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Homemade soda bread with farm butter

This afternoon I decided to attempt my first homemade soda bread.  I am not the bread baker in our little family, it is usually left to Mr Rigg, but with the simplicity of a soda bread recipe (I used Darina Allen’s from her Forgotten Skills of Cooking – perhaps one of my absolute favourite recipe books) I decided I should give it a go.

I was prompted to try it out having defrosted a bottle of buttermilk, purchased previously from our local farmer’s market, which I used a tiny amount of in a coleslaw we had earlier in the week.  I still had lots left over, so thought soda bread would be a good way to use it all up.  The recipe called for a mixture of white and wholegrain flour, I used a mixture of white and wholegrain spelt flour.

This is what it looked like before it went into the oven…

Homemade soda bread dough

I had no idea what consistency the dough was supposed to be, but just went with how mine turned out – I used Mr Rigg’s new wooden pizza paddle to get it onto my preheated baking stone and followed the recipe which required it to be cooked for 15 minutes at 230°C, 15 minutes at 200°C and then a further 5 minutes upside down.

Straight from the oven…

Freshly baked soda bread

It looked pretty good when it came out of the oven, and later when it had cooled and I cut into it I was delighted to find the texture soft and springy. We cut it into slices and had it for dinner spread with cream cheese and smoked trout – but first I had to try a small wedge with farm butter and honey from our allotment (not produced by us).  It was scrummy and I’m really pleased with my first attempts.

My homemade soda bread with cream cheese, smoked trout and lemon juice…

Soda bread with cream cheese and smoked trout

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Yesterday I dug up my horseradish plant that’s been growing all year not having any idea on what to expect.  It certainly put up a fight trying to dig it out, with at least two long roots that disappeared into the depths of my raised bed and beyond.  In the end I had a good poke about, took a couple of long roots and put the main plant back in the soil – it’s got lots of new growth and hopefully it will continue to grow.  Only time with tell.

Mr Rigg made us Jamie Oliver’s meal for baby Yorkshire puds with a creamy smoked trout and horseradish pate.  The horseradish was for the smoke trout, and we just grated it in – the heat from the horseradish was incredible.  Along with a pile of green leaves it made a light and delicious dinner.  And very satisfying to use our own homegrown horseradish.

Last night we had a simple supper of homemade trout pate spread thickly on slices of pumpernickel bread topped with a morsel of homegrown lettuce.

The recipe was inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s version in his book River Cottage Everyday.  I had planned to follow it to the letter, but it seems that I picked up soft cheese rather than crème fraîche while out shopping, so I ended up making it up and tasting it as I went along. 

We ate the pate on slices of the Barbakan’s pumpernickel bread, which was delicious – dark, sticky and chewy.  Every mouthful felt good for you.  It has been agreed we must eat more of it more often.

Here’s my version, without exact measurements – mix and taste, then amend.  Alternatively follow Hugh’s recipe.

Smoked trout pate

Feeds 2 for dinner or 4 as a starter

Approx 250-300g smoked trout (I used a combination of smoke trout and hot smoked trout)
A couple of spoonfuls of soft cheese/cream cheese
A dollop of mayonnaise
A couple of teaspoons of English mustard
Lots of lemon juice
A good grinding of black pepper
A bunch of chives, snipped
Chive flowers

In a blender add half the smoked trout, the soft cheese and mustard.  Blitz.  Add more soft cheese if it’s a bit dry and the mayonnaise.  Add a good amount of lemon juice and the ground black pepper. 

Blitz and then taste.  You want it to have a good punchy kick of mustard, but not overpowering.  And a nice fresh lemony background taste.  I added a tiny splash of water just to loosen the pate a little.

Flake the remaining smoke trout and stir into the pate – this gives a nice texture.  Also stir in the snipped chives and the chive flowers which you should pull from the head.

Eat with pumpernickel or a dark rye bread and a crisp green salad.  This would also make an excellent canapé – a tiny chunk of bread spread with pate and topped with a piece of lettuce or a sprinkling of chives and chive flowers.

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Very exciting news – we ate our first homegrown from the garden salad of 2009 tonight!  Some may think that I am acting a little too silly about something that could be considered trivial, but if you’ve ever tasted homegrown salad leaves, if you’ve ever tried to eat with the seasons, then your first salad of the year is a very special thing indeed.  If you haven’t done either of those two things, you must.

We needed to eat up some Jersey Royal new potatoes (from Northern Harvest), so a simple salad was dreamed up…new potatoes…smoked trout…lemon mayo dressing…and salad leaves from the garden.  This is one of my favourite combinations and possibly one of the easiest meals to make.

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There is something deeply wonderful about picking up my colander, pulling on my boots and wandering down the garden to pick the first salad leaves.  After so many months of brown, dead, rotting earth, of dormant plants and deep, earthy meals, that first delicate snap as you pinch off a pert green leaf is a signal of good things to come. 

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Enough of describing how it feels to pick the salad, and on to what I actually collected for our tea.  From the garden I picked the following leaves: red oakleaf, baby cos, a selection of oriental saladini, lambs lettuce, buckler leaf sorrel.  To this I added some chives and mint. 

We boiled the new potatoes in salted water, drained, and tossed with a knob of butter and the finely sliced mint.  Not to forget a good sprinkle of salt and grind of pepper.  The smoked trout (from The Cheshire Smokehouse) was flaked over the potatoes, and the homegrown salad simply placed beside them.  No dressing, just a tiny drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  To finish off the potatoes, I added lemon juice to a spoonful of mayonnaise until it reached a slightly runny consistency and spooned it over the potatoes and trout.

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An utterly delicious and satisfying dinner.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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