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avocado lime and coriander dip

My glut crop at the moment is coriander.  In a few weeks time it will all go to seed.  Babies planted now will hardly leaf up before running to seed.  So now’s the time to make the most of it.  If you click “coriander” in the list in the right margin, you’ll find that I seem to have quite a few recipes with it.  It’s one of those flavours you either love or hat.  In one of those serendipities so common with food, avocado, limes and coriander are all in season together.

The dip is really simple – just avocado blended with lots of coriander leaf (more than you would think) and lime juice and salt to taste (not too much of either).

The chips though are a really good invention.  They don’t have much oil in them, and you can use monounsaturated olive oil and avoid the horrible transfats in bought chips.

Baked Sourdough Corn Chips

Mix equal amounts of sourdough starter with dry polenta.

Let it sit for half an hour or more for the polenta to fully soak.  Then add:

  • A good pinch of salt
  • A handful of grated parmesan
  • A few spoonfuls of olive oil
  • Enough bakers’ flour to make a soft dough (it won’t need much).

Knead briefly, then cover with a clean cloth and let it sit for a few hours for the sourdough to develop.

Flour the benchtop and a rolling pin and roll the dough out very thin.  Place on an oiled biscuit tray and trim to fit, then score into triangles.

Bake for about 20 minutes in a medium hot oven till the chips are just golden.  Watch carefully at the end because they burn fast.

They will keep for a while in an airtight jar.

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I’m very proud of my sourdough these days. I’m making an eleven grain and seed mix that costs cents, takes minutes, and tastes good enough that I’m making it twice a week most weeks with little incentive to experiment.

Here it is in pictures.

First the starter, taken out of the fridge before I go to bed and fed with a mug of baker’s flour mixed with a mug of water.  A cup and a half of it put back in a jar with a loosely fitting lid in the fridge.  The rest (about a cup and a half full) left in a bowl covered with a tea towel on the bench overnight.

Then the uncooked mix.  In the morning, add a handful each of rolled triticale, rolled oats, oat bran, crushed linseeds, crushed pepitas, and rye flour.  Stir in and let soak.

Then the porridge mix.  While I move around making cofee, getting dressed, eating breakfast, I cook up a bread porridge. It starts with a handful of pearled barley, a handful of buckwheat, and a handful of millet, and a good teaspoon of salt. When they have had 5 minutes or so of boiling head start, I add a handful of quinoa and a handful of oat groats. I cook until the grains are just cooked and the water all absorbed, trying to stir as little as possible and being careful not to overcook.  I want the grains distinct, not mush. I turn it off an let it cool for a few minutes.

Then I make the bread dough.  Stir the porridge into the starter mix, stir in a couple of handfuls of wholemeal wheat flour, then tip the shaggy dough mix out onto the well floured benchtop.  I knead in enough unbleached baker’s flour (high gluten flour) to make a smooth dough.  It varies depending on how wet the porridge mix is and how generous I was with handfuls, but generally it’s about a cup to a cup and a half of baker’s flour.  I put a slurp of oil in a bowl, roll the dough round in it, then leave to sit on the kitchen bench, covered with a cloth, for the day.  (in summer with ants around I have to set the whole lot in a pie dish full of water).

By the time I get home in the afternoon, the dough is like this. On a warm day, it only takes about 4 hours really, a bit longer if my starter hadn’t been fed for a few days. The next bit really depends on the temperature. In winter, I used to give the dough a quick knead, roll the top of the log of dough in sesame seeds (they don’t stick if you just sprinkle them), put it into an oiled bread tin, and slash the top.  Then leave it covered on the benchtop again and hope it rose enough to bake at 7 pm, to be out of the oven before I turn into a pumpkin at 8 pm.  But lately, with the warm weather, I’ve been putting it in the fridge to slow it down and get a more even second rise.  If it rises too fast, the texture is uneven with crumbly bits in the middle.  If it rises too slow, the sourness develops.  About an hour and a half to double in size is perfect.  Then I put it into a cold oven, set to medium, and bake for around an hour till it sounds hollow when knocked.

