Saturday, 22 June 2013

Thick Yogurt (Greek or Turkish Style)

Some time ago, I had some home made thick yogurt in a local restaurant which was absolutely delicious.  It wasn't like anything I'd ever bought in a shop.  I went home, resolving to find out how to make this wonderful yogurt.

By this time, I was already making my own regular yogurts for the guest house.  Some research on the internet revealed that thick yogurt is actually just regular yogurt which has been strained to remove some of the liquid.

Thick Yogurt layered with honey & pomegranate

Once I had got the method right, I made the above as a special breakfast item for the guests at our bed and breakfast.  The picture shows glasses layered with thick yogurt, honey and pomegranate.   I covered them with a jam pot cover and an elastic band.  They went down well with the guests.  

This is the method I used:

  • Make the yogurt as usual and chill it.  
  • Line a sieve with a piece of clean muslin
  • Spoon the yogurt into the muslin
  • Place the sieve over a bowl to collect the liquid that drains off.
  • Leave for 1 or 2 hours, depending on how thick you like your yogurt.
I should say that mine wasn't quite the same as the one in the restaurant so I must pay them another visit and ask them how.  I have since read that some people add cream to their Greek style yogurt so maybe that's the difference!  However, I won't be doing that as I have to consider my expanding waistline!

I also use this thick yogurt to make tzatziki or raita and to replace cream in many recipes and desserts.

Word of warning re pomegranate - wear protective clothing!  It stains like nothing else stains!  Nothing removes it.  I lost a few chef's shirts to pomegranate!

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!
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