Category Archives: bread

Avocado, smoked salmon with poached eggs on sourdough (Serves: 2 -Preparation time: 10 minutes)

My day always kicks off with a strong cup of coffee, it is my one vice that I simply can’t do without.  I love the ritual of making it, packing the coffee grounds into my percolator and then waiting the five minutes for it to brew whilst the blissful aroma fills my kitchen.   The only downside is that I have a tendency to gulp the coffee down in a matter of minutes before dashing out of the door to catch the train to work.

  At the weekend when time is not of the essence a lazy brunch with lots of coffee is how I like to start my day before heading out to walk Oscar up on Wimbledon Common.  The recipe below is a fantastic brunch option that is very simple to make and absolutely scrummy.  If you are efficient it can be prepped and on your plate in under 10 minutes.

 The key to this recipe is not over cooking your poached eggs so that the yolk is still runny when you cut into it and creates a beautifully rich sauce.  In essence poaching an egg is very straight forward, however sometimes it takes a couple of tries to work out the timings.  My tip for poaching an egg is to put a ¼ teaspoon of vinegar in the poaching water and make sure that the water is simmering whilst the egg is cooking not boiling.

This is a fantastic recipe full of vibrant colours that is a great way to start your weekend. Enjoy!

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Herb ‘tear and share’ buns (Makes: 9 -Preparation time: 4hrs)

The herbs in my garden are flourishing at the moment and most weekends I make a herb pesto or salsa of sorts to keep them under control.  There is no right or wrong way to make a pesto, just use the herbs that you have available and adjust to your own tastes.  My preference is to make a straightforward herb pesto and add different ingredients to it depending on what I am eating.  By adding a little white vinegar, gherkins and capers you get a sharper almost salsa verde type dressing to go with lamb, or If you add pine nuts and parmesan to the mix then you will have a more traditional pesto.

The herb pesto recipe makes roughly a jam jar full and will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.  You can use herb pesto in all sorts of ways as it is particularly versatile, for example it can be used to flavour bread as below, as a dip, as a sauce for pasta or simply as an accompaniment to grilled chicken.

The herb buns are a great tear and share food to have with a barbecue or as an accompaniment to a salad.  This bread recipe is simple and makes light, fluffy buns, just make sure that you do knead the bread properly at the outset until the dough springs back when you touch it and then just be patient and wait for it to rise. Enjoy!

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Bruschetta snacks

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Jones (my housemate) and I have had a tough week and were feeling somewhat jaded this morning.  There was only one way to make us feel better –food.  Unfortunately for us that meant a joyous trip to the supermarket on a Saturday morning before we could tuck in.

Fancying something a little bit healthy, we settled on the idea of bruschetta, mostly because it can be put together in a matter of minutes and it looks and tastes good!  In the end we made four different types: a classic tomato, a pea and broad bean, goat’s cheese and beetroot and avocado, red pepper and mozzarella.

These bruschetta are perfect for a light lunch, starter or even a canapé.  Don’t be afraid to change the ingredients depending on what you have available and what is in season.  The only thing I would strongly advise is make sure that you season the toppings well and make sure you always taste as you go along.

 

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Avocado, Red Pepper and Mozzarella Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • ½ an avocado
  • 1/3 of a red pepper
  • ½ a mozzarella ball
  • 4-5 green olives
  • 1 tbsp of fresh chopped chives
  • Seasoning
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic glaze

Steps:

  1. Dice the avocado, red pepper, mozzarella and olives.
  2. Place in a bowl with the chives and stir.
  3. Season well, add balsamic glaze and olive oil (make sure you taste at this point adding more of the balsamic glaze and olive oil as needed).
  4. Toast the sourdough lightly.
  5. Place your mixture on top of the bruschetta.  Drizzle over a little olive oil before serving.

