Sometimes a magazine recipe comes up trumps

February 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

I spotted a recipe in last month’s edition of the M&S food magazine for something they called “Salmon and ricotta brunch”. Practically every food publication that comes out at this time of the year features healthy eating and detox options. The brunch recipe was billed as being high protein fuel for those concerned with their health and nutrition. The recipe title wasn’t great, nor was the health-food angle but the picture looked pretty so I gave it a go and was really pleased with the result.

At the time I decided it was far too fussy a dish to make for breakfast. Who wants to tumble out of bed on a Sunday morning and start separating eggs for goodness’ sake!

But on reflection, if you’re in the right frame of mind, with a bit of forward planning it is manageable and making this dish for a second time at the weekend, the process seemed a whole lot easier.

Don’t let the whole seventies-retro vibe feel of a roulade put you off either. The end result is delicious, filling, and yes, being high-protein and low carb probably counts as healthy too.

I bet you’re thinking that the roulade in the picture looks just a tad too golden-brown. You’re right as I mistakenly baked mine at 200 degrees C fan rather than the 190 degrees C fan I suggest in the recipe.

Salmon, spinach and ricotta roulade

Serves 8 for brunch or a light lunch.

Ingredients

For the roulade

50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
300 ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
60g grated parmesan
4 medium eggs at room temperature
freshly ground black pepper
2-3 further tablespoons grated parmesan

For the filling

240g bag ready-to-cook spinach
250g ricotta
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ grated nutmeg
175g cooked flaked salmon or hot-smoked salmon or trout

1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees C fan and line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
2. Make a very thick white sauce as the base of the roulade. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, add the flour and cook the resulting roux for a minute or two but do not allow to colour.
3. Take the pan off the heat and add the milk a little at a time whisking thoroughly after each addition. Return the pan to the heat (medium heat) and, whisking constantly, bring the mixture to the boil and cook for 4-5 minutes, again whisking all time to produce a thick smooth mixture.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the 60g grated parmesan. Mix well to incorporate then set the pan aside for the mixture to cool for 5-10 minutes. Stir it from time to time while it cools to stop a skin from forming.
5. Separate the eggs. Reserve the yolks and whisk the whites until firm but not too stiff and dry.
6. Beat the reserved egg yolks into the thick cheese sauce mixture.
7. Take a big spoonful of whisked egg white and mix it into the thick cheese sauce mixture to loosen it a little then add this mixture to the whisked egg whites. Fold together using a balloon whisk trying not to knock too much air out of the whisked mixture.
8. Carefully pour the roulade mixture into the prepared tin, spread it to the corners with a palette knife and sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons grated parmesan over the top.
9. Bake for 15 minutes until risen and golden-brown.
10. Meanwhile, lightly steam the spinach, squeeze out all the excess water, chop roughly and place in a bowl. Add the ricotta, salt, pepper and grated nutmeg to the bowl and mix thoroughly to combine.
11. Place a sheet of baking parchment on a work surface and when the roulade is cooked, turn it out onto the parchment. Peel away the parchment used to line the tin.
12. Quickly spread the spinach and ricotta mixture over the roulade and top with the flaked fish. Roll up the roulade using the parchment on the work surface to help create a tight roll.
13. Cut into slices with a serrated knife and serve while warm with roast cherry tomatoes if liked.
14. The rest of the roulade is good served cold for lunch the following day.

Cape Verdean breakfast

August 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Imagine unspoilt castaway islands. With bone-white beaches that you can bag all to yourself. And a unique blend of African, Portuguese and Brazilian cultures. No wonder summer holidays to Cape Verde are the hottest buzzword in travel right now. Marooned off the west coast of Africa, they sit serenely and modestly – almost as if they’re hoping to shirk the limelight.”

So says the blurb on the Thomson holidays website which is a pretty good introduction to the Cape Verde archipelago. This group of 10 main islands and 5 smaller islets, most of which are mountainous but with some fertile land, was uninhabited until its discovery by Portuguese explorers in 1456. Just for the record, the largest island is Santiago, the capital city is Praia and the islands gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

The strategic location of the islands lying in the Atlantic off the coast of West Africa meant that they became an important staging post in both the slave and whaling trades. Interestingly, there are more Cape Verdeans and their descendants living abroad than there are on the islands themselves having left the islands during various waves of emigration. Music and football are clearly important elements of the Cape Verdean culture. Famous musicians of Cape Verdean descent include Lena Horne and the Tavares Brothers – Ralph, Pooch, Chubby, Butch and Tiny – perhaps most famous for their rendition of “More Than A Woman” on the seminal Saturday Night Fever soundtrack from the seventies. Well known footballers of Cape Verdean descent include Nani, Henrik Larsson, Gelson Fernandes and Patrice Evra.

The food of the islands is very much a reflection of its history and geography – a fusion of Portuguese, South American and African ingredients. Nowhere is this more true than in Cachupa, the islands’ national dish, a hearty stew of hominy corn, red kidney beans, spicy linguiça sausage, salt pork, sweet potato, potato, tomatoes, onion and cabbage. Fortunately for me, Cachupa refogada, left over cachupa reheated and fried with plenty of softened onion is a typical breakfast dish so it had to go on the menu.

The recipe I used for Cachupa is adapted from this one http://www.mistress-of-spices.com/2011/03/cachupa-national-dish-of-cape-verde.html

I decided to add another typical Cape Verdean dish, cuscus, to round off my breakfast menu. I found a video recipe here presented by the charming but oddly named Ideally Ilca on her Island Cuisine channel. White cornmeal is mixed with water to form little pellets. The resulting cuscus is steamed in a cake shape then served as a breakfast cereal flavoured with sugar and powdered cinnamon and eaten with cold milk. I followed Ms Ilca’s instructions to the letter and ended up with a successful plateful of Cape Verdean comfort food, agreeably soothing after the spicy Cachupa refogada:

Finding the recipes was the easy part: somewhat more of a challenge was tracking down authentic ingredients. Let’s start with hominy corn. I didn’t even know precisely what it was until I consulted Harold McGee. His encyclopaedic “On Food and Cooking” explains succinctly that “hominy consists of whole corn kernels…cooked for 20-40 minutes in a solution of lime or lye then washed of their hulls and excess alkaline solution.” The process is known as nixtamalization from an Aztec word and though it sounds a bit yucky and chemical-infused in fact produces a tasty, chewy and nutritious end result.

