Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Super Fluffy Burger Buns

My bread is usually on the heavy, crusty, side, so it's a treat to make some buns that are soft and fluffy. You can put sesame seeds on top of your buns if you like, in my house seeds are off the menu as one of us went and got braces on their teeth (*grumble*).
Burger Buns
Sachet of active yeast (3 teaspoons).
3½ cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading).
1 cup warm water.
3 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted.
2 Tbsp white sugar.
1 tsp salt
vegetable oil, for brushing bowl and dough.
1 egg or egg replacer.
1 Tbsp milk.
1 teaspoon sesame seeds.

1. Mix all your ingredients together.
2. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 8mins.
3. Put back in bowl and cover with oil. Put on lid or clingfilm to keep the air out.
4. Leave in a warm place for 60mins.
5. Turn out the dough into a soft surface and knock out the air by punching it flat with your knuckles.
6. Shape into buns.
7. Put on baking tray, cover with oil and clingfilm.
8. Prove for 60mins in a warm place.
9. When they're nice and round bake at 200 (non fan) for 15mins.
10. EAT.

Beans, beans, good for your heart.

Continuing with my garden harvest, today I picked the beans off of my favourite bean plant. These beans are a Dutch 'Dragons Tongue' variety, which means you get the lovely purple stripes.
I'm not going to cook my beans today as I have plans to make burgers, so I'm going to wash, trim, and freeze them.
Having access to a fridge and freezer is such a privilege, when I didn't have one it was impossible to plan my meals in advance. Now I can make sure nothing goes to waste!
My favourite way to cook these beans is as follows.

Lemony Beans. 

1. Trim beans and steam for 2mins.
2. In a bowl put lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
3. Dry beans off and toss them around in your mixture.
4. EAT.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Crazy about Beetroots

As summer draws to a close (*boo hoo) it's time to start harvesting all the delicious things I've been growing. I moved into my flat at the beginning of spring and planted a whole bunch of stuff willy-nilly in tubs all around my spacious balcony. I bought these seed packs from the Pound Shop with at least five different seeds in each, I spent about a fiver and got way more than I needed.

I planted the Beetroots very optimisticly in a med planter, about seven of them all crammed in. Thankfully they didn't seem to mind.  Although they were very thirsty.

Today I yanked them out to make room for my new mint plant (50p bargain bin at Homebase) and I was pleasantly surprised by how good they looked. I absolutely love Beetroots and had decided ages ago that I would pickle them to eat in my sandwiches. It was only when I washed them off in the sink that I fully appreciated how beautiful and delicate the leaves are so I decided to make use of those too.


1. Chop all the bits off and boil them 15-20 mins.
2. While they're cooking bring to the boil one pot of water for your jars to make them nice and sterile, I keep them on the boil until I need them and then I whack the lids on as soon as they're full (to keep those bugs out).
3. In another pot bring to the boil 50/50 white vinegar/malt vinegar, some bay leaves, 5 garlic cloves, 4 whole cloves, coriander seeds, and a dried chilli.
Tip: fill the jars with vinegar and then pour into your pot, then you'll have enough to fill each jar.
4. When your Beetroots are soft either put them straight into your jars or slice them first if you want them for sandwiches.
5. Using a sieve, pour the vinegar mixture into the jars , right to the top.
6. Without burning your fingers, get those lids on!


1. Cut leaves off the beets keeping the stalks. Wash them real good. I soak mine in salty water for 2+ hours to get any bugs off.
2. Take out any yellow leaves or bad bits and chop 1-2inches.
3. Put a knob of butter in a frying pan with two cloves of garlic.
4. Put your leaves into the pan, stalks on the bottom and fry lightly. Add salt and pepper.
5. Add a dash of water. Put the lid on.
6. 1-2 minutes later, EAT.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Rosh Hashanah Jam

