For my daily cooking is easy, without recipes to follow and the dishes that I cooked worked out alright. Actually cooking is more relaxed if I just go with the flow. Use any ingredients what I have, and from that, I could decide what the dish is going to be, and what technique I would like to go about. No, I don’t even think about the technique of cooking, I simply cooking and listen to my heart. That is the way to go. Easy and No Fuss.
Following a recipe faithfully is good, nothing wrong with that, that’s why cooking books are everywhere. They are there for everyone, to guide us as I believe.
This is my story, one day I was cleaning up my kitchen and I realised that the pear I bought last week were overripe and they are not good for eating. I had to do something about these pears, I didn’t want to waste them. Coffee Cake with Pear, that’s should be good.
I had all the ingredients for the cake, and indeed the cake was baked successfully, without any recipe. That was a time to be creative and productive.
Poach the pear in coffee syrup, followed by preparing the cake batter.
Beautiful Coffee Cake with Pear. The glossy pear adorns the cake richly and lusciously. It’s moist and delicious to serve with cream or serve it warm with a sauce flavoured with the liquor Tia Maria.
The Breaking Of The Bread
The joy of the breaking bread to share and to serve for dinner is . . . . . . . Once you have baked a perfect loaf, you want the best to serve it with. I had fresh chicken chops ready in the fridge, preserved lemon too. Chicken with preserved lemon was cooked ready in no time, and served with the leafy salad to complement the chicken and garnished with the bread. It’s a good meal and ‘NO Fuss’. Perfect sourdough bread freshly baked the ‘Boule’ complemented the evening meal. It was so priceless of breaking the bread the fresh loaf for the family dinner.
I do have a collection of cooking books, thanks to my family and my girls who bought me cooking books of famous authors. Through the books, I learnt how to cook, and to be a better cook.
Following recipes faithfully is important to get the perfect dishes, however, you can always improvise and to be creative, use your imagination and follow-listen to your heart. Have it a go, you may be surprised!
Belated Easter Good Wishes to You All. We enjoyed our Easter Celebration it was just the two of us. It is time for us to understand that our children have grown up having their own family and living so far away from us that makes them very hard to come for visits. We had a peaceful Easter at our home, and we were pleased to be able to talk to all children and grandchildren via telephone and FaceTime.
Our Easter Breakfast
We were very relaxed, took it as it was an ordinary day, went out for a bit after our Easter Breakfast that was boiled eggs, Brioche and mini chocolate eggs. Visited the nursery up the road as it was having a big sales. The weather was good to look around in the outdoor sections, lots pots and also ornaments. The collections of plants were plenty, and there was a special plant with unusual leaf -Myrtle with black leaf was offered but not at the good price, but still affordable. I could not help it to get one, as I have not got this particular plant yet, it would add a lovely foliage to my garden. I kept it in the pot and planning to plant it properly next year.
Fresh air, walking around the garden in the nursery did us good, felt fresh and restful. Got home and getting ready for our lunch. It was a treat doing cooking preparation without any time frame. Do as you like it. So that was I did, cooking fish with simple garnishes.
Fresh and Festive, Our Easter Lunch. Light and Lovely.
In the afternoon we rested well and listened to the beautiful music in our living room. We enjoyed the peacefulness of the day, a new tradition maybe took place, Easter Celebration just the two of as the children spent their time with their family at their own home.
In the late afternoon, cooking continued for our Dinner. Apart from the preparation was done the night before, so the cooking was easy and fast. But by Dinner time around six o’clock, we had no room left to take any food. it was ashamed that the food sat on the dinner table untouched.
The Easter Dinner: Chicken Ballotine garnished with beans and Jus.In the end, we had a supper, a very small served of the Ballotine of chicken and the garnishes. It was delicious, and indeed we close off the day with greatness.
The kitchen closed before ten and enjoyed a pleasant night.
We had a Very Peaceful and Happy Eater, and I hope You All did too.
Here is a recipe for delicious fish, I did it years ago, and love cooking the dish now and then. An idea for you to cook fish this Friday.