I tracked my hominy corn plus white cornmeal for my Cape Verdean cuscus down from ever-reliable Mexican food specialists The Cool Chile company. I sourced my linguiça sausage, plus a few extra Portuguese goodies, from the straightforwardly named www.portuguesefood.co.uk.

I packed up my specialist ingredients and headed for the coast to prepare and cook my Cape Verdean breakfast – nowhere exotic, just the good old British seaside. We were joined for a long weekend by friends Mike, Theo and Christopher who tucked in manfully (though I suspect they were hoping for a full English…)

Pass the piri piri sauce please. Did someone say it’s just like Nando’s?

Recipe for Cachupa Rica

Adapted from a recipe on “Mistress of Spices” blog.

Serves 8-12 depending on appetite.

500g dried hominy corn
250g dried red kidney beans
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 litre water
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
250g linguiça (or chorizo) cut into 1cm dice
500g thick piece of unsmoked bacon into 1cm dice
1 tablespoon chilli powder
4 small waxy potatoes scrubbed and quartered
1 sweet potato, peeled and quartered
1/4 white cabbage, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

Rinse the corn and the beans. Drain and set aside.

Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large lidded saucepan or stockpot. Add half of the chopped onion and one bay leaf. Sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the corn and the beans. Stir well and add the water. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours. Add the stock and continue simmering until the corn and beans are soft and cooked through (this may take a further 2 hours ie 4 hours in total).

In a second large lidded pot, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the remaining chopped onion, garlic and one bay leaf. Stir well and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Add the linguiça, bacon and chili powder. Stir gently over a low heat until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.

Add the cooked corn and beans and their cooking liquid to the meat mixture. Then add the potatoes and cabbage, mix well, add tomatoes and cook until the vegetables are tender and the liquid reduced, about 15-20 minutes.

Taste and correct seasoning. Cachupa tastes even better the next day sautéed with some chopped onion for breakfast, called Cachupa refogada.

Recipe for Cape Verdean Cuscus

From the Island Cuisine channel on Youtube.

3 cups finely ground white cornmeal
Sugar to taste
Cinnamon
1 cup water

Add the water to the cornmeal very slowly. Mix with your hands to form a clumpy mix. Put in double boiler (I used a steamer set over a pan of boiling water). Sprinkle with plenty of powdered cinnamon.

Steam for 25 mins. It will form a sliceable cake. Serve with cold milk, honey, butter and coffee.

Supplier details

http://www.coolchile.co.uk/ Supplier of hominy corn and authentic Mexican ingredients

www.portuguesefood.co.uk Supplier of Portuguese sausages, hams, wine and other goodies.

Canadian breakfast

May 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

The latest in our Breakfasts of the World Project series.

We cheated ever so slightly on this one, eating it out of synch with the rest of the series to coincide with visiting family and friends the morning after a certain Big Birthday late last year (my husband Tim’s not mine I hasten to add).

Here are various family members and friends tucking into classic breakfast pancakes, back bacon and, of course, lashings of maple syrup.

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We can buy maple syrup pretty readily here in the UK – you can see in the picture below two different grades of syrup – No 1 and No 2 Amber (I’ve not yet found the elusive Grade 3 Dark syrup on supermarket shelves here). It was also time to bring out the prized bottle of rare Nova Scotia maple syrup, a gift from cousin Paul and family who live in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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I delved briefly into the details of maple syrup production and it seems that the Canadian province of Québec is responsible for some 75% of the world’s output of maple syrup. Anything calling itself Canadian maple syrup must be made exclusively from the concentrated sap of predominantly three types of maple tree – the sugar, red and black maples. It can take up to 50 litres of raw sap to be boiled down and concentrated into 1 litre of syrup.

Also on the menu were muffins (English muffins though we call them just muffins in England much as Canadian bacon is known as such anywhere but Canada) and delicious wild Pacific smoked salmon. If I’d felt more perky that morning, I might have conjured this into a Vancouver-style take on Eggs Benedict but we had to make do with just cream cheese on our muffins to accompany the salmon.

There are lots of fascinating Canadian breakfast dishes I could have tried – fellow breakfast blogger Shawna has alerted me to cretons, a Québecquois take on French rillettes (small pieces of pork and onion gently cooked in the fat rendered from the meat to form a pâté-like mixture)served on toast as part of a traditional breakfast.

Browsing through my recipe book “Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens” by Marie Nightingale, I see we’ve missed out too on the “Old-Fashioned Lunenburg Breakfast or Supper Dish” of cooked apples and onions baked with onions and cream. Then there’s my Blomidon Inn bread recipe from Wolfville, Nova Scotia for a loaf flavoured with oats, cornmeal and molasses…I’ll have to return to Canadian breakfasts some time soon.

Recipe for breakfast pancakes

These are a perennial favourite at home and the recipe comes from my trusty and ancient Good Housekeeping Cookery Book where these pancakes are referred to as Scotch Pancakes or Drop Scones.

Makes 10-12 small pancakes.

Ingredients

100g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
30g golden caster sugar (about 2 tablespoons)
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
Milk to mix – about 150ml
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or ground cinnamon (optional)

Mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg and a little of the milk. Stir with a balloon whisk, bringing in the flour from the edges of the well and gradually adding more milk as you do so. When the batter reaches the consistency of thick custard. Beat with the whisk for 10-20 seconds until any remaining lumps have gone. Whisk in some more milk until you have a thickish smooth batter the consistency of extra-thick single cream that will drop from a spoon. Whisk in the vanilla extract or ground cinnamon if using.

Drop the mixture in large spoonfuls (I use a small ladle) onto a hot lightly greased non-stick frying pan. Keep the pan at a steady heat and when bubbles start to rise to the surface of the pancakes (after about 2 minutes, maybe earlier), flip them over using a small crank-handled palette knife and cook for a minute or so on the other side until golden brown and cooked through. Store in a folded clean linen teatowel as you make them to keep them warm and soft.

Serve with maple syrup and bacon or butter and jam. They’re pretty good cold with butter and jam if ever you find you have some left over.

