Thursday, 29 November 2012

My Ultimate Breadmaker Wholemeal Wholewheat Bread Recipe!

Ultimate Breadmaker Wholemeal Bread

A perfect wholemeal (whole wheat) loaf for me is a bread that is well risen and light.  Good for sandwiches but also makes toast which is crispy, crunchy on the outside and a little bit soft in the middle. Toasting qualities are important as I make it mainly for use at breakfast in the guest house.

Anyone who makes their own bread will know how difficult it can be sometimes to achieve that with wholemeal flour.  As you may know, the reason why it's so tricky is that the gluten in wholemeal flour is not very strong and doesn't 'hold' the rise of the yeast.

Most of the time, my standard recipe works just fine but sometimes, you do exactly what you always do and you end up with a loaf that sinks back after rising.  No amount of tweaking with water/yeast quantities seem to make any difference at all.  After a bit of research, I have found a remedy for this, and so far (fingers crossed!) it has produced a perfect loaf every time! 

So here it is, my ultimate wholemeal bread recipe for use in a breadmaker!


1.1/2 teaspoons fast action yeast
400 g wholemeal flour
150 g strong white flour
About 125 mg of crushed vitamin C powder ** see below
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1.1/2 teaspoons salt
35 ml olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
355 ml tepid water

** I use 1000 mg vitamin C tablets which I crush with a pestle and mortar.


Add the ingredients to the pan in the order specified by your breadmaker.  Set to the wholemeal rapid setting and go!  Check the mixture in the pan once it starts mixing.  Flours vary so if it looks a little dry, add up to about 10 ml more water.

In case you hadn't guessed, it's the vitamin C and the lemon juice that come to the rescue - they help to strengthen the gluten.  Simple but very effective!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Parsnip, Pea & Anise Soup

A lovely light green, thick soup with a surprisingly delicate flavour, these ingredients are a match made in heaven!

Parsnip, Pea & Anise Soup Recipe


400 g parsnips, peeled and chopped
375 g frozen garden peas
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tspn ground anise seeds
1 tspn olive oil
1.2 litres vegetable stock

Serves 4

Put the onion & parsnips in a large saucepan with the olive oil and fry gently.  Grind the anise in a pepper mill or in a pestle and mortar and add to the pan.  Once the vegetables have started to soften, add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and continue to cook until the vegetables are completely soft.  Add the peas and bring back to the boil.

Remove from the heat and blend.

Approx Nutritional Values per Serving
CaloriesFatSat FatProteinCarbsSugar
173 Kj2.

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Sunday, 26 August 2012

Strawberry Conserve

The first thing that you'll notice about this preserve (before you even eat it!) is that it actually smells of strawberries! It smells delicious which is always a good start!

This one is a conserve rather than a jam and the difference is that a conserve keeps the colour and flavour of the fruit better and you also get pieces of fruit in the preserve, which I quite like.

The method of leaving the fruit to stand in the sugar for a day, draws the juices out of the fruit and this firms up the fruit which helps it to keep its shape during cooking. This method doesn't work for all types of fruit, but it does work well for strawberries.

This preserve is slightly less sweet than strawberry jam and lovely used to flavour a natural yogurt as well as on toast!
1000 g strawberries
800 g preserving sugar
Juice of 1 small lemon

Strawberry Conserve
Wash & dry the strawberries and then hull them.  Use small ones if possible, otherwise halve or quarter so that all of the pieces are about the size of a small strawberry.  To get a good set, ideally some of them at least would be a little under ripe.

Put the strawberries in a preserving pan and cover with the sugar.  Cover with cling film and leave overnight.  Don't stir as this will break up the fruit and the aim is to try to keep it whole.  After a few hours when there is a some liquid in the pan, you can gently shake the pan to move the fruit around a bit.

The next day, heat gently until all of the sugar is fully dissolved and then simmer for about 2/3 minutes.  Cool and cover with clingfilm again and leave for another day.

The next day, add the lemon juice and heat gently until boiling point is reached.  Then boil for about 10 minutes until setting point is reached.

Rest for about 15 minutes so that the fruit pieces disperse evenly throughout the mixture and then fill your sterilised jars.

