Quick African vegetable curry

This is a tasty dinner for a school night, using African peanut curry sauce from Bim’s Kitchen as a base, cutting down cooking time by an hour or so. It still takes a little bit of time, but not much effort. Serves two very hungry people or 3-4 at a stretch.

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Half an onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1 fresh green chili, chopped (optional, for chili addicts like me)
4 carrots, peeled and chopped in 1cm dice
2 courgettes, chopped into pieces
3 large mushrooms, chopped into pieces
1 glass of African Peanut Curry Sauce
4 eggs

Heat a bit of oil in a large pan, add the onions, garlic and chili and fry for a minute or so, without browning them. Add the chopped vegetables, and sauté for 10 minutes on a high heat, covered while stirring regularly. Add a pinch of salt at this stage. Add the curry sauce and a bit of water, cover again and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Crack open the eggs and gently slide then into the sauce. Cover and poach in the curry for about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper, serve with rice.
Actually, any West African side dish like fufu, TZ or banku would go nicely with it, but if you go through the effort of making those, you might as well cook groundnut soup from scratch…

Open source bread 4: Off-white sourdough loaf

This is another recipe based on my all-rye sourdough starter, a rather recent addition to my repertoire of breads. I have to admit I have been reading the chapter of pure sourdough breads in Richard Bertinet‘s Crust and was a bit scared of trying it myself, but at some point last year I took the plunge and gave his recipe a go. The first try only looked a bit like a car crash, and after a while of experimenting and adapting the recipe to my starter and way of working, those sourdough loaves started to turn out quite nicely (and they are really tasty and keep for a few days in the bread bin).

I called it an off-white sourdough as while it’s main ingredient is white bread flour, the rye starter gives it a beige-brown colour and a  very distinctive taste that is clearly not white bread.

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400g starter
850g strong white bread flour
580g water
20g salt

Mix everything but the salt and work it for about 20 minutes, adding the
salt after about 10 minutes.
Form into a ball on a flour-dusted surface, put in a bowl, cover with a
towel and leave to rest for 1h
Then put it back onto the flour-dusted surface, fold it to a ball again,
back to the bowl and rest for another hour.
Then back on the flour dusted surface, form into a ball, cut in half (I
use scales to get them equal), form into two balls, and put in flour
dusted proving baskets (or two bowls lined with floured tea towels),
seam side down, cover with a towel. Leave in a cool place to rest for
14-18h.
Preheat the oven to 250C. Carefully put the loaves from the baskets onto
a baking tray, ideally covered in a silicone sheet or baking paper (seam
side down) – they are quite soft and fragile at this stage, don’t
manhandle them or the finished bread will look like it had a car accident.
Cut criss-cross over the top with a sharp blade.
Mist the oven, bake for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to 220C, and
bake for another 30-35 minutes. Leave to cool completly on a wire rack.

This bread keeps a few days and freezes well. Perfect lightly toasted
with a poached egg.

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Taste gone off

Let’s start this blog with something strange that just happened to me:
While being down with flu and severe fever, I noticed that this did not just affect my ability to stand upright and think straight, but altered my very sense of taste. It wasn’t, like some friends in a similar situation reported, a loss of all but the basic tastes, as is often the case with a blocked or inflamed nose, but a shift of tastes.
I first noticed that a dish of red cabbage, usually an explosion of sweet and sour tastes, was dominated by a dark and earthy flavour – a quick check with my wife confirmed that hers tasted as expected, so that must have been me. Later that night, I discovered the toothpaste had taken on a taste of near-unbearable bitterness, whereas fresh water took on some murky taste. Isostar, on the other hand, tasted really great – much better than it ever should taste in real life, even after a hard work-out. Oh, and bananas suddenly had a horrible taste of artificial banana flavour, like the really horrible banana sweets from the 1980s.

Luckily, most of this seems to revert to normal as of this afternoon, which hopefully also means the rest of my body will recover soon.