Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Dining table designs

I'm starting thinking about making a new dining table. What a damn good excuse to wander the V&A staring at tables and benches

This one is a visitor bench, using a dual pedestal support


Not a table, but some lovely planks and decorative steelwork in a nice old door


mmm... planks...


Another dual pedestal mount. I WON'T be making anything this ornate.


Pedestal with a central beam and two decorative uprights...


Lovely carving...


A more traditional base with four legs and some bolstering rails...



This one has SIX legs and rails between them...


The same idea, but four legs...


But back on the single central rail idea - the end rails in this case are curved in.


This is nuts...


Also, so is this...


I like the idea of a shelf...


This one has a rail, but some elements of splayed feet for stability. Looks like iron, but it's ebony


Octagonal table with eight legs


Arts and Craft version..


Solid...


You work with what you've got

Anyway, you can't make a table without wood. Here's what I have accumulated so far. Some from scavenged logs, some reclaimed.


Some tropical hardwoods, some oak and some lovely wavy beech, stained with rot of some type. These thick planks were hewn from a log usign my chainsaw



And after all that looking at table bases, it was time to chill out and get drawing to get ideas clearer in the head...

Trestley...


Various bases and table tops




More bases and trestle ends


And possibly marquetry patterns...




Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Starters buffet for Veggie Dining at the Rising Sun Arts Centre

Last Sunday was a lolly good Veggie Dining at the Rising Sun. Lots of scoffs for not much money, with some singers and generally a pretty chilled out atmosphere. A very good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Here is my contributing effort - starters for 40-ish people - de-lish.

Foodporn

Here are the money shots. Some people enquired about recipes. Some how-to info is further down.

Firstly, here is the full spread as seen from the dips end of the buffet...


All vegan except the cheese and all gluten-free apart from some possible traces of barley in vinegar in the pickled cherry peppers (mild chillies)

In the shot above, clockwise from the bottom left are shown...
  • Garlic mushroom and roast almond pate
  • Chickpea and potato crackers (plain)
  • Chickpea and potato crackers (sesame and black pepper)
  • Dipping rounds of roast mashed potato with coconut, onion, rosemary and black pepper
  • Four bowls of root vegetable crisps (see below for the shot into these bowls) 
  • Very orange carrots with grapefruit and orange marmalade
  • Pickled cherry peppers with pear, apple, onion and tamarind chutney
  • Guacamole - mashed avocado dip
  • Roast almonds
  • Homemade mozzarella cheese with garlic and herbs (this is the only dish I didn't make - made by the fab Paula) 
  • Tapenade - mashed green and black olive spread

The crispy end

The shot below is from the other end of the table. The same, but now you can see into the crisp bowls. These were all hand-fried in sunflower oil. They were not salted.

Note - there is a whole post about cooking these here:
http://makingweirdstuff.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/root-vegetable-crisps-not-potatoes.html

Pretty much it says, slice them thin, dry them and fry them, stirring a lot, then dry them in a low oven

Clockwise from the bottom...
  • Carrot crisps
  • Beetroot crisps
  • Sweet potato crisps
  • Parsnip crisps


Carrot crisps...


Parsnip crisps...


Gluten-free crackers

These are two variations on a basic gram flour and farina dough, with oil and leavened with baking powder. Scroll ye down further for exposition.
  • Individually rolled chickpea and potato crackers (sesame and black pepper)
  • Batch-rolled chickpea and potato crackers (plain)

Delicious morselly bites

As well as crackers and/or spreads, there were stand alone one-bite delights...
  • Pickled cherry peppers with pear, apple, onion and tamarind chutney
The peppers you can buy bottled (the only thing not created from scratch) as "piquante peppers". They were slavered in a home-made chutney, which was simply finely diced pear, dessert apple (not bramleys), diced onion, garlic, tamarind paste and brown sugar. 

I nuked the veg in the microwave with a little water to soften, then bunged the cooked veg, tamarind, and sugar into a pan and reduced to a not-that-thick-paste. The mint is just to garnish. Classy.

  • Very orange carrots with grapefruit and orange marmalade

A random made-up taster. These were just thick cut slices of boiled carrot with home-made grapefruit and orange marmalade. You need the cocktail sticks because these are VERY sticky.
First rule of buffets is keep it manageable for the diners without making it too messy for them!
Actually, that's joint first with making it look appealing and tasting f. lovely :)


  • Roasted mash potato rounds



These were lovely and so easy. They are made from...

  • Mashed boiled Maris Piper (or King Edwards would do) potatoes
  • coconut cream and a little coconut milk
  • diced onion
  • rosemary
  • salt
  • black pepper
The mash is quite soft. I blobbed it onto a well-oiled baking tray as fancy quenelles with two spoons. Of course they splay out when you bake them into round shapes. They need quite a high heat. I used gas mark 8. After about 15-20 minutes they brown on the bottom. They are then set enough to flip, so they can brown on the other side.