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Monday, 9 April 2012

Norwich Riverside Walk from Bishops Bridge

Well, it wasn't a particularly nice day (it was Easter!), but having been indoors all weekend, we decided to venture out, stretch the legs a bit and get some fresh air.  We decided to walk around a part of the Wensum river that we don't often see so we parked up on Riverside Road and walked down the steps next to Bishop's Bridge to reach the riverside walk.  

Almost immediately, we came across Cow Tower across the river,  looking bigger in real life than I remember it.  Cow Tower was part of the city defences and was built around 1398-9, so pretty old!

Carrying on, we came to a new pedestrian bridge which I hadn't seen before, called Jarrold's Bridge***, which was built to link up a new riverside development with the historic city centre. 

Something tells me that the positioning of this bridge was no accident!  As you approach the bridge the view of Norwich Cathedral is right in line with the bridge, making a perfect photo opportunity.  It's a very modern bridge and I enjoyed experimenting with a few photo angles.  And made a note to go back on a sunnier day to take some more.  

*** New news!***
This bridge has received a commendation at the Structural Steel Design Awards at a ceremony held at the Museum of London in the middle of July 2012. The judges commented that ‘This beautifully crafted structure gives an impression of already being well established in its setting’.

We crossed over at the bridge and following the river round we passed opposite St James Mill, a Grade 1 listed building described as "the quintessential English Industrial Revolution mill".   A row of beautiful weeping willows fronts the river's edge.

We then had to leave the river briefly and cross a road before rejoining the riverside walk until we reached this colourful row of houses, recently refurbished, with Fye Bridge on the right, and a glimpse of city hall's green-topped tower behind the buildings.

From here, we turned left and wandered a bit through the cathedral quarter, looking a little bit at this and that, whatever caught our eye.  We walked up an unremarkable narrow street that we had never been up before and found ourselves at the end of Elm Hill, a very pretty and famous cobbled street of medieval houses.

We then walked down to the strangely named Tombland and then through the Cathedral gates into Cathedral Close, with its "chocolate box" pretty houses.  Finally along past the Great Hospital and back over Bishops Bridge to the car.

A very enjoyable walk with a lot of old, a bit of new and a new discovery for me!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Cromer to Overstrand Clifftop Walk

Cromer to Overstrand Clifftop Walk
We found ourselves on Sunday in the happy position of having had a full guest house all weekend but no-one at all booked in on Sunday night.  A whole day off in our business is as rare as hens teeth so definitely to be made the most of and relished wherever possible!
Cromer to Overstrand Walk

It turned out to be a nice day too so we headed off to Cromer for one of our favourite walks. It's a good walk and fairly hilly too (not all of Norfolk is flat!) so a cafe stop before the return walk is always part of the package for us! It's probably slightly less than 2 miles each way.  With a cafe at each end, we start at either Cromer or Overstrand depending on where we can get parked and which cafe we want to end up in! Both cafes are good but different in style so it depends what you want. There's the Clifftop cafe in Overstrand and the Rocket cafe in Cromer.

Cromer to Overstrand Walk
One of the things I like about the walk is that the landscape changes as you go along and there are plenty of points of interest too. You start off walking up hilly ground which looks like scrub land with a little lighthouse at the top. You can get an idea of the scale in the picture above where you can just make out a few people walking down the hill.

There are a few benches at this, the Cromer end of the walk where you can sit and look over the views of Cromer and its pier. 

You then walk through a windy narrow path surrounded by bushes of fragrant gorse. Then the path opens out again and you find yourself walking alongside the golf course, with it's lush green grass and groups of trees. All the while you've got the clifftop on your left with the drop down to the sandy beach getting higher and higher as you go.

Gorse at Cromer, NorfolkEventually you reach the top of the hill and the descent to Overstrand is before you with some beautiful views of the coastline on your left and the open fields on your right.

Cromer is about 40 minutes drive from our guest house in Norwich so it's an easy day trip out from the city.   

Monday, 12 March 2012

Slow Cooked Aromatic Brisket of Beef

Brisket of Beef
Just writing this one down so I can remember how I did it.

I've never cooked a brisket of beef before but we both really enjoyed this.  Being Sunday yesterday, I went out shopping with the idea of buying some meat to roast.  I didn't like the look of the chickens and the lamb was too expensive so I had to look beyond the usual.  I'm not a huge fan of roast beef as I I usually find it too tough unless you spend an absolute fortune on it.  Not having an unlimited budget, I thought I'd try slow cooking a cheaper cut and, with a nice mix of herbs and spices, it was deliciously tender with a ready made richly flavoured gravy to boot!