Eating healthy and quick cooking method that what I like to do. Poaching technique is one way to do that. But it has the risk to overcook it if you don’t’ do the right thing.
There are times that I like to indulge my self to do the fine cooking and to serve the dish beautifully. I love to prepare food with respect and to make the dish looking good. It is pretty food on a plate.
I have been cooking since I was a little girl, and loving it. I have learnt more since. Have I made mistakes? Oh ya ….. so many times. Mistakes are a part of the learning process. One never stops learning. I believe that I learn for life. This post is all about accepting and confessing that I made a big mistake regarding this cooking, but I know how to fix it for next time.
Poached two colour fish; salmon-ling, it is a delicate fish dish. It is supposed to be light juicy and moist served with lemon butter sauce and fennel salad. Unfortunately, I was interrupted during my cooking, the result was that I overcooked the fish for 3 minutes. I have ruined the fish. The salmon/ling fillets leaked the white proteins (albumen). It is shown in the pictures below.
Poached Two Colours Fish serve with lemon butter and fennel salad
It has shown the dry dryness
of the flesh of the fish
The two colours poached fish was overcooked, regardless the flavour was great though but it was not moist and juicy enough also the textured was not right.
The Recipe: Susy’s Recipe
Two Colours Poached Fish
2 salmon steaks/fillets
2 white fish steaks /fillets – ling
Aromatic vegetables for poaching
1cup water Fish Mousse
¾ cup diced skinned white fish
1 egg white
(Blend and process the ingredients
in the food processor to make the mousse)
2 shallots, chopped finely
1 tablespoon olive oil
50 mil white wine
1 juice of a lemon
50 g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped chives or fennel frond
1 white fennel bulb, sliced finely The dressing
½ juice of a lemon
1tablespoon chop flat parsley
3tablespoons olive oil Salt and white pepper to taste Method
The lemon butter
Sautee the shallot with the olive oil until soft but not brown
Add in the white wine and cook to simmer over medium heat
Reduce the heat, put the butter, cook to melt the butter
Add the juice of lemon, stir and mix and add in the chopped fennel.
Place the sauce in a serving dish, keep warm
Preparation for the fish
Cut, skinned, and trim all the fish steaks/fillets
Use the trimming of a stock
Cut each steak into 2, so you have 8 pieces
Take two fish, one the salmon and another one the ling
Smear some mousse on the salmon and place the ling on top
Wrap it up in a cling plastic, and put aside
Do with the rest of the fish, wrap individually in a plastic wrap
Refrigerate the fish until ready to poach
Poaching the Fish
In the meantime get the aromatic vegetables ready, cut into thin slices
Put it in the shallow fry pan, place the aromatic vegetables and add in 2 cups of water
Bring to simmer, and cook the vegetables for a few seconds.
Continue cooking in a gentle simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes
Reduce the heat, put the fish carefully, and place them on top of the poaching aromatic ingredients
Covered the pan, poach the fish for 7 minutes over lower heat( adjusted to 5 minutes instead of 7)
Take them out, let them rest for 3 minutes( rest only for 1 minute instead of 3 minutes)
Note: adjusted the time to poach the fish for a better result, not overcooked
The Fennel Salad
Mix and toss the sliced fennel with the dressing.
While the fish are resting, you should have: the sauce ready, and put the dressing on the salad
Place some salad on a plate, drizzle some sauce beside the salad and rest the fish on the sauce
Add extra sauce over the fish and serve at once. (This is serving fish individually)
People/family serving them self
Place the salads in a serving bowl, and the fish on the serving dish.
Put some sauce on the serving dish, before putting the colour fish on it, then drizzle a little bit of lemon butter on top.
You may have to have extra lemon butter and put in a separate serving dish
Poached Two Colour Fish is a beautiful dish, pretty on the plate. Cooking for any occasions
Note: use a large poaching fish pan to cook four or six pieces.
