Duck ‘n’ Dexter Roast Potatoes

Duck 'n' Dexter Roast Potatoes - flavoursome and fluffy

I have been embroiled in a friendly-ish competition with my mother-in-law (who is an excellent cook) to cook the best roast potato. My current method is the culmination of this endeavour, to which a dinner guest once commented:

“he has studied to Heston Blumenthal levels of obsession, [these] were emphatically the finest roasties I have had ever.”

Praise indeed for humble spuds transformed into Duck ‘n’ Dexter Roast Potatoes.
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Easy Home-Baked Bloomer Loaf

A freshly cut home-baked bloomer loaf, ready to eat

One of my favourite aromas is that of freshly baked bread, even beating a good red wine. And it’s easy to make a crusty, tasty loaf at home with virtually no effort.

Impress your family and friends alike by baking your very own home-baked bloomer loaf.

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Short and Sweet – “A blueprint for great home baking”

Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard

My go-to home baking book is Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard. Not just a recipe compilation it is, in Dan’s own words, a “blueprint for great home baking”, imparting much wisdom in a concise and approachable style.

“I truly believe that life is improved by cake.”
Dan Lepard

The “eureka” moment was minimal knead bread-making. A slow, steady rise, interjected with 15 second kneads, it is a good fit for home baking in the maelstrom of modern life.

Dan is a master across the field of baking. His book covers cakes, biscuits, desserts, pizza and even beer-battered fish!

The book can be purchased from amazon.co.uk in either hardback or Kindle format.

Reviving a Classic … Duck a l’Orange

Duck a l'orange with Roast Potatoes

This classic restaurant dish from the 1970’s has all but disappeared from our menus now, as the food trend has moved from sauces poured onto food to food served on sauces (or with foams).

In the past the emphasis was weighted towards the sauce … which led to heavy sauces, unbalanced flavours and the duck skulking somewhere in the background. With a couple of tricks, the meal can be re-balanced, letting the duck shine through once again.

An impressive meal to serve to guests, or enjoy as a family, we present duck a l’orange.
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“Which Flour Do I Choose?”

Which flour to choose to make bread?

Walk into any supermarket and head to the baking section. Once there, you will almost certainly be greeted with a bewildering selection of flours to choose from … supermarket brands, named brands, white, wholemeal, brown, organic, rye, seeded, pizza, the list goes on.

There will also be flours which, whilst they can be used to make bread, generally produce loaves that are inferior to those made with proper bread flour. These include plain (or all-purpose), self-raising and sponge.

So to make a loaf bread, which flour do you choose?
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Pho Ga – Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

A bowl of Pho Ga served in a pho shop in Saigon

Walk around any town or city in Vietnam and you’ll find a Pho vendor, either a curbside street stall or a bustling cafe. Pho is a very popular Vietnamese noodle soup dish, normally served with beef (Pho Bo) or chicken (Pho Ga).

From my first taste, it was an instant hit. So many new and exotic flavours and aromas. This just had to be made when we got back home … which happened, and as a result of eating this wonderful dish, I dropped 19kg (3 stone) in weight.

Delicious, cost-effective and incredibly healthy, I hope you enjoy Pho Ga.
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Be a Fan of Non-Fan … Ovens

Bloomer loaf baked with an even rise

In the previous two posts I described the importance of scoring the dough and introducing moisture into the oven in baking bread. Yet even with these measures in place, the loaf can still split or rise in a lopsided manner. In this post, we look at the potential culprit … the oven itself.
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Adding Moisture to Bread-Making

Spraying the loaf in the oven

In the first post of this series we looked at the importance of scoring the dough to control crust expansion as the dough rises. Even so, the crust can still split and crack as it dries out in the oven.

To overcome this, and achieve a lovely golden, crisp crust, we add moisture to the mix.
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“Why Doesn’t My Bread Rise?” – From Dough to Bread

A loaf with good rise

That is probably the most common question asked by home cooks when making their first loaves of bread, the other two being:

“What is making the crust split and bulge? Why does the bread cook faster on one side?”

The baking attempts that lead to these queries are also the cause of budding and enthusiastic amateurs to give up early on.

Almost all cooks go through this in the beginning … including myself. In this series of posts, entitled “From Dough To Bread“, I share some of the tricks I have learned (and pitfalls I have dug myself out of) in baking a decent loaf of bread.
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