Cooking With Charl

Amateur home cook, with a love for baking and all things garlic :)

My sourdough starter experiment

Last Sunday I decided to take the plunge and try and nurture a sourdough starter from scratch! After reading alot on the Internet I found out it is best for beginners to start off with an established starter and work from there.
I am rather inpatient though and could not wait to get a starter from elsewhere.

I followed a fantastic guide over at and so far things seem to be going on track to sour doms beginners guide.

I thought I would share my progress so far :).

Day 5



I fed the starter 50g strong white flour and 50ml filtered water everyday for the first 3 days, then discarded half and refreshed with 100g strong flour and 100ml filtered water for the last 2 days.
I could see activity after day 3 but only very slight, it’s now safe to say something is certainly happening in there!
Next step is to discard most and refresh again, then hopefully it will double in size overnight! (Fingers crossed)

I am a complete novice when it comes to sourdough so if there are any sourdough bakers out there feel free to advise me 🙂

day 7
Doubled in size very quickly (2-3hours) then shrunk back to original size so gave an early feed today as I think he was hungry! 🙂



my first sourdough loaf

Little bit of oven spring and good holey texture


Only problem I seemed to encounter was it losing its shape as soon as I tried to remove it from shaping bowl



chipotle chicken stew :)

My recipe kindly stolen by my boyfriend 🙂



Paleo Mexican Chicken Stew

Per serving aim:
36.8g protein
21g carbs (8.4g of sugars max)
21g fat
6g fiber
420 cals

Per serving actual:
39g protein
18g carbs (14g of sugar)
12g fat
4g fiber
381 cals


4 Skinless Chicken Breast Fillets (480g)
2 Red Onions
3 Garlic Cloves, Finely Chopped
1 Tsp Chipotle Paste
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cans (400g each) chopped tomatoes
Few coriander leaves

Serves: 3


Heat oil in medium pan, add chopped onion (say 2/3rds) and cook for 5 minutes until softened and starting to turn golden, adding garlic in the final minute. Stir in chipotle paste and tomatoes. Add the chiciken and spoon over the sauce, simmer gently for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked.
Remove the chicken and shred with 2 forks, then stir back into the sauce. Scatter with red onion and coriander. Serve with the remaining onion and tortillas or rice.

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Basic pasta recipe

So this is my basic pasta recipe, from this you can make all sorts such as lasagne sheets, tagliatelle, ravioli just to name a few! I will follow up with other recipes that use this as a starter. Pasta has become my favourite thing to make in the kitchen, I find it quite relaxing and very rewarding.

Although pasta is cheap to buy, I think it’s worth the effort to make it from scratch. If your like me, eggs, ’00’flour and olive oil are store cupboard ingredients and therefore pasta is always a dinner option 🙂

I love my pasta machine but it is possible to make pasta without one you just need to master rolling it out as thinly as possible. Although pasta machines you can now pick up for around £10 and are well worth the investment.


As a rule 100g ’00’flour to 1 medium egg.

100g ’00’flour per person
2 tablespoons olive oil


  • Place flour in a mixing bowl, and make a well in the centre.
  • Add the egg and oil and gradually start to mix together from the middle outwards with a fork.
  • When dough starts to bind together start to work with your hands.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed the dough for around 5-10 mins until the dough begins to look smooth.
  • Refrigerate for 20 mins.



  • Flatten the dough out with your hands and if making a large amount divide the dough into smaller portions as its easier to work with.
  • Set your pasta machine to its thickest setting and roll through once


  • Fold the dough 2/3 of the way over and again with the other side to create a rectangle (as shown)



  • Keep the machine on thickest setting and roll the dough through again and repeat the folding process 3 times.
  • When the dough has been rolled through 3x on thickest setting, gradually start to decrease the thickness setting rolling the dough through once on each notch.



  • Keep dough well floured to avoid sticking!


My pasta machine runs from 1-9 (1 being the thickest)

For lasagne sheets, tagliatelle, spaghetti, pappardelle – setting 7

For ravioli -9


I will follow up with more recipes that use this pasta technique soon 🙂


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Chilli con carne/chilli beef tacos winter warmer :)

It’s the start of the year, it’s cold, dark and depressing! So I decided to make some chilli to warm everyone up! This recipe doubles as chilli beef tacos all you need to do is reduce it longer to create a thicker sauce. (Also, I leave out the beans for tacos!)

You will need

500g lean mince beef
2 cans plum tomatoes
2 beef stock cubes
4 onions
4 garlic cloves
1tsp ground corriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2tsp ground chilli powder
2tsp smoked paprika
1tsp paprika
2tsp mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
Can of red kidney beans (chilli con carne version)

To serve
Plain boiled rice (90g rice per person)
12 taco shells


  • Brown the mince in a hot saucepan, no oil needed, tip away any excess fat.
  • Add chopped onions and garlic, I like to use a garlic crusher, it saves so much time in the kitchen as you don’t need to peel the garlic! Just pop it in and crush! It’s my ‘can’t live without’ kitchen tool.


  • Next, add the beef stock cubes and all of the dry herbs and spices and mix well over heat for 1-2 minutes, careful not to burn the spices!


  • Lastly add the plum tomatoes and a can of water, break up the tomatoes in the pan with a wooden spoon, leave to simmer for at least an hour.


For chilli

  • Add the kidney beans after the tomatoes and water and leave to simmer in the sauce.
  • For me, I usually simmer for around 1 hour to create a nice ooozy sauce to pour over hot rice

For tacos

  • Leave the beans out if the mix, and simmer for around 1 1/2 hours until the sauce is almost dry, being careful not to burn it!
  • Serve in warm taco shells with lettuce and cheese 🙂




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Tomato Bruschetta


Starting off simple,

I came across these lovely looking tomatoes and couldn’t resist! These various tomatoes can be quite difficult to find and ordinary red salad tomatoes or cherry tomatoes work just as well but does not deliver the vibrant burst of colour, I found mine on the off chance whilst wondering around lidl! They are slightly more expensive than standard tomatoes but definitely worth a try, my personal favorites are the ones that look like little watermelons 🙂

This dish looks and is very simple but Ive learnt a few tricks that make it that little bit special!

  • Firstly get your hands on some ciabatta bread, I like to use the indiviual ones. Cut in half length ways and drizzle all sides with olive oil.
  • Heat up a griddle pan until smoking hot and place the ciabatta soft side up straight onto the bars.
  • Whilst ciabatta is toasting, cut tomatoes into various shapes, (i like it to look quite rustic!) and place in a bowl, add, a few chopped basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • If using standard salad tomatoes my advice would be to peel them, to do this boil the kettle and score the underside of the tomaotes with a cross (not the end that attactched to the vine) place in a bowl and cover them in boiling water, leave for 2-4 mins then blast them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Now the outer skin should just peel straight off.
  • Keep an eye on the ciabatta turning once, you want nice bar marks on the bread but be careful not to burn it!
  • Once ciabatta is toasted on both sides take off the heat. Take a garlic clove, cut the end off and rub the garlic over the hot toasted bread, this makes the world of difference and I NEVER leave this step out!
  • Finally spoon over the tomatoes and drizzle and juices and oil left over in the bowl over the bruschetta.

As I said this is a very simple dish to create and its what I love to eat as a snack, if your as mad on garlic as I am then you can crush half a clove directly into the tomatoes when seasoning for an extra garlicky hit!

I hope you enjoy my first proper post 🙂



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