14 Jul 2013

Easy Bread Rolls - Recipe

I didn't make these bread rolls today for many reasons - it's too hot and I no longer have a kitchen. The fitters come on Monday to fit my new kitchen, we are also having a new boiler which means a few difficult days.  It's a great excuse to eat out but I'm sure I'll soon want to cook again.  I've chosen some appliances that are going to take me a few weeks to get used to and at the moment I'm not sure when cooking will resume.

Choosing a kitchen and appliances has taken months and at last the day of the refit is about to arrive. I've learnt a lot over the last six months about appliances and the process of choosing a kitchen and interestingly I couldn't find all of the help I needed on the internet.

The dough balls before I put them into the airing cupboard to rise.
 I always flour my trays instead of greasing them.
I weighed out each piece of dough but somehow they didn't rise evenly.
Even the poppy seeds didn't want to stick evenly to the risen dough.
The rolls are made with an enriched dough which is milk and egg mixed together instead of the usual water.  Easy and straight forward to make and they freeze too.

Makes: 12 bread rolls

450g strong plain flour
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp caster sugar
7g easy blend dried yeast
55g butter
1 egg beaten
250ml warm milk
Seeds or a dusting of flour to decorate

1. Flour two baking trays.  Into the bowl of the mixer add the flour, salt, sugar and yeast.  Rub in the butter.  Place the bowl under the dough hook of the mixer and pour in most of the milk and egg to make a soft dough.  On a low setting let the mixer do it's work for 8-10 minutes.
2. Spread a film of vegetable oil over the dough and cover the bowl with a greased piece of clingwrap.  Place in the airing cupboard until doubled in size.
3. Remove the cling wrap and return the bowl to the mixer - let the dough hook knock back the dough on low for a couple of minutes.
4. Turn the dough onto a greased board and divide into 12 even pieces.
5. Take a piece of dough and place under the palm of your hand and move your hand around in a circle until you have a dough ball.  There is a full explanation of 'How to shape bread rolls' on the Baking Mad website.
6. Take a floured baking tray and place six dough balls on each tray.  Cover with greased cling wrap and leave to rise until doubled in size.
7. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
8. Brush the tops of the rolls with the retained milk and egg mix and sprinkle with seeds or flour the tops.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
The floury rolls had the best rise and the flour keeps the dough crust soft

9 Jul 2013

Whirlpool Max 35 Microwave/Steamer - Recipes

I reviewed the cool Zesty Orange Whirlpool Max 35 Microwave/Steamer in my previous posting and this follow-up posting gives an idea of how I use the Steam function.

I have tested some of the recipes from the Whirlpool website using the Steam function setting which has four levels from 1-4, these are Level 1 for potatoes/root vegetables, Level 2 - soft vegetables, Level 3 - frozen vegetables and Level 4 - fish fillets.  The steam function works by pressing the +/- button to set the weight of the food.
Warm potato salad with goats cheese
The unpeeled potatoes are cut into even size pieces to ensure they all cook at the same time. A mustard, herb and balsamic dressing is poured over the warm potatoes, the potatoes then absorb the dressing. Rocket, creamy goats cheese and cherry tomatoes are the finishing touches to the dish. The salad is a winner and I steamed a couple of salmon steaks to go alongside. Cooking potatoes in the steamer is quick and easy and the ones in the photograph took approximately 7 minutes to cook on setting 1.
Broccoli Soup
I adapted the Broccoli Soup recipe slightly by substituting most of the vegetable stock with milk to make a creamier soup.  The broccoli was cooked for 6 minutes on setting 2.

The spacious steamer 
Cooked Spiced Plums in Port
The delicious Spiced Plums in Port recipe takes only 4 minutes to cook on Steam level 2.  

The plums are sprinkled with port, orange juice, cloves, mixed spice, caster sugar and cinnamon
 prior to steaming 
Juicy Sweetcorn Cobs 
To steam sweetcorn cobs all you have to do is press the steam button and set level 1, the next step is to press the +/- button to set the weight - it's that easy, and in next to no time you have lovely sweet, tender sweetcorn.

For more Whirlpool Max 35 Microwave/Steamer recipes and information please visit Whirlpool.co.uk

Coming up soon:  See the microwave in my new kitchen!

7 Jul 2013

Whirlpool Max 35 Microwave/Steamer: Review

I recently received a fabulous Whirlpool Max 35 Microwave/Steamer to review. The product has a retro appearance and is available in trendy bold colours.  I chose Zesty Orange to add a splash of colour to my newly planned kitchen.  My new kitchen has been designed to have a free standing microwave to fit in a corner and this microwave is rounded at the back to fit neatly into the corner of the kitchen.