As a bonus, the three hours cooking time gave us plenty of time to saunter off to husband's favourite pub for a couple of pints of his favourite real ale!  And still back in time to put on the mash and the rest of the vegetables.

It's not the prettiest looking dish and you'll have difficulty making nice neat slices out of it!  However, it's tasty and I guess that's the most important thing.

Brisket of Beef Recipe

1 tspn olive oil
900 g brisket of beef
6 shallots, peeled but whole, or 2 large onions, peeled & quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tspn dried oregano
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 tspn anise seeds
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
4 pcs sundried tomatoes
150 ml red wine
250 ml veg stock
2 tspns cornflour

Serves 4


Heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole pan, add the shallots & garlic and cook on a medium heat for a minute or two. Add the beef & seal it on all sides. Add all the other ingredients except the cornflour & bring the liquid up to boiling point. Cover & put in the oven at gas mark 3 & cook for 3 hours. If you can, turn the meat over a couple of times.

Mix the cornflour with a little cold water.  Remove the beef & skim any excess fat off the top of the liquids.  Add enough cornflour to the liquid to thicken to taste. Slice the beef & serve with the shallots etc & gravy.

Eat.  Fall asleep in front of the telly!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Lime & Ginger Thai Chicken Noodles - Easy & Healthy

Sorry, no photo yet.  We were starving so it just got eaten without any further ado.  I'll take a photo next time I make it!

1 tsp olive oil
250g egg noodles
1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
300g skinless chicken breast, diced
1 small red pepper, in bite size pieces
1 small yellow pepper, in bite size pieces
1 small courgette, in bite size pieces
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2" root ginger, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 kaffir lime leaves, crumbled
2 tsp honey
1/2 lime - finely grated zest & juice
250 ml vegetable stock
1/2 tsp Thai red curry paste
2 tsp cornflour,

Serves 2

Fry the red onions in a drop of olive oil in a saute pan or frying pan until soft. Add the chicken and brown it on all sides. Add all the vegetables and the garlic, ginger, ground ginger, curry paste, kaffir lime leaves, lime zest and lime juice and continue to cook gently until the chicken is just cooked. Add the vegetable stock and honey and stir.

In the meantime, add the noodles to a pan of boiling water and cook, according to the packet instructions for about 3/4 minutes until soft.

Mix the cornflour with a little cold water and stir into the sauté pan until the stock thickens.

Drain the noodles & serve with the chicken mixture piled on top.

Approx Nutritional Values Per Serving
CaloriesFatSat FatProteinCarbsSugar
509 Kj4.70.945.969.16.2 

Update 6th March 2012
Since writing the above, I've seen this interesting blog post from BBC Good Food entitled Top 10 tips for healthy Thai cooking. and specifically listing many of the ingredients which are in my recipe above!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Spanish Tortilla Omelette with Smoky Bacon

The Spanish would no doubt use chorizo rather than bacon and I guess a tradtional tortilla recipe wouldn't actually have either.  However, I had some particularly good smoked bacon waiting to be used, and in my opinion, it makes all the difference to this Spanish Omelette recipe and lifts it from the plain to the tasty!

Spanish Tortilla Omelette with Bacon

10 ml olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, cut into thin strips
4 medium size starchy potatoes, thinly sliced
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt

Serves 4

It's best to select starchy potatoes for this recipe and these will be ones labelled good for baking, mashing and frying.  Varieties such as Estima, King Edward, Maris Piper and Desiree should be suitable.

In a large frying pan, fry the onions and bacon till soft.  Add the potatoes and cook slowly for about 30 minutes until they are soft.  Remove from the heat.  Beat together 4 eggs and pour into the potatoes.  Stir around to coat all the vegetables with the egg.

Heat a small drop of olive oil in a very small frying pan (20 cm).  Transfer the egg & potato mixture to the small frying pan.  It will be full almost to the top.

