Kicking off 2022 in style…. 24/1/2022

2021 ended in with lots of good food – as it should – and it is fair to say that 2022 has started in an equally good way!!

The Christmas festivities started with a trip out to ‘The Kitchen’ at Reading College for a Christmas lunch by their catering college students…. and to be fair to them, they did a pretty good job…. we will go back and try the restaurant again, although how they managed to make the Almond tart so flavourless – I have no idea!

We followed this by a couple of family gatherings and Christmas day in the motorhome…. Keith even managed to cook fruit cake in the Remoska on Christmas day just to get a bit of the Christmas spice going before we popped the ‘Christmas’ pie – containing everything from brussel sprouts to chestnuts – in the Remoska…. delicious!!

New Year was equally homely for us – just how we like it – and we celebrated in our traditional manner… good food, good wine, port and sloe gin and a few games of Settlers of Catan – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!! This year we opted for three completely new dishes that we hadn’t tried before – Red Onion Tarte Tatin, Cheesey Chou buns and Cheesey, Nutty Brussels… all of which tasted lovely, although the brussels sprouts didn’t quite come out as planned as the crust didn’t stick to the brussel sprout….. which kind of defeated the object. The first two are definite repeaters, the last will need some improvement if it is going to get back on the menu!! It was however a lovely way to bring the New Year in….

So here we are… 2022 – despite everyone complaining about not having done anything during Covid19 – it is incredible how quickly the time has gone and yet another year has passed us by. My mother would say that is what getting older does to you, blink and it is gone… thankfully we have enjoyed every moment and intend to do the same for the coming years as well!

Apart from Christmas festivities, meeting up with friends and family and cooking at home we did have a quick trip down to Bath to do a 5 day Bread making course @ Richard Bertinet’s cookery school…. such an amazing experience, although it is fair to say that we did eat our weight in bread type produce over the period of 10 days… breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between!

It took us just over a week to get through the rest of the bread that we brough home from the course – although we do still have a loaf of sourdough in Keith’s mum’s freezer – but we have started to bake again….. a la Richard Bertinet style.
Now, for someone who had been baking bread by hand for 8+ years in the motorhome – although I knew I had lots to learn and went into the course completely open minded – I hadn’t quite appreciated the difference in technique that could be applied to gain different results. It is fair to say that I have gone back to basics and thrown my ‘old style kneading’ out the window and welcomed in the ‘slapping’ and ‘folding’ approach, which introduces more air into the dough with what appears to be great results… even in the motorhome. We were initially apprehensive about how we would recreate the technique in the small space but we are now half way through our second attempt at rolls using the new technique accompanied with only ferment instead of yeast, and we have made two batches of indian yoghurt wholemeal flatbreads as well as lots of ferment crackers…. all of which have been delicious but still need a little bit of tweeking to improve….. look at the crumb on the rolls below!!

Just in case you want to see what he looks like….’Fergie’ the Ferment – which is what we are now using instead of Yeast – is the honeycombed beauty in the top left picture above.
As always we have been enjoying cooking both for ourselves and others… experimenting with recipes and what we can/can’t do in the motorhome!! New recipes over the last month or so include the following :-
Baked Potatoes in the Remoska – yes, its daft but we hadn’t ever done them before and …. they are great!!
Chicago Pizza Pie – Mark 2 – the process was the same as the cauliflower cheese pizza pie, although this time we made the nice thick spicy tomato sauce – which we use in our enchilladas – and used the vegan parmesan cheese recipe that I put in the moussaka – tasted great and didn’t feel quite as stodgy!
Onion Tarte Tatin – it was really simple and tasty and I reckon adding a bit of goats cheese or feta would work really well too.
Cheesey Chou Buns – very simple and tasty as a starter or nibbles to go with drinks
Pumpkin Rice – quick and easy Jamie Oliver recipe which worked really well
Indian Yoghurt Flatbreads – Richard Bertinet’s recipe from his Crumb book…. nice and tangy if using the ferment
Rum Soaked Prunes – a little treat that Richard Bertinet introduced to us whilst on his course…. put some prunes in a container, cover with rum and leave for at least 3 days…. delicious in an expresso coffee, as part of affogato dessert, or as we tried out on Bruce and Sarah – on top of my chocolate mouse cake…. what a lovely kick!!

It is fair to say that we still have alot to learn but that we are going to enjoy practising!! We just need to go back to basics and focus on one thing at a time as it is so easy to get distracted by the excitement of trying out something new…. ciabatta here we come !!

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