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Progress!

Dangerous Dave in full effect!

For those that know me and have been following Full English’s somewhat stuttering birth the good news is that we are finally making real progress.

The basement issues that have plagued us since day one are fully fixed – everything is dried out and as clean as a whistle.

We had a full week of shop fitting and it is finally starting to resemble a restaurant in there!  We’ve even got rid of the lurid green front which was a real pivotal moment for me.

So, when are we opening?  Still not entirely sure…  They are talking about retanking and the basement while we still have some issues with the electrics – I doubt it will be this side of Christmas but you never know…

Wine tasting…

wine_tasting1

wine_tasting2

Had two wine tastings at the flat this month – one with Jonathan from Yapp Brothers and the other with Peter from Novum.

Both companies offer exciting wines from smaller producers with Yapp focusing on wines from the Rhone and Loire areas of France with Novum leaning more toward New World – even including some Indian producers!

Our list will be short and focused but with some exciting and original producers and varietals at good honest prices.

My favourites from the tastings?  The Wall Flower Reisling was excellent as was the Rockburn Pinot.  The Chateau Roubaud that Jonathan brought along was aslo a block rocking Syrah Granache blend.

The Web Spinner

All this hiatus has given me time to work on another project, The Web Spinner, a browser based online html and CSS builder.

It’s a basically a web application, or cloud based wysiwyg application for making editing and building complex websites a breeze.

A bit of a depature but its a very exiciting project that takes me back to my previous life – check it out if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

 

Bacon & egg with peashoots on toast

Bacon & egg with peashoots on toast

 

Finished this with a lovely warm honey, mustard and raspberry vinegar dressing.

 

Belly of pork with butterbeans

Belly of pork with butterbeans

 

Stuffed the pork with a light layer of sage, date and lemon and roasted on top of the ribs.  Made a glorious marmitey meat juice sauce. The marrow and ginger jam was too sweet with the stuffing but will be nice with fish maybe as it was v. lemony.

 

Plum pies with homemade vanilla icecream

Plum pies with homemade vanilla icecream

 

Free-styled an almond sweet pastry but it backfired on me – never frick about with patisserie! Was way too short and crumbly, couldn’t roll the bugger so had to press it into the mold. The plum filling rocked though – as did the faithful old ice cream recipe.

Hot plums on cinnamon toast

The day-to-day plums that most of us get from the super markets these days tend to be a bit hard and uninspiring eaten straight from the bowl.

 

My plums on toast

My plums on toast

 

I’ve devised a great way to sweeten them up without cooking out all the goodness and making it into a delicious light(ish) breakfast.

Simply halve you plums, de-stone, pan fry in a little butter and add fruit based booze and sugar to taste towards the end to make a reduced syrup sauce.

Toast both sides of a good bit of bread (sourdough or something thereof) and then spread with a mixture of equal parts butter and sugar with a good pinch of cinnamon and ginger. Place the plums nicely on the toast, dust with icing sugar and serve.

 

3 bits with parsley, one with chilli sauce

3 bits with parsley, one with chilli sauce

 

Got this recipe from Olive magazine so I thought I’d give it a bash seeing as it fits in with the bacon curing, butter churning, bread baking ethos we are following at Full English.  I bought spankingly fresh mackerel from Steve Hats on Essex Road and processed the fish as soon as I got home.  

Fillet, de-bone and lay on a layer of equal parts salt and sugar (with lots of black pepper).  Refrigerate with weights on top, after 24hrs drain and repeat (I added more of the cure but the recipe didn’t mention this). After 48hrs remove, rinse pat dry and slice thinly – serve on buttered toast with some garnish or other – the chilli sauce was really good – mustard or wasabi would also work but lemon juice is essential.

The taste?  It reminded me of smoked salmon without the smoke.  Not overtly fishy (a good thing – that suggests the fish is old…) but a lovely texture and depth of mackerel flavour.

Sourdough bread

Having mastered the art of the New York Times no kneed bread the next logical step was to try a sourdough.

This would of course involve some kneeding and a more measured approach to proofing and the likes but the thing that got me really excited was the idea of growing a sourdough starter without using any instant processed yeast.

The idea of a sourdough starter is to encourage the growth and development of natural yeast spores found in the flour you use and in the environment surrounding you. This really is getting back in touch with a purely natural way of cooking.  Making bread is one of the most exciting and rewarding acts of cooking – bread is ace – homemade bread made with natural yeast from the air we breathe is freekin’ awesome!

So I set to work following one of the many guides found online (thanks S John Ross!).  Take your flour (I used unbleached wholemeal), add water and make a thick battery gloop.  Let sit at room temp with tea towel over the top to deter critters…

The first couple of days nothing much happened. By about the 4th day I had magic bubbles – a sign that something is happening with the yeast and bacteria. But woow – it totally stank of baby sick – never smealt anything quite like it.  So I kept feeding it each day and eventually it settled down and took on that lovely faintly sour beery hue.

So that was my starter sorted all, I needed to do was add more flour and water to develop a sponge, about 3 hours later you add more flour to get a bread consistency and then kneed for about 10 minutes (strangely cathartic actually).

Sourdough - the first rise

Sourdough - the first rise

You then let it rise once more, knock it back and create a loaf.

Second rise as a loaf - nice slits...

Second rise as a loaf - nice slits...

Get it while it's hot!

Get it while it's hot

Oddly, the recipe I was following told you to cook the bread at 200 from cold (ie don’t preheat the oven).  This had the effect of rising the dough even further before the real heat kicked in and creating a lovely soft bread with an excellent crumb with little crust – perfect for sandwiches!

Charlotte made me get up early the next morning to construct a PBJ – a bit sacrilegious with such fine bread (aidsims) but she did say it was the best bread I’d made so far.

Next up – same recipe but using the dutch oven method so you get a more french style crust and some wholemeal individual rolls – yumosa!

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