Cameroon breakfast

March 30, 2013 § 2 Comments

The latest in our Breakfasts of the World Project series.

Until the recent kidnapping of a French family in the far north of the country, football had been the only reason Cameroon hit the international headlines. The national team “Les Lions Indomptables” in their red, green and yellow strip echoing the national flag, has the best World Cup track record of any African nation. Cameroonian player Samuel Eto’o is reputedly football’s highest paid player under his contract with far-flung FC Anzhi Makhachkala (Russian Premier League).

Irregularly-shaped Cameroon is situated on Africa’s West coast between Nigeria to the North and West and Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to the South. The country’s name derives from Rio dos Camarões – river of shrimps – the name Portuguese explorers gave to the region. Cameroon first became a German colony but was divided between France and Britain post First World War. Independence and the merging of the two parts of the country occurred between 1960 and 1961 with Yaoundé as capital city.

Our chosen menu was beignets, also known as Puff-Puffs – a simple deep-fried yeasted doughnut, and also bouilli d’arachides, a peanut-butter enriched version of sweetened maize porridge.

Inspiration for the menu came from Californian aid worker and blogger Mara’s post here and also the clear and eminently readable Cameroonian and African food blog Ma Cocote. Reading through these posts you immediately gain a snapshot of this incredibly varied country. The food names – bouilli and beignets are French words, a legacy of the country’s colonial past. Mara talks about the bouilli being the evening meal breaking the Ramadan daylong fast. Although Christianity is nominally the dominant religion, a significant minority of the population (about 20%) are Muslim. Cameroon extends north to the fringes of the Sahara desert with its Extrême Nord province bordering on Lake Chad. In contrast, the south east of the country is equatorial rain forest territory, home to the Baka people (formerly referred to as pygmies).

Mara gives a sketchy recipe for bouilli so rather than following her instructions to the letter I did my own thing. I used a quick-cook polenta made up according to the packet instructions but with half milk and water instead of water alone. I then added sugar to taste and finally a big dollop of peanut butter plus an extra drizzle of milk.

The resulting mush was pronounced “OK” by the family – a bit bland perhaps but a soothing easy-to-eat breakfast that, with the addition of peanut butter, really packs in the calories.

The Puff Puff doughnuts were a different story altogether. These disappeared in seconds! I give below the recipe I adapted from the Ma Cocote blog. It’s a simple yeast-raised batter made with just milk, water, flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast which, after proving, is dropped into your deep-fat fryer. For authenticity I fried the doughnuts in peanut oil which gives a very good non-greasy and nicely flavoured result (I find sunflower oil has an unpleasant greasy taste). To achieve a perfectly spherical Puff Puff the recommended technique is to get in with your hands and extrude the batter from your partially clenched fist. I wasn’t brave enough to try this in the frying-station I’d set up in our garage but I think the spoon-shaped ones were pretty creditable for a first attempt.

Recipe for Beignets (Puff-Puffs) – Cameroonian doughnuts

Adapted from a recipe in Cameroonian food blog http://www.macocote.com

Makes about 20.

Ingredients

175g strong plain flour
175g ordinary plain flour
5g fast action dried yeast (the type that can be mixed straight into the flour without the need for prior activation)
75 golden caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
300ml milk and water mixed at room temperature (no need to warm)

MIx the dry ingredients together thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.Add the milk and water mixture and stir well to combine into a thick batter. Cover and leave to prove until the batter has become very bubbly and puffed-up. This is likely to take at least an hour, maybe two and will happen more quickly if the bowl is left in a warm place.

Drop tablespoons of the mixture into a deep-fat fryer ideally using peanut oil. Fry at 190 degrees C for about 7 minutes, turning the doughnuts over halfway through the cooking time. They are ready when they are a deep golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with caster sugar and serve immediately.

Burundi breakfast

December 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

The latest in our Breakfasts of the World Project series.

It’s not long since we breakfasted Burkina Faso style. That was an impoverished landlocked West African country whereas Burundi is an impoverished landlocked East African one. Over to the BBC weather website for some basic facts about the country:

“This small country in central Africa is about the size of Wales or Israel and is densely populated. It lies between 2° and 4°S and is bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Lake Tanganyika to the southwest, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west. It is a hilly and mountainous country, with its highest point rising to over 4,600 m/15,000 ft.”

I was taken aback by the existence of a 4,600m peak in central Africa that I’d never heard of before – sadly this seems to be a factual error – shame on you BBC!- as other more reliable sources show that the highest peak in Burundi is the whimsically named Mount Heha clocking in at just 2,670m.

Over to another BBC site – a world news one this time – for more facts. This was a depressing roll call of colonial oppression (first the Germans then the Belgians who are presumably responsible for Burundi’s official language being French), Hutu and Tutse civil war, genocide, mass refugee emigration and a shattered economy. Amidst the depressing fatcs I did find this striking image (courtesy of Getty Images) there of a Burundi man on a bicycyle transporting a LOT of green bananas:

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Information on Burundian food is hard to come by but the meagre information sources available seem to agree that green bananas or plantains and beans are part of the staple diet. So over to the Celtnet website for a basic red kidney bean and plantain stew which is there described as a main course accompaniment.

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I’ve adapted the Celtnet recipe to make it simpler to concoct in my Western kitchen and I give my recipe below. Served with toast and a poached egg plus a cafetière of aromatic East African coffee (coffee is one of Burundi’s principal exports) this made a pretty decent breakfast, the kind of breakfast to set you up for facing the legendary man-eating crocodile Gustave said to inhabit the waters of Lake Tanganyika just off Burundi’s capital city, Bujumbura.

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And we’ve reached the end of countries beginning with the letter B just in time to end the year!

Recipe for Burundian bean and plantain stew

Adapted from a Celtnet.org recipe.

Serves 4

Ingredients

14oz can red kidney beans
2 plantains
1 small onion
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
pinch dried chilli flakes
salt and pepper to taste
300ml water

First prepare the vegetables. Drain and rinse the kidney beans in a colander. Peel and slice the plantain into chunks about 1cm thick. Peel and thinly slice the onion.

