Tag Archives: mushrooms

Sourdough – I think I finally have it…

We’re deep in the grip of the Coronavirus and people of the world are buckling down for the months of isolation ahead. We’re extremely lucky and grateful to be able to pretty much keep things going as normal at Pugpig, and I’m doubly lucky because for the first time ever I get to bake sourdough more than once a week. The problem, you see, is that while sourdough isn’t particularly labour intensive, it does need little doses of regular attention over the course of two days making it impossible to do unless you’re around the house for a suitably extended period. And right now I am, which means I’m finally getting to grips with the stuff. If you see any other bread posts on here (published prior to this one) please ignore them – I had no idea how to make bread until a few months ago when my big sis Nic finally showed me how it’s done. God knows how I got away with the method I’ve been using for the last few years, but it certainly explains why my loaves used to be as dense as black holes…

Simple white sourdough

I don’t usually give exact measures in my recipes but you really do need some idea of quantities for this, so I’m going to break my habit just this once.

First you need a starter – you can either make it yourself (google it) or buy it from a baker or even on Amazon (or ask me and I can probably give you some of mine). You then need to keep the starter alive, which is pretty easy: either stick it in the fridge where it will happily lie dormant for quite some time, or every day add 100g of strong white flour and 100ml of water to the starter and mix it together. If the starter beings to grow beyond the confines of your jar, take the excess and stick it in another jar – you can use it for pizza dough, pancakes, all sorts of things.

Now, two nights before you want to bake your loaf, make sure you give your starter a feed and leave it out in the warmth of your kitchen. The next morning when you wake up take about150g of your starter and add it to 450g of strong white flour, 280ml water and 12g of malden sea salt.  At this point you can add whatever else you like – I often throw in a couple of tablespoons of caraway seeds. You could also try a few handfuls of olives and jalapeños. Or raisins and walnuts. It’s also amazing if you add absolutely nothing. Either way, adulterated or not, mix everything together until it makes a fairly smooth and slightly sticky dough. It does not need to be perfect at this point, Stick it in a large tupperware container, slap on the lid on and leave it for an hour. After an hour take it out then stretch it, fold it, stretch it, fold it, stretch it and fold it a few times. Put it back in the container and an hour later do the same thing. and again. and again and again. After a 4-5 hours, the dough should be very stretchy and springy. If you poke it with your finger the indentation should spring back fairly quickly. It should feel really good to the touch. Maybe even a little too good if you get my drift. And this is the great thing about sourdough – there’s no kneading required, just this gentle folding and shaping, which you’ll enjoy far more than you might expect.

Now let the dough continue to prove for a few more hours and round about early evening stick it in a well-floured proving basket and cover it with something relatively airtight. Leave it there until you go to bed at which point pop it in the fridge overnight, still covered.

When you wake up in the morning, turn the oven to full power and place a small saucepan full of water in the bottom. Take your loaf out of the fridge, turn it out onto a floured baking tray and score the top of the loaf to allow it to rise freely (if you don’t do this it will burst somewhere you least expect it). When the oven has reached full temperature, stick the bread in (being careful not to get a face full of steam as you open the oven door). After about five minutes turn the temperature down to about 200c and bake for a further 35-40 minutes. When it’s done, the bread will sound hollow when you tap its bottom.

Take it out and leave it to cool down on a rack, wait as long as you can bear and then cut a slice, cover it with butter and slip into a rare state of perfect pleasure.

I guarantee that once you go sourdough, you’ll never want to bake regular bread again.

 

Triple truffles (with a bonus breakfast track)

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As has become standard procedure for the Kaldor/Dunning Christmas, truffles took centre stage for dinner on Christmas Eve and breakfast the following morning. Thanks to Nigel and his wonderful truffle site (www.trufflehunter.co.uk) we went large this year with a mix of fresh white winter truffles, truffle butter and minced truffle. Truffle overdrive. And while it feels like we’ve all been heavily bombarded by truffle dishes over the last 5 years they’re still a real treat if you don’t overdo them. Or if you only overdo them one day a year. Maybe two.

Truffles thee ways

We started with baked camembert with truffles and sourdough bread (the recipe for which will follow soon, kindly passed onto me by my big sis Nic). It really can’t be simpler – take a camembert, remove the paper and pop it back into the box, score the top of the cheese and pop in slices of your fresh truffle. Stick it in the oven at 180c for 30 minutes. Take it out and stick your bread in it.

That was quickly followed by wild mushroom and truffle ravioli with a truffle butter and cream sauce. It takes a little more effort this one, but definitely worth it.
Start by making your pasta dough – mix 200g of pasta flour with 6 egg yolks, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of cold water. It will be pretty tough, but don’t over work it – just bring it together into a smooth dough, wrap it in clingfilm and stick it in the fridge for an hour. Now you can make the filling – finely chop a shallot and a few handfuls of wild mushrooms, preferably chanterelles or morels. If you can’t find fancy mushrooms chestnuts mushrooms will do just fine. Fry them gently in butter, add some fresh thyme and season well. Once they’re cooked through, add a large knob of truffle butter and two teaspoons of minced truffle. Set the mix aside to cool.
Now you make the ravioli. Either with a pasta maker or a rolling pin, roll the pasta into thin sheets – as thin as you can get without any holes forming – probably about 1mm. Use semolina flour to keep them from sticking to your work surface. Take two round pastry cutters, one slightly larger than the other, and cut as many circles as you can with the dough you have made – equal amounts of each size. With the quantity I used above, you should get about 32 circles (making 16 ravioli)

Now lay out the smaller circles and stick a heaped teaspoon of the mixture in the centre of each one. Take a pastry brush and some water and brush around the edge of each circle and then place the larger circles on top, carefully ensuring there are no air pockets in the ravioli and sealing them around the edges. Dust them with semolina flour so that they don’t stick together and put them aside ready for when you want to cook them. They can sit like this for at least a day so you can do all this work in advance. At this point they should look a little like the ones in my photo above.

For the sauce, take a frying pan and melt a large block of butter with more of the minced truffle and thyme leaves, carefully add a little single cream and season well. In the meantime bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and drop in the ravioli. They’ll only need a few minutes to cook. Once the butter sauce has cooled a little, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.

Now put three of the ravioli onto each plate, spoon over the sauce and shave fresh truffle on top. Perfect.

Since there’s a ton of  butter and cream in the dish, you’ll need something a little sharp to accompany it and this goes really well – mixed leaf salad with truffle vinaigrette.  The vinaigrette is really simple – finely chop garlic, dijon mustard, olive oil and white wine vinegar, salt and pepper and three teaspoons of minced truffle. I used chicory leaves (which are perfectly bitter for this), watercress and rocket. And that’s it – the perfect meal for Christmas eve.

 

The next day…

Ok maybe this is overdoing it, but what the heck, it’s only once a year. When you get your fresh truffles, put them in a tupperware box with half a dozen eggs – they’ll slowly take on the truffle aroma as the shells are porous. On Christmas morning, take the eggs, whisk them up, season them, stick a large block of truffle butter into a frying pan and then add the eggs. Move them around the pan gently until they start to solidify. Once you see this happening get ready to pull them off the heat – you have to have these eggs french style – nice and runny – or you’ll be missing out. As soon as they look good, take them out of the pan, shave the last bits of your fresh truffles all over them along with a handful of chopped chives. Serve with toasted sourdough.

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And here’s what this year’s little beauties looked like…

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Happy Christmas everyone!