The stand out features are Whirlpool's patented microwave distribution system which ensures perfectly uniform cooking by emitting microwaves three dimensionally instead of uni-directionally so food cooks faster and more evenly.

Features a glass turntable for even cooking/steaming/defrosting
There are many useful features including:
- Touch control panel at the base of the microwave
- Turntable diameter 28cm
- Capacity 13 litres
- Internal cavity height 17cm
- Maximum power 700 watts
- Internal light
- Jet Start: Maximum power level for quick reheating of liquids
- Jet Defrost: Unique 3D distribution system for fast even defrosting. This function will quickly defrost meat, poultry and fish by weight between 100g to 1.5kg.
- Cooking and reheating with microwaves only: Four power levels, 160w, 350w, 500w 700w.
- Steamer: Steaming by weight from 150g to 500g.  There are four steaming levels 1-4 and a quick reference guide is conveniently placed on the inside of the microwave.
- Microwave: It is possible to cook or reheat using this function with four power levels 160w, 350w, 500w, 700w.
- Memory: Easy to store the setting you use the most
- Pause or Stop Cooking: Setting can be maintained for 5 minutes
- 24 Hour Clock: Large clear illuminated display
- Kitchen Timer: Can be used instead of a separate kitchen timer

The steamer supplied with the microwave oven.
 Water is put into the base, food in the steamer basket and then place the lid on top.
There are a variety of functions and I use the majority of them on a weekly basis. I've been using the microwave daily for a few weeks now and I am very pleased with the way it performs.  The touch controls are easy to use and I like the fact that there aren't any buttons to press. After only a week using the microwave we really did become the best of friends. Highlights are the Jet Defrost and also the Steamer features both of which work so speedily and evenly it's impossible not to be impressed.  The microwave is user friendly and it takes no time at all to become familiar with it's functionality.

Steamed potatoes take only a few minutes to cook.
Steamer: I've steamed carrots either diced or in batons (new seasons carrots steamed are fabulous), new potatoes, broccoli, fresh sweetcorn, plums and salmon fillets are some of the foods I have steamed and tested. Although my potatoes cooked perfectly, a few of them looked a little dry after steaming but I turned them out into the liquid in the base of the steamer and then returned them to the steamer basket to drain and their appearance improved, or if you are feeling indulgent dot cubes of butter over the potatoes and they will be amazing. Sweetcorn cobs cooked in the steamer are a revelation, they stay sweet, crisp and retain all of their taste.  Everything needs to be cut the same size for even steaming results, ripe plums will give the best result and salmon fillets of even thickness will cook evenly.

Jet Defrost:  It is easy to use the touch control function - you simply press the Jet Defrost button until it displays the correct weight, a turn food symbol appears on the display part way through defrosting.  It is also possible to increase or decrease the defrost time.

Sometimes I can't decide what to make for dinner, I look in the freezer and then realise I have left it too late to defrost anything, this scenario is now a thing of the past and today I defrosted a couple of chicken legs in approximately 7 minutes. The Jet Defrost will for example defrost 500g mince beef evenly in only 5 minutes. I like to double up on recipes such as shepherds pie, lasagna or fish pie and often make one for now and freeze one for a rainy day.  Instead of leaving frozen goods out in a warm kitchen to thaw the microwave will defrost them in next to no time. I often use the Jet Defrost function and I am in awe of how quick and evenly foods defrost.

Perfectly defrosted home made bread.
700w - for liquids, making a cup of coffee, reheating a bowl of soup or warming a bowl of breakfast cereal.
500w - to part cook two jacket potatoes it takes 20 to 30 minutes, according to size, (don't forget to pierce them or they will explode!) then pop into a high heat oven to crisp and finish cooking.  To extract as much juice as possible from lemons, pierce the lemon with a knife and place on the turntable for 20 seconds. I also use this power level to reheat cooked vegetables.
350w - this setting is useful to reheat casseroles slowly.
160w - defrost bread rolls, slices of bread, defrost and refresh home made bread which has previously been frozen.  A tip here is to defrost bread on a piece of kitchen towel which absorbs any moisture. A useful setting for gently warming bread rolls too. Melt chocolate gently and use to thaw ice cream to a soft scoop consistency. This setting is particularly useful for defrosting home made muffins!

The +/- gives flexibility to all of the programmes.

Cleaning:  The microwave and the streamline door are easy clean, although I've noticed neither get dirty.

