Geoffry bread

Sourdough bread

Following the receipt of a sourdough starter from a friend’s Dad three weeks ago I have read a lot, a LOT, about sourdough starter, care, and bread. And pretty much everything I read contradicted something else I had read. Hmmm. Time for some experimenting.

First of all, I have to ‘feed’ Geoffry, a mixture of flour and water. Approximately 50g flour and 50g of water per 100g of sourdough starter. If the sourdough is at room temperature, I have to do this twice a day. If Geoffers is in the fridge, I need to do this every couple of days.

The more times I feed him before baking, the better the flavour seems to be. So far all the loaves have been pretty good, but perhaps a little dry. Any advice fellow bakers?

The recipe that seems to work the best so far is below.

You will need:

  • 500g strong white bread flour (Or, 300g white and 200g wholemeal)
  • 300ml sourdough starter
  • big pinch of salt
  • 200ml water

I have been making the bread quite succesfully using the dough hook on my Kenwood K mix, and this is what I do:

Mix together the flour, starter and salt in the mixer bowl. Set the mixer off on a slow speed and add the water – it usually takes all 200ml of water as it should be a fairly wet dough. Kneed with the dough hook for about 10 minutes on a slow speed.

Coat your hands in olive oil and lift the dough out of the mixer, coating it in oil as you do. This will prevent it from sticking to the bowl as it rises. Cover the top of the bowl with cling film and pop into a warm place (I use the top shelf of the airing cupboard) for 2 hours.

Take off the cling film and put the bowl back onto the mixer stand. Knead again for a couple of minutes and then turn out onto a surface. Flour the inside of a loaf tin. Agin, coat your hands, and then the loaf with a little olive oil (I find that this gives a nicer crust) and shape your dough to fit into the tin.

Cover with cling film and allow to prove for a second time. I read that this can be anywhere between 8 and 12 hours, but I was finding that this was over proving, even if just left in the kitchen. 4 hours seems to be about right in the airing cupboard. I have found that is better to take the cling film off before the dough reaches that point as even when the cling film is oiled, it can stick and pulling it away from the dough will cause the top to sink.

Pop it in the oven at about 195 degrees C for 35 minutes. Simples! This seems to be a really easy bread to make, but it does not yet taste as good at Dave’s Dad’s – I will keep trying!!


mmmm bacon sandwiches


Lamb shish kebabs, cous cous, fennel, pittas and minty greek yogurt dip

Following the lack of well hung lamb leg at the butchers on Saturday, I opted for an old favourite lamb shish kebab – made from the shoulder. Good news – we remembered to take pictures this time, well done Mat and Andy!

Digging in to dinner

(All the below recipes serve 6)

For the lamb kebabs you will need:

  • 1 kg lamb shoulder – diced and leanly trimmed. (Seriously, get the butcher to do this for you, it takes ages to cut and trim all the meat from the bone, and your hands get really cold in the process!)
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemery
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander

Squeeze the juice of two lemons into a large mixing bowl. Add the rosemary and mint. Place the lamb in the bowl, drizzle with oil and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss the lamb in the marinade with your hands. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge for at least four hours.

While the lamb in marinading, you can prep the sides.

For the cous cous, you will need:

  • 250g cous cous
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 orange
  • 1 handful sultantas
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Chop the pepper into small (about 2cm by 2cm) pieces. Toss in a little olive oil, season and roast in the oven. After about five minutes, chop the courgette and add this. Roast for a further 10 minutes or so until the vegetables are cooked.

Squeeze the juice of the orange into a bowl and add the sultanas to this.

When the veggies are cooked, remove them from the oven and set aside.

Vegetable cous cous

For the fennel, you will need:

  • 2 bulbs of fennel
  • 3 knobs of butter
  • A large glass of white wine

Chop the bottom off the fennel. (Save this for the stock pot, fennel is expensive and delicious and should not be wasted!)  Slide the fennel sideways so that you can see the pretty pattern of the inside of the fennel. Lay the fennel into a baking try that you can serve in – make it look pretty. Dot the butter around the fennel and  pour over the white wine. Set aside for now.

For the pittas and dip you will need:

  • 3 pitta breads
  • 1 small tub greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp mint sauce

Now you can chill out for a bit and congratulate yourself on being so organised by having a glass of wine!

Take the lamb out of the fridge half an hour before you are ready to cook it. Pop the fennel into the oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. This can then keep warm in the bottom of the oven while you cook the lamb.
Put the grill onto high and thread the meat onto the skewers. Pop under the grill and turn when the meat is browned.

Put the cous cous in a pan and pour over 500ml of vegetable stock. Add in the vegetables and sultanas along with the orange juice. You may need to put the cous cous on to a low heat to warm the vegetables back through. Add more water and a drizzle of olive oil if needed. Season and stir in 1 tbsp chopped mint and 1 tbsp chopped coriander.