Preparation And The Cooking
fresh red salmon and
fresh white fish-( ling )
red and white fish
with the fish mousse
fish mousse on the fish
before to join them
join the two fish together
wrap in clear plastic
wrap the fish nicely
poach the fish on
the prepared poaching pan
prepare the fennel salad
while the fish is poached
cooking the lemon butter
do it before poaching the fish
keep the lemon butter
on the serving dish
Things To Remember For Poaching This Fish
The aromatic vegetables have to cook for at least ten minutes.
Enough liquid and aromatic vegetables in the poaching pan
Place the fish in the hot poaching pan and cook over low heat
Take the fish out when it’s cooked and rest it, keep it warm
Serve soon after the fish is rested.
We are talking about the quality of wheat flour. The good flour is always expensive. Is the expensive flour is a better quality compared to the cheap one? It is a mystery to me.
A cheap Australian wheat flour, a plain brand of a supermarket for baking home bread is it good enough? Let’s see, I am trying here, and only the end result will tell.
Baking Two Country Loaves based on Tartine’s Book
35g sourdough starter
900g white plain Australian Flour from a supermarket
100g whole wheat Australian Flour from a supermarket
700g water, 50g water mixed with 20g salt
The Dough Ingredients
In a large bowl, place the water and add in the leaven, and mix together
Add the flour, mix thoroughly by hand until you do not see any bits of dry flour.
Mixing the flour and water
Flour and water mixture
Lets the dough rest for 25 to 40 minutes. Do not skip the resting period. Working with the nature of the dough, the resting period allows the protein and starch in the flour to absorb the water, swell and then relax into a cohesive mass.
After the resting period, add the 20 grams salt and the 50g water warm water to the dough. Incorporate the salt by sneezing the dough by your fingers. The dough first will break apart and then will re-form as you turn it in the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a clear plastic container, it is easy to clean and you could see the
aeration of the dough as it develops.
*The dough has now begun its first rise, called the bulk fermentation. This crucial step should not be rushed, as its primary purpose is to develop flavor and strength in the dough. The speed of fermentation greatly depends on the ambient temperature of your kitchen. The ideal temperature would be 78-82 degrees to accomplish the full bulk fermentation in 3 to four hours.
Keep in the clear plastic box for the bulk fermentation. The dough is given a few Turns in every thirty minutes rest.
*The dough is never kneaded on a work surface. The dough development that bakers usually achieve by kneading is accomplished here by giving the dough a series of ‘turns’ in the bowl during the bulk fermentation.
* To do a turn, dip one hand in the water to prevent the dough from sticking to you and then grab the underside of the dough, stretch it up, and fold it back over the rest of the dough. Repeat this action two or three times so that all the dough gets evenly developed. This is considered one turn.
During the first 2 hours of the bulk fermentation, give the dough one turn every half hour. During the third hour notice how the dough stars to get billowy soft, and aerated with gas. At this later stage, you should turn the dough more gently to avoid pressing gas out of the dough.
*Proper development during the bulk fermentation enables the wet dough to hold its shape as a loaf, and the baker must watch for signs of development and determine when the dough is ready. During the first hour of the bulk fermentation, the dough will feel dense and heavy. Watch how the surface become smooth, soon after you turn the dough. By the end of the third hour, the dough will feel aerated and softer. A well-developed dough is more cohesive and releases from the sides of the bowl when you do the turns. The ridges left by the turn will hold their shape for a few minutes. You will see a 20 to 30 percent increase in volume. More air bubbles will form along the sides of the container. these are all signs that the dough is ready to be divided and shaped into loaves.
The dough after the completed the bulk fermentation
* If the dough seems to be developing slowly, extend the bulk fermentation time. Watch your dough and be flexible.
After the two hours bulk fermentation, the dough lets be resting for one hour, undisturbed.
Now it is ready for the first shaping.
*Use the dough spatula to pull all the dough out of the container onto an un-floured work surface. Lightly flour the surface of the dough and use a bench knife to cut the dough into two equal pieces-this recipe makes enough bread for two loaves). As you cut the first piece use the bench knife to flip it to that the floured side rests on the work surface. Do the same with the second piece of the dough.
