Saturday, April 30, 2011

Basic (but perfect) Cucumber Dill Pickles

When I was a little girl, I thought pickles were special. If I was a really really good girl, I got them added to my tuna and white bread sandwiches. I was never allowed to eat all the pickles (though I tried) so I always considered pickles a real treat. These pickles almost cost me nothing and they taste way better than any commercial pickles I've ever stolen in the dark.

This recipe is for the amount shown, just two jars. I find making them often as opposed to big batches (unless doing proper canning, this is the refrigerator method) makes for tastier pickles. Great to do with leftover garden cukes on a casual Saturday afternoon; ready just in time for a Sunday roast and even better the next week.

1 cup 5% acidic vinegar
2 cups water
3 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 cucumbers, room temperature.
2 dill fronds
4 garlic cloves
4 dried chillis

Sterilize jars by placing them in cold water and bringing to boil for five minutes. Place in low-heat oven to keep hot while preparing pickles.

Boil vinegar, water and salt on stovetop. Meanwhile, crush garlic and place with dill and chillis into bottom of sterilized jars. Chop cucumber into 1/2 widthwise then 8ths lengthwise, scraping out seeds as you go. It's okay to leave some in, as I really like the texture of them, but I find cucumbers a bit too seedy for pickles. There's specific pickling cucumbers, but I like this recipe because it's perfect for regular ones. I think pickling cucumbers taste best as both sweet pickles and bread and butter pickles to go with something like silverside and homemade mayonnaise. Something like this is best eaten straight or with incredibly unhealthy things.

Shove cucumbers into jars. Really stuff them in. Stuff them so hard it becomes an internet meme. Yeah, I said it. They will shrink when pickled. Don't worry, the jar can take it. I've seen it take bigger things. Badum.

When sugar has completely dissolved, pour into hot filled jars slowly, leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top. Wipe the jar and lid down and close. Leave on counter to cool and the refrigerate. Will be ready in a day! Voila! Pickles! Just like the ones you ate as a kid, but with less funny crap in it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Liz's Never Fail Super Fluffy Whole Wheat Loaf

This bread requires three rises, which I have tried to bypass without success - it needs the three rises to become super fluffy, so don't skip this bit. The bread is rather easy to make just time consuming on this part, however it is MORE than worth it, as it will be the fluffiest homemade loaf of wheat bread you can make. If you've ever tried to make wheat bread at home you will realize it's quite challenging to rise nice and fluffy since it is a thicker flour. This solves that problem.

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons/14g active dry yeast or 28g fresh yeast mushed with a fork
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup or honey (spray oil into measuring cup before filling so it slips out easily)
  • 5-6 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (I've used olive with success)
  • 1 egg

Combine yeast and water and golden syrup into bowl. Allow to rest 10 minutes until foamy. If no foam appears, your yeast is dead and you need more. This is where I use my KitchenAid but combine the rest of the ingredients (minus the egg) into the water/yeast mixture. Knead until the dough springs back when touched - about 10 minutes by rough hand, 15 by gentle and 6 by Kitchen Aid.

Transfer dough to oiled and preferably warm bowl (I put my oven on at 60c and put the bowl in there as I mix everything, which helps the rise... or wash the bowl with super hot water just before using to keep warm). Cover with tea towel.

Rise 1 hour.

Punch dough and knead for 1 minute then put back into bowl for 45 minutes, covered with a tea towel.

Preheat oven to 180c fan forced, 200c regular, 400F regular, 440F fan forced. Fan forced preferable for nice crust. Grease two loaf pans, or two baking sheets and mould two loaves of bread. Cover with tea towels and let rise 45 further minutes.

Combine in small bowl egg with tablespoon water (milk if you prefer a harder crust) and slash top of bread with *very* sharp knife. Drag creates a more deflated loaf, so use your sharpest. Brush with egg mixture and sprinkle with your choice to topping - we prefer barley flakes, but some prefer oats, cornmeal (polenta in Australia), or anything you deem fit.

Bake 10 minutes.

Lower oven to 150c fan forced, 170c regular, 310F fan forced, 350F regular and bake 20-25 minutes more, or until desired colour is reached. Should be roughly as golden as a Brazilian woman's arse. Allow to cool, if you can.