Friday, 23 January 2009

Book Reviews

In the FoodLovers Britain offices we get loads of cookbooks sent to us for review (lucky us!) but I still can't get enough (you really never can have too many) so I thought why don't we swap reviews so that we all know which are worth splashing the cash on and which aren't. I'm going to start regularly posting reviews of new books I read as well as some favourites from my personal library here on the blog and you can leave your comments on the books you've read and then together we can build up a review archive to guide our shopping...
Leave your book reviews here in the comments section. There may even be a book or two for some of our favourites...

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Taking Part In The Sourdough Challenge

I've received an update from Fresh and its seems their Starters are doing well. They're a little worried about the weekend, though, because they're going away and won't be able to feed them. We'll have to see whether their "extra large dinner" tomorrow will sustain them...

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


Rejoice one and all! I think it's time. I thought she might have been yesterday but today I am certain - my Starter is ready for the production leaven stage. As you can see from the picture above, she's gone really runny and has bubbles all across her surface. It was quite a sudden change after a quiet weekend.
Before leaving work today I will use 50g of my starter to make my leaven ( as per my recipe )which then needs to ferment/prove for a further 24 hours. Tomorrow evening it will be time to bake my bread! I'll bring my bread into work for my lucky workmates on Thursday and I'll be sure to post a picture so you can all see how it turns out. As impartial judges, I'll let my workmates tell you how it tastes - though I can tell you now that it's bound to be amongst the best they've ever tasted!

Monday, 19 January 2009

No gluten free bread yet...

I called it a disaster...others said it was a minor set back, but my first attempt at making my own gluten free bread did not go to plan. Essentially, I didn't do the one thing my Home Economics teacher taught the recipe. I had the correct ingredients, even in the right amounts. However I had not even thought about how long the bread would take to make. Having never even made gluten-ous bread before I was diagnosed, I completely failed to notice that bread needs up to 5 hours to prove in a warm place. And here was my downfall. Time and a warm place. In my memory, I recall my mother baking her own bread and proving it in the airing cupboard. I don't an airing cupboard and started bread making preparations at 5pm on a Sunday. Now, don't laugh, but this is how it went:
  • I left my scales at the office from when we created the sourdough starter.
  • I bought some new scales (for their bigger capacity, honest) but they were rubbish, barely registering ingredients as I lobbed them in.
  • I made my production dough and left it on the radiator to do its thing. But the heating was barely on.
  • Reading further into the recipe, I read how the bread needed to prove for up to 5 hours in a warm place. This was at 6.30pm and I had just made the production dough which needed up to 3 hours.
  • So, I decided to honour all bakers and rise with them at 5.30am to bake the bread I had started. (Actually I hate waste and was determined to have bread for breakfast).
  • I mixed the dough at 11.30pm and took it to bed with me (not literally - but its the warmest room at night) to prove.
  • I woke up at 5.30am to find that my dough had not risen an inch.
  • I went back to bed.
  • I dreamt of toast.
But, this was always going to be a learning process, and in typical Kim cooks fashion was winging it at the last minute. Next weekend, I will start in the morning - now that I know how long the total process takes and use my trusty scales now safely back home. What I will say is that it was incredibly easy to make and fitted nicely into the loaf tin. Now I just need to find a warm place... Watch out for my more successful recipe next week. Do you have any foolproof (or Kimproof) bread recipes?

Friday, 16 January 2009

The gluten free sourdough starter recipe

For those of you who would like to follow in my gluten free footsteps, here is the recipe I have been following, slightly amended from Bread Matters book:
Day 1
Mix 30g brown rice flour with 40g body temperature water in a plastic tub and cover with a tea towel or polythene bag in a warm room.
Day 2
Add another 30g brown rice flour and 40g water to the starter from day 1 and mix well. Cover and leave in the same place.
Day 3
Mix in another batch of the 30g rice flour and 40g water to the now 14og of starter. The mixture should be rising like a dough with bubbles and a yeasty aroma. Stir well and cover for another day.
Day 4
Add 45g brown rice flour and 50g water to the starter, and after 24hours you should have a sourdough to get baking with.
This is where I had problems...I ran out of brown rice flour. To compensate for this, I have repeated day 3 and will do day 4 on day 5 at home where the rice flour is, then get baking!