At this point, you want to incorporate as little flour as possible into the dough. Fold the cut side of each piece of dough onto itself so that the flour on the surface of the dough is sealed on the outside of the loaf. The outer surface of the dough will become the crust so you may use more flour on your hands to avoid sticking.
The first shaping has done, two rounds dough, cover with bowls, and rest for 22 minutes (the bench rest)
After completed the bench rest, time for the final shaping. One is a Batard and the other one is Boule.
The final shaping for a Boule, rest for 2 minutes before putting it on to the basket for proofing.
The Boule is on the floured basket ready for proofing for 3 to four hours, before the baking. However, if you want to bake in the morning, retard the dough by putting the dough in the refrigerator overnight. Cover the baskets with a plastic bag.
The Boule on a proofing basket
In the morning, place the Dutch oven with the cover in the oven, set it to 250 degrees C, it takes 45 minutes to reach the ultimate heat. When the oven has reached the heat, take the basket out. Place the dough on a pizza peel lined with baking paper, score the dough. Take the pot (Dutch oven) out from the oven, open the lid and put the dough which is sitting on the pizza peel, transfer and place in the hot pot. Replace the lid, now put the covered pot in the oven to bake for 25 minutes.
After twenty-five minutes just gone, open the oven, and take the lid out and put it away safe as it is very hot. You could see the dough with oven spring, golden and shiny . Close the oven, and continue baking without the lid for 25 minutes, until the dough looks dark chestnut brown.
Remember, that a recipe makes two loaves. One is for the Boule and the other one is for the Batard.
Freshly Baked Batard
How good is that two beautiful loaves come out of my oven, a successful baking indeed, time was well spent.
It’s beautifully sliced, it has open crumb and a good crust, still slightly hard though. But it’s Delicious.
Happy to bake again, today baking is good and in next time is only gets better. Almost official now that I will be a monthly baker. One loaf is plenty as the family is not very keen to have it. During the baking day, the kitchen smells so delicious, so inviting like a true home, a happy home and the family loves it.
Did the cheap flour make the bread? I am not sure. In this case, the baked bread was not perfect but good enough, I think it’s due to lots of things, one of them is I have not mastered the art of the baking.
The flour that I have been using is home brand of any supermarket, good strong flour from white wings products, special bread flour which is specifically for bread making.
To make it worthwhile, the long process and all the procedures of the making – baking sourdough bread, I have decided that bread flour is the one I am going to use. Stay with it!
Baked the big T – Tabatier bread, and this time was no disappointment, the loaf was good. Using wild yeast sourdough starter which I caught and cultivate myself, and using the method of country loaf sourdough bread baking, based on Tartine. Leaven was prepared well so the ingredients for the dough.
I do love baking this bread, as I love the shape and it looks pretty, or even rustic and dark.
The Process of Baking the sourdough bread, Tabatier.
Freshly Baked Tabatiere – Cooling on a Tray
I prepared the leaven 8-9 hours before.
40 ml sourdough starter
50g plain flour
The leaven was tested at 4.50 pm, and it was ready.
Started mixing the ingredients at 5.00 pm and autolyse for about one hour
Bulk Fermentation started at 6.05pm
Kneading/pulling within 30 minutes, four times.
The Ingredients for the dough
500 g good quality plain flour
260 ml water
140 g leaven
10 g salt
Raye flour for dusting
After autolyse added the salt and mix thoroughly, and followed by the bulk fermentation.
The Bulk Fermentation is very important to be done correctly and accurately.
The first rising of the dough is called the bulk fermentation or the bulk rise, This is when the strength, flavour, and structure of the dough are set. (Based on the Tartine Bread Book)
The look of the dough at the first half hour of bulk fermentation, it’s soft and relaxed
The first half hour of bulk fermentation
It takes about 2 or 3 hours, pulling/kneading at every 30 minutes. After the bulk fermentation, followed by a bench rest.
