Experimental Monday mishap (and other foodie things)

Yesterday was Monday and thus it was going to be a new experimental dish: stir fried beef with broccoli. Um, that wasn’t quite what I did…

Firstly, I must confess that I worked out my menu when I was in a rush on Thursday and didn’t have the time to do my usual poring over books, looking for something so yummy that I get over-excited and must cook it. Nor did I do my research on an empty stomach, which oddly is usually quite effective.

I got to about mid-way through yesterday afternoon and realised that I just didn’t fancy a stir fry. Nope, not even remotely interested. In fact, I had a huge craving for spicy fries and mayonnaise. That wasn’t going to work with a stir fry!

I hadn’t been able to buy any pre-cut meat for stir frying so instead I had a top sirloin grilling steak in my fridge waiting to be prepared. Hmm. Now what could I do with steak that goes well with fries? Whatever I did would be new to me because steak simply isn’t something that I normally have outside a restaurant or BBQ situation.

Readers, I pan fried it. Daubed a bit of BBQ sauce on a couple of minutes before it finished and called it done.

In fact, aside from the fact that it wasn’t quite as well done as I like (although not actually raw – just a tiny bit pink in the centre) it turned out really well. Not something to do regularly, but a nice new skill to have and know that I can do as a treat sometimes. Plus the fries were awesome and I had some peas for healthy-value. I suspect that the main problem was that I had a steak and I had a memory of a very nice looking steak-and-fries in my Comfort Food book and couldn’t quite cope with a stir fry after that. Heh.

Thus Experimental Monday wasn’t what I planned, but it was still a total experiment (need to work on getting the heat/cooking time right) and it was fairly successful with notes on what needs to be done differently next time.

Last week’s Experimental Monday was shepherd’s pie, because I’ve never made it before and it’s a great comfort dish when the evenings start to get colder. That one was a complete success, even down to the mash (right quantity, right consistency) and the fact that I made two mini-pies and thus had a second one for later in the week. Score!

This weekend was an experiment in baking weekend. I think that I finally defeated the pizza dough. After perusing my Marguerite Patten baking book, I started to suspect that I was over-prooving and not knocking back. So I shortened the prooving time (the dough had pretty much doubled in fifty minutes – my original recipe called for ninety minutes) and kneaded a bit before turning the dough into a pizza base. I also used my hands to stretch and pull out the dough into the thinnest base I could make. For the first time, I got a light, tasty base that wasn’t over-risen. Woo!

I also experimented with garlic pizza bread, which was a total success. Now I just need to perfect cooking times…

My other baking experiment was fruit buns. These are a tasty, yeasty bun that is slightly sweetened, loaded with fruit, and glazed lightly on top. They are sold in bakeries and grocery stores throughout the UK and taste great cold or toasted. They are also completely absent here in Canada, so I decided to try making them. This was a recipe from the divine Marguerite so I followed it carefully and attained rather good fruit buns for a first try. In fact, I don’t actually feel the need to fiddle with the recipe at all! Most of them have gone into the freezer so that I they don’t go stale before I can eat them all. It will be interesting to see how they de-frost.

Now that I’m getting the hang of yeast baking, I’m seriously considering starting to make my own bread rolls for lunches. That could be interesting 🙂

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