I This year I'm helping to make a set of three speciality Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year) Jams/Chutneys for the Jewish Mental health Charity 'Neshama' to help fundraise for their work. I'm making 'traffic lights'; a red jam (fig) an amber jam (Apple) and a green chutney (Gashneetch). We're going to sell them in little three pack gift bags and I just know they're going to look great. 
Included below are the recipes I'm using to make them. Of course all our jams are certified kosher, but you don't need to worry about that at home, if it's just for your self or your family ;) 

Most people are unfamiliar with Apple Jam but I can't understand why! It has a thick, sweet, almost floral taste and smell and reminds me very much of clover honey, it's delicious and very cheap and easy to make. The fig jam (not pictured) on the other hand is one of our most expensive jams, that'll be the figs, but I'm going to start experimenting soon with canned figs from Israel and see if that helps us! Last but not least of course the vibrant green Gashneetch (not pictured). I've tried to make stuff that you can't buy in your local shops and I know for a fact not many people have heard of Gashneetch, but don't be put off just because it's new. Soon you'll be putting this on everything from toast to pasta. 

Easy Fig Jam (w Pistachio)

1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of one lemon
about 12 large figs, cut into wedges
150g chopped pistachios 

In a large saucepan, bring combine water & sugar. Bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Add figs, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 1 hour, stirring often  before pouring into jars, stir through chopped nuts. 

Easy Apple Jam 

1kg Apple
800g sugar
100mls water
1tbsp lemon
In a large pot add water, lemon juice, sugar and peeled diced apples. Cook for ten minutes on a med-low heat, then bring to a rolling boil until it starts to thicken. Turn the heat down med-low. Run half the jam through the mixer until smooth and re-add to the pot. 

Place in jars. Mixture is very hot. Do not put jars in cold water to wash them until cool. 

Gashneetch, Afghan Coriander Chutney 

2 bunches fresh coriander 
6 hot green chillies
6 garlic cloves, peeled
50g shelled walnuts/hazelnuts
Pinch sugar
3tspn salt
50 raisins/prunes 
250ml Apple/wine vinegar

Destalk coriander, wash, chop finely. 

Wash chillies, remove seeds, chop finely. Add to coriander.  

Grind the garlic together with the walnuts, sugar and salt. Add to the coriander and chilli with raisins and vinegar. 

Place in jars. 

In the picture, left to right, Apple jam, strawberry jam, three onion chutney and piccalilli. These are the ones I keep in my fridge for my family who seem to have an unstoppable appetite for jam. Then there's a basic cob loaf that I made for snacking. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Jammy Jam Jam Jam

I'm going to be facilitating some kosher Jam making next week with some volunteers from the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board. This prompted me to type up the hodge podge recipe that was half in my brain and half scribbled in my kitchen recipe book. 

Jam is the best thing, it feels like such a Britsh food. I love strawberry jam on rice pudding but it's also exceptionally good on this seed loaf I made yesterday. 

Basic Recipe

1kg prepared strawberry. 
500g Jam Sugar. 
1/3 cup lemon juice. 
Optional extra ingredients (see list below). 

Prepare strawberries by removing the core and slicingk into 1/2 inch chunks. 

In a large pot, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. 

Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. 

Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 105 degrees C. Or use the freezer test. 

Skim any foam off the top. 

Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal. 

Process in a water bath for 10mins (boil in a big pot). 

Optional extras. 

Vanilla Strawberry Jam:

Add half a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, to the crushed strawberries. Cook as directed and remove vanilla bean before ladling jam into jars. The resulting jam will be enhanced with subtle yet distinct vanilla overtones.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam:

Reduce the lemon juice to 1 tbsp and add 3 tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar accents the strawberry flavor and gives the jam a robust taste.

Lemony Strawberry Jam:

Add the grated zest of 1 large lemon to the crushed strawberries.

Peppered Strawberry Jam:

Stir 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper into the cooked jam just before ladling it into the jars. Pepper accents and compliments strawberries' sweet flavor. Be sure to use freshly ground pepper, which delivers a fresher-quality flavor.