The last hour-two hours bulk fermentation
From the bench rest, divide the dough for the first shaping, very gently action has to take place here and let the dough rest for twenty-two minutes before the final shaping.
The first shaping, making two loaves of Tabatier, this dough is risen beautifully, showing the pocket bubble, ready for the shaping.
Covering the two balls with bowls to rest for 25minutes before final shaping
The look of the dough after resting for 22 minutes
they ‘re larger as they spread a little, and become slightly flat.
Turn the balls, so the seams are on top.
Bring the edges to the centre and press them down gently.
Turn the dough over again and roll on the work surface,
pressing gently to for smooth, even-shaped balls. Dust with Rye flour.
The final shaping, to make a good looking Tabatier
Dust lightly with rye flour,
then bring the flap back over the top of the dough.
Use a rolling pin to flatten
and roll a third of dough out and away,
creating a flap, around 15 cm
The final shaping, the shape of Tabatier
Place the loaves on a well-floured cloth, flaps underneath.
Cover with the damp cloth to proof for 3-4 hours and bake in a hot oven for 52-55minutes. Or retard proving in the refrigerator, and bake in the next morning.
My plan was baking the bread on the following day, I placed the dough in the fridge and covered them with plastic bags.
Using two small La Creuset Pot
Early in the morning, place two pots with the lids in the oven, and put on the very high temperature at 225 degrees C. It took almost one hour to reach it. Organised one dough at the time.
Ten minutes before baking I took one dough from the fridge, transfer to a lined pizza peel with baking paper, the right side on top, and the seam down. The dough had to be scored before putting in the oven, to help them fully expand in the oven. And I did the other one just the same.
My mittens were ready, wearing these mittens, I took the hot pots out of the oven, and I opened the lid of the pot, and put my dough on and covered the pot with the lid immediately, I did the same with other one too. I put them back in the oven very carefully to bake for 22 minutes fu
After the twenty-two minutes was over, I opened the oven, took both the lids from the pots and I saw beautiful light golden loaves with oven spring. I was so pleased and proud, the baking was looking very good. I put the lid away and close the oven, continue baking without the lids for 30 minutes. I wanted to have golden, dark brown loaves and that was exactly what I got.
The loaves had to cool down, and they sat on a cooling tray, in three or four hours can be cut to taste. I held and lifted the loaf, and it’s so light, all the water was cooked away, and I believe I had baked two good loaves of bread. At last!
Beautiful looking Tabatier-Bread
A sliced of the Tabatier Bread looks amazingly good.
The best crumb so far I had
To Cut the Loaf. The Time of Truth. Cutting freshly baked bread is a very emotional, exciting and precious time.
I was so ready to cut, and I found out all the beauties that I wished to have.
When I cut it, the crust sang the song of bread, Beautiful. The crumb was soft, fluffy and the crust was crusty and chewy.
The exterior colour of the loaf was dramatically rustic dark brown as you can see from the pictures above.
The baking was successful, two beautiful loaves of bread Tabatier. The flavour with a touch of sourness was delighted me just the way I like it. Beautiful crispy crust and not too hard, that’s excellent, the fluffy interior – with beautiful open crumb, all that made me so happy. I did it!
I am so proud to tell you that my baking sourdough has improved, By far I have to learn more to get even better.
Tomorrow is a special time for Chinese people, it is a New Year.
The Year of The Dog, it is, and They celebrate it with traditions and style. Happy New Year!
We have a large Chinese community here in Australia, and I am sure they will have a big celebration and parties with beautiful food, and a grand feast.
On that note, I cooked one of the Chinese cooking for my family. It is steamed buns, but I give a little twist, instead of the traditional small buns I cooked a large bun that is cut into wedges to serve.
The Big Bun
The bun we love for breakfast is steamed buns, it was a large size
bun, a bundle of goodies. The filling was so delicious and the bread bun was puffed up beautifully.
Flour, leaven and water
Mix the 155g leaven, with a cup of water to the dry ingredients-420g plain flour, a teaspoon yeast, 5gsalt and 5gsugar together, gather to make a rough ball. Knead it for 7 minutes until becomes soft. Rub the softball with a little oil and place in a container and let it proof for two hours.
