DP Photo Challenge: growth, take 2

Flour, water, salt and time, plus a bit more time and heat. Close up shot of wholemeal sourdough loaf, still in baking pan. Image: Su Leslie, 2018

Flour, water, salt, time and heat. Just-baked loaf of wholemeal sourdough bread. Image: Su Leslie, 2018

The Daily Post asked this week for photos that evoke growth.

For me, sourdough bread is perhaps one of the purest examples of how natural growth processes can be utilised to create something sustaining and delicious.

Flour and water are combined, and left as a food offering to the yeasts and bacteria that exist all around us. Over time, and with extra food, this mixture grows sufficiently in bulk and strength that with the addition of yet more flour and water, the resultant dough can be kneaded and proved and ultimately baked.

Flour, water, salt and time: the beginnings of a sourdough loaf. Bowl containing ball of proving sourdough. Image: Su Leslie, 2018

Flour, water, salt and time: the beginnings of a sourdough loaf. Image: Su Leslie, 2018

Learning to bake sourdough bread has been one of my projects for the last couple of years. With every completed loaf, my knowledge and confidence also grows.




Rosemary and feta scones (a recipe)

Close up shot of rosemary and feta scones. Image: Su Leslie, 2107

Rosemary and feta scones. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Ingredients (makes six large scones)

300g self-raising flour*

Good pinch sea-salt

50g very cold butter

220-260ml cold milk

100g crumbled feta cheese

Good handful (or about two tablespoons) roughly chopped fresh rosemary. If you’re using dried herbs, about 1-2 teaspoons.

* You can use plain flour and add 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder. Make sure it’s not bread flour, which has more gluten and the scones won’t rise as well.


Pre-heat oven to 220°C.

Sift flour into a bowl; add salt. Cut in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir through rosemary and feta.  Add enough milk to form a soft dough. Don’t over-mix.

Tip onto lightly floured baking tray and knead gently a couple of times. Roll or press dough until it is about 2cm thick.

I kept the dough in a round, and cut into 6 wedges, but you could use a cookie cutter for more traditional round scones.

The dough doesn’t spread much so you can bake them close together on the tray.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and cool on a wire tray (just long enough that they’re not too hot to handle).

Some additional thoughts

The basic scone recipe I used comes from the Edmonds Cookery Book. It’s a kind of bible of traditional Kiwi food, and I’d wager that most of the home-baked scones consumed here have their origin in an Edmonds’ recipe.

When I looked for alternative recipes, I found some that add extra baking powder to self-raising flour and some that use  baking soda and cream of tartar as separate ingredients. I found recipes that use buttermilk or yogurt, some with a mix of butter and lard as shortening, and even some that included eggs.

I’m intrigued by these variations and will probably experiment — with different leavening agents at least. I don’t think I’ll try adding lard though, and as for eggs? Doesn’t that just turn the mixture into muffins?

Do you have a favourite scone recipe? Baking powder, or baking soda and buttermilk? Butter or lard? Do you add eggs?

I’d love to know how these variations work. And of course, what extra ingredients do you add?

Delish of the day

Close-up shot of roasted golden beetroot and feta salad on duck-egg blue plate. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Roasted golden beetroot and feta salad. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Following last week’s #regularrandom post (Five Minutes with Three Good Things), here’s a shot of the finished dish.

Because the golden beetroot don’t bleed like the red variety, I was able to peel and chop these for roasting. That meant they got a little bit caramelised; and picked up the flavours of garlic and rosemary which I’d added to the roasting dish.

With quite a lot going on taste-wise in the beetroot themselves, I kept the dish simple with just a few salad leaves, some crumbled feta and a bit of balsamic dressing.

The verdict: pretty tasty. But given how long the beetroot took to roast (about 35 minutes — and they were small pieces), I’d probably only do this again in a vastly scaled-up form — for a summer lunch party maybe.

Regular Random: five minutes with three good things

Loving the freshness of rosemary. Shot of rosemary sprig with golden beetroot and garlic? Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Loving the freshness of rosemary — with golden beetroot and garlic? Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things approach to cooking has found great favour in our kitchen. The combination of simplicity and discipline (just three main ingredients) really works.