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Classic Tomato Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • Handful of mixed cherry tomatoes
  • 4 black olives
  • 1tbsp of finely diced chopped red onion
  • 5/6 basil leaves (chopped finely)
  • Seasoning
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice

Steps:

  1.  Finely chop the cherry tomatoes, olives. (If the tomatoes give off a lot of juice then pour away some of the excess)
  2. Place in a bowl along with the red, basil.
  3. Season well , add the lemon juice and olive oil (make sure you taste at this point adding more of the lemon juice and olive oil as needed).
  4. Toast the sourdough lightly.
  5. Place your tomato mixture on top of the bruschetta.  Drizzle over a little olive oil before serving.

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Pea and Broad Bean Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 handful of broad beans (frozen are fine)
  • 1 handful of peas (frozen are fine)
  • 5/6 mint leaves
  • Seasoning
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice

Steps:

  1. Place your broad beans in a pan and cook according to the instructions.  Once they are cooked peel the broad beans (it is worth the effort.)
  2. In a separate pan cook your peas, once cooked place in a bowl together with the broad beans and mash using the back of a fork.
  3. Season well, add the mint, lemon juice and olive oil (make sure you taste at this point adding more of the lemon juice and olive oil as needed).
  4. Toast the sourdough lightly.
  5. Place your mixture on top of the bruschetta.  Drizzle over a little olive oil before serving.

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Beetroot and Goat’s Cheese Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cooked and peeled beetroot
  • 2” goat’s cheese log
  • Seasoning
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic glaze

Steps:

  1. Dice the beetroot and goat’s cheese.
  2. Place in a bowl and mix together.
  3. Season well, add balsamic glaze and olive oil (make sure you taste at this point adding more of the balsamic glaze and olive oil as needed).
  4. Toast the sourdough lightly.
  5. Place your mixture on top of the bruschetta.  Drizzle over a little olive oil before serving.


 

Savoury chelsea buns

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Yesterday, Mumsy returned from buying the bread looking very pleased with herself.  She explained that she had been chatting to various people whilst waiting for the bread to come out of the oven and had arranged for us to go around a local ‘Fromagerie’ (Cheesemaker ) that evening at 6pm.  Two thoughts immediately crossed my mind; (1) that Mumsy had arranged something at [heaven forbid] ‘Apéro time’; and (2) why did she think I wanted a tour of a fromagerie/dairy farm?

In fairness to Mumsy, earlier in the week I had asked if we could pop up to the local Fromagerie (about 5km away) to buy some cheese.  I was interested in ‘Le Quercy Blanc’ (as the Fromagerie is known locally) because I had tried several of their cheeses at various fêtes during the summer and thought they would work well in a couple of recipes…  Also, I fully endorse supporting local producers – not only does it keep them in business but, more often than not, their produce is infinitely better than the equivalent that can be found in the local supermarket.

Anyhow, yesterday evening Mumsy and I donned our coats and boots and set off in the pouring rain.  The first thing to say is actually I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting it was.  Having grown up living in farmhouse that was attached to a Diary Farm I knew about the milking processes, but I have not seen cheese production on a small scale.  The farm is run by 3 families and between them they have roughly 200 milking cows, (the vast majority of which are Holsteins).  For their cheese production, they syphon off a very small quantity of the milk the output of roughly 4 cows (between 100-125litres a day).

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 The proprietors explained the cheese making process which to all intents and purposes was very straightforward.  The ‘raw’ (i.e unpasteurised) milk is placed in a large vat, ‘la présure’ (rennet) is added, how much that is used depends on the type of cheese being made (e.g. a Tome requires a higher concentration to produce its texture and form).  The milk is then left to do its work over a period of 24hrs, whereupon the curds are separated from the whey.  From there it is either potted up and labelled as ‘Fromage Blanc’ or salt is added to the curds which are then shaped in moulds before they are left to mature in a ‘warm’ refrigerator (around 14C)  from anywhere between a week (for the soft centred cheese) to 2+ months for the Tome.  After that time the cheese, brushed down in the case of the Tome, is then placed in a ‘cool’ refrigerator where it is stored until it is sold.      

 

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I have to say I am really pleased that I visited the Fromagerie as it allowed me to create these Savoury Chelsea buns for lunch.  The cheeses complimented the sweet flavour of the dough and the combination of the lardons, cheese and red onion and port marmalade worked better that I could have hoped.  Whilst I appreciate unless you go to an extraordinary effort to travel to this part of the world you will be unable to use the same cheeses that I have, do not worry just use the cheeses that you have available that are similar and most importantly that you like! Enjoy!

