Spring seems to be a long way away at the moment. It’s really really cold and so I bake. I spent last Saturday in the kitchen; I am the happiest when I’m in full baking/cooking mode. When I am there alone I am much calmer. I may be covered in flour, with a wet brow, and perhaps a bit hot and bothered, but I enjoy it. I can compare it with climbing. It helps you to focus on the task ahead, and your mind doesn’t have the time to wander around something else. There’s no distraction.
I don’t have a recipe for you here, although I will try to have something for you in the coming few weeks, but till then I still wanted to share with you some pictures we took while making some baps the other day. I hope you like them.
I’m taking some days off, but I will be back soon. In the meantime take care of yourselves.
It’s so easy for me to skip lunch altogether. That’s very bad I know, but it happens sometimes, especially when I have a full day (when it’s even worse). There’s absolutely almost no excuse for this vile behaviour so this is an easy sandwich which I put together in minutes. There no method in the madness and it’s only a guide. You can use whatever you like of course; this is just what I do with any leftover roast chicken I might have in the fridge. I wouldn’t even call this a recipe.
- Cooked chicken pieces (approximately 150g but who’s really measuring?!)
- 1 courgette, chopped
- 2 chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped (you can also use spring onions if you prefer)
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed
I put these in a shallow pan, with a little drizzle of olive oil and cook them with a pinch of paprika, chinese 5 spice and chilli flakes. Let them sizzle up and add a dash of white vermouth or honey, or both! Let it bubble up till the liquid is reduced. Serve in between some tasty polenta bread or a crusty baguette, with plenty of greens and slices of tomatoes. It’s simple but ideal when you don’t have much time to eat, but still need to! Enjoy.
I’ve been MIA these past couple of weeks. J has been on leave and it’s nice to take a break from the computer screen sometimes. What I’m finding difficult is to get into non-holiday mode again, if you know what I mean. Now who wants to stay inside when the Sun’s shining? Not me! So keeping in mind the holidays, a birthday celebration and of course a certain Royal Wedding, here’s my little gift to you.
This is a sweet little recipe from James Tanner and his recently published book James Tanner Takes 5. It’s one of my favourite books, firstly because it’s got photos for every recipe. I’m just a home cook so you can forgive me for saying that. I also love it because the pages are not glossy, so you can see the pages clearly in artificial light. I hate it when I’m flipping through a recipe book late in the evening and have to adjust the angle of the page because I’m blinded by the reflection of light in my eyes! So for me this is a winner. So please chefs, less gloss, more umph!
This is hardly a recipe; it’s assembly takes seconds but it’s really tasty – if cheese is your thing. It makes great party food and it’s an ideal snack for sharing. To avoid double dipping (I hate that) give everyone a teaspoon and a small ramekin if serving at the table. All you need are four ingredients. How neat is that!
- 250g camembert (in it’s wooden box)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Remove any wax packaging from around the cheese and also the wooden lid. Replace the wax paper with a square piece of kitchen foil big enough to loosely wrap the cheese in. Place the camembert inside the foil and again in the box.
- On the surface of the cheese score a few lines with a sharp knife and insert the slices of garlic. Sprinkle with thyme and pour over the maple syrup or honey. Scrunch the foil to cover the cheese (remember: not to tight). Place the lot into a baking dish and bake for around 15 minutes until the cheese is soft and spreadable on the inside.
Serve this with some baguettes. Easy!
Now that’s a great combo. That’s why I’ve chosen it for the name of this blog. And if you try this combination, you’ll know – it’ll be a bit of an a-ha moment. You see, to be honest this blog post was a long time coming and I know I will be relieved once it’s published. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you might already know that recently I bought a cook book which I didn’t like that much at first. I thought it was a total waste of money really. Having baked some recipes from it as the weeks passed by, I must now say that although I still have some lurking doubts, I am warming up to it slowly. First of all I must thank this book for this blog’s name. I have cooked with chorizo before and it has become a staple in my pantry. Lorraine Pascale made me want to try it with thyme. It turned out to be a perfect marriage.
The following recipe is my take on her Chorizo and Thyme Fougasse (click here for the actual recipe). I am grateful to Ms. Pascale for this and for some other recipes in her book which I will try very soon. I made this bread after a long walk in the beautiful Surrey countryside and loved it. So here it goes.
A very important note for this recipe: I used my bread machine to make the dough instead of a mixer with a hook. This was less messy and it worked really well for me. I will also include the traditional method later on.
For the bread machine dough method will need:
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons yeast dissolved into 250ml warm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin if possible)
Have 50g of finely chopped ready-to-eat chorizo and 2 tablespoons of dried thyme at the ready, to add after the dough cycle is ready, and some milk for brushing the dough.
- If you have a bread machine then choose the pizza dough option which will take approximately 45 minutes. Remove the dough from the container.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
- Work the chorizo and thyme in the dough. When these are well combined leave the dough to rise in a warm place, preferably covered with some oiled clingfilm or a warm damp clean cloth for around 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Brush the dough with the milk.
- For the crust to remain nice and golden place two handfuls of ice cubes at the bottom of the oven (you can also either spray the oven with some cold water before closing or fill a small roasting dish with water in place of the ice cubes).
- Place the dough on a lightly oiled roasting tray in the oven. Bake for around 40 minutes but keep an eye on it and check its colour every once in a while. I know this is fiddly, but it’s worth it. I’m already smelling the freshly baked bread in your kitchen!
And now for the other method, all you need to do is to replace Step 1 with the following:
- Mix the dough ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface.
- Knead for 15-20 minutes. I know you have to work at it and use some muscle power but this will develop the dough’s elasticity. So please, please have patience.
- Put the dough back in a bowl, cover with a clean cloth and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
- Continue from Step 2.
Everyone knows I’m a huge Nigella fan. No news there. One of the very few things I don’t agree with her on is bread machines. My hubby J bought us one last year and I love it. I use it almost every day and it’s perfect for both sweet and savoury kinds. I haven’t looked back since.
I am trying a new dough recipe now. It’s one for rolls or baps that I’m going to use for this evening’s dinner. (For anyone who’s asking, it’s home-made burgers.) What’s curious is that this recipe calls for 1 egg. I’ve never used eggs for bread doughs before and I’m wondering how it will turn out. We’ll see…