Saturday, September 24, 2016

Home-made Hotdog Buns - heavenly!!!

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I had a heavenly hotdog in NY and a fabulous frankfurter in... Frankfurt and what they both had in common was that the bread was as good as the filling. The long-life yokes you get in the supermarket marked ‘Hotdog Buns’ aren’t WTC* (Worth The Calories) and I don’t know a bakery that does fresh hotdog buns.

Invest about 20 minutes relatively easy active time – think of it as therapy. You can be pottering about doing other stuff as they prove and bake and before you know it, you’ll have 9 heavenly hotdog buns ready to receive whatever deliciousness you decide to fill them with. Here's what the taste-testers had to say:


For 9 heavenly hotdog buns, you will need…
...to pre-heat the oven to 190C before baking

450g strong white flour (bread flour)
1 x 7g sachet of dry active yeast
1½ teaspoons of fine table salt
25g caster sugar
1 egg at room temperature, beaten
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
100mls warm milk (approx. 38°C)
150mls warm water, (approx. 38°C). Note, you may not need to use it all

a little beaten egg

Method

Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl and add the egg and olive oil. Mix well. Next, add the warm milk. Continue mixing while you add as much of the warm water as necessary until the dough comes together in a ball (you may not need all the water). Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Alternatively place all the ingredients in a stand mixer and mix with a dough hook until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).
Cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave until doubled in size. (I sometimes leave it to develop overnight in the fridge for a bigger flavour but in a warm, draught-free spot, it should take about an hour.)

Next, turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead gently to deflate. Divide it into 9 even pieces – I weigh each piece, which is usually approximately 90g.

Flatten into an oblong, roll into a sausage, pinch along the seam and tuck in the ends

To shape the rolls, form each piece into a sausage shape about 9cm long. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough sausage out flat until you have an oblong about 6cm wide and 11cm long. Working from one long side, roll the dough up tightly into a sausage shape again, pinching along the join. Neaten the ends by tucking them in and pinching them closed. Sit the buns – seam side down – on a lightly-floured parchment-lined or non-stick baking tray about 2cm apart, and press gently along the top of each bun so that it doesn’t rise excessively. Cover loosely with lightly oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm, draught-free spot until doubled in size.

Let sleeping dogs lie ... until doubled in size

When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven and about a minute or two before baking, place a roasting dish on the bottom shelf of the oven and add a cupful of hot water. (The steam will help the hotdog buns rise and help create a shiny crust.)  


I never go out without a touch of gloss...
Brush the hotdog buns gently with a little beaten egg before baking on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.


10 minutes later ... a tan worthy of the 'Strictly' makeup department !!!
Split across the middle when completely cold, being careful not to cut all the way through. Freeze or use within 24 hours.

The doggone dogs are all gone!

So, do you fry, grill, steam or simmer your hotdogs? Do you keep the topping simple with fried onion, ketchup and mustard or do you pimp your dog with exotic or unusual ingredients? Do you have a vegetarian alternative? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Lightly Spiced Carrot Soup – Liquid sunshine!

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The choice at my supermarket the other day was an odd one. I could have a 1kg bag of carrots (already half a kilo more than I actually wanted) ... or I could have a 3kg sack at one-third of the price of the smaller bag?  Why can’t they do that kind of maths with chocolate?

It was a no-brainer but what on earth to do with the 2.5kg of carrots left over.

They’ve been cut into sticks and used to transport Hummus and Melitzanosalata (Roasted Aubergine Dip) to my mouth.
They’ve been made into veggie samosas.
They’ve been shredded into a carrot and orange salad.
They’ve been roasted along with a Piri Piri / Peri Peri / Pili Pili chicken.

Oddly enough, I’m not sick of carrots yet but boy is my eyesight super sharp this week and I swear my ears are longer and kinda floppy. I’ve used up the last of the carrots in this lightly spiced carrot soup – a bowl of liquid sunshine and a lovely light meal for the dog days of summer.

For 4 – 6 servings of 'sunny as a bowl of sunshine' carrot soup you will need...
1 teaspoon coriander seed
½ teaspoon cumin seed
3 green cardamom pods
2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter
1 stick of celery, peeled of stringy bits and roughly chopped
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
750g carrots, skinned and sliced or diced
1 litre of chicken stock (or vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian)
½ teaspoon fine table salt*
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

Transfer the toasted spices to a bowl (or mortar, as in the photo)

First, toast the coriander seed, cumin seed and cardamom by placing them in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, swirling them around the pan to toast them evenly and to keep them from burning. This will only take a couple of minutes so don’t leave them unattended. They are done when the colour deepens slightly and they begin to smell toasty and spicy. Take them off the heat and transfer them to a bowl (or mortar) to prevent them from cooking further. Remove the cardamom seeds from their pods, discarding the pods.

When they have cooled, crush all three spices to a coarse powder using a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder if you have one, or you could put them on a chopping board and roll over them with a rolling pin.

Next, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the celery, onions and carrots and stir to coat with the oil. Turn down the heat to the gentlest of sizzles and cover the pan with a lid. Let the vegetables ‘sweat’ gently for about 10 minutes. You are not looking to brown them.

Add the toasted, crushed spices, stock and salt and pepper to the saucepan. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the carrots are soft. Remove from the heat and puree to a smooth cream (a stick blender is ideal for this job).

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
The well-mannered, posed picture...

I served it with a swirl of crème fraîche and a handful of fresh coriander leaf but parsley, basil or chives are also good.

Moments later - have I mentioned my coriander addiction...
(tho' basil, chives, parsley or chervil are all equally good with this soup)

* If your stock is already quite salty, hold off on adding any salt until you’ve tasted the pureed soup as it may not need it.

Schlurp! That's all folks!

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