Cook gently until the base of the tortilla is reasonably firm.  Test for this by sliding a spatula down the side of the pan.  Remove from the heat and turn the tortilla.  You can do this by placing a plate on top of the frying pan, inverting it and then sliding the tortilla back into the pan.  Neaten the edges by smoothing with the spatula.  Cook for no more than about 10 minutes.

Serve hot or cold with some salad.  I cut mine into 8 pieces:  one will be sufficient for smaller appetities and two is a generous portion.

Spanish Tortilla Omelette with Bacon

Approx Nutritional Values Per 1/4 Tortilla Serving
CaloriesFatSat FatProteinCarbsSugar
240 Kj12.23.811.919.22.0

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Chicken Casserole - Easy & Healthy

Easy Chicken Casserole

This is a favourite of ours. Easy to make, cheap, filling, low fat etc etc. It's also a complete meal all in one pan, so not much washing up either.  Nothing not to like really! You can use up little bits of leftover veg from the fridge. This recipe is for 2 people and what's pictured here is as follows:

5 x chicken thighs (3 for him, 2 for me)
400g new potatoes, scrubbed & quartered
3 x outside leaves from a green cabbage, stalks removed, chopped
1 x onion, chopped
1 x small leek, sliced
1 x carrot, chopped
1 x large parsnip, chopped
150g x butternut squash, chopped
2 x stalks of celery
2 x tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 x tsp herbes de Provence
Vegetable stock

Serves 2

If the chicken has skin on it, cut it off & discard. Place the chicken pieces in the bottom of an oven-proof casserole pan. Add the rest of the chopped vegetables & herbs on top. Add enough vegetable stock to just cover most of the veg.  Bring up to the boil & put the lid on. Put the casserole pot in the middle of the preheated oven at gas 6 and cook for 1 hour.

That's it!  Easy peasy!

Approx Nutritional Values Per 2 and 3 thigh serving
CaloriesFatSat FatProteinCarbsSugar
543 Kj11.62.639.071.312.1
656 Kj16.63.654.072.312.1

Friday, 20 January 2012

Tomato, Sweetcorn & Ginger Chutney

Tomato Sweetcorn & Ginger Chutney

I've been sitting on this blog post for some months now.  I made this chutney last year when the sweetcorn were in season but we hadn't actually eaten any of it till this week.

We had some the other night and it was a big hit.  I was told:  "That is the best chutney I have EVER eaten!" .  I quite liked it too and I'm glad I had the foresight to write down the recipe, as it looks like I might have to make it again.

500g tomatoes, chopped
430g cooking apples, peeled, cored & chopped
400g sweetcorn kernels stripped off the cob (3 ears corn)
1 large onion (170g prepared weight), finely chopped
200g butternut squash, peeled & finely chopped
120g chopped apricots, finely chopped
80g sultanas
50g crystallised stem ginger, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon mild chilli powder
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
550 ml cider vinegar
450 g brown sugar

Put all the ingredients in a pan and heat gently until the vegetables & fruit start to give off liquid.  Turn up the heat and bring up to boiling point. Then simmer for about an hour or until all the vegetables & fruit are soft and the chutney reaches the desired consistency.

Spoon into clean, warm jars.  Leave it a 3 or 4 weeks before eating to allow the flavours to develop.

Tomato Sweetcorn & Ginger Chutney

Sunday, 15 January 2012

A Winter's Walk on West Runton Beach, Norfolk

West Runton Beach, Norfolk

This is where we ended up today, a chilly wintry Sunday in January.  We wrapped up warm and headed off up to West Runton on the North Norfolk coast, just a bit west of Cromer.

West Runton Beach, NorfolkWest Runton is great when the tide is out as the beach is wide with lots of interest.  Rocky pools which are endlessly fascinating to kids (and this big kid!), breakwaters, seaweeds and stretches of rocks like the one in the photo above.  Mostly it's flint but there are also stretches of this creamy coloured rock (chalk?) which looks a bit surreal in certain lights.  When you first approach, it looks like a giant froth that has washed up on the beach.

We strode out along the sandy bits as much as possible and picked our way carefully through the rocks covered in seaweeds where it wasn't.  Obviously stopping from time to time to take a number of photos!

Great opportunities for photographers, things to keep the kids amused and a good walk along the beach.   When the tide is out.

There's a small Pay and Display car park just next to the beach.  This beach is about 45 minutes drive away from our guest house.

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