MAKE IT: White sandwich loaf

 

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Here’s the list of ingredients –

1 lb strong white bread flour
1 sachet fast action, dried yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tblsp milk powder
1/2 pint warm water

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I like to dissolve the sugar into the warm water and then add the dried yeast and give it a little shimmy with a teaspoon to mix it up.  After about 10 minutes left to its own devices, the yeast will have activated, frothed up and can be added to the flour.  Of course, you can just throw it in with the dry ingredients but this method does seem to produce a smoother dough for some reason.

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I throw all the ingredients in a bowl, mix together and then either knead by hand if I need to burn off some aggression or let the KitchenAid do the hard work with its dough hook.  About 10 mins is usually enough until the dough is smooth and elastic (and still a tiny bit sticky to the touch).  Don’t underestimate the power of the milk powder.  Use fresh milk as part of your liquid allowance if you prefer but the milk powder does give a better flavour to this type of bread.

IMG_2359Then I cover with a damp tea towel and leave it to rise for about and hour to an hour and a half in a warm place like the airing cupboard, on the hearth (or weirdly on top of the fish tank) until it’s doubled in size-ish.  That’s not always an obvious measure of readiness but if it looks quite a bit bigger, that’s often enough.  As always, you can let it rise overnight in the fridge instead if that helps your schedule.

Remembering to turn the oven on to 220C, I then turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead it gently to get rid of any big air bubbles.

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Now this next bit might seem a bit of a faff but it does make a difference to an evenly risen loaf so here goes – get out your rolling pin and roll the dough out so that it’s the length of your 2lb tin and three times the width.

???????????????????????????????Simply fold down the top third-ish and then over again.

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Hmmm, it’s grown a bit long there but no matter.  Smack the ends in a bit and put into the tin, fold-side down.  I’m not worried about its stretch marks (or mine for that matter) because they’ll disappear once its had its second rise.???????????????????????????????I generally pop it on the stove top (let’s not be confused here, the stove top isn’t on…) while the oven’s heating up and the gentle heat helps it on its way.  The second rise can happen quite quickly – maybe even as little as 30 mins but basically, you’ll want to pop it in the oven as soon as it rises to the top of the tin.  It’ll spring a bit further once it hits the heat of the oven.

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15 mins at 220C then take it out of its tin, knock the temperature down to 180C and bake for a further 30mins.  Leave to cool and slice for sarnies.

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Delicious and easily sliceable!

MAKE IT: Chicken Liver Pate

Pate is really easy to make and absolutely delicious with a home-made baguette.

I fell in love with pate when old boyfriend of mine who was a chef fed me his restaurant’s Cajun Chicken Liver Pate. It was addictive. Unfortunately, he refused the give me the recipe…hence his ex-boyfriend status!

So, sadly this is the recipe I use for plain (but still very yummy) Chicken Liver Pate.

 

350g cleaned chicen liver (I use the frozen ones – very cheap and very convenient!)

175g butter, diced
1 shallot or half a small onion, finely diced
1 tsp thyme leaves, stripped or chopped
75ml Maderia (or other fortified wine such as port)
75ml double cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 allspice berry, ground

 

Cut the livers into half inch pieces and fry in a knob of the butter over a medium heat.

While still slightly pink, add the onion and thyme and soften.

 

Then turn up the heat to brown the livers. Oh the smell is divine!

Tip the contents of the pan into a blender and zap.

De-glaze the pan with the Maderia and reduce to about 2 tbspns.

 

Add to the processor with the cream and spices and all but 75g of the butter and zap again.

 

Check the seasoning remembering that it will taste much less salty when cold so be generous! If your butter is salty, you may not need to add much more.

Pass through a sieve and pour into a serving dish.

 

Melt the remaining butter and pour over the top to seal.

 

Chill until set.

Serve with baguette, butter and some good chutney.

 

Simple and delicious!
Wrap any left overs with cling film and enjoy within a few days.
If anyone out there has a good Cajun version, I’d love to try it!