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Savoury Chelsea Buns (makes 12)

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 150g wholemeal flour (Type 80)
  • 40g sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 50g butter (melted)
  • 200ml milk (warmed slightly)
  • 2 eggs

For the filling:

  • 25g butter (melted)
  • 3 heaped tsp red onion and port marmalade (see recipe)
  • 2 soft centred cheese, roughly 100g (I used a local cheese, but Rocamdour, Cabecou or even a Brie would do)
  • 50-75g Tome, grated (alternatively use medium Cheddar or Gruyere)
  • 50-75g lardons or bacon bits
  • ½tsp thyme
  • 1 egg beaten (for glazing)

Steps:

1.  Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and mix together.

2.  Place the yeast in a bowl, add the milk, butter and eggs and mix together well.

3.  Add the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers.  The dough will be fairly wet.

4.  Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes.

5.  Place the dough into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 2 – 3 hours (until it has doubled in size).

6.  Knock the air out of the dough, place on a floured surface and flatten into a rectangular shape.

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 7.  Brush the dough with the melted butter, spoon over the red onion and port marmalade, scatter over the cheese, lardons and thyme.

8.  Roll the dough up into a long cylinder shape then, cut into 12 equal-sized pieces.

9.  Place the pieces in a greased and floured tin, brush with the egg wash and leave to rise until they have doubled in size.

10.  Once they have risen, bake in an oven at 180C fan for 18-20 minutes.

11.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

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Chelsea buns with a marmalade glaze

My Chelsea bun recipe requires you to make an enriched dough (meaning that it has milk, sugar, butter and/or oil in the recipe).  The process is identical to making a standard dough, however the dough is wetter.  I have a plastic dough scraper/cutter that I use to help me stop the dough from sticking to the work-surface – it is a handy little tool but not absolutely necessary.

Do not be put off by the number of steps there are in this recipe, making Chelsea buns is very straightforward and is very worthwhile.  The buns are light and fluffy and have a lovely sharp zing from the marmalade.  By soaking the sultanas in boiling water they become much juicier and they stay plump even after cooking.


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Chelsea buns with a marmalade glaze

Ingredients:

For the dough:DSC_0629

  • 250g wholemeal flour (Type 80)
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 50g butter (melted)
  • 200ml milk (warmed)
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 50g sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2 eggs

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  • 25g butter (melted)
  • 75g sultanas (put in boiling water to plump up, then drain)
  • 25g mixed peel
  • 2-3tbsp brown sugar

For the glaze:

  • 1 heaped tbsp marmalade
  • 1 heaped tbsp caster sugarDSC_0632
  • 1tbsp water

For the icing:

  • 2-3 heaped tbsp icing sugar
  • 1-2 tsp water

Steps:

  1. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and mix together.
  2. Place the yeast in a bowl, add the milk, butter and eggs and mix together well.
  3. Add the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers.  The dough will be fairly wet.
  4. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes.
  5. Place the dough into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 2 – 2½ hours (until it has doubled in size).
  6. Knock the air out of the dough, place on a floured surface and flatten into a square shape.
  7. Brush the dough with the melted butter, scatter over the sugar, mixed peel and sultanas.
  8. Roll the dough up into a long cylinder shape then, cut into 12 equal-sized pieces.
  9. Place the pieces in a greased and floured tin, then leave to rise until they have doubled in size.
  10. Once they have risen, bake in an oven at 180C fan for 15-16 minutes, turning the oven down to 160C fan after 8-9 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and place the buns on a cooling rack.
  12. Make the marmalade glaze by heating the marmalade, sugar and water together in a saucepan
    and heat until the sugar has dissolved and you have a syrupy liquid.
  13. Brush the glaze over the buns, making sure the tops are well covered.
  14. Finally make the icing by mixing the icing sugar together with a little water until you have a smooth but slightly runny icing.
  15. Drizzle/brush the icing over the tops of the buns.