In a medium lidded saucepan heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat and add the sliced onions. Fry for 5 or so minutes until soft and translucent. Add the plantain slices and fry for 10 minutes more, turning the chunks occasionally so that they don’t burn. Once the plantain has coloured a little, add the drained kidney beans, seasonings and 300ml water. Bring to the the boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, partially cover with the pan lid and cook for about 20 minutes. The stew is ready when the plantain is soft and the liquid has reduced by a half.

Bulgarian breakfast

November 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

The latest in our Breakfasts of the World Project series.

Much like Lesley Chamberlain (author of “The Food and Cooking of Eastern Europe), my first experience of Bulgarian cuisine was sausage and bread purchased from a station buffet at Plovdiv (the next major city after the capital Sofia) part-way through my five day train journey from Blackpool North to Istanbul Central aged 19. My memories of then-Communist Bulgaria witnessed solely from the train was of bad food, grey cities – the capital Sofia as well as Plovdiv – and corrupt border guards who extorted payment for what turned out to be a non-existent entry visa.

Beyond the railway line there were obviously better things to be seen. Lesley Chamberlain goes on to write “Not much is known about Bulgarian food beyond the reputation of its yoghurt, but actually, when one is not dependent on the station buffet, it is one of the world’s simplest, healthiest and most naturally elegant styles of cooking, akin to the cuisines of Turkey and Lebanon. The seasoning is light and the accent on preserving national flavours. It is the very opposite of the ‘concentrated’ food of Poland. The mountainous country of 8 million, bordered by Greece, Romania, Yugoslavia (ed now Serbia and Macedonia), Turkey and the Black Sea, is hot, with fertile valleys, and broad plains. The land, which the ancients called Thrace, yields abundant green vegetables and fruit…Many of the dishes have a middle Eastern flavour, including white beans and preserved vegetables in olive oil, peppers, olives, tomatoes, spicy sausage (pasterma)…The sausage, salami, cheese, yoghurt, vegetables and fruit that characterize this very natural table first appear at breakfast.”

My mood lightened after reading this – I’d feared a Slavic spread of sausage and cabbage with dry black bread or some such but Ms Chamberlain’s description of Bulgarian breakfast sounded fresh and inviting. I decided to serve up some spicy sausage, a sharp salty ewe’s milk cheese, home-made sourdough bread, the much-loved Bulgarian cold vegetable dish lutenitsa and of course I had to track some genuine Bulgarian yoghurt.

What makes Bulgarian yoghurt special is its combination of two bacteria, Lactobacillus Bulgaricus together with Streptococcus Thermophilus. In fact, a little delving suggests that all live yoghurts contain these two bacteria so maybe we’re all eating Bulgarian yoghurt without our realising it…

Ready-made genuine Bulgarian yoghurt was nowhere to be found, but the Bulgarian yoghurt website http://www.bacillusbulgaricus.com/ saved the day and within a few days a little sachet of yoghurt culture sent to me in a handwritten envelope amusingly with a Plovdiv postmark (that brought back memories) dropped onto my doormat:

There were no instructions on the packet which initially caused some consternation until I remembered that they could be found on the website (and I’ve summarised them below). Rather gingerly I mixed up my culture powder of indeterminate provenance with a 2 litres of milk (semi skimmed as I didn’t have whole milk in the fridge):

The milk sat quietly overnight on the top of the warm Aga. Miraculously, it fermented and thickened and turned into something that really did look like yoghurt – it was a little thinner than I might have liked but I put that down to using semi-skimmed rather than proper whole milk.

On to the lutenitsa. I came across it when I scanned through various Bulgarian food websites. This sweetened vegetable preserve, part jam, part relish, part middle-Eastern cooked vegetable salad is available in jars sold under a number of brands but I decided to make my own, devising a recipe combining the best bits of a number of different versions found on the web (“The Food and Cooking of Eastern Europe” being silent on the subject).

I began by roasting some sweet red peppers until the skins were lightly charred:

Then the raw vegetables were sautéd in olive oil:

The tomatoes and soft pepper pieces were added to the mix and the whole lot simmered for 10 minutes. Some recipes suggest puréeing the lutenitsa but I wanted something chunkier so went in with an old-fashioned British potato masher for a minute or so which gave me the texture I was looking for – thick and chunky with a bit of bite.

Recipe for lutenitsa – Bulgarian vegetable relish

Makes about 2lb. Having tried out a couple of different recipes found on websites dedicated to Bulgarian food, this is my small-scale chunky version of the classic lutenitsa recipe.

Ingredients

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1 medium aubergine, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large roasted red peppers, skin and seeds removed and then diced
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or summer savory if you have it)
2 tablespoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Take a medium sized saucepan and fry the onions, carrots and aubergines in the olive oil until soft. Add the red peppers and fry for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and seasoning, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add a little water if the mixture seems too dry. Mash some of the mixture using a potato masher. You are aiming for a thick ratatouille type texture. Spoon into a clean preserving jar, cool, seal and refrigerate.

Recipe for Bulgarian yoghurt

Adapted from the instructions given on the Bulgarian yoghurt website http://www.bacillusbulgaricus.com/

Ingredients

2 litres whole milk
1g (1/4 teaspoon) of freeze dried Bulgarian yoghurt starter

Bring the milk to just below boiling point in order to kill any existing bacteria which could react with the Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. Be careful not to burn it.

Cool the milk down to 110°F (43°C). Without a food thermometer, the easiest way to test for the right temperature is to dip a finger in the milk – if you can comfortably count to 5 then the milk is just right.

Pour the milk to a separate processing container eg a large bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon of the starter. Mix well – stir well for about 5 minutes. Cover the container loosely with a lid.

Let the milk and culture mix ferment in a warm draft free place overnight.

The fermentation process will continue until the milk reaches pH of 4,7. The fresh yogurt will be set in about 5-6 hours (or overnight). If the place is too cold (50F or less), the process may take longer (10-12 hours). In general, leaving the yogurt sit for longer after it is set, will result in a denser and more acidic yogurt. When your yogurt is ready, move it to the fridge (or a cool place) for storage.

Keep the remaining yogurt starter in a Ziplock bag in the freezer.

Brunei breakfast and best brioche recipe

September 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

The latest in our Breakfasts of the World Project series.

