Thursday, 29 October 2009

Khachipuri bread - recipe reminder

In case the Gourmet magazine website goes when the magazine closes, I thought I'd copy this here:

Georgian Cheese Bread
Makes1 (11-inch) pie; serves 8

* Active time:30 min
* Start to finish:4 hr

May 2008
In the remote mountains of Georgia, the star ingredient of this bread called khachapuri—akin to pizza—is the firm but creamy salted cow’s-milk cheese called sulguni. A blend of Havarti and mozzarella will give you a similar velvety texture. View more of our favorite recipes from this issue, and learn the story behind this dish in our column, The Recipe.

* 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (a 1/4-oz package)
* 7 tablespoons warm water (105–115°F)
* 1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* 1/4 lb Havarti cheese, coarsely grated
* 1/4 lb salted mozzarella, coarsely grated
* 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted

a floured pizza pan (at least 12 inches) or a floured large baking sheet

Sprinkle yeast over warm water and stir in 1 tablespoon flour. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast does not activate, start over with new yeast.)
Stir together salt and remaining flour in a large bowl, then stir in egg and yeast mixture to form a dough.
Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and turn to coat with flour, then knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form into a ball and dust with flour. Let dough rest in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, punching down with a wet fist every hour, at least 2 hours and up to 3.
Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in middle.
Turn out dough onto floured pizza pan, turning to coat, then flatten with your fingers into a 7-inch disk.
Toss together cheeses and press into a compact 3-inch ball with your hands. Place ball in middle of dough, then gather dough up around ball of cheese, squeezing excess dough into a topknot. Press down on topknot with a damp fist to press cheese out from center. Continue to flatten dough and distribute cheese evenly, pressing outward from center, until dough is an 11-inch disk.
Cut a 6-inch X through top of dough to expose cheese. Bake until pale golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Brush surface of dough with butter and bake until golden and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes more.
Serve cut into wedges.

Cooks’ note: Dough can be made 1 day ahead and chilled in bowl (for a slow rise), covered with plastic wrap. Punch down and bring to room temperature before proceeding with recipe.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Foraging for mushrooms near Sidmouth and birdwatching at Dawlish

Today saw me getting out of the flat and into the countryside for a bit of foraging action with the chaps and chapesses from Devon Foraging Courses. We met near Sidmouth this morning, and headed off into the woods to see what we could find. Not a great deal, as it turned out, but we did find a few chanterelles, porcelain mushrooms and a large number of dubious - if not downright poisonous - specimens. The woods were beautiful, with the beech trees just beginning to change colour. We all had a good chat along the way and it seemed like a fair few folks were ex-Londoners who'd decided to head to Devon for the good life - and found it! I will definitely be going on the next forage in October.

From there I drove along the backroads near college (followed by the usual Sunday driver mentalists), aiming for Dawlish Warren nature reserve on the other side of the Exe. Took the wrong exit on the M5 but found Dawlish eventually. Dawlish Warren itself is a weird combination of tacky seaside resort and nature reserve, out on a long spit of land. Once away from the crowds and arcades, it's lovely and quiet, with lots of birds to be seen - including a lovely female Stonechat and a beautiful, tiny olive green warbler (too dark to be a Chiff Chaff so I'm left wondering what it was) among other things. The weather was stunning - you'd not know it was October in a few days. There are vast amounts of brambles down there, all covered in blackberries, so I'll be heading back there next weekend to go picking.

Now I just need to find myself a source of sloes and I'll be sorted! Devon is proving an excellent choice so far...

Back to university

And so it begins again - I've just started a horticulture foundation degree at a college in Devon and thought I'd use this blog as a reminder of what I've done each week. So here it is.

Week one - freshers' week - was mostly about meeting my coursemates and getting the important bits and bobs done, followed by a walk around the college's beautiful grounds (arboretum, walled gardens, you name it).

Week two - classes begin properly. Monday is landscape design and construction followed by principles of business; Thursday is propagation, biological concepts and professional practice, and Friday is evolutionary development and classification and soil science, followed by a practical session in the afternoon (just when we're all knackered). Our tutors are a funny bunch and I think I'm going to enjoy their classes. My classmates are from all walks of life: aged between 19 and 65, men and women, they each have a different background and level of horticultural knowledge and all have something to bring to the group. A nice bunch!

Assignments this week included producing a client checklist for garden designing, finding two relevant articles in the trade/general press or online, learning plant idents and collecting a soil sample (half a bucket!) from our local area.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Natural wools

I've a sirdar organic merino dk pattern that I want to knit next, but their own 'sublime' wool is very expensive and I can't really afford it. So I've been trying to find cheaper equivalent wools on the internet. I'm not so bothered about it being organic, although this would be great, but I have come across various sites that have organic yarns for sale.

Firstly, Garthenor organic pure wool have an incredible selection of wools, all in natural shades.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Noro reductions

I nearly shrieked out loud when I found a site in Chester selling reduced Noro wools (among others) just now. I'm midway through knitting a cardigan that uses Noro's Kureyon yarn and I love it. Noro yarns are the sort that look beautiful on their own even before they've been knitted, in fact sometimes I wish I could hang up skeins of wool just to look at (this is why the Knitting and Stitching show was such heaven).

Anyway, here they are: Stash of Chester. I'm thinking I might just buy a few balls and make a nice scarf. The range of colours in Noro wools means it would go with loads of different things.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Gift ideas for christmas, birthdays etc...

So while looking online for knitting wool I came across etsy, which is an online marketplace for handmade arty things - all sorts, from ceramics to knitted items to jewellery to you name it.

Also online is Not on the high street, which is a brilliant source of beautiful things (clothes, jewellery, accessories) and none of your mass-produced rubbish.

They're also great sites for inspiration if you're a crafter.


Stuff and nonsense

I decided to start again with this blog, as all the other stuff I'd written was utter guff (plus ├ža change), so now hopefully it might be a slightly more useful blog with some helpful things in it. I'm doing lots of freelance stuff at the moment but hope to have more time to do fun things in the not-too-distant future.

We'll see.

Anyway, today's things that are making me happy are knitted fairy cakes from little cotton rabbits, who also has freebie knitting patterns on her lovely lovely site.