Door:  There is a door grip on the side of the microwave.

- Bold trendy colours or classic colours to choose from
- Unique Jet Defrost is astonishingly quick - 5 minutes to defrost 500g mince beef!
- Steamer function is quick and efficient
- Steamer supplied
- Even heat distribution
- Turntable
- Touch Control
- Interior Cavity Light
- Audible bleep is loud
- Digital clock/timer the figures are large, well lit and can be seen at a distance
- User friendly
- Well made
- Easy to follow Quick Reference Guide supplied

- The microwave is tall and measures 36cm
- When you open the oven door the microwave can move (we have rectified this by placing a piece of twin stick tape under two of the feet at the front)
- Internal cavity height may be a problem if you wish to use large jugs or containers

Summary:  I am delighted with the microwave, not only does it look great, it works speedily and efficiently too.

For more details please visit Whirlpool - the microwave is priced at £160.

Thank you to Whirlpool for the review sample.

Coming Up: Whirlpool Max 35 Microwave/Steamer - Recipes.

6 Jul 2013

Strawberry Meringue Slice: Recipe

Strawberries dipped in chocolate
I love strawberries dipped in chocolate, I also love looking at them sitting on a cloud of meringue and cream. Sunshine, the odd glass of bubbly, a BBQ and the perfect dessert to end a meal......happy:)
Halved strawberries dusted with icing sugar are perfect too.
For the meringue:
4 large egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
225g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

For the filling:
284ml pot double cream
225g strawberries

You will need:  Large baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

1. Preheat oven to 140°C.
2. Place the egg whites in a bowl with the cream of tartar and whisk until they hold their shape and soft peaks are formed. Add the sugar a teaspoon at a time and whisk until the meringue is thick and glossy. Whisk in the cornflour and vinegar.
3. Take a few blobs of meringue and place these on the four corners of the baking sheet,these will act as glue, now place the baking parchment on top. Spread the meringue mixture out to a rectangle approx 27cm x 17cm. Bake for 1 hour until crisp on top. Remove from the oven. Leave to cool completely before removing the paper from the base and transferring onto a plate.
4. Whip the cream to soft peaks and spread over the meringue.
5. Dip a few strawberries into melted chocolate and leave to set on parchment paper. Decorate the meringue slice as you wish.

Freshly picked from my garden
More berry meringue recipes:

Strawberry & Redcurrant Pavlova
Chocolate & Vanilla Berry Pavlova
Berry Meringue

2 Jul 2013

Cheese, Mustard and Poppy Seed Plait - Recipe

This crusty bread goes well with soup, it is fabulous toasted and topped with grilled cheese and tomatoes or with a wedge of cheese and a few grapes, better still a ploughman's lunch.  What more can you ask from a slice of bread. It freezes perfectly too....

I didn't make the bread by hand and get into a sweaty mess using muscles that need a workout (although the bingo wings would be grateful), I have no aggression to rid myself of,  I always use the dough hook on the mixer and am more than happy to see it doing the work rather than me.

The liquid used is milk which makes a very tender crumb, mustard powder from the store cupboard and a piece of cheddar cheese which most of have in the fridge.

You will need: 

450g strong plain white flour
1½ tsp salt
25g butter
7g easy blend dried yeast
85g strong mature cheddar cheese, grated
2 tsp mustard powder
freshly ground black pepper
300ml milk warmed until tepid
Poppy seeds
Olive Oil

1.   Flour a baking tray.
2.   Into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer sift the flour and salt. Add the butter and let the beater rub this into the dry mixture. Add the yeast, cheese, mustard powder and black pepper to the bowl.
3.   Place the dough hook onto the mixer, pour in most of the milk and mix on low until a soft dough forms, adding more of the milk if necessary to achieve a soft dough.
4.   Turn the mixer to medium speed and knead for about 10 minutes.
5.   Pour some olive oil onto your hand and spread over the dough.
6.   Cover the bowl with cling film and leave until doubled in size.
7.   Knock the dough back with the dough hook and set on low to knead for 3 minutes.
8.   Remove the dough from the mixer, divide into two equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long sausage.  Plait the two pieces of dough together, pinch the dough together at both ends, tuck under the plait.
9.  Place the plait onto the floured baking sheet, cover with a piece of oiled baking parchment.  Leave to double in size about 30 minutes.
10. Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Brush the plait with some milk and sprinkle over the poppy seeds. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the bread is a deep golden brown.

More bread recipes:
Walnut & Rosemary Focaccia
Sunflower and Honey Flowerpot Bread
Sunburst Rolls