Brunei is a tiny country with a population of some 400,000 shoehorned into a territory of just 2,228 square miles on the island of Borneo. Part of Borneo belongs to Malaysia and the rest (apart from Brunei of course) belongs to Indonesia. The Sultanate of Brunei was powerful regional presence whose influence was at its height between the 15th and 17th centuries. As its influence subsequently declined its territory became gradually smaller. The economic decline was reversed following the discovery of oil in Brunei in 1929. As a result, tiny Brunei became a highly developed and wealthy country whose citizens have an appetite for Western luxury goods.

Today’s breakfast idea was taken from the cosmopolitan menu of the Fleur de Lys Bakeshop in Brunei’s capital city, Bandar Seri Bagawan. The Fleur de Lys Bakeshop is a French style pâtisserie whose macarons and croissants could rival anything you’d find in Paris. My selections was “French toast kaya – brioche French toast served with our very own ‘home-made’ coconut-egg kaya”. This looked rather more appealing than the various chicken sausage and beef bacon rasher combos on offer, pork being ruled out by local Islamic dietary rules.

OK so I know how to make brioche French toast but what on earth is coconut-egg kaya? Kaya, it turns out, is a sweet, creamy coconut preserve flavoured with pandan leaves, made in a similar way to our own lemon curd (but obviously without the lemons!). Ex pat South East Asians yearn for the stuff and either get it shipped out to them or make their own.

I searched around for an approachable, logical kaya recipe and fell for the lovely pictures in Malaysian-born cook and food writer Billy Law’s blog “A Table for Two”. It turns out that Billy was a finalist in the Australian extra-tough version of Masterchef winning the hearts of viewers if not ultimately the judges.

Billy’s instructions were sufficient and easy to follow. First stop is your local Asian grocer for pandan leaves and good quality 100% coconut milk. I’m lucky enough to have Kim’s Thai foodstore in Manchester’s Chinatown (see contact details below) almost on my doorstep. Walking down the steps into the tardis-like basement, you’re transported to the scents and sights of Bangkok’s Khao San Road. It was straightforward enough to pick up the specialist ingredients I needed here – a good quality 100% coconut milk and pandan leaves:

Having gone to the trouble of sourcing authentic ingredients for my kaya, I now needed a decent brioche loaf to turn into indulgent French toast. Having looked at the dry and sad little excuses for brioche offerings available at local supermarkets I decided I’d better bake my own.

I turned to Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking – from my home to yours” for inspiration, as, based on my experience with her Kugelhopf recipe, Ms Greenspan knows how to handle enriched yeasted doughs. The only quibble I have about this bible-type baking compendium is that having meticulously sourced and researched her recipes from professional European bakers in many cases, she doesn’t give accurate gram weights but turns everything into American cup sizes. I have to reverse engineer her recipes and convert everything back to grams!

Following the recipe and with the aid of my Kenwood mixer, after a day and a half (!) I produced a stretchy, silken ball of golden dough:

The golden colour is attributable not only to the eggs in the dough but also to the full 340g butter required to make the recipe. Let me repeat that – 340g butter, a pack and a half, which looks like this:

I shaped the loaves two different ways, the first like a triple bun loaf as the recipe specifies, and the second as a standard loaf shape (after the time-consuming effort of making the dough you are rewarded by one brioche loaf for now and one to stash in the freezer as a treat for later). These are loaves before proving:

They are quite slow to achieve a rise in the tin as the dough has spent the night chilling in the refrigerator before being shaped the next morning. This is what mine looked like after nearly 2 hours – not really doubled in size but I couldn’t wait for my breakfast any longer:

I always use steam in my oven when baking any kind of yeasted dough as I think it prevents a dry skin forming on the dough too soon which would impede its rise. Thus I added steam to my oven when baking the brioche and was very happy with the rise and end result. I have read elsewhere (specifically Tom Herbert’s comment in a baking article in October 2012’s Delicious magazine) that baking a brioche with steam will produce a thick hard crust but I have not found this to be the case so suggest steaming ahead!

Here are the loaves straight out of the oven:

That first slice, still warm, was definitely worth waiting for:

Interestingly, the loaf shaped as three buns had a more satisfactory structure and better rise than the standard loaf shape so I’d recommend this shaping method in future.

It goes without saying that the brioche made wonderful French toast, sprinkled with a little grated nutmeg and golden caster sugar before being topped with a generous dollop of the home-made kaya. Brunei is now up there in our “top ten” of world breakfasts.

Recipe for coconut egg kaya

Adapted from Australian chef and food writer Billy Law’s blog “A Table for Two”.

Makes enough to fill one small preserving jar with a bit left over.

Ingredients

3 eggs
2 egg yolks
150g golden caster sugar
250ml canned or packet coconut milk – check the small print to make sure it’s 100% coconut
3–4 pandan leaves, knotted (optional)

Set up a double boiler by placing a suitably sized mixing bowl over a large pan containing simmering water.

Having made sure the bowl will sit comfortably over the pan, take it off the heat and add the whole eggs, yolks and sugar to it and, using a balloon whisk, mix until the sugar has dissolved. Slowly pour the coconut milk into mixture while whisking until well combined. If using, drop the knotted pandan leaves into the mixture.

Swap the balloon whisk for a rubber spatula. Place the mixing bowl on top of the pan containing simmering hot water and start stirring the mixture constantly, scraping down the sides and base of the bowl. Baste the pandan leaves by using the spatula to pour the hot coconut custard over them.

The mixture will start to get thicker. This is likely to take between 20 minutes and half an hour. At this stage, remove the knotted pandan leaves, scraping and squeezing the kaya off them before discarding. Test for doneness by drawing a line right through the mixture in the bowl one swift move using the spatula. If a channel remains for a second or two before the mixture flows back, then it is ready. Remember that it will thicken further as it cools.

Spoon the mixture into a a sterilised jar, allow to cool then refrigerate. It will keep for up to a month in the fridge.

