for this month's challenge but I decided to post the 11 I've got before I end up forgetting; some photos are more recent than others as we haven't been out much for one reason or another.

Not sure what the object in the picture is, the photo was taken at the House Museum in Bristol and it's its number that fits one of the clues for this scavenger hunt.

Photo taken last Summer in Portugal on a very hot day.

A perfectly blue Autumn sky.

View from Coaley Peak in Gloucestershire.

A. in a puddle trying to move the thin layer of ice over the side.

Door at Upton House, a National Trust property.

Onions, lots and lots of them at Hanbury Hall another NT property.

Lunch time at a local farm.

Photo taken during a walk in  Woodchester Park.

Photo taken here in Berkeley during the floods. Although the road was closed some drivers did risk driving through all that water.

Statue at Croome Landscape Park, a National Trust property.