It’s really good as toast with avocado and tomato, or as a sandwich with hummus and lettuce and tomato, or…

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Sourdough naan are superfast and easy, except that, like all sourdoughs, you have to think ahead.  If I think to feed the culture the night before, and spend 5 minutes making the dough in the morning, I can make naan to go with dinner just by multitasking while dinner is cooking.  And fresh, hot, soft naan turn a curry or a stew into something special.

The Recipe:

Makes 10

Step One:

Put 1½ cups of fed sourdough starter in a bowl and leave, covered, on the benchtop overnight.

Step Two:

Then add:

  • 2 big dessertspoons of low fat Greek yoghurt
  • 2 dessertspoons of oil – I use macadamia oil or olive oil
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 cups of baker’s flour. (I haven’t tried wholemeal naan. I use the Lauke Wallaby brand baker’s flour I can get from my local supermarket.)

Tip more baker’s flour on the benchtop, and knead for just a few minutes to get a smooth, not sticky dough.

Put a swig of oil in a bowl, and swish the dough around in it to cover, and leave it to prove in a warmish spot for another 8 hours or so.

Step Three:

Flour the benchtop and knead the dough briefly, then divide up into 10 little balls.  Roll each of the balls out into an oblong pancake about 1 cm thick.  Cover with a cloth and leave to prove for another half to one hour.  If you have floured the benchtop well, they won’t stick.

Cooking:

Heat a heavy frypan up till it is quite hot.  Put the naan in the dry pan and cook for just a couple of minutes on each side till it is puffed up and has golden brown spots where it has touched the pan. Wrap each one in a clean teatowel to keep warm as you make them. Perfect for soaking up curry or stew.

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Sunday morning breakfast is my favourite kind of party.  I turn into a pumpkin at about 8 pm, making me useless for evening parties, but a fine warm lazy Sunday, good friends, music, coffee and chai, and I’m happy.

Breakfast parties are easy to cater for too.  Often people bring a treat like fruit or homemade jam or a cake or bread.  I make something savory – a quiche or spinach and feta pie or a tart – and something sweet like pancakes or fruit bread. Fruit salad and yoghurt.  And this time, sourdough croissants.

The Recipe:

Makes about 36 mini croissants.

You need to start the day before the party.

Stage 1 – the basic dough:

Feed your sourdough starter and leave 3 cups of fed starter in a covered bowl on the bench overnight.

In the morning, mix in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1½ cups of bakers flour.

Flour the benchtop well and tip the dough out onto it.  Have another cup of bakers flour ready and knead in as much as you need to create a smooth, springy dough.

Put a good dollop of a mild flavoured oil (I use macadamia oil) in a bowl, swirl the dough around to coat, and leave it covered in a warm spot for the day.

Stage 2: Adding the butter

Croissants have lots of butter. For this size batch, you need about 200 grams of cold butter. It is important that it is cold.  I tried making croissants for Christmas Day breakfast last year, and with so much in and out of the fridge, the butter was soft.  They turned out like biscuits!

Flour the benchtop well and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it is a big rectangle about 1.5 cm thick. Cover (more or less) half of the dough sheet with thin sheets of cold butter.  My grater has one side that is perfect for grating off wide thin sheets of butter.

Fold the dough over the butter, then cover half the new rectangle with shaved butter too.

Fold the dough over the butter again, and do it one more time.

Fold the dough over the butter again, then roll it out to 1.5 cm thick again.

Now repeat the whole process, shaving butter over half the rectanglfe of dough, folding, more butter, fold, more butter, fold, roll out to 1.5 cm.

Stage 3: Cutting and Rolling

Cut the dough into isosceles triangles – that is, triangles with one short side and two long sides.  Roll them up from the short side towards the point, then curl the two corners back to make the crescent shape.

Put all the croissants on greased baking sheets with a bit of space between them.  I fit 8 on a cookie sheet.  Cover and leave them out on the benchtop overnight to prove.  A cool night is best – you don’t want the butter to melt.  If you are trying to make them in summer, you might have to find space in the fridge.

In the morning they should be plump and smooth.