The Dough for the Bun
After Two Hours
Punch the dough down, knead lightly. put in a bowl and keep refrigerated. When you are ready to use the dough take it out and continue cooking.
The filling: braised pork, egg and lettuce and sweet thick sauce.
When the dough is ready, start to prepare the filling. Poach four eggs, shred the iceberg lettuce, and get the braised pork which is done a day before.
You could make small round steamed buns which is very traditional, but today I will make one a large bun to share with the family for our breakfast.
The Pork, and Filling the bun.
Roll the dough into a large thin and round. As a large as a dinner plate.
Put the round dough on a tray/plate lined with baking paper. Put the filling on it, first scatter the shredded lettuce, followed by placing the pork, and put the eggs on top. Spoon the sauce over the filling and bring the edge of the dough to the centre to enclose the filling.
Place the large bun at a room temperature to proof for one hour before steaming.
Let the buns rest at room temperature for one hour before steaming
Steam the bun with a steamer, I use what I got, but if you have a bamboo steamer is good. Cook over high heat to steam for 25 minutes.
Serving the bun, cut into wedges and dress it in hot sauce or soya sauce.
Thanking the Chinese people who share delicious and amazing food to us all. I do cook their dishes and my family loves them. The bun in a part of the famous Yam Ca, and it is one of my favourites.
How proud have I been, for baking sourdough bread from scratch? Now I am tired as all the baking are not always has been successful. Bake the perfect loaf I thought, the dough made from flour, water, homemade sourdough starter, and salt. So simple, the preparation is fun and can be addictive. The baking is the challenge, dealing with a hot pot in a hot oven and the whole process taking two hours to bake a loaf, from the heating the stove, the pot with the lids takes one hour. Taking out the hot pot from the oven and loading the dough is always make nervy.
Pulling out the loaf from the oven is so good but with mixed feeling, is it good, light, is the scoring spat well during baking and having open crumb?
Cutting and Tasting: this is an exciting time, does it cut well, is the crumb soft and airy, is the crust crisps, does it sing.? Every baking is not the same, the loaf, the crust, the crumb are different, but the similarity is there.
I have been baking sourdough bread for a while now, but since 2017 I have become very serious about it, I learnt a lot more, and still need lots of improvement. I went through a bad day with the terrible baking result, a very dense and dark bread, and of course, it ended up in the rubbish bin. Or too dark, to dry and the crumb to tight and so forth. But I kept on going, I am thirst to succeed, I wanted to have the perfect loaf. I have learnt from mistakes, and indeed my latest baking was better but still not the best. That was an encouragement to me.
These pictures of the fresh loaves look so beautiful, as what sourdough bread should be. Not all of them were good, either too hard, and not having good texture. My hope is to create the loaf with a light- crisp crust and not hard but chewy. If only I could get a loaf of sourdough bread of the Tartine Bread in San Francisco I would be blessed to compare. No Chance!!!
Bread Baking in 2017
Other bread I baked was this brioche using the sourdough starter, I am not sure that I like it very much, indeed we ate it, I found the texter of my brioche was not bad but it was not fluffy enough.
Bread and Bread
All the bread baking were based on two recipes: one using liquid sourdough starter based on Eric Kaysar’s recipe and his technique (brioche, turmeric bread, tabatiere, muslin bread and courone)
The other one was using a pure wild yeast sourdough starter and I followed the recipe from the Tartine Bread, and the Perfect Loaf.
The Journey Continue, Keep on Learning and Baking, that’s my mission.
Bread and Bread, 2018
B The best baked was two loaves of Batard; one plain and the other one with nuts and fruits.
Second Baked -Plain Batard.
One of bad baking day, the bread was burnt and dense.
Following recipes well, learning from the mistakes and listening to experts that’s what I have to do.
My plan to be a monthly baker and just see!
It would be great if I could have freshly baked bread daily. It is impossible for me.