These are really good when they come out of the oven too, still hot.

ta-da!




Ingredients and some of the methods...

I didn't use all of these. Notably the soya bean curd sheets, which can be used to make crackers, but the version I attempted was not good enough, so I abandoned them

How to make the chickpea and potato crackers

These were excellent and with a great crunchy bite and no gluten!

the dough was 
  • 400 grams gram flour (ground chickpea and yellow lentil flour)
  • 200 grams farina (potato starch)
  • 6 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons of gluten-free bakign powder (if you are making this for gluten - in tolerant people, check the label. Baking powder often has wheat flour added - not remotely cool for coeliacs as it can destroy their intestines!)
  • One teaspoon of salt
Anyway mix it all up and add enough water to form a fairly dry thick paste. 


This is quite similar to  Play-Doh.


Quite crumbly...


On the plus side it is not all that sticky, so with minimal dusting of more gram flour it rolls out easily.
It breaks very easily if you lift it by hand, so use a rolling pin

For the plain crackers, I rolled half the dough out onto baking paper and then scored the dough almost through.


These were baked for about 20-25 minutes one on side until set. Then the whole sheet turned over. After another 15 minutes on the other side, they were set enough to snap into the individual cracker squares. They were then baked for another 10-15 minutes.

They took quite a lot of baking, but the dough doesn't burn easily as it is quite dense and wet. Only once it is fully dry does it start to brown more rapidly. When that happens, they need watching more closely.


For the sesame version, I added 200 grams of sesame seeds and a lot of fresh ground blck pepper.
I rolled this dough into cylinders and chopped off loads of little rounds. You don't have to roll this out, but it makes each piece much easier to cut to the same volume of dough.


These offcuts only need to be even in volume. You don't need to be too fastidious about shape. When you roll them, that gets taken care of. 

I rolled them between gram-floured baking paper.

Before rolling... 


During rolling. You can see the blob has flattened out.


After rolling - a roughly oval shape with appealing scalloped shaped edges. This happened by chance, not design. The crumbly dough splits at the edges a bit.


Each thin oval was carefully lifted onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper.


They are soft and crumbly before baking


They take a little less time than the square ones baked in one sheet.
About 20 minutes each side at gas 4-5



To make tamarind paste, get the solid, seed-infested block and put in a pyrex jug, just covered in water. Microwave for 1-2 minutes. Then beat to separate. This is easy as the microwave softens up the solid block. This pulpy mess then can be sieved to form a thick, seed-free pulp.

Tamarind is a delicious alternative to vinegar. It means you don't need to worry about traces of gluten in it like your get in malt vinegars. A bit messy and has some sugar in it, but for anyone who likes stuff with a tart underlying base flavour, it is perfect. This chutney is similar to Branston, but you make it on the day and it doesn't have the root veg in it.



Spread ingredients

Guacamole

  • avocados, mashed with...
  • raw crushed garlic
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Tapenade 

  • one part green to two parts black pitted olives
  • quite a lot of olive oil
  • black pepper
  • lime juice
  • black pepper
  • blitzed in the blender. This takes a lot of pausing and pushing down

Mushroom pate

  • Mushrooms, fairly coarsely broke up, then roasted with sunflower oil onion and garlic till brown and rich
  • extra sunflower oil was added for silkiness. Don't omit this. It is dry without it.
  • cannelini beans mashed
  • a little gram flour (chickpea and yellow lentil flour) for binding
  • roasted almonds crushed in the blender
  • salt
  • black pepper

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Root vegetable crisps (not potatoes)

These beauties are deep fried root vegetable crisps. This batch was a test batch for some that would be made at Veggie Dining - a three course feast, cooked by hand by volunteers.

From left to right:

  • carrot
  • beetroot
  • parsnip

Deliciously light and crispy but also surprisingly  melt-in-the-mouthy


Here are the ingredients, just after peeling...


To chop them fine enough you need a fine slicer in a food processor...


I bent this blade slightly in, to make the cut thickness even thinner than it had been.


Carrot: sliced!

Parsnip: sliced

Close ups..




I bedded them down on kitchen paper to suck out some of the wetness.


Same with the beetroot





Then onto the business with my trusty deep fat fryer. I keep this outside to avoid getting fat all over the kitchen ceiling.


Bubble bubble...


Frying was largely judged by

  • sizzling - the slices were fried until the sizzling of water bubbles died down meaning the water had been driven off
  • colour - after the water was driven out, the colour gets darken as the veggie flesh gets caramalised by the hot fat 


The crisps were stirred throughout cooking.

Here are the beetroot ones.

Carrot


Carrot but this batch was fried for less time, which meant they were lighter in colour


parsnip


These were dried in a low oven on the kitchen paper to make sure they were dried thoroughly of any water.


Delicious