Stage 4: Baking

Brush with beaten egg and bake in a hot oven for around 15 minutes till they are just golden and crisp.

Serve with lemon curd or chocolate sauce or homemade jam or not-jam or just as they are.

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I’m not sure what this is called. I tried to look it up – I’m sure there must be some traditional bread on this kind of recipe – it’s such an obvious Spring excesses recipe. I think Bulgarian Kolach uses these ideas but in a neater way!

What I have is a unbleached sourdough enriched with eggs and yoghurt, baked free form with poppy seeds on top. It’s crusty, rustic, moist and dense and toasts magnificently.  My everyday bread is much heavier wholegrain, but this made a wonderful Father’s Day breakfast under Lemony Mushrooms and Spinach with 2 Minute Hollandaise.

The Recipe:

Step One:

Put 1½ cups of fed sourdough starter in a bowl and leave, covered, on the benchtop for around 8 hours.

Step Two:

Then add:

  • 2 big dessertspoons of low fat Greek yoghurt
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1½ cups of baker’s flour

Tip more baker’s flour on the benchtop, and knead for just a few minutes to get a smooth, not sticky dough.

Put a swig of oil in a bowl, and swish the dough around in it to cover, and leave it to prove in a warmish spot for another 8 hours or so.

Step Three:

I figured the sourdough bugs would have enough to do rising the bread with eggs and yoghurt in it without salt as well, so I held the salt to add late.

Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt on the benchtop and tip the dough onto it.  Knead in the salt, adding flour as you need to to stop it becoming sticky (but if you make it too dry the poppy seeds won’t stick). Sprinkle a good dessertspoon of poppy seeds on the bench top and roll the dough ball in them till they are well stuck.

I just put the dough ball, seedy side up, on a pizza tray.  Because I didn’t slash the top, it developed the moonscape texture, but I quite like that. I brushed the top with a bit of milk to glaze.

Leave, covered, in a warmish place for another hour or so, until it is well risen, then put in a cold oven set to medium.

Bake for around 50 minutes till the crust is golden and it sounds hollow when knocked.

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I don’t usually do white bread, but, in the interests of science 😉 I made the first loaf out of my new Römertopf pan a white bread with the idea of seeing if I could reproduce Celia’s Römertopf White Sourdough Loaf.

And it was supurb.

I took it warm down to the “morning after” party after our winter solstice celebration last weekend, and it disappeared in a thrice.

But, for someone who believes so much in science, I’m not very good at it.  You couldn’t say it was an exact reproduction.  I didn’t want to make a huge loaf, so I reduced all the proportions. This is my version of Celia’s version of Joanna’s white bread formula.

The Recipe:

Step One:

Put 1½ cups of fed sourdough starter in a bowl and leave, covered, on the benchtop for around 8 hours.

Step Two:

Then add:

  • About 3 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 scant teaspoon of salt
  • 1 good teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1½ cups of baker’s flour.

Tip another half a cup of baker’s flour on the benchtop, and knead briefly to get a smooth, not sticky dough.

Put a little swig of olive oil in a bowl, and swish the dough around in it to cover, and leave it to prove in a warmish spot for another 8 hours or so.

Step Three:

Flour the benchtop again and knead the dough very briefly again, then put it in the oiled Römertopf pan. Slash the top with a sharp knife and leave, covered, in a warmish place for another hour or so, until it is well risen (about double in size).

Put the pan of bread dough in the kitchen sink and (carfully, so as not to wet the dough) fill the sink with hot water up to the lip.  My hot water out of the tap (from our solar hot water system), this time of year  is hot but not boiling. You can put your hand in it.

Leave to soak for 10 minutes, then put the pan in a cold oven and turn the oven on.  My gas oven is antique and the temperature is unreliable, but you don’t want it too hot – my second go at baking it in my mother’s modern oven was too hot and it cooked too quickly, resulting in a doughy middle.

This one though cooked perfectly in 40 minutes, coming out with a thin crisp crust and a lovely texture.  Not marshmallow soft like bought white bread but light and dense at the same time. Perfect  for the morning after the party warm from the oven with butter and honey and good coffee. Yum.