Recipe for Brioche

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking – from my home to yours”

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

7g fast action dried yeast
300g strong plain flour
225g ordinary plain flour
10g salt
80g water mixed with 80g whole milk, either at room temperature or slightly warmed
3 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
45g golden caster sugar
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature

To glaze

1 small egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water

In the bowl of a Kenwood or similar mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together the flours, fast action dried yeast and salt. Pour in the milk and water mixture then turn the mixer on to a low speed and mix for one to two minutes until the flour is moistened and you have a fairly dry shaggy mixture.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a plastic dough scraper or rubber spatula. Turn the mixer back on to a low speed and add the egg mixture little by little, then the sugar. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes by which time the dough should have formed into a ball.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the butter in big chunks, beating until almost incorporated before adding the next. You will end up with a very soft cake-batter-like dough. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the mixture comes away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic dough scraper then cover the bowl with cling film and leave to prove at room temperature until the dough has nearly doubled in size, around 40 to 60 minutes depending on the ambient temperature.

Deflate the dough by picking it up and slapping it back into the bowl. Cover the bowl again with cling film and put it in the fridge. Check the dough every 30 minutes and slap it back until it stops rising. You may need to do this 4 or 5 times. Once it’s stopped rising, make sure the bowl is sealed with cling film and leave it overnight in the refrigerator.

The next morning, grease and flour two loaf tins. Loaf tins are notoriously difficult to size so I’ll tell you the measurements of the ones I used here which were both 22cm (Length) by 11cm (Width) by 6cm (Depth). Divide the brioche dough in half, and divide each half into four equal pieces (best done using an accurate set of scales). Roll each of these small pieces into a log shape (the length of which is equal to the width of your tin)and press four of the logs side by side in the base of each loaf tin. Cover the tins with an upturned plastic storage box or big mixing bowl and leave the loaves to prove until nearly doubled in size and filling the tins. This may take up to three hours as the dough is fridge cold and takes a while to get going again.

When the dough is reaching the end of its proving time, make sure your oven shelf is in a central position and preheat the oven to 190 degrees C (fan).

Make the glaze by beating the egg with the water. Brush the surface of the loaves carefully with the glaze trying not to let it run down the sides of the tin where it will prevent the loaves from rising.

Bake the loaves until well risen and a deep golden brown. I like to add steam at the beginning of the baking time (by quickly throwing a mug of cold water into a shallow preheated roasting tin placed at the bottom of the hot oven) to stop a crust from forming and allow the loaves to rise to their maximum potential.

Remove the loaves from the oven when done and allow to cool in their tins for about 15 minutes before turning them out to complete cooling on a rack. The crumb structure is quite fragile at this stage so be careful when you do this. Don’t attempt to slice until the loaves have cooled thoroughly, for at least an hour.

Contact details

Kim’s Thai Food Store
46 George Street
Manchester M1 4HF
Area: Chinatown
0161 228 6263

Bhutanese breakfast

October 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

The latest in our Breakfasts of the World Project series.

The appointed day for our Bhutanese breakfast fell on my birthday this year. It’s become a bit of a family joke that my lovely husband Tim always buys me items of technical outdoor wear for birthdays and Christmas rather than more frivolous items. He was true to form this year and I am now the proud owner of my own very warm down jacket. Perfect to model while eating a breakfast from the Himalayan mountain kingdom of Bhutan:

Landlocked Bhutan lies at the eastern end of the Himalayas between Tibetan China to the north and India to the south, west and east. The delightfully named young king Wangchuck ascended the throne in the capital Thimphu as recently as 2008. The official religion is Buddhism and the country’s policy of measuring Gross National Happiness (GNH) in addition to the more usual and mundane Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has raised its profile internationally.

Our menu was a slightly simplified version of this delicious sounding description of breakfast from Bhutan’s exclusive Uma Paro hotel. Lying in a verdant valley, Paro is a centre for tourism and the precipitously sited Tiger’s Nest monastery lies just to the north of the city. To quote the website blurb:

“For a fresh start to the day, try our rosewater lassi. And before a challenging mountain trek, consider a Bhutanese breakfast: pork and red rice porridge with egg crepe, hogay salad and ezay”

Rosewater lassi was straightforward enough to whip up and was a rather gorgeous birthday breakfast treat:

Based on what I’ve read elsewhere, red rice porridge, minus the pork, is clearly a Bhutanese staple. As Bhutan is a mountainous country, the main concern of the indigenous population seems to be the consumption of sufficient calories to survive in a cold climate. One way to achieve this is to add copious quantities of butter and cheese to pretty much every dish. Thus tea is drunk with salted butter rather than milk and rice porridge is enriched with both butter and cheese.

After an extended debate with the dozy local depot of courier firm DHL, I was thrilled to take delivery of a single precious pack of authentic red rice imported from Bhutan via a circuitous trade route involving a Californian wholefoods supplier:

Once I’d got hold of the rice, making the porridge was a straightforward, if lengthy affair. I give the recipe I used below.

I decided that an egg crepe sounded rather like an international omelette so that didn’t make the breakfast cut. Hogay and ezay are both in the salsa/relish/salad category and are pepped up with copious quantities of chilli, the favourite condiment of Bhutan. I tossed a coin and decided to make an ezay to accompany the porridge:

What did it taste like? Well, a bit like risotto with a dollop of cheesy salsa on top, a weird Italian/Mexican/Asian fusion.

Would I eat it again? Realistically, probably not as, let’s face it, it would be hard to improve on well made risotto milanese, and if I wanted salsa I’d rather roll it up in a burrito.

Recipe for Bhutanese red rice porridge

Adapted from a recipe I found on Mark T’s life in Bhutan blog. Here is the link and thank you to Mark for making the recipe available – it works! http://eyeamempty.blogspot.com/2010/01/doing-porridge-for-dad.html

Serves 4

250g Bhutanese red rice (having tried the Bhutanese rice I think Camargue red rice which is more readily available here in the UK would be just fine here)
Enough water to cover the rice by about 5 cm
3 tablespoons butter
200g block of feta cheese, roughly crumbled
a pinch of chilli powder, or more, to taste
1 1 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger root, grated (best achieved with a Microplane type grater)
Salt and pepper

In Bhutan, a pressure cooker would be used to boil the rice until soft (5 whistles!) – essential at high altitudes. I brought the rice to the boil then covered and simmered for 25 minutes until the rice was cooked.

Take the lid off and check for consistency. Add more water if needed, continuing to cook with the lid off, stirring frequently. My porridge took about 45 minutes from start to finish, so another 20 minutes after the rice had softened.