Gluten Free Sourdough Challenge - Day 3 and 4

Initially, it looked like nothing much was happening beneath the tea towl. It smelt slightly more yeasty, but there didn't appear to be much visible difference in how my gluten free sourdough looked. Until I looked at the pictures of the past 3 days...
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
As you can see, it has developed from a white grainy paste, to a slightly yellow, moussey mound that has developed some bubbles and a rather acidic aroma. I often get wafts of yeasty smells as I am working at my desk through the tea towl. Nearly the weekend...what shall I have on my toast?


Not much change today and my Starter seems a little less bubbly than before, especially after he next feeding. I'm a little worried about her but hoping it's all part of the process. There are still a few bubbles and a definite yeasty smell though, so fingers crossed... It's still not too late to take part. Look at my recipe and go ahead. Then send me your pictures and I'll make you a post so you can comment on your progress

Taking Part In The Sourdough Challenge

There have been some interesting developments in the Fresh magazine office today. I'll let Henrietta Clancy and Felicity Cloake tell you about their Starters' progress...
Henrietta: Well, mine’s doing exceptionally well – bubbling away happily, smelling encouragingly yeasty......I’ll leave Felicity to tell you about aromas emanating from her glass jar this morning...
Felicity: I came in this morning, and mine, which was right next to Hen’s, had progressed from a slightly odd Brie-aroma to full-on vomit. Which I sense, after smelling Hen’s, is not the idea. I know I should have taken a picture, but I was so upset with it that I tipped it straight into the kitchen bin before anyone could complain about the smell. I am going to start a new one tomorrow morning at home, so I can nurture it through the difficult first days, and then bring it into work on Monday.


Yesterday was Sourdough Day 4 and time for another feeding. There hadn't really been much change with my Starter overnight (slightly disappointingly) but she's still very bubbly and even more pungent smelling. I guess I'll just have to be patient - shame it's not my strongest virtue.
I had to be a little creative when taking half of the mixture out to replace with new flour and water. I'd forgotten a wooden spoon and all we had in the office was metal, which can apparently be reactive. My makeshift scoop from a business card holder was ingenious, though - even if I do say so myself.
There wasn't much Hooch - but a little fluid had gathered around the sides of my Starter. You can see a bit of it in the picture above which separated out from the mixture I scooped out.
Roll on day 5...
It's still not too late to take part. Look at my recipe and go ahead. Then send me your pictures and I'll make you a post so you can comment on your progress

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Taking Part In The Sourdough Challenge

I think my Sister and Co. are having a bit of a joke with their inventive use of props, but the froth on their starter is still pretty impressive for Day 3. All the Hooch they had which they stirred back in yesterday seems to have gone.


Yesterday was Day 3 of my Sourdough Challenge and look how bubbley she was! My worries about the office being too cold overnight were clearly unfounded. Her reward was a good feeding. As per my recipe, I took out half the mixture and rreplaced it with new flour and water. I don't think the quantities need to be that exact but since I used 100g each of flour and water, I added 50g of each this time. After stirring this in, she became runny and smoothe but soon began to puff up again - you can really tell something's happening! The other thing to mention is the smell. My Starter's getting whiffier by the day- though not in a particularly bad way. It's just like a strong, sour-doughy, bready smell with overtones of yeastiness and beer. There's still no Hooch.
It's still not too late to take part. Look at my recipe and go ahead. Then send me your pictures and I'll make you a post so you can comment on your progress

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Taking Part In The Sourdough Challenge

Last night:
This Morning:
My Sister and co back at home are taking part in the Sourdough Challenge - probably just to stop me going on about it - and I've just got sent some pictures of how they're getting on and I must admit I'm a little irritated that they've got Hooch and I haven't!
You can read about Hooch on my recipe, but it's basically a liquid bi product of the fermentation process which looks, smells and is very like beer - and you can see it clearly in the photo here. It's nothing that's necessary to the process and why some get it and others don't is a bit of a mystery but to have it after just one night is pretty remarkable!
We'll have to see how they get on! You can see their comments below...