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This is probably a contradiction in terms.  Ribbolita is at its best the next day.  But it is such a good winter warmer, such a hearty, filling, healthy, cheap mid-winter vego meal, that I needed to rise to the challenge of making it make-able mid-week.

There is one cheat in it, and you need a pressure cooker for the cheat. I use dried beans, not canned beans, so they have to be pre-soaked. My homegrown Blue Lake substitute well for the cannellini beans that are traditional in this recipe, and if I remember to put them in water to soak before I leave in the morning, the rest comes together in half an hour, including vegetable stock from scratch.  If you use cooked beans and pre-made stock, it can be made in minutes.

The recipe is versatile – there’s lots of varieties and substitutions you could make.  The essence is a winter vegetable and bean soup thickened with sourdough bread.

The Recipe:

Makes about 4 good sized serves.  The leftovers are even better the next day.

Soak half a cup of cannellini beans (or substitute another bean) in water for the day.

The Stock

In a pressure cooker over a high heat, fry in a little olive oil:

  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • a cup of diced pumpkin

As soon as they start to get a little colour, add

  • the stems from a bunch of parsley, chopped
  • the leaves from about 6 small stems of celery, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • a good pinch of salt
  • grinding of black pepper
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 5 cups of water

Drain the beans and put them in the little colander that goes in the pressure cooker.  If you put that in the pressure cooker, the beans should be submerged in the stock. They can cook along with the stock but be separated easily at the end.

Put the lid on and pressure cook for 8 to 15 minutes till the beans are soft.  My homegrown Blue Lakes cook in just 8 minutes, but the older and harder your beans are, the longer they will take.

The Soup:

While the stock and beans are cooking, in another pot, fry in a little olive oil:

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 6 stems of celery, finely diced
  • 6 leaves of cavolo nero kale

As soon as they get a bit of colour, add a cup of water and simmer gently while the stock and beans are cooking.

Assembling:

Carefully take the little colander of beans out of the pressure cooker.  Check they are cooked and add to the soup. Strain the rest of the stock, pressing down with a potato masher to squeeze out the juices.  Discard the vegetables. (I know, it seems like a waste, but they were mostly trimmings anyway and everything except the fibre is now in the stock, and this soup has plenty of fibre.)

Now you have a choice.  You can just tear three thick slices of sourdough bread – about 2 cups worth of  bread – into little bits and put them in the bottom of the bowls, for serving the soup over, or you can blend the bread into the stock.  I like the latter, but I like thick creamy soups.

So my method is to pour the stock into a blender or food processor with the bread.  Blend till smooth and pour into the soup. Stir in a handful of chopped parsley.

You should have a very thick hearty vegetable and bean soup.  Heat it all back up, stirring as it will stick and burn on the bottom easily after the bread has been added.

Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. I like to add a couple of teaspoons of soy sauce just to give it a bit more depth.

Serve with a good grating of parmesan on top.

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I have a new favourite bread.  This one is sooo good I’ve made it half a dozen times over now. My last favourite was Seedy Sourdough Crispbread, and it’s still up there – I’ve been making a batch most weekends – but this dense, malty, well-textured, chocolatey rye bread is totally addictive.

The Recipe:

The method is the same as the one I use for my Oat and Linseed Sourdough and Barley Bread. I’ve tried a lot of different timings, but this works so well around a workday that making bread routinely doesn’t feel at all like a chore.

Before I go to bed:

  • Take the sourdough starter out of the fridge.
  • Mix 1 ¼ cups of unbleached bakers flour, 1¼ cups of water, and 1¼ cups of starter.  (I use my tank water, which has no chlorine or additives in it).
  • Put half of it back in the jar in the fridge.  You should be left with 1½ cups of fed starter, to put in a bowl covered with a clean cloth on the kitchen bench for the night. By morning it should be frothy.

