Saturday
Apr232016

Challah Bread 


 

Shabbat Shalom my friends.  As Passover has just started I wanted to share with you my recipe for Challah Bread which is a traditional Jewish sweet white bread.  

Challah Bread 

Ingredients

2 large free range eggs

2 large free range egg yolks, white saved to brush over the bread prior to cooking

1/4 cup rapeseed oil I used Broighter Gold

2 instant yeast

1 cup lukewarm water

4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons salt

 

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast
  2. While it is dissolving mix the dry ingredients, add the yeast and lukewarm water 
  3. Mix to form a rough dough that is shaggy and hard to mix
  4. Knead for up to 9 minutes - 12 by hand - until smooth and it holds a ball shape
  5. Place in an oiled bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in size, divide into three balls
  6. Roll each ball into a sausage sized rope about 12’’ long
  7. Braid the dough, start by gathering the ropes and squeeze at the top, then plait
  8. Brush with egg yolks, leave to raise again about 30 minutes,  then brush with the reserved egg white mixed with a dash of honey and water, brush the entire loaf, then bake at 200’c
  9. Bake for 25-35 minutes turning your baking sheet 1/2 way through the cooking. The Challah is done when it is a rich glossy brown colour.
  10. Slice when barely warm and serve with soup
  11. The next day make French Toast with the bread or  eat as toast with jam or honey.

 

That's it for now ...

 

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Friday
Apr222016

unite

The shadows were lengthening.  Light in pale indigo and the truest violet stripped the sky with rose and pink.  Dust was moving toward twilight and she was heading towards home.  Everywhere she looked the sky was filled with colour.  Without realising it she was turning herself around and around, arms open wide to the horizons on all sides. Head thrown back, her face to the sky, she felt the relief of her breath.

Peace rose up inside her spiralling through her core.  She smiled, sat on a rock somewhat dizzy from the spinning and ran her hairs through her curls.  The air was warming and the coming night scented with gorse blossoms.  Tiny buds pushed out of bare branches.  Everywhere life was breathing.

The deadness of winter had passed.

Taking the now rumpled letter out of her pocket she brought it to her nose and sniffed.  It bore no smell.  Just ink on pale blue flimsy airmail paper.   United States paper lined with words that had travelled oceans to be smudged with her tears.

Smiling and sighing both at once, she realised darkness had fallen and only in the far distance was there a glimmer of burnt orange hanging lower and lower in the sky, over the rolling river.

 

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On days like today when the world loses another soul who will never sing again, I come to share for five minutes some words, united with others who also write from their corners of the planet,  I hope you will join us.

That’s it for now ...

 

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Monday
Apr182016

Great Tequlia - Cazcabel

Monday's done now.

Well done folks, you made it through.

even if you did think a lot about the weekend being too short and work ticking along too slowly.

Tomorrow is Tuesday, you can power through that to do list.

And maybe just maybe you'll make margaritas.

Cazcabel is a tequlia the Salt and Sparkle team are loving right now - go get some, because a margarita always brightens up an otherwise regular Tuesday.

 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Saturday
Apr162016

Red risotto 

I made a red risotto tonight. Filling and tasty it was too.

It has been one of those evenings - what have I got in the cupboard to cook. Tins of cherry tomatoes smiled at me as did a bag of arborio rice.

A finely diced onion fried gently until it was translucent and almost starting to crisp at the edges in creamy Irish farm butter.

My fingers are scented with the four cloves of garlic I have added to the pot. Grated on my trusty mircoplane that travels the world with me.

It's inevitable for me to be found in a kitchen when I travel.

The light is bright for late evening. Through the trees bare branches laden with bud Belfast Lough ripples indigo blue.

One cat is snuggled by the kitchen fire the other outside jumping in the long grass.

I added more butter it fizzles in the hot pan then the rice which goes clear at the edges.

'I've been missing you' I sing along to Chris de Burgh and I wonder when lady in red will play.

'More than word can say'

I open the cherry tomatoes making a mental note to buy a new tin opener. Rich red with small orbs are startling against the white rice.

In goes a glass of rough Shiraz. And I begin to stir.

My wooden spoon feels sharp and uncomfortable in my hand. I throw it into the sink and pick another.

It's point pressed into my palm as I stir. Round one way. Then the other.

I watch the wind get up and stir the trees. Two house sparrows eat at the feeder by the window.

Good cooking is inspired by beautiful vistas.

I add some chicken stock - it's supposed to be hot. It's not.

The stirring and singing continue. Then I leave the rice to simmer on the side of the aga.