Yesterday was Day 2 of my Sourdough Challenge and having left my Starter alone for the first night I was naturally anxious to see how she'd got on. Well is the answer. As you can just about make out from the photo, there are definite signs of bubbles. All that had to be done was stir my Starter, which made her a lot runnier. As the day progressed, though she soon became thick again with more bubbles.
Today is her first feeding - I will remove half of the mixture and replace with new flour and water - I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow....
It's still not too late to take part. Look at my recipe and go ahead. Then send me your pictures and I'll make you a post so you can comment on your progress

Taking Part In The Sourdough Challenge

The FRESH Sourdough - Day 1

My friends Felicity Cloake and Henrietta Clancy at Fresh Magazine are joining in the Sourdough challenge and making their own Starters. Apparently "hoodwinked by the deceptive simplicity of my original recipe", they have used plain white flour to make their Starters and put them in glass jars. There is no reason why this shouldn't work, though - and they have left their jars open in order to avoid explosions as I warned about in yesterday's post.

Day two of gluten free sourdough

My office pet
My new office pet - a gluten free sourdough starter - had it's second feed yesterday on day 2 of our sourdough challenge. Strangely, on the way into work I got quite excited about feeding him and arriving into work added another 30g of rice flour and 40g of room temperature water.
GF Sourdough - Day 2
Ben's post made me think to tell you that I have used an organic, brown rice flour from Wholefoods essentially because I already had some at home, but the organic ones are meant to have more of the naturally occurring wild yeasts. So, it's already looking more viscous and smells really yeasty - some say it also smells of rice, go figure! Apparently, tomorrow it may even start bubbling, but I am thinking I may take it home overnight to prevent the drop in temperature in the office from slowing my baby down.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


Yesterday was Day 1 of my Sourdough Challenge and time to start growing my Starter. As per my recipe, all that needed to be done was mix equal quantities of flour and water together (I used 100g of each). Time and the natural yeasts in the air around us will, apparently, do the rest.
I used a standard 2 litre water bottle with the top cut off to make my starter in - hopefully it should be big enough to cope with my Starter's (fingers crossed) imminent expansion. I've been hearing all sorts of stories of exploding jars (don't use a glass container!) and messy radiators!
Obviously, chosing the flour to use was a big decision. I changed my mind between rye and wheat several times but eventually settled for rye - which is the most traditional for Sourdough and apparently a little more reliable. I used wholemeal organic flour since this has more of the natural yeasts and proteins in it which will help feed my Starter.
I'd love to hear your comments or if you're a sourdough veteran who has any tips .
And it's not too late to join in and start growing your very own Starter. Follow my recipe (or try your own if you prefer) and let me know how you get on. If you email me photos of your Starter, I can create you your own post which you can leave daily comments on charting your Starter's progress. If you email them to me, I can add daily photo updates, too since you can't post them in the comments directly.
I look forward to hearing from you - and that's a challenge!

Monday, 12 January 2009

Day one of gluten free sourdough

Based on the recipe from Andrew Whitely, I have started my own sourdough as part of the sourdough challenge. It only takes 4 days to create this natural leven and then I can get baking. Day 1: Mix 30g of brown rice flour with 40g of water (at just warmer than body temperature) in a large pastic container and cover with a polythene bag or clean tea towl.

Leave the mixture in a warm room - mine was left in our lovely warm office. Peeking at it on my desk during the day, it quickly began to smell of yeasty bread - evidence of the natural yeasts abundant in the brown rice flour. It quickly became more viscous, like thick double cream and tomorrow, I'll be adding more rice and water to it... Home made gluten free bread here we come!

Kim's gluten free rice sourdough challenge

We're quite a foodie little team here at FoodLovers and when Ben decided to run a sourdough challenge on the blog, making his own starter from scratch running in conjunction with Our Daily Bread, I thought I should represent my own. I love bread. Who doesn't love the smell of freshly baked bread, or the mouth watering aroma of bread toasting...? But you see I can't eat it. I have Coeliac Disease. However this doesn't mean that I cannot appreciate real bread as I used to before I was diagnosed.
In keeping with the foodie experiments in the office, I too am taking up a sourdough challenge - just this one happens to be gluten free. In all honesty, I haven't even tried many of the ready made gluten free breads as they are dry, laced with additives to make it like "real bread" and deliver none of the satisfaction of simple well made bread - such as loaves from Born & Bread. So now I am attempting to make my own - truly from scratch - starting with the brown rice sourdough as per the recipe in Bread Matters by Andrew Whitely which uses brown rice flour, rich in wild yeasts as the natural leven for my gluten free bread. Like Ben, I will post the activity of the sourdough each day complete with pictures and observations, finishing with my first, home baked gluten free Potato and Quinoa Bread. I am quite excited about the prospect of eating amazing gluten free bread...have you ever had such a thing?

