Extra cooking and baking

Extra cooking and baking

Look out for this symbol for extra baking/cooking. It is much more economical to cook in batches and freeze portions for busy days ahead. Of course, not all meals can be made ahead of time, but having at least part of the meal ready will save time on busy days.  Cooking from scratch is so essential if you want to eat healthy and keep a good, steady weight. Then you know exactly what is in your food and no more hidden sugars, transfats, or too much salt.

Make your own Artisan bread: 

Recently breadmaking has become very popular.  I have had a breadmaker for years and have been doing my own sourdoughs. Once you get the hang of it, it is a very easy and healthy way to make your own bread. 

The recipe below is for a simple and tasty mixed loaf that can be done in any conventional oven. No breadmaker or sourdough is needed.

You will need kitchen scales, the ingredients below, a ceramic dish with a lid (ideally round), a bowl, and a mixing spoon.
baking bread

Ingredients: 560g wheat flour, 190g rye flour, 550g hot water, 16g salt (ideally sea salt or pink Himalayan salt), some cumin seeds (1/2 a teaspoon should be enough), 3 grams of active yeast. You could add some linseeds or other seeds if you like. If you want to add sourdough (see recipe below) please add 1-2 tablespoons to this recipe. 

 

1) weigh all the ingredients and put them together into a big kitchen bowl. I use a big mixing spoon to blend them all together. Then add some flour to your hands and knead the dough.  (please use enough plain flour on your hands, otherwise, the dough will stick to you). After a few minutes of kneading, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and leave it to rest. I suggest a minimum of 3 hours. You could also prepare the dough in the evening and let it rise overnight. Then it will be ready for baking the next day. 

Tip: To see if the dough is ready for baking. Pull some upwards.  If it rips easily it needs to rise a little longer.  A dough that is ready for baking should glide out and not rip straight away. Traditionally you let the dough rise up to 5 times. It sounds complicated, but you let it rise in the bowl and then just take a few minutes to knead it again and let it rise again for a couple of hours. It makes sense to make a few bread loafs at the same time. Then slice them and freeze in separate freezing bags and it will give you a good amount of bread for the next weeks. 

2) Once the dough is ready,  preheat the oven to 250 degrees C (480F) and put the empty ovenproof dish with lid into the oven. Yes, that is right – empty to heat it up! A few minutes is enough to get it quite hot. 

3) Be careful when taking the hot dish out of the oven and put it on a heat-resistant mat or coaster. Add some sprinkles of plain flour to cover the bottom of the pan. This is important as otherwise, the bread will stick to the pan and it will be hard for it to come out.
Then add the dough. With the mixing spoon create a line in the top of the dough – that is where the crust can rise and sprinkle some plain flour on the top.  Put the lid on and bake the bread (middle shelf) for about 35 minutes.
My Tip: Pour water into an oven dish and put it on the bottom shelf, so the bread bakes in moist air.

If you make your break in a bread machine, I would still make the dough as described above as bread machines don’t have enough resting time built in. Once the dough is ready, transfer it to the bread machine and choose the wholegrain setting. 

Sourdough starter: 

This is an old recipe from my grandmother. In Austria most loaves of bread are sourdoughs and when I was a child I can only ever remember eating sourdough bread. Here is a recipe for your very own sourdough starter. If you put it together today, it will take a minimum of 5 days before you can use it. But once you have started, you can keep your sourdough going for years. If it is fed regularly, it gets better and better. My current one is about 4.5 years old. You can give part of your starter away to friends – to give them a headstart in their own sourdough process. 

What is sourdough? 
In essence, it is fermented dough that you add to your bread mixture before baking.
The reason it has become so popular is that it tastes so good as well as being beneficial for your digestion. Sourdough contains strains of the helpful lactobacillus, also called the friendly gut bacteria. If you suffer frequently from bloating or even IBS, switching to sourdough from conventional bread will help. 

Here is how to make the starter: 
You will need 250ml of milk, 250ml water, 1 tbsp of sugar, 2.5 teaspoons of dry yeast, and 450g of plain flour.  If you are lactose-intolerant use lactose-free milk. 

Warm the milk to almost boiling and add the water and sugar. When the temperature has cooled to 40degreeC (105F) add the yeast. Cook at a very low temperature for about 5-10 minutes. The yeast must start to foam a little. Pour this mixture into a container that has a lid and add the flour. Mix well. Initially, you need to keep the lid off as it is essential that air can get to your new starter. I suggest you cover it with a tea towel or muslin cloth. Keep it stored in a warm place like an airing cupboard. The warmer the better – around 30C (80F) is ideal. After a day or 2, it starts to bubble. It is important to stir it once or twice a day. Soon a greyish liquid will form on the top – don’t be alarmed. This is absolutely normal and good. Hurrah it’s working! 

Once it starts to smell sour – hence sourdough – it is ready to use. Now you can put the lid on and that is how it is stored. If you don’t intend to bake immediately put it in the fridge. There you can keep it literally for years!  Be aware it is a live organism and therefore needs the occasional feeding to stay alive. 

This is how to do it: Replenish it with 120 ml warm water (4fl oz) and 120g of flour. That’s it. Leave it to bubble up (ideally do this a day before baking and leave it outside). Once used, return it to the fridge.

