Cooking with a Superfood

This weekend, after a hectic few weeks and prior to lots of exciting summery plans that we have coming up, I had absolutely nothing to do. Tom was off out on Saturday night and apart from begrudgingly going for a run at some point (must keep up with this), I had kept the weekend clear, and I was so excited! I decided that with all this lovely time on my hands I should tackle something more challenging than my usual Victoria sponge or choc chip cookies.

I gathered up my recipe books and started looking for something exciting to try and make. The first recipe I came upon was from the Hummingbird Bakery and was a blueberry and pecan crumble loaf. I’ve tried loaves in the past and struggled to get the mix to cook all the way through, but I decided the flavours sounded delicious so it was worth braving! I then saw a recipe for mini blueberry bakewells from the Great British Bake-Off cookbook which just looked too adorable not to turn my hand to! Also, it meant I could use a lot of the same ingredients, always a winner!

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You can find the recipe for the blueberry loaf in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook Cake Days and it was really easy to follow. I did have to cook the loaf for a bit longer to ensure the middle was cooked all the way through and I think this made it dry out a bit. It has a bit of a strong crust but the flavours are really nice! Plus the marbled blueberries throughout look so pretty!

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I think with a drizzle of cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream this could be a real winner! I’m also pondering whether I could use slices of the loaf in a bread and butter pudding, that could be pretty good!

Next up this weekend was my biggest ever baking challenge: mini blueberry bakewell tarts. This recipe called for me to make my own blueberry jam, pastry, and frangipane, all for one teeny tiny adorable tart! Luckily the recipe is broken down into manageable stages and it was actually fairly easy to do. In my head frangipane was a terrifying baking term, mainly because I had literally no idea how to make it!

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I have to say I’m so pleased with how these have turned out! Probably my proudest baking moment to date! They’re a bit rough and ready compared to the incredibly neat ones pictured in the cookbook but I kind of like their quirky little wobbles and splurges of blueberry, makes them look all the more homemade! I will definitely make these again but might swap the blueberries for raspberries or maybe a lemon version with some curd at the bottom instead of jam. These little tarts would be perfect at an afternoon tea party or birthday tea, they’re so cute and look so pretty laid out on the plate. For this recipe, check out the first GBBO cookbook: How to Bake

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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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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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