When the rice has cooked down to a thick porridge like consistency, add the butter, cheese, and seasoning ingredients. Stir, taste, check seasonings, then serve accompanied by ezay (see next recipe).

Recipe for ezay – Bhutanese salsa

Serves 4-6 as an accompaniment

My own version of this dish after reading several recipes. I’ve substantially reduced the chilli to take account of our low western chilli heat threshold and have substituted cherry tomatoes for the hard to obtain Himalayan tree tomatilloes and feta for yak’s milk cheese.

Ingredients

Small bunch of coriander, washed, dried and coarsely chopped
6 spring onions, cleaned and coarsely chopped
2 red chilli peppers, medium heat, halved, deseeded and finely sliced
about 10 cherry tomatoes
juice of a lime
salt and freshly ground black pepper (or toasted and ground szechuan pepper if you can get hold of it)
100g feta cheese, crumbled

Combine all the ingredients except the feta in a bowl. Stir to mix and set aside in the fridge for half an hour to let the flavours combine. Sprinkle over the crumbled feta cheese when you’re ready to serve.

Recipe for rosewater lassi

Again, my own recipe after experimenting a little with proportions. I think you need a liquidiser with a chunky motor rather than a food processor to cope with crushing the ice and getting a good froth on the lassi.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 450g tub thick plain wholemilk yoghurt (I used a “Greek style” variety which worked well – a true Greek yoghurt might have been too thick here)
1 teaspoon pure rosewater (from Asian shops or larger supermarkets)
4 tbsp icing sugar
1 generous cup of ice cubes (approx same volume as the yoghurt pot)
approx 200 ml cold water
a few fragrant rose petals to garnish

Put all the ingredients except the rose petals into the goblet of your scrupulously clean liquidiser and, with a firm hand over the lid in case the ice cubes are a bit rough, whizz for about 20 seconds or until the ice cubes are broken down and the mixture is frothy. Taste and add a little more sugar or rosewater if you like, whizz again, then pour into tall chilled glasses. Scatter over the rose petals and serve.

Belizean breakfast

July 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

The latest in our Breakfasts of the World Project series.

Belize is a tiny little country just 180 miles long situated in Central America. Mexico lies to the North, Guatemala to the South and West and the Caribbean Sea to the East. The colony formerly known as British Honduras is now a hot tourist destination and a must-see place on the gap-year ecotourism trail according to my niece Lucy. It does sound rather idyllic – coral atolls, Mayan ruins, tropical rain forest… Maybe it’s not just for the low tax régime that Belize’s most famous resident Michael Ashcroft chooses to make his home here.

Because of the thriving tourism industry, descriptions of Belizean hospitality and specifically its breakfasts are not hard to come by on the web. I found this entry http://www.travellious.com/breakfast_in_belize pretty helpful in setting out what constitutes breakfast in Belize: refried beans, scrambled eggs, salsa, fry-jacks, and above all Marie Sharp’s hot sauce.

Here’s my version cooked up at home last Sunday morning. There’s one further addition to the Travellious list which is some greens quickly stir-fried with garlic. They’d use amaranth greens in Belize, sometimes referred to as callaloo, but I had to be content with some less exotic baby spinach:

The Marie Sharp’s hot sauce was impressively easy to obtain – a couple of mouse clicks and it arrived by post the next day. It’s a fiery red Tabasco type sauce but made authentically in Belize, and yes there really is a person called Marie Sharp who runs the company, it’s not just a marketing man’s fantasy à la Betty Crocker.

OK so menu and sauce sorted, this breakfast was beginning to take shape. Scrambled eggs, stir-fried greens and fresh salsa would be easy enough to whip-up, but what about the refried beans and those intriguingly named fry jacks?

My starting point for authentic refried beans was a recipe from the website of the rather lovely looking Chaa Creek ecolodge. Their recipe was a little sketchy so I’ve added my own tips for preparing refried beans. Despite the name, the beans are fried just once. I think I read somewhere that it’s more mellifluous in Spanish to refer to frijoles refritos rather than the uncomfortably alliterative frijoles fritos.

The soaked black beans look a dramatic inky deep purple colour as they go into the pot with the flavouring ingredients:

This softens when you come to fry and mash the beans to more of a sludgy grey. They may not look that pretty, but they do taste good:

Now for the fryjacks. I found an authentic recipe from fascinating blog Rice and Beans A Belizean in the USA which I’ve adapted and given below. My fry jacks tasted good – a bit like a savoury doughnut but didn’t puff up quite as much as expected.

First step was to make the dough and divide it into little balls:

Next, the dough balls are flattened and cut into quarters:

Finally, when you’re ready to eat, the quarters are dropped into hot deep fat to fry:

In keeping with the tropical vibe, I set up the deep fat fryer in the garage with the intention of eating our breakfast on the terrace outside. Great for containing cooking smells and conjuring up the beach shack atmosphere but unfortunately a Mancunian tropical downpour sent us scurrying back inside to eat.

Recipe for refried beans

Adapted from a recipe on the award winning Belizean eco-lodge Chaa Creek’s website.

Serves 6.

Ingredients

To cook the beans
1 lb dried black or red beans
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled but lightly crushed
2 bayleaves
1 sprig thyme
salt to taste

To fry the beans
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
a little powdered cumin (optional)
handful chopped coriander (optional)

Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Next morning, drain the beans in a colander, rinse them and tip them into a deep lidded pot. Add enough fresh cold water to cover the beans adding an additional 1cm of water on top.

Add the flavouring ingredients except the salt and bring the beans to the boil leaving the lid off the pan as otherwise it will boil over. Skim off the scum, turn down to a very gentle simmer and cover the pan. Check the beans after 30 minutes – add salt as soon as the beans are nearly cooked through. Simmer until the beans are nice and soft but not too mushy. This might take anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour or longer depending on your batch of beans and how long they’ve soaked for. Don’t taste the beans until they gave boiled for at least 20 minutes as they are mildly toxic until cooked through. Remove the flavouring ingredients using a slotted spoon and leave the beans in their cooking liquid until you’re ready to fry. You can fry the beans straightaway or, once cooled, store them covered in their liquid in the fridge for a couple of days.

