Prawn Tagine & Tomato Bread

A few months ago my mum and I went away for a weekend break to stay on a farm in the gorgeous Yorkshire countryside. We stayed in a lovely little cottage, went for long country walks and ate chips in the local pub, it was bliss!

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On the way we visited some friends and they took us to the Jordan’s mill where I went a bit mad and bought lots of lovely produce; jams, oatcakes, spices, and two bags of bread flour. I couldn’t resist the tomato and garlic or the multigrain flour, so obviously bought both!

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Last week I attempted to recreate a dish that I had at Honey & Co a few weeks ago: Prawn and Orange Tagine, which I served alongside some homemade tomato and garlic bread. I fried onion and garlic with cumin, coriander and turmeric spices, added orange juice and chopped tomatoes and let it simmer. When it had reduced down I added the prawns and slices of orange until everything was cooked through and delicious.

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To go with the tagine I baked a loaf using the tomato flour so we had something to dip in the orange sauce. The loaf had a good strong crust but I need to work on getting the crumb right, it was still a little doughy at the edges but the middle was getting there! I just need to keep practising, next up: a multigrain loaf

Oh, and Honey & Co was amazing! I’d recommend it to everyone! Such friendly service and the food was incredible – it’s small so make sure you book!

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My First Attempt at Soda Bread with Mostly the Wrong Ingredients….

Soda bread, for me, is a bit like olives or red wine – it has one of those tastes that I associate with being a grown up; that once you become a grown up your taste buds will suddenly change and you’ll love to eat all these things that as a child you found revolting!

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My dad loves soda bread so we always had it in the kitchen; it was always sitting there in the bread bin when all I craved was a nice squidgy soft white loaf or perhaps an English muffin or bagel. Over the years I tried soda bread, often as a last resort to help me get my marmite fix but I just didn’t get it; why was it so cakey and oddly sweet?

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Fast forward a few years and I’m at the Guinness brewery in Dublin, specifically sitting in the cafe of the Guinness brewery, and I am marvelling at how delicious the soda bread is that they’ve served alongside the shepherd’s pie. Now I’m sure this had nothing to do with the pint I had just finished, but was all to do with how I finally understood the need for the slightly stodgier consistency and the sweetness and nuttiness of the soda bread. It perfectly complimented both the beer and the pie and was part of one of the nicest lunches I’d had in a long time.

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It’s been a while since our trip to Dublin but I’ve finally gotten round to giving soda bread a go. Except I had all the wrong ingredients! I couldn’t find buttermilk so I bought whole milk and I didn’t pay attention to what kind of flour to use. In the end the loaf came out ok but I think the consistency was slightly too cakey, even for this type of loaf. I also need to add a bit more salt next time. It looked good though!

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Pissaladière

Pissaladière ~ a Provençal style onion tart (a bit like a pizza!)
Served with pan-fried mackerel fillets

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In today’s Emerald Street email there was a recipe for Pissaladière from BRUNO LOUBET and it looked delicious! Tom and I decided to make it for dinner, and it was nice to share the cooking – I made the dough and Tom marinated the mackerel fillets and caramelised the onions. The kitchen smelled so good while we were cooking: freshly baked bread, fried onions and garlic – amazing!

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Home grown Basil

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The recipe was really easy to follow and was surprisingly quick to put the whole meal together. I recently quizzed my friend on how she got her bread to bake so well and she said it really is down to how long you knead the dough for, so that’s what I did. I kneaded, and kneaded, and kneaded the dough, and I stretched and stretched it until it went smooth and elastic. it was so worth it and the bread had a really good texture.

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Rosè wine was recommended to go with the Pissaladière and we had some of my favourite Pinot Grigio blush wine in the fridge which went so nicely. I think we will definitely be making this again and there’s also plenty leftover for lunch. I think the nice thing about this meal is that you could swap in different fish, or add chorizo or Parma ham as the topping. I think next time I would use
chorizo to give it a bit more bite of flavour.

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Rolled Bread from Jamie Oliver

My Aunty and her partner came over to visit us in our flat this weekend and I wanted to make something a bit different for brunch to the usual bacon, eggs, sausage etc that make up our classic Full English.

Over Christmas, Tom’s mum Sue made this delicious brunch-inspired bread from a Jamie Oliver recipe – rolled bread of parma ham, with cheese, eggs and basil. I thought it would be perfect for a wintery Sunday brunch and so I decided to give it a go.

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Jamie’s recipe can be found here. It uses a basic bread recipe for the dough, which you then roll out to a metre long (or so, can be smaller), rectangle. Then you fill the middle of the rectangle lengthways with the ingredients. I laid out the parma ham, then spaced out the hard-boiled eggs, scattered over the chopped sundried tomatoes, grated over some cheese, and drizzled with olive oil and then some salt and pepper. I forgot the basil leaves, but I don’t think this mattered too much. Once you’ve added all the filling, roll the dough over so that everything is rolled up and then bring the two ends together to meet, in a circle shape. Leave the dough to rise and then bake at 180 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

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I think it’s best to eat the bread fresh out of the oven, when it’s still hot and the cheese is all melted. We served our loaf with a simple green salad. You could always add some olives to the middle of the bread or anchovies, to give it a saltier kick, or you could try a sweet version, and add chunks of chocolate and raisins to the middle, for a melted, gooey chocolate loaf.

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A Delightful Dinner Party

Firstly, let me apologise for my long absence from WordPress – it has been one of those times when there just seems so much to do that baking, and consequently blogging, have taken a back seat. It has been a time of both good things and sad things but I am back now and ready to bake! As I write this there are earl grey cupcakes baking in the oven (see my next post for photos!) and I am looking forward to getting back in the swing of things.

