During the last few months I have come to appreciate the different types of food and cooking experiences that come with this sort of project. From long luxuriating cooking to chuck in the pan and on to the plate style.
So I thought I would share one patient food and one culinary quickie with you and as a little extra I have thrown in a quick eulogy about how amazing farmers markets are.
In fact, let’s start with the farmers market. As I said in my previous blog originally I had no stipulations about where I sourced my food from and I think in a way that’s probably a good thing as it might have been all too much. Nonetheless this project has led to a lot a pared back meals where having ingredients at their best has significantly improved my experience of eating.
This made me realise how important seasonal locally produced food really is. Like grabbing a can of soup, a loaf of bread and some filled pasta, we are now so used to being able to have whatever we want whenever we want it, as supermarkets pretty much provide everything all year round.
We have become spoilt for choice, which I think has ruined the diversity of our cooking and eating. When you start to try and eat locally produced seasonal food, your range of ingredients on the surface level definitely drops but you’re more often than not cooking with ingredients you wouldn’t usually pick up in the shops. Furthermore up steps flavour filled produce and the opportunity to use culinary ingenuity, flair and creativity. You try things you never normally would, you’re forced to think ‘outside the box’ and you discover great flavours and recipes along the way.
So with this in mind I headed to my local farmers market, which was brilliant. Not only did I get beautiful seasonal veg and meat, but it was much cheaper than the supermarket and it was a such a fun experience. Nothing beats strolling around the stalls looking at the food on offer and smelling the great treats that are being cooked up. I definitely recommend you find out where your local is and go down and have a mosey round.
Anyway, from idealistic chatter about amazing ingredients to the dichotomy of the patient food vs the culinary quickie. Both clearly have their place in your average From Scratch year so I thought I would share my most recent recipes.
Firstly patient food – filled with love and time. Generally these take a few hours to make but are totally worth it.
This week for me it was the (one-a-penny, two-a-penny) Hot Cross Bun.
I LOVE hot cross buns, I usually eat them as soon as they come into the supermarkets and continue until after Easter and well into the summer. However this year the ‘2 packets for £1’ was a deal I was unable to take advantage of. As you can imagine I was desperate for a hot cross bun, so this weekend I embarked on the challenge. It was a looooong process that did have me thinking of what an attractive prospect the supermarket versions are – however as I am sure you can guess already – in the long run it was worth it.
Hot Cross Buns
625g strong white flour
2tsp ground mixed spice
45g unsalted butter- cut into cubes
1 lemon – zest only
1 ½ tsp fast-action yeast
1 free-range egg
275ml tepid milk
125g mixed dried fruit
2tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp golden syrup
- Sieve the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into a large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter using your fingertips. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the sugar and lemon zest and yeast
- Beat the egg and add to the flour with the tepid milk. Mix together to form a soft, pliable dough
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Work the mixed dried fruit into the dough until well combined. (This is definitely easier said than done- they will keep on popping out so you just have to try your best to keep most of them in the dough) Knead lightly for 5 mins or until smooth and elastic
- Grease a mixing bowl with a bit of butter. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove for an hour.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back the dough. Shape it into a ball again and return it to the bowl and cover with the tea towel to rise for another 30 mins.
- Turn out the dough again and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball then flatten slightly into bun shape. Cover the buns with the tea towel and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes. ( Don’t get excited like I did – there now where near ready to cook yet 🙁 )
- Grease a baking tray with butter and transfer the buns to the tray. Wrap the tray with greaseproof paper then place inside a large polythene bag. Tie the end of the bag tightly so no air can get in and set aside in a warm place for ANOTHER 40 mins to rise ( yes another 40 minutes! Don’t worry if you don’t have a large polythene bag I didn’t – I just left them wrapped tightly in greaseproof paper and it seemed to do the trick)
- Preheat the oven to 240C. Meanwhile for the toping mix plain flour with 2 tablespoons of water to form a smooth paste.
- After the 40mins removed the polythene bag and greaseproof paper. Spoon the paste into a piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun
- Transfer buns to the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes of until golden-brown. As soon as you remove the buns brush then with hot golden syrup and set aside to cool on a wire rack
So as you can see this is an epic process – but they are simply delicious 🙂
These are definitely patient food material however what you do get from patient food is all of the time and energy you put in comes back to you in taste, texture, flavour, smell and an ultimate food satisfaction.
Now for the culinary quickie- for me this is my amazing 20min cookie recipe, made completely from ingredients already sitting in my cupboard. These quenched a sweet tooth craving and when you think about it took around the same amount of time as me leaving the house, walking to the shop, choosing my biscuits, buying them, coming back home and eating them. It was great hazelnut cookies from conception to mouth in 20mins( all be it a little warm)
This recipe can be adapted so many ways- with chocolate, banana, any other kinds of nuts, dried fruit, oats, cocoa powder, vanilla, orange, lemon, ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice – the list is virtual endless ( I wonder what marshmallows would taste like hmmm… have to give it a try next year)
So here it is: The most satisfying 20 min hazelnut cookie
6oz self raising flour
A handful of hazelnuts
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Sift the flour and mix together to form a light dough ( if you want to add a spice add a bit with the flour)
- Crush your hazelnuts or (whatever your chosen addition)( I did this by placing them in a sealable sandwich bag and bashing them with a rolling pin – but you can find the best method for you ) then add them to mixture.
- Divide the mixture up into about 14-16 small balls and flatten on a greased baking sheet into small round cookies ( they tend to spread a bit so don’t place them too close together) then bake for around 12 mins or until golden.
- Cool on a wire rack and then devour. ( To go from concept to mouth in 20mins you do have to eat these when they are fairly hot- just be careful not to burn your mouth :))
This was a brilliant little recipe, the perfect cure for a sweet tooth and saves a trip to the corner shop. As it’s a great base to adapt you can try all sorts of flavours and find your own favourite. Ultimately the perfect culinary quickie.
Again I can’t really tell you which one is better. Does the patient food win out or is the culinary quickie the food of choice? They both have their merits, are definitely satisfying and produce delicious results. I guess like everything else it just depends what mood you’re in 🙂