When you’re ready to fry, choose a heavy based deep wide sauté or frying pan and heat the vegetable oil until medium hot. Add the chopped onions and cook until soft and just turning golden. Throw in the garlic and cook for a minute or so more until just beginning to brown but not burn. Add a couple of ladlefuls of beans and their cooking liquid to the frying pan, turn down the heat to low and cook the beans and associated liquid mashing them into the base of a pan with your wooden spoon or a potato masher. Once each ladleful of beans is mashed and heated, add the next. Add more bean cooking liquid as required to form a thick paste. It won’t look too pretty – a thick, grey sludgy paste, but it will taste good. Taste and season with salt and pepper and, if using, ground cumin. Scatter over the optional chopped coriander and serve.

Recipe for Belizean fry jacks

Adapted from an authentic fry jacks recipe from the blog “Rice and Beans A Belizean in the USA”

Ingredients

1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1 and 1/2 cups white flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
about 3/4 cup of water

Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the vegetable oil and, using your hands, work the oil into the flour until you have little pebbles of oil saturated dough evenly distributed throughout the flour.

Make a well in the mixture and pour in the water a little at a time, using your other hand to stir the flour into the water in the centre of your pile. Keep adding the water and mixing it in a little at a time until you have formed the entire pile of flour into a rough ball of slightly sticky dough. You may need a little less water than specified in the list of ingredients.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and stretchy. Then roll it out into a snake shape and cut it into 8 equal sized pieces. Take each piece and roll it into a ball. Cover and leave the balls to rest on a lightly floured surface for at least 30 minutes.

Next, prepare to deep fry the fry jacks. I used an electric deep fat fryer and my chosen cooking oil was rapeseed (canola). Heat the oil until really hot. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop in a small scrap of dough. If it sizzles but doesn’t smoke, the oil is the right temperature.

Take one of the dough balls and roll or pat it out into a circle, about 6 inches across. Take a knife or pizza cutter and cut the circle into four pieces. Once your oil is hot, drop several fry jacks into the pan. I managed to cook four at once without overcrowding. The fry jacks first sink then quickly rise to the surface of the oil. After 20-30 seconds, check to see if the sides in the oil have browned. If so, flip the fry jacks over with a pair of tongs fork and let the other side cook. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Eat immediately.

Belarusian breakfast

June 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

The latest in the series making up our Breakfasts of the World project.

What an anonymous and grim-sounding place Belarus is. It’s a landlocked country nestling between Poland and Russia which declared independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. The landscape is largely flat, marshy and forested and thanks to this and the Soviet legacy its economy is dominated by agriculture and manufacturing.

Whilst researching Belarus and its food I was amused to come across Alby’s travel blog documenting the all-action Italian’s trip there in 2005:

“It’s difficult to give impressions about Belarus. From a certain point of view travelling here it’s nice: no hassle with the policemen and it’s quite safe, but on the opposite the landscape is monotonous and there’re not highlights enough to justify the trip. In addition the food doesn’t help, since it really sucks, but what can push you there is the possibility of a off-of-the-beaten-track travel in a country almost under a dictator that today turns out the most isolated in Europe.”

The dictator he refers to is Alexander Lukashenko who has held the presidency since 1994. Although not at the forefront of news stories, various European countries have imposed economic sanctions as a response to Mr Lukashenko’s authoritarian rule. Things may be changing – there are very recent BBC news reports of protestors defying the ban on public demonstrations in Minsk and making silent, peaceful protests. Something to watch as well as the higher news profile Arab Spring/Summer stories.

Perhaps understandably given travel blogger Alby’s view of the food he ate on his trip, descriptions of Belarusian food are few and far between on the web or from other sources. I did come across this little snippet from an unknown author on http://www.mapsofworld.com/belarus/society-and-culture/

“Belarusian cuisine mostly comprises of meats, vegetables and breads. The staple food of Belarus includes pork, potatoes, cabbages and bread. The diet of a typical Belarusian includes a very light breakfast with two heavy meals and the dinner becomes the largest meal of the day. Both wheat and rye breads are consumed in Belarus society and culture. Drinks are also a very popular part of the culture and society of Belarus.”

So, not much to go on. I decided a light breakfast might mean a cup of tea and a piece of rye bread. So far so good as, thanks to last year’s baking course at Welbeck, homemade 100% rye sourdough is now a regular feature of the breakfast table. It doesn’t appeal to everyone but I enjoy its dense, dark sourness. Rye bread takes well to the addition of fruit and,on a whim, I threw a handful of dried apricots into this particular loaf:

Surely that can’t be it though? I had another hunt around for Belarusian recipes and came up with Draniki, a fried potato pancake which is the de facto national dish of Belarus. I don’t know if draniki are eaten for breakfast in Belarus but that’s how we chose to eat them, with the addition of sour cream and smoked salmon as an atypical decadent touch:

The Draniki turned out pretty well and reminded me of Jewish latkes:

In fact, looking through a few recipes for latkes now, I see that the list of ingredients and the method are practically identical. In common with many simple, traditional recipes, it seems that each person has there own way of making draniki. Some say no flour, some say a little; some grate the potato very finely almost to a purée, some have more distinct potato pieces. The draniki recipe I give below is the one that I used having looked at a number of different Belarusian recipes. What’s important is to get the grated potato as dry as you can by draining off the excess water.

If emerging Belarusian tennis star Victoria Azarenka breakfasts like this today she’ll certainly power through her match to make it the Wimbledon semi finals – I’ll be watching later…

Recipe for draniki

Makes 8-10 individual pancakes serving 4 people in a modest way

Ingredients

6 medium potatoes
1 onion
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons flour
flavourless vegetable oil for frying

Grate the potatoes finely into a bowl. Drain off excess water, pressing with kitchen roll to absorb more liquid if necessary. Finely chop the onion and add to the bowl. Add the beaten egg, flour and seasoning to the bowl and stir together vigorously with a wooden spoon to make a thick batter.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan until hot but not smoking. Drop in spoonfuls of batter which will form thick round pancakes. Fry until golden brown then flip over and fry on the other side. Drain on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil and serve.

Recipe for rye bread

You can find this in a previous post here

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