Not a vegetarian, but…

I’m not a vegetarian, but one of the things I’m trying to do with my family is make more plant-based meals. With kids, I’m always conscious of wanting to make sure they’re getting enough vitamins and minerals from their food and making veg-rich meals is the easiest way to do that.

Tonight, I made what were basically grain bowls using a bunch of roasted winter veg with barley. One of the best things I learned to do in the kitchen was the humble traybake.

Rather than trying to give each ingredient it’s own sort of perfect treatment, you just chop them up to relatively equal sizes, drizzle some oil, season liberally and roast at 200C(400F) for somewhere around half an hour.

This, without fail, has resulted in sweet potatoes that are super-crispy and caramelised on the outside but soft and creamy inside. Parsnips, left long and cut into quarters, come out with thin, crunchy tips and crispy thicker bits.

And then, I made a really simply dressing with equal parts olive oil and cider vinegar, a healthy squeeze of honey, a heaped teaspoon of Dijon and a good pinch of flaky salt and pepper.

Serve it over greens or with a cooked grain (or both) and drizzle over the dressing. It’s one of my favourite meals to make during the week.


Quarantine Kitchen 04 – sauerkraut

Purple cabbage and carrot. One of my favourite combinations.

Perhaps the easiest entry point into fermented food is making sauerkraut. All you need is a jar that’s big enough to hold some shredded or grated cabbage. I added a couple of carrots to mine. Then just add salt and let the lacto-fermentation process begin. To avoid needing to burp the jar, I just covered it with some plastic wrap and a rubber band.

Press it down once a day to coax more liquid out of the cabbage and cover again. Keep it somewhere cool and dark. One week later, the perfect condiment for bratwurst or hot dogs. Or stew. Or just to have in a salad. Or try making some slaw. Or just eat it out of the jar.

Quarantine Kitchen 03 – Sourdough

I can’t believe this is already the third one of these things that I’ve posted, but here we are. This time around, I tried to make some proper sourdough boules. The result was a bit more… slack than I wanted but it had an amazing open texture and was possibly the best tasting loaf of bread I’ve ever made.

I also decided to see how well my starter worked with an enriched loaf. This time making a pain de mie. The texture wasn’t as open as I was hoping for, it ended up being quite dense, but it was soft and full of flavour, perfect for toast and sandwiches.

Recipes for both of these can be found at The Perfect Loaf.

Quarantine Kitchen 01

Seeing as we, like so many, are currently indoors, I am making up for time that I wasn’t able to bake in the last couple of months.

Granny Smith & Cheddar soda bread

One of my favourite things to bake is bread. The trouble here in Warsaw, though, is that I cannot seem to find plain old dry yeast. The shopping frenzies have resulted in the normally plentiful compressed yeast being sold out everywhere.

That hasn’t stopped me, though, because I also really enjoy making soda bread. This time, I took my normal recipe (from River Cottage) and added a chopped up Granny Smith apple and about 100g of really sharp cheddar that I cut into cubes. Topping it off with a further 50g of grated cheddar resulted in small pools of cheese on top. It was perfect.

Rye sourdough starter

That being said, yeast bread is still my jam. The pandemonium has driven me to finally making my first sourdough starter. Because I’m me, I had some whole grain rye flour in the cupboard so, again, I took some advice from the fine folks at the River Cottage and made that bubbly jar above. I can’t wait to see how this turns out later this week.

Lemon Drizzle Traybake

Finally, I just finished making this lemon drizzle cake from Her Majesty, Mary Berry. It was a big hit every time I made it in Liverpool and it’s nice to still be able to make it here. If you don’t have any self-raising flour, just add an extra teaspoon of baking powder for a total of 3 teaspoons.