This long-awaited post is about the dinner party I had quite a while ago now but I have the photos and the time now to do the post justice.

I posted a while back about the menu I was going to cook for a dinner party for the lovely girls I work with – and I have to say it was the smoothest, tastiest bit of cooking I have ever done…not to blow my own trumpet but I was pretty pleased with myself!

I altered the menu slightly, changing the soup from spiced carrot & lentil to a creamy, roasted butternut squash and sweet red pepper soup, but the rest of the menu remained the same: roast chicken breast stuffed with marscapone and home-made pesto, rolled in breadcrumbs, served with roast potatoes and vine tomatoes, followed by white chocolate and cranberry cheesecake and strawberry daiquiri cupcakes.

I prepped the soup the night before, giving myself more time the next day to have a bit of a lie in before making the rest of the dinner!

Our flat is quite small for dinner for 6 people so it was a cosy evening, but the food was tasty and the conversation hilarious so it was an all round success!

Pink lemonade cocktail

Home-made bread rolls

Butternut squash soup, with pumpkin seeds, crispy bacon and creme fraiche

Crispy breadcrumb coated chicken stuffed with pesto and marscapone, roast potatoes and roast tomatoes

White chocolate and cranberry cheesecake 

Strawberry daiquiri cupcakes

Plaited Loaf with a Spoonful of Honey

Tonight Tom made his world-famous . . .ok . . . family-famous chili for dinner – it’s delicious and he is becoming a true pro at making it! We usually have a few dishes of extra toppings to go with the chili; cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips and bread for dunking; you’ve got to mop up the scrummy chili sauce, it can’t be left to go to waste! Unfortunately, we’d run out of bread but everything was ok, I had some of my amazing mixed grain wholemeal flour left – luckily the perfect amount required to make a plaited loaf from the Great British Bake Off cookbook.

I’ve been excited by the prospect of making this recipe as it looks so rustic and delicious – the recipe uses wholemeal bread flour mixed with hazelnuts, apricots and honey, however, my luck with ingredients didn’t go that far, so I just used the flour and honey. The loaf still tasted amazing but I will try the full recipe next time as I think it will be even better!

The honey in the recipe adds a delicious sweetness to the loaf which I can imagine is complimented really well by the hazelnuts, but it isn’t too overpoweringly sweet so would go well with cheeses and chutneys or, as we used it, chunky bread for dunking! Other flavours that would work well in this loaf recipe are a good strong cheddar with roasted red onion, cashew nuts instead of hazel and olive and sundried tomatoes.


 For the full recipe see The Great British Bake Off How to Bake cookbook – it’s worth investing in, it has so many easy to follow, delicious recipes and it just looks gorgeous!

Baked egg bowls and chocolate eclairs

This weekend has turned in to a bit of a bake-a-thon all in all!

As well as making mini quiches yesterday, I also made some wholemeal seeded bread rolls for Tom who wanted to try this recipe I found on Pinterest – the Noble Pig’s Baked Eggs in Bread Bowls. Tom brought me home some wholemeal seeded flour which I got probably far too excited about using but it was such nice flour and made a nice change to the usual plain white bread flour I use! The rolls turned out really well and I’ll definitely be making them again – they’d be perfect for soup or with some cheese or pate.

        

I also decided to try making eclairs this weekend as I was craving chocolate and so I thought I’d give choux pastry a go – it sounded very easy from the recipes I read beforehand.

The recipe I used can be found here and was very easy to follow. The only step I would change would be instead of slicing down the length of the eclairs, make a hole in the end instead. Then pipe the cream filling in the hole in the end rather than trying to scoop the filling down the middle – I think it might work out a bit easier and less messy!

Here are my first attempt at eclairs, they taste great but look a little on the rustic side – with practice I should get them looking neater!

An aside about baking in film:

When Tom gave me the wholemeal flour he’d bought me this weekend, I was reminded of one of my favourite scenes from the film Stranger than Fiction, when Will Ferrell’s character presents a box of different flours to Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character who he really likes. I think this is the cutest take on the usual presenting of flowers to someone you like and I may have to rewatch this film soon just for how lovely this scene is!

The perfect white loaf

Someone once asked me, “if you could only have one of the following, which would you choose? Bread, pasta or rice?”

Now, I mean come on, what kind of a question is that to ask a person?! I eventually, somehow, came to a decision: bread. It has to be bread, every time.

Despite the deliciousness of pesto pasta, and the tastiness of a chicken korma with rice, for me, bread will always win-out. Bread or toast is always the thing to settle my tummy if I’m feeling ill; it’s great as an after-work, pre-dinner, snack; it’s the perfect partner for soup, pate, boiled eggs, baked beans; and, well, where would lunchtime be without the noble sandwich?

As I hadn’t baked anything since my Victoria sponge I thought I’d turn my hand back to bread-making, something I have found a slightly up-and-down process so far. The key thing I have found that seems to alter how well my bread turns out is the amount of time I spend kneading the dough. With that in mind I spent longer than usual and it seems to have worked – my dough rose well and had a smooth texture.

I used a different technique when baking the bread this time (mainly because I fully read the recipe) – when I put the dough in the oven I added a cup of water to a pre-heated tray which gave a burst of steam and helps with the bake. Halfway through I rotated the bread to give it an even colouring and this is the beautiful outcome (though I say so myself):        

Nothing smells so good as freshly baked bread, especially when you have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made it yourself – and this is why I will always choose bread over rice or pasta!