Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Experimental Cookery 2013: Three For One

In honour of "Jamie's Money Saving Meals", I thought I'd do a triple post with the results of my cookery exploits last week. It's nothing to do with my not being bothered to write three individual posts, no, not at all...

Naan Bread

I've previously tackled naan breads twice before, both times from "Gordon Ramsey's Great Escape". But while they were okay, they were never better than that, and a lot of work as well. So, at the recommendation of Captain Ric, I tried the version from the Hairy Bikers' "Great Curries".

Well, it's fair to say that these were much more successful - a whole lot less work, a whole lot less time, and better results. Next time, I need to make sure I use finer salt, and I also need to make sure they're rolled thinner, but otherwise they were a resounding success. And they were also considerably bigger than the other version, which is a plus.

Seeded White Loaf

This one came from the "Women's Institute Big Book of Baking", which LC was given for Christmas but which I have shamelessly baked from. Shocking, isn't it?

Other than the baguettes I cooked a few weeks ago, I've never really tackled bread. And the truth is that I see little point in cooking 'basic' breads, by which I mean the standard white or brown loaves one could buy from the supermarket. After all, you can't beat them on cost or on time, and unless you're pretty good you're unlikely to beat them on taste. And they go stale far more quickly. The one advantage is that you get to control what goes into the bread, which means you get to skip all those nasty additives... but, for me, that's just not enough to justify the effort.

(Perhaps if we had a bread maker, that would be different. But we don't use enough bread to justify that expense, and the unit could never come close to paying for itself. Besides, the fun of making these things by hand lies largely in, well, making them by hand, which the bread maker removes.)

But that's okay. There's way more to bread than just the basic white or brown loaves, and so I found myself tackling this seeded white. And it was easy to do - mix, knead, prove, knock back, shape, prove, bake. And the result was great - a nice, tasty loaf ideal for dipping in soup. It lasted two days, but probably wouldn't have gone beyond that... but that was okay, because it only lasted two days anyway.

The lack of pictures in the WI book was slightly unfortunate - it would be nice to know what I'm making. Other than that, the book is very good, and certainly much better than Paul Hollywood's "Bread", which I'm afraid I would have to recommend against.

Roast Chicken with Lemon & Rosemary Roast Potatoes

This one was a real experiment, not because I've not tackled roast chicken before, but rather because I was cooking in Lord Chocolat's kitchen (we were staying there at the weekend). The recipe itself came from "Jamie's Dinners", which I was using as it was the most familiar of the options available in said kitchen.

The process of this one was pretty simple, albeit time-consuming. Unfortunately, I misjudged the time involved, such that the meal was 'ready' far too early, but that's not a huge problem. I also have to question Jamie's quantity of potatoes, which was way too many for four people. (Should have stuck with the "four people... four potatoes" formula, or close to it.)

However, the worst problem was that when the food was 'ready' and we came to cut the chicken, we found that it was undercooked. I fear I must have misread the oven setting, or something like that. So the chicken, which was now open, had to go back in. When it came out again, it was now cooked, but it was also browned in places it should not have been. A shame, really.

Taste wise, the meal was pretty good. The potatoes, in particular, went extremely well. The chicken tasted good, too, though it was rather dry due to the mistake in the cooking. I served with some simply-done peas and carrots, though these were nothing to write home about, and some gravy that was more... gloopy than I would have preferred.

None of which was Jamie's fault of course - just a problem inherent in cooking in someone else's kitchen. Still, I'd defintely be willing to try this recipe again.

(In fact, for the past while I've been considering doing a BIG roast every weekend, in order to harvest lots of leftovers for lunches and the like. But I'm not quite there yet...)

1 comment:

Kezzie said...

Ha, interesting that I did your last comment for the first time last week!! I cooked my first joint of meat ever (yes, I know, terrible!!!! But I cook all sorts of other meat dishes) and then reaped the benefits for a week- we/I ate for 6 days worth!!
The bread sounds great but I am a hopeless bread maker. CBC has a bread-maker we got in the British Heart Foundation shop and we hasn't made any for years now!!!

Please can you say thank you to Lady Chocolat for her lovely comment! That's so cool that she fences and an encouragment to me that SOME time, I will have the time to try it! x