When the lamb is almost done, baste with a little salted butter and pop back under the grill until glistening.

Chop up the pittas into attractive pieces, and arrange on a plate leaving a space in the middle.

Take the lamb out of the oven, cover with tin foil and allow to rest.

Put the pittas in the oven to warm, along with the dinner plates and the dish for serving the cous cous.

Stir the mint sauce into the yogust, put into a bowl and place this in the space in between the pittas. Get your able man-slave to start ferrying the pittas in fennel to the table.

Put the cous cous into a serving bowl. Put the lamb onto a board and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of chopped coriander.

Lamb shish kebabs


Serve and enjoy!


Lovely friends around for a lovely dinner oxox

Smoked chicken and mango salad

Well, last night’s smoked chicken was a surprising success (and the fire alarm did only go off once!) Here is the recipe:
Serves 6


2 large chicken breasts

2 mangos

Rocket leaves

Juice of 1/4 of an orange

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper
You will also need lapsang sou chong tea leaves (I just emptied LSSC tea bags), rice and Demerara sugar to smoke the chicken – I took the recipe from here:
So this is really easy (and fun to do).Put a load of tin foil in the pan, put your ingredients in, more tin foil, chicken and smoke. (OK, you should probably read the full recipe but it IS easy).

And the best bit is, once you’ve finished you just lift out the tin foil and chuck it in the bin, and the pan is still clean; winner!
While all this is happening, and your house is starting to smell delicious, slice up your mangoes. Squeeze of a 1/4 of a lemon. arrange the rocket on the plate, then the mango and the chicken.

Mix together the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the top. That’s it!


I was really impressed with this way of cooking chicken, and I have lots of ideas for flavours that will work really well with the smokeyness – I will keep you updated on successful endeavors – smoked honey mustard chicken will be my next adventure!

P.S. apologies for the lack of photos, we got too excited about eating and forgot to take any!


No smoke without fire…

The smoke alarm has just gone off! (For the first time and probably not last time today.) And that means…. I’m successfully smoking some chicken!! Despite the title of this post there is any actual fire either… yet.


Small disaster on the menu front. The butchers only had three-day old lamb, too tough for a roasted leg. So we will be having lamb shish kebabs instead from the shoulder. This is partly because I’ve cooked this before, and partly because I had to make a decision under pressure at the butchers!

So, the chicken is a-smokin, the pastry is in for dessert and the lamb in marinading in the fridge. Excited!

Actual smoke, woot woot!


and the winning menu is…..

OK, this is what I am going to attempt to cook this evening. I have never cooked any of these recipes before. What could possibly go wrong?!

To begin:

Tea smoked chicken with mango salad. (I’m using the smoking recipe from this blog: The good news is that we have very overenthusiastic smoke alarms in our house which we cannot switch off (we’ve tried!) so I imagine that this will work out JUST FINE. hehehe.

And then…

Roasted leg of lamb cooked with paprika and oranges. Served with roasted vegetable cous cous, warm pittas, braised fennel and herby yogurt. (The lamb is a Gordon Ramsey based recipe and everything else is from my head.)

To finish…

Ryan’s Key Lime Pie offof GBBO. Recipe here:

Despite the fact that this was ‘one of the best desserts ever on Jibbo’, I am pretty convinced that this was a slight fluke on Ryan’s behalf as he seemed to be baking on a wing and a prayer. It had better be good Ryan!

Oooh, what to cook?

Searching for ideas…

We have the Sheldon-Parrs and the newly married Beers coming around for tea tonight, bringing the eating collective to an almighty 6 – the maximum number of people allowed round for tea at Chateau Forge Road, due to the limiting factors of a) crockery, b) cutlery and c) dining chairs.

I’m very excited as I have all day to cook, however, I would normally have been planning a menu all week and have thus far come up with no ideas.

Part of the problem is that I am craving game, but game season has not started yet! So it will just have to be red meat me thinks.

I also cannot use nuts or eggs without killing off at least one member of the dinner party, and mushrooms are considered the work of the devil by most of the people coming for tea. Hmmmmm

The only thing I do know is that we will be having Ryan’s Key Lime Pie offof the Great British Bake Off (AKA jibbo) last week. So whatever else we eat has to fit into a menu with this. As far as I am aware, the only food that has every come out of the Florida Keys is Key Lime Pie. Who knows, maybe that’s all that they eat??

Will update you on the menu when I figure it out, which better be soon because dinner will be served in T (tea!) minus 6.5 hours – eek!

Geoffrey is alive!!


Excellent news oneyorkshirepudding readers, Geoffrey made it through the night. He has been fed with flour and water twice today and is begin to increase in size (the sign of a healthy sourdough starter apparently!) I am as yet unsure whether the 36 hour starvation period will have caused any lasting damage to Geoffrey, but hopefully a period of intense rehabilitation will allow him to provide me with boundless amounts of delicious sourdough bread. (And yes, I have names my sourdough starter… broodymuch?!)