From Scratch Challenge

21 Jan

Well I know this post is a bit later than promised but my New Year started with a bang and not the nicest one. So I am only getting my head together now and realise that I never shared my mouth watering meal with you.

Despite this set back I know this year is going to be an exciting one. There are still loads of recipes to master, cheeses to make and chocolate to perfect. And of course now the challenge is spreading.

You might remember I mentioned the idea of a From Scratch week a few posts ago. At the time I was joking, but then I thought about it and realised well why not? I learnt so much in the last year and wouldn’t it be great to be able to try it for a week with out the commitment of a whole year.

That way it’s more exciting and definitely not a chore. You might even have fun.

So from 6th-12th of February I am officially launching the From Scratch Challenge Week. Simply put for one week I am challenging you … yes you, to make everything you eat From Scratch. Think of it as our own collective challenge Annika. How many people can we get making things From Scratch for a week? Hopefully quite a few. I am going to make it as easy as possible with recipes, meal suggestions and then a plan for a perfect From Scratch Dinner party on the Saturday night. Hopefully by trying it out, you will learn a few recipes, spend more time cooking and eating and really relishing a good meal and of course if nothing else have some relatively low risk fun! How can you not be won over by that?!

To get your From Scratch week plan and some recipes to get you started just sign up here to the Suppers From Scratch club where you can get all the resources you need for a fabulous week.

Now we are all organised for a few weeks time let’s jump back a few weeks to New Years Eve and my delicious Leonardo Da Vinci-esque last supper.

The Menu:

Homemade Garlic Bread 

Spicy Sticky Ribs

Duck with Cranberry sauce, green beans, roast potatoes and parsnips

Bakewell Tart

FROM SCRATCH CHOCOLATE !!!

I won’t bore you to tears with a full description, as let’s face it, it’s been three weeks and my account would be somewhat compromised. However I will give you a run through of the highlights. Namely the sticky ribs and the chocolate…

So introducing for the first time in the From Scratch kitchen spicy sticky ribs

As always there is a bit of a story here. I based this on a recipe I found online, and to be honest before I tasted it I thought it was a complete failure. Yes the ribs were cooked and probably spicy but there was no stickiness in sight! And I had dreamed of mouth-wateringly sticky ribs – like a Velcro pig. I was very disappointed. I stomped around the kitchen lamenting my failure – how after a whole year could I not manage to make sticky ribs? I had obviously learnt nothing 😦

As you might have guessed the ribs actually tasted really good and it was no failure at all. I did learn something then. I learnt that despite a year cooking From Scratch, I was not immune to kitchen hiccups: even some of the simplest things can still be hurdles. Clearly though I still haven’t managed to cope that well with perceived failures, perhaps that says something about me as a person? It’s probably the perfectionism!

Moving swiftly on from my erroneous character flaws, this is my amended version with extra honey to encourage stickiness (this separates the Pritt Stick from the Super Glue!)

Ingredients

For the rub 

1 star anise

1 tsp fennel seeds

A few peppercorns

1 tbsp five-spice powder

salt

For the ribs

1kg pork spare ribs

½ bunch spring onions, trimmed, chopped

Salt and Pepper

For the honey glaze

2 tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp honey and a few extra squidges

1-2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped

100ml soy sauce

1 lime, zest only

3 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

1-2 red chillies, deseeded, finely sliced

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a large baking tray or roasting tin with aluminium foil.
  2. For the rub, crush the star anise, fennel seeds and peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. Then add the five-spice powder and some salt and mix together to combine.
  3. Put the ribs into a bowl, sprinkle over the rub mixture and rub everything in. Tip the ribs onto the baking tray and spread them out in a single layer.
  4. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the honey glaze in a small pan. Warm over a low heat until the honey is melted and all the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Remove the ribs from the oven, brush generously with the honey glaze, then sprinkle with the spring onions and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Set the rest of the honey glaze aside for later.)
  7. Return the ribs to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  8. Once the ribs are cooked, remove them from the oven and tip them onto a large plate. Add the remaining glaze and then serve.

AS I said very tasty and hopefully now very sticky!

These were polished off fairly quickly to leave room for the delicious duck, Bakewell tart and home made Chocolate.

Chocolate – the Holy Grail of this last supper. (I know, I am going all Da Vinci Code on you now!)

It was a success, not a complete resounding, never going to buy chocolate again success but close enough. (Have I spoiled it by giving away the ending now? – well be realistic, what were you expecting? It is me we are talking about!)

So my Homemade Chocolate recipe

Ingredients 

125g vegetable shortening ( or if you can get it cocoa butter)

125g Icing Sugar

6 tablespoons cocoa powder (made from beans)

4 tablespoons powdered milk

Pinch of salt

Method:

  1. If you are using cocoa beans, heat the bean for a few minutes until you start to smell them, crack of the nib and grind into a cocoa powder
  2. Heat the vegetable shortening or cocoa butter in a pan until melted
  3. Combine the dry ingredients and then pour the melted fat over the top
  4. Combine, ( if you want to add anything – raisins, hazelnuts etc. add them now)
  5. Pour the mixture in a mould and leave to set in the fridge overnight

This tastes pretty good, mine still doesn’t crack quite like a chocolate bar, but I will keep working at it to get the perfect bar.

I guess the lesson here really was, it was good enough, I have at least achieved something and just because my official year is over it doesn’t mean the exploration and challenges have stopped. There is still so much to try, and learn. So let’s don our aprons and hope this year is even better than the last.

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