 
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Chicken in breadcrumbs

This is one of my all-time favourite things to eat.  This is my aunt’s recipe which she often cooked for us when we visited her in Italy.  Whilst it may not be the healthiest thing to eat, it is absolutely delicious as most fried foods tend to be…

When I was last in London my brother cooked this for me, however, he broke away from the traditional recipe and used a combination of stuffing mix and parmesan because he couldn’t find any breadcrumbs.  I have to say it worked well, but, my aunt’s recipe will still always be my favourite!

I tend to make my own breadcrumbs these days as a way of using up any stale bread as I hate throwing things away.  Below is a quick guide to make them.

Quick guide to making breadcrumbs

  • Preheat oven to 100C fan.
  • Cut any old or stale loaves/rolls etc. into chunks.
  • Place the chunks onto a roasting tray and bake in oven for 45 minutes to an hour to remove any moisture from the bread.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
  • Place the bread in a food processor and blitz until you have fine crumbs.
  • Store in an airtight jar.

 

Chicken in breadcrumbs

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 4oz breadcrumbs
  • 1oz parmesan
  • seasoning
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • oil (for cooking with)
  • 1 lemon (cut in quarters for serving)

Steps:

1.  Slice or beat the chicken (using a rolling pin) into thin escalopes.

2.  Dip the chicken pieces into the beaten egg (make sure it is well covered).

3.  Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan and seasoning together in a bowl.

4.  Place the chicken pieces into the crumb mix and coat thoroughly pressing the crumbs firmly into the chicken.

   

5.  Heat a good amount of oil in a frying pan.   Once it is very hot, carefully add the chicken in batches and fry on both sides for 3-4 minutes. (Check to see if the chicken is cooked by cutting into the middle of one of the escalopes).  Place the cooked pieces in an ovenproof dish, keep the warm in the oven at 100C fan

6.  Once all the chicken is cooked serve with a piece of lemon and the vegetables of your choice for example ratatouille and/or mashed potatoes.

 

White bread baps – perfect for a lunch, brunch or BBQ

We don’t often eat brunch at home but when we do it normally involves an English breakfast.  However, today as we lacked some of the vital ingredients for this so we had to settle for bacon baps (buns).  Consequently, I decided to make the baps this morning as there is something quite special about having freshly cooked bread for any meal.

At the moment I am making bread in some form or other at least twice a week – every time I make it the process gets easier and easier and I find it incredibly relaxing. These baps are very soft both inside and out and would make great sandwiches to use in packed lunches or for picnics or for burgers at barbecues.

Fresh yeast and dried yeast

It has dawned on me recently that I am in an incredibly fortunate position to be able to get fresh yeast from my local bakery here in France.  However, I do appreciate that not everybody has this luxury so, if you only have dried yeast available, then work on the following principal:

  • Where a recipe uses 25g fresh yeast, use 7g dried yeast in its place.  (The reason that you need less of the dried yeast is due to the moisture content in fresh yeast.)

 

 

White Bread Baps

Ingredients:

  • 400g white flour (type 55 or equivalent)
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 25g melted butter
  • 200ml milk (tepid)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Steps:

1.  Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix together.

2.  Place the yeast and sugar in a measuring jug and stir together until the fresh yeast is crumb like.

3.  Add the milk and butter to the measuring jug and stir.

4.  Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers.

5.  Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for a good 10 minutes (you will notice that the texture of the dough will change during this time, once you have finished kneading the dough should spring back after being pressed lightly).

6.  Place the dough into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 1 ½ – 2 hours (until it has doubled in size).

7.  Knock the air out of the dough.  Place the dough onto a floured surface and roll into a long sausage shape then cut into 12 equal sized pieces.  Shape the pieces into small balls and placing it in an oiled and floured tin leaving it to rise for the second time for another 1 ½ – 2 hours.

   

8.  Place the dough in an oven that you have preheated to 190C fan and cook for 18-20 minutes.  Turn the oven down slightly if you feel it is cooking too quickly and browning too much on the top.

9.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool before eating, the baps are best stored in an airtight tin.