If you keep your dough outside the fridge, you need to replenish it quite regularly (say once a week), when I keep it in the fridge, I only do it sporadically, usually once a month, depending on how much I use.  Even if you don’t use it, it needs the occasional stir otherwise it will separate too much. 

Now you are good to go. You can add this sourdough starter to the bread recipe above and you will have baked your first sourdough bread. 

Cooking and Baking

Cooking and Baking

 

TODAY IS A GREAT TO TO COOK IN BATCHES FOR FREEZING, MAKE  BREAD AND BAKE CAKE & COOKIES

I read that Mauro Colagreco, owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant Mirazur, situated on the French Riviera, has changed his menu post-COVID lockdown.  That would not be surprising for a place listed on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list. But why is it news-worthy? Because he will tailor his offerings in accordance with what the moon is doing.

 

 

I am sure many readers thought ‘Ridiculous new fad- what next?’. Well, this ‘fad’ is actually not so new, it is in fact a few thousand years old.

 

 

Here is the article 

 

 

Mr. Colagreco reasons that he is already using biodynamically grown produce and so he might as well not stop there but carry this method over to the kitchen. Ah, now it makes sense.

 

 

In the Biodynamic garden, one aspect is that the gardener is plants, sows, and carries out any work in accordance with the biodynamic calendar. This has given Biodynamic farming always a ‘woohoo’ appeal, fit for a few crazy souls, but nothing for the sensible masses. But what many don’t realize is that for centuries this was actually THE normal way of farming, nothing ‘woohoo’ about this.

 

 

Generations of observations have led to practices which ‘just worked’ – olives picked on certain days had more oil and apples more juice. Spinach sown on this day was less susceptible to disease or grew quicker. The ‘why’ was less questioned, it just was called ‘tradition’ and it worked.

 

 

I assume the menu choices you will see in the near future at Mirazur, will be guided by the change of the moon phases and the elements.  When you take a look at our online calendar The Month Ahead   you will see that each day shows a moon phase (Waxing Moon, Full Moon, Waning Moon or New Moon) and an element (Water, Air, Earth & Fire) and activity symbols that are connected.

 

 

These symbols represent the observations that led to the creation of these calendars. But their widespread appeal was (and still is) that they are such great tools to structure time and life.

 

 

So what is cooking with the moon?

If you grew up with this ‘way of eating’, then your body is sort of programmed to fancy certain foods at certain times.
I guess this is nature’s way to make sure you get a well-balanced diet. If you have never heard or experienced it, then it does need a bit of time to get used to it. Firstly, you have to ‘detach’ from your current eating habits and ‘re-teach’ your body to develop what I call ‘healthy cravings’ and food management. I am currently working on a program that will teach these steps in more details.

 

 

But here is quick intro if you are completly new to this way of cooking and eating.

 

 

Eating with the moon cycle:

 

 

The Waxing Moon: As the moon grows, so do we. People seem hungrier and gain weight easier. It is a great time for those who find it hard to put weight on (say after an operation) or anorexic.

 

 

If you struggle with too much weight, it is crucial that you watch this time. Don’t lose weight, rather stabilize your weight and aim not to gain. Prepare meals that are filling and full of nutrients (fresh, healthy, organic produce is, of course, best) and that contains very little sugar and empty calories, such as white flour.

 

 

The Full Moon: Again, it is easier to put weight on, but as it is just a short time, you may as well enjoy it and go for a slap-up meal. Traditionally diets started at Full Moon.

 

 

The Waning Moon: Losing weight tends to be easier now.  We are also more active and as a result may eat less, as we are too busy with other things.

 

 

If you have no weight issues, just focus on moving more and keep eating a normal, healthy diet. If you need to lose weight, now is your perfect time. These 2 weeks go for it – there are numerous strategies depending on lifestyle habits and body types.

 

 

New Moon: Traditionally a rest and fast day.

 

 

Another area are the elements. Each day has a special quality and again you can see this on the calendar which ‘day quality’ is dominant.

 

 

Fire – dedicated to fruit – this could be picking, pruning fruit bushes and trees or making jam

 

 

Earth – anything to do with root vegetable and the earth. Digging, weeding harvesting potatoes, sowing carrots, etc.

 

 

Air: Anything to do with flowers and oils. Sunflower would be a top example. This is a great time to pick olives and press their oil, incorporate flowers into salads and dishes and eat ‘flowery’ vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower.

 

 

Water: Leafy vegetables like spinach, all kind of salads and in the garden a great day for planting, fertilising and extra watering.

 

 

The reason I combined the gardening and eating is that until very recently you would grow your vegetable, harvest and eat them – usually all on the same day. There were no chest freezer or fridges available. When your trees had an abundance of fruit, you made jams, compotes, cider or stored them in a way that it lasted for a long time.

 

 

Root vegetables got pickled or fermented. Freezing is not a bad habit, but it works best if you pick and freeze, so the nutrients stay as fresh as can be. If you take only one thing away – try to eat less, but better and shop for food that is ‘alive’ – ideally grown near you, by an organic or even better biodynamic farmer or grow your own, making sure the soil is a nutritous as possible.

 

 

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