Extra cooking and baking

Extra cooking and baking

Today’s task is extra baking/cooking. You can always freeze this in small portions. This is a very efficient way to create home-made meals. 

Make your own bread: 

It has recently become really popular to make your own artisan bread. I have had breadmakers for years and been doing my own sourdoughs. But here is a quick and easy recipe for all those who want to give it the first try. The recipe below is for a simple and tasty mixed loaf that can be done in any conventional oven. No breadmaker or sourdough needed.

 You will need kitchen scales, the ingredients below, a ceramic dish with a lid (ideally round), a bowl, and a mixing spoon.
Ingredients:  560g wheat flour, 190g rye flour, 550g hot water, 16g salt, some cumin seeds (1/2 a teaspoon should be enough), 3gram of active yeast. You could add some linseeds or other seeds if you like. 

1) weigh all the ingredients and put them together into a big kitchen bowl.  I use a big mixing spoon to blend them 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. It makes sense to make a few bread loafs at the same time. 

2) Once the dough is ready,  preheat oven to 250degree C (480F) and put the empty ovenproof dish with lid into the oven. Yes, that is right – empty to heat it up!

3) Take it out when it is very hot (be careful handling it!) and 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 it in moist air.

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 fact, if it is fed regularly, it gets better and better. My current one is about 3 years old. You can then give part of your starter away to friends – to give them a headstart in their own 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 a conventional bread might be a good move.

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 try to do just warm water instead. 

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. It is important that the yeast starts to foam a little. Pour this mixture in 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!  Beware 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). Then return it back into the fridge when it is no longer needed. 

If you keep your dough outside, you need to replenish quite regularly (say once a week), when I keep it in the fridge, I only do it sporadically, usually after using it or at least every 2-3 weeks. 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



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.



Cooking with yoghurt

LWTM Cooking with yoghurt

LWTM Cooking with yoghurt


People have been making yoghurt for over four thousand years. Its name comes from the Turkish word ‘yogurt’, meaning ‘curdled or thickened’.  Milk (mostly cow and goats milk) is heated to about 45 degrees centigrade (112 degree F), then bacterial cultures are added and kept at this temperature for up to seven hours, so fermentation can take place.

Today in most Western cultures, most milk products use milk that is heated to about 80 degree centigrade (176 degree F), a process called pasteurization. In this process all bacteria, harmful and good, are destroyed.

A well-functioning digestion needs these ‘good bacteria cultures’ and recently yoghurt producer have created products, so called ‘probiotics’, where some of these useful strands are added to the pasturized milk products.

Here are the main health benefits:

1) Yoghurt is good for the gut and digestion: The ‘good bacteria’ such as the lactobacillus cultures have proven to help with constipation, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease and as a preventative against colon cancer.

When buying a yoghurt, always check the label that the offered product contains these helpful bacteria, and if so in sufficient quantities. If you suffer from a digestive problem, it might be well worth adding a specific probiotic supplement, such as acidophilus to your diet. In this case pay a bit more and go for a really high content of friendly bacteria and a product that needs to be kept in the fridge.

2) Yoghurt may help with osteoporosis: Due to the high calcium content, yoghurt is good for teeth and bones. Sometimes manufactures also add Vitamin D. The combination of Vitamin D and calcium is especially helpful to prevent osteoporosis, brittle bone disease. If you are over forty years old, a daily helping of a vitamin D enriched yoghurt can be very beneficial.

3) Yoghurt helps to boost the immune system and to curb infections:

If your pH is higher than the normal 4.0 to 4.5 level, yeast infections like candida can be the consequence. Eating a probiotic yoghurt will balance the pH level and fight the yeast overgrowth. Taken on a regular basis it will help to prevent future infections and inflammations of the bowel and small intestine. Antibiotics kill all bacteria, also the ‘good ones’. When you finish a course of antibiotics, always add a probiotic to your diet to build up more resistance.

4) Yoghurt may help to reduce the risk of high blood pressure: This is a subtle benefit and also depends on other life-style factors. But recent studies in Spain showed that people who added low-fat, culture enriched yoghurts to their diet had on average a lower chance of developing high blood pressure.

5) Makes you feel fuller and builds muscle tissue: Protein together with exercise will build muscle tissue. Additionally it will give you a sense of ‘fullness’. This is the reason why many weight loss programs urge their followers to eat yoghurt.

Here are a few recipes to customize low-fat yoghurt:

Yoghurt with berries and linseeds:

Fill half of a small breakfast bowl with low fat, probiotic yoghurt and add a handful of berries (you can also use defrosted berries). Sprinkle a teaspoon of linseeds or ground flaxseed on the top.  Both add a lot of fiber to your yoghurt and are rich in omega 3 oils.

Yoghurt and lemon curd desert:

Put some lemon curd into a tumbler and top up with yoghurt. In another bowl mix some chopped fruit of your choice with a small amount of icing sugar and pour the fruit on top of the yoghurt. Make as many glasses as required and then put them in the fridge. Serve with short bread on the side; this is a delicious summer pudding.

Grilled chicken with courgettes and aubergines:

Cut two chicken breast fillets into strips. Cut half an aubergine and 2 courgettes into strips. In a small bowl mix 2 tbsp. of olive oil with 1-2 gloves of freshly pressed garlic and brush this mixture onto the chicken, aubergine and courgettes strips. Then griddle these pieces in a griddling pan until golden brown. If they stick to the pan add a tiny bit of olive oil or water.

When the chicken and vegetables are done, set them aside in a serving bowl and drizzle some lemon juice over them. If you make large amounts, griddle them in batches, whilst keeping the cooked chicken warm.

Finally mix a few tablespoons of Greek yoghurt with another crushed garlic clove, a few drops of olive oil and a few sprigs of fresh mint. Arrange the griddled chicken and vegetables on a plate and serve with the yoghurt and pitta bread.




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