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Masterchef: Gregg Wallace's Spoonfuls Go Large

Has anyone been watching the new series of Mastercef? In the FoodLovers' office, it's been a big topic of conversation. As far as I'm concerned, though, there's 2 things which I feel the need to comment on.
The first is Gregg Wallace's tasting of the dishes the contestants make. Do you think there's some backstage rule that he and John Torode are allowed only one mouthful of every dish? Gregg has become something of a master at piling a spoon so high with food (particularly puddings) that it wobbles under the weight - rather like himself. In fact, he should probably contact Guiness about setting a world record...
The second point which has dominated my viewing experience is one of annoyance. Sad though it may be, I like to play along with the show when watching and,during the first, so-called 'invention' round, think what I would make with the ingredients given. Yet time after time the irritating voiceover woman (who I, perhaps unfairly, hold responsible) fails to give a full list of ingredients. "Mint, lamb, chilli, avocado and yoghurt", she will say and only when I have nearly finished mentally creating my dish of chilli rubbed lamb chops with a mint raita will I see one of the contestants peeling a mango and realise that I could actually have made a slightly more interesting avocado, mango and mint salad to accompany the chops. My dish is ruined!
Does anyone else do the same - or is it just me? What are your views on the latest series? And what would you cook in the final round? I'd love to hear your thoughts. If enough people feel the same about the voice-over, perhaps we should form some kind of petition...

Thursday, 8 January 2009

2009 Predictions

Hi everyone - Happy New year. I've just been looking through the latest batch of foodie mags and press releases and they all seem to be making predictions for the year ahead. All well and good - but be a bit bold, people! According to Olive magazine, cooking from scratch is going to be big. And people are going to be more environmentally friendly and more into local food and provenance. Is it just me or were all these mentioned last year, and the year before? And as for predictions that we're all going to be more more price conscious by shopping around for the best deal and using cheaper cuts of meat, isn't that a bit of a credit-crunch no-brainer? Still, I would question Olive's prediction that we as a public will turn our nose up at champagne in favour of cheaper sparkling wines and Metro's suggestion that we'll abandon high-end restaurants for cheaper alternatives. For special ocassions, I'm sure both will still be wanted. The prediction that trattorias, cafes, bistros and other less-formal restaurants will be big is a little more worthwhile but, with meze, tapas and antipaste bars already popular and growing in number, it's still a bit of a cop out. I'd be interested to see if any of you have any proper predictions. What will be the big new superfood? The latest top cuisine? What will the big name chefs be doing - who'll be going up and who'll be going down? My main prediction is probably more of a wish - that Teff flour (an ancient form of wheat used to make Ethiopian Injeera bread) becomes readily available - it could also be a bit of a superfood given its high protein content. Maybe it will be the next Spelt or Kamut! In the meantime, if anyone knows where I could get some Teff flour, please let me know!!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Happy Food Loving New Year!

First of all I want to wish all Food Lovers a happy and delicious 2009. According to the press, its going to be a year of cooking and eating at home. I have to admit, for New Years Eve we treated ourselves to supper at Le Cafe Anglais in the anticipation of cutting back on eating out in the new year - so maybe I am just like everyone else. The other trend being reported is the down turn in organic food sales... I am a dedicated subscriber to my muddy, just picked organic veg box - and will be turning to my new season savoy cabbage tonight instead of meeting with my partner for an impromptu dinner on the way home from work.
If you are one of the reported foodies cutting back on the eating out - spend a little of that saving supporting our farmers in these tough times and make your suppers all the more interesting. What else would Food Lovers spend their money on...?