As the weekend approaches I start to contemplate what I will cook with a little extra time in the kitchen and hungry boys to feed. My starting point is often the collection of recipes I've torn or bookmarked from magazines and newspapers over three decades. That is how I came to cook Parsnip and curry soup, and Wholegrain bread. The Parsnip and curry soup is an old recipe I've never tried. The Wholegrain bread recipe is a favourite I go back to time and time again. I enjoy using a rattan bread proving basket for the second rise. The basket gives the dough a uniform shape and leaves a concentric circle imprint, which remains during cooking. The result is a rustic loaf, with a light dusting of flour, that looks like it could have come out of an artisan bakery. If I don't have honey in the house I have substituted treacle for a flavour alternative. I also experiment with flours, sometimes using Wholegrain Milling's stoneground organic spelt, rye, or lightly sifted unbleached flour.
Parsnip and curry soup
Provenance: The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Living, July 15, 2003.
Ingredients: 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp butter, 8 shallots peeled and finely sliced, 3 large parsnips peeled and roughly chopped (I didn't peel the parsnips), 2 tbsp good quality curry powder, 5 cups milk, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves (I substituted parsley from the garden).
Method: Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and sweat until softened, adding the chopped parsnips and curry powder, cooking for five minutes. Add the milk and bring to a simmer (avoid boiling), uncovered for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then roughly puree using a hand-held blender or food processor. If necessary, reheat gently, season and garnish.
Provenance: Lunch Lady magazine, Issue 03
Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups warm water, 1 tbsp dry yeast, 2 tbsp honey, 1/2 tbsp salt, 2 cups whole-wheat flour, 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tbsp sunflower seeds, 2 tbsp rolled oats.
Method: Combine warm water, yeast, honey, salt and flours in a large bowl. Stir until well combined. Knead and turn in the bowl with your hands. Remove the dough from the bowl and grease the sides lightly with olive oil. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for two hours. Make a small hole in the dough and sprinkle in sunflower seeds and oats. Knead the dough for about five minutes until elastic. I often knead the dough in the bowl, but you can also tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Form the dough into a loaf shape and place onto a baking tray, greased or lined with baking paper (or bread proving basket lightly dusted with flour). Cover with a tea towel and let rise for one hour. Forty-five minutes into the resting time, preheat oven to 230C. Once the dough has rested slash two or three times with a sharp knife, making a cut about 1cm deep to allow the dough to expand. If already on a baking tray, place your dough in the middle rack of your oven. If in a bread proving basket, tip the dough onto a lined baking tray and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Remove bread from the oven (and pan/tray) and cool on a wire rack.
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