Freezer test

Place three small plates in a freezer (you might have to test a few times).  After about 10 minutes of boiling place a tsp of the jam onto a cold plate. Return to freezer for a minute. Run your finger through the jam on the plate, if it doesn't try to run back together (if you can make a line through it with your finger) it's ready to be canned. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

DIY Dog Shampoo

I am very fortunate to announce the arrival of a new member to the Zachs household, Dennis the dog. I've been playing with the idea of getting a dog for a while now, but it was only after I broke up with my boyfriend that I thought 'fuck it, I'm getting the dog!'. Dennis is a rescue dog from the Dog's Trust, he's ten years old and an adorable mix of Alsatian, Collie and Corgi. We do everything together, eat our meals together, sleep together and he comes everywhere with me. His behaviour is impeccable and I have not regretted the decision to become a dog mummy once. 
Still, having a dog has a unique set of challenges, especially for someone like me who really likes everything to be clean, in order, and most importantly smelling delicious. A few weeks after we had brought Dennis home he began to get a bit of that classic dog smell and because we spend a lot of time in each other's personal space I found it a bit overbearing. I looked at some dog shampoo online but it all seemed very expensive and very chemically. You all know what I'm like, I'd rather make so,etching than buy it any day of the week so I set to work concocting the perfect dog wash. 
Here's my recipe; 

2 cups of warm water 
1/2 cup of white vinegar
1/4 cup of organic dish detergent
Few drops of Lavendar and Peppermint Essential Oils

I mixed all the ingredients together in an old hand wash pump bottle, Peppermint because it has a lovely sharp fresh scent and Lavendar because it is widely used to neutralise that acidic wee smell and because it has the magical ability to keep fleas away. 

During the bath time, Dennis was typically very tolerant as we gave him a good scrub and snuggled up next to the radiator like we told him to in order to get dry. Once he was all dry I gave him a good brushing and suddenly his coat took on a magnificent shine. The vinegar really gave him a good clean and the essential oils just a slight hint of scent. 

All in all I would say the DIY shampoo worked a treat! 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chili Bread

If you've used my Basic Loaf Recipe before you'll notice that this is very similar. However, in the last few months I've made a number of improvements and adaptations to my bread recipes. 

I've started using a slightly wetter mix, it's a little harder to work with but pays off with a smoother stretchier dough. I'm also adding white vinegar which gives a fluffier and longer lasting bread. A bottle of white distilled vinegar is about 25p and you can use it for everything. 

Chili Bread Recipe

500g flour.
320g warm water.
7g Yeast, easy bake. 
1 tablespoon of sugar.
1 tablespoon of Liquid Smoke (if you have it).
1/2 tablespoon of salt.
1/2 tablespoon of smoked paprika. 
2 finely chopped chilies (I'm using homegrown Carrot Finger Chilies).
Handful of seeds (optional). 

1. Put your flour in your mixing bowl. Add the salt, chilies, vinegar, paprika, and Liquid Smoke into the left side of the bowl. Put the sugar and the yeast on the left side. Mix.

2. Coat your hands with oil, this helps your hands not get too sticky. Put a blob of oil on your work surface too. 

3. Put the warm water in the bowl and mix it together until you have a loose dough, make sure to clean the excess off the sides and add to the dough. 

4. Turn out the dough onto the work surface and knead it for ten minutes, making sure to use up the blob of oil. 

5. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with cling film and get it rise for 60-90minutes. Put it in a warm place, but not hot.

6. Now your dough should be fat and full of air, turn it out into the work surface and flatten it vigorously to push the air out. Do this a few times then roll it into a ball. 

7. Put the ball on your baking tray, rub a little oil over it's exposed surface and top it with cling film. Let it sit somewhere warm for 60-90mins.

8. It should be a nice round shape, if it's not a shape to your liking flatten it out again, roll it into a tight ball and put it in a very warm spot for 30mins, this will super-grow it and you've Gorbachev better chance at a rounder shape.

9. Cut a deep cross into the top of the loaf with a non-serrated knife. Bake for 25-35 minutes.