I chop some courgettes and mushrooms then slide them into the pan.

Wondering if I have some black olives I find a jar of Zat'ar. I wonder what the oregano sesame, basil and majorum would taste in the rice. I add a generous helping. I don't have any parsley. My plants look whizzened in this light. Winter is over although a chill and hailstones the size of peas remain.

The kitchen is scented with tomatoes and garlic with high notes of herbs. The salt us rough against my fingers as I grind them with my thumb.

I stop to watch a robin on the fence post. His breast a flame in the lengthening shadows.

I'm tired.

The risotto is coming together, I edge it off the heat and stir in some freshly grated Parmesan. Probably more than would be deemed socially acceptable.

Black pepper. Some Zat'ar ladled into deep bowls. More cheese.

The Robin looks in through our window.

I smile sit and eat.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Monday
Apr112016

Hands like shovels 

His whole body was jiggling as he mixed the batter and there wasn’t much to wriggle. He was withe and lean, long arms ended is huge shovel like hands that were covered in a runny white liquid. One hand held the bowl the other cupped as if to take water from a stream beat the liquid in a visceral curved movement his energy extending from his body into the container.

The liquid had turned a cream colour as it slapped and slurped against the bowl. Sweat was running down his brow with the effort. In a competition for bakers he was warring against three others. None of them used their hands to whisk the batter.

Stopping to taste the mixture he let it fall from a height back into the bowl where it met froth and bubbles. From the same height he rubbed his fingers together and released some white powder. Then the beating began again. Harder, faster, more. There seemed to be a feral fury within him coming out through his hand.
I could just see the mixture change texture from silky and runny to a firmer and then pliable dough. I’d never seen anyone beat dough with their hands. Slapping it onto a marble slab his hands worked back and forth, kneading, lifting and pulling.

Then flour through a sieve and a gentler touch this time. His face had taken on radiance as if the anger of the beating was over. Now it was time for sunshine. The hands that had conveyed such anger seemed to move in slow motion with a gentleness that was always unbefitting to this big fella dressed in whites with a bright green cap on his head.

The bread was placed on the griddle and he would stop and look at it as he cleared his station. He stood behind it when he was finished arms folded and his big black boots. I hadn’t noticed them before. Ugly clumpy and heavy they looked out of place in the kitchen, yet they seemed to give a bit of strength to this baker. He just stood there and watched the bread slowly cook. It didn’t rise. I learnt later potato bread doesn’t rise. Time stood still for him as he watched the bread. I found myself holding my breath.

Movement was quite and exact. He pounced forward using fingers and a paddled flipped the bread, while at the same time throwing some flour onto the griddle. Then nonchalantly he leaned back and waited, his legs and arms crossed, his head resting to one side. I wondered if he was sleeping. I watched him and realised I was enjoying it.

I was shaken out of my meditative moment by his quick movements. The bread was off the griddle and cooling in a linen teatowel on a wire rack.

In another swift movement his hat was off, hands running through curly black hair. He slung his apron onto a hook. Looking into the dark sea of faces watching him he turned on his heel walked off the stage.

When he had disappeared from sight, I exhaled and wondered when I would see him again.

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That's it for now ...

Nics
Salt and Sparkle. = Life Remarkable

Sunday
Apr102016

Sausage supper

The pan is hissing. Halved shallots are spitting inside. Beside them in a pot a of water a fast simmer are the spuds. A few smashed cloves of garlic enhancing the flavour of the water. Always boil potatoes from cold water. Otherwise you mess with the starch.

There are sausages grilling alongside some corn.

She's at the stove now saying, 'it's better to bring potatoes to the boil then do them gently'. Of course it is. Don't boil potatoes top notch they turn to mush and lose form. A low simmer. Lots of salt in the water.

Once they are cooked team them. They need to dry, so leave the colander over the pan on the edge of the stove with a teatowel on top of the potatoes. Their heat will rise through the cloth.

My knives slicing the scallions now. The bright green falling away to icy white. Soon I'll scald them in buttermilk and bubbling butter. The dry spuds go into the pan and I'll find a man to mash. Not because I can't do it myself of course I can but because it's a manly job.

Champ sausages and caramelised shallots. I was famous for this dish at university it became know as a sausage supper. Which of course means an altogether different thing in Ulster.

Sausage supper sure that's battered sausages and chips from the local chipper.

Good like this is full of memories and comfort for me. Always served with a dollop of ketchup.

Simple and tasty. Dinner for family on Sunday night.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Monday
Mar282016

Dreaming of grilled apricots