Rosemary seems to be my latest food-crush; at least in part because it is so prolific in the garden. Having deemed the rosemary and feta scones a success (recipe to come) I got to wondering how the pungent, piney flavour would get along with some golden beetroot I found in my fridge.

The answer? I’ll let you know when the beets are roasted.

Five Minutes of Random (the #RegularRandom challenge), is hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist. 

If you’d like to join in:

  • choose a subject or a scene
  • spend five minutes photographing it – no more!
  • try to see it from many angles, look through something at it, change the light that’s hitting it
  • tag your post #regularrandom and ping back to Desley’s post
  • have fun!

Magic Monday

Still warm. Two homemade loaves of wholewheat, seeded sourdough bread, resting on a cooling rack. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Still warm. Home-made sourdough bread. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Today has been bread-making day, and now there are two loaves of wholemeal sourdough cooling on the kitchen bench.

All cooking is slightly magical, but sourdough is especially so. A paste of flour and water  that we first made two years ago (called a starter) provides food for the natural yeasts and bacteria that hang out in our kitchen. We add flour, water and salt; and natural fermentation does the rest.

Two loaf pans with sourdough, kneaded and ready for proving before being baked. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Sourdough; mixed, kneaded and ready for final proving. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Regular random: five minutes with the makings of a great dressing

Close up shot of garlic, ginger, coriander, lime ... some of the ingredients in Sarah Tiong's Asian Vinaigrette. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Garlic, ginger, coriander, lime … some of the ingredients in Sarah Tiong’s Asian Vinaigrette. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with food programmes on television. I liked quite a few of the old-school “celebrity-chef-cooks-for-the-cameras” shows — especially those involving Rick Stein and the late Keith Floyd. I also loved Two Fat Ladies, with Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright, and anything with Anthony Bourdain — but that was never about the cooking.

I don’t like talent-quest TV and programmes that require a commitment to regular viewing, so shows like MasterChef pose a dilemma. Will my love of food overcome my reluctance to a) watch competitive cooking and b) buy-in for the duration?

Close-up shot of fresh coriander. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I spy … fresh coriander all ready to use. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

With the current series of MasterChef Australia at episode 24 in NZ — and not even half way through — I’m at the stage of dipping in on the nights when the contestants are making original dishes as individuals, rather than team challenges and replications of guest chefs’ creations. These are the episodes that offer the most interesting food ideas.

Which is a very roundabout way of saying that my Five Minutes of Random this week were spent with the ingredients for a fantastic Asian Vinaigrette that I saw Sarah Tiong make a couple of weeks ago on MasterChef. She served it with Pan-fried Barramundi and Bok Choy. (recipe here). It looked so yummy!

… And tasted fantastic, though I replaced the barramundi with tofu because it was raining so hard I really didn’t feel like going shopping.

And though this is not strictly a #RegularRandom shot — here’s my completed dish.

Pan-fried tofu with braised bok-choy and Asian Vinaigrette. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Pan-fried tofu with braised bok-choy and Asian Vinaigrette. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Five Minutes of Random (the RegularRandom challenge), is hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist.


Will it be as good as it looks in the book?

Recipe books, garlic, tomatoes and basil. Preparing to make Spanish Braised Chickpeas. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Recipe, tick; ingredients, tick. Looking forward to dinner. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

With the Big T working in Melbourne pretty much every week, and the boy-child electing to spend his evenings with friends, I’m doing a lot of “meals for one” at the moment. The bonus is that I get to cook stuff that doesn’t have to please anyone else’s palate. The downside is that I’m running out of ideas.

But an afternoon spent poring over some recipe books has provided plenty of inspiration.

Now I just have to remember to scale the recipes down, so I don’t drown in leftovers.

This post is written for the Daily Post Photo Challenge, which has as its theme dinnertime — and for Ailsa’s Travel Theme at Where’s My Backpack. The theme there this week, is books.