Next morning:

Mix into the 1½ cups of fed starter:

  • 2 dessertspoons (1½ US tablespoons) treacle
  • 2 dessertspoons (1½ US tablespoons) macadamia (or other nut) oil
  • 1 big dessertspoon (¾ US tablespoon) cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 cups organic wholemeal rye flour
  • ½ cup wholemeal wheat flour

Pour another ½ cup wholemeal wheat flour on the bench and knead the dough briefly, until it is smooth and springy.  I am time-poor enough that I just don’t do long kneading, but I’m learning to re-vision kneading as my regular tuck-shop lady arms avoidance exercise, so I actually like a bit of bread dough bashing.

Put a good dollop of macadamia (or other nut) oil in a large bowl, swirl the dough ball around in it to coat, cover the bowl with a clean cloth, and leave out on the benchtop for the day to prove. On cold days, I try to find a warm spot for it.

When I get home at 5.30

The dough doesn’t rise as much as wheat bread, but it will still rise to double the size it was when I left.  I tip it out onto the benchtop (it’s already oily so no need to flour) and knead very briefly – a minute or so – then put it in a oiled baking tin. The tin I use is a small bread tin. Slash the top with a sharp knife, cover with the clean cloth again and leave again.

At 7.30

The bread will have doubled in size again.  I’ve baked it a few different ways. It’s nicest without a crusty crust. The best result was in my slow combustion wood oven,  with a tray of boiling water in the bottom of the oven, baked for around 30 minutes.  The oven was well and truly heated up, but slow combustions have a very even, mellow heat. I’ve also baked it in the gas oven, putting it into a cold oven turned to high, and baking for around 40 minutes, with a tray of boiling water added about half way through.

It is done when it feels firm and sounds hollow when tapped.

PS. I baked it again this weekend, but away from home, and discovered that in a fan-forced electric oven, it needs to be cooked at a medium low temperature.  I set it too high, and the middle was still doughy when the crust was getting too crisp.

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I think there’s only one trick to pita bread.  The oven has to be really really hot. Really.

If you have an oven that will heat up to that kind of temperature without a ridiculous waste of energy, they’re fantastically easy and fast – not much preparation and less than 5 minutes to cook – and really delicious with dips or soup, or filled with salad or felafel,  or halved and used as wraps with lunch fillings.

My gas oven is antique, and it doesn’t readily get up to the 250°C  or 500°F  you need to make the pita puff up and create a pocket.  The slow combustion stove probably would get up there eventually. Luckily for me, we have a beautiful Japanese Kamado charcoal barbeque that does it beautifully, and at the same time is perfect for charring eggplants and capsicums to go with the pita. I have a little stovetop camping oven that will do it too. It will only cook one at a time, but since they’re so fast that’s ok.

The Recipe:

Makes 6.

Start the night before with feeding your sourdough starter:

To feed the starter, I take mine out of the fridge the night before, and mix

  • 1 ¼ cups of unbleached bakers flour,
  • 1 ¼ cups of water, and
  • 1 ¼ cups of starter.

Put half of it back in the jar in the fridge.  I am left with 1½ cups of fed starter, to put in a bowl covered with a clean cloth on the kitchen bench for the night. By morning it should be frothy and alive looking.

In the morning:

Mix

  • 1 ½ cups of fed sourdough starter
  • 1 cup of wholemeal plain flour
  • ½ cup of bakers flour
  • teaspoon of salt

Tip another half a cup of bakers flour on the bench and knead briefly. Oil a bowl and swirl the dough ball round in it to coat, and leave it sitting, covered with a clean tea towel, for a few hours to rise.  How long will depend on how vigorous your starter is and how warm the day is. To speed it up, I put it out on the verandah table in the sun or on the shelf above the slow combustion stove.

Prove the Dough

After a few hours, the dough will be doubled in size and springy.  Divide into 6 balls, flour your benchtop, and use a floured rolling pin to roll the balls out into an oblong shape about 5mm thick.  Cover with the tea towel again and allow to prove for an hour or so. (That’s where I was up to in the picture).

Cooking

Heat your oven up to very hot – 250°C  or 500°F.  Put lightly oiled baking trays in to heat up too.

Cook the pita for just 2 to 3 minutes till they are puffed out and just starting to colour.

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