Monthly Archives: July 2015

Sundried Tomatoes – without the sun!


We love sun-dried tomatoes. They taste great in a variety of dishes, from anti-pasti to salads and sandwiches, even as an addition to simple spaghetti al’olio.

Sun drying tomatoes is usually a very easy affair. All you need are tomatoes and plenty of strong sunshine. Alas, the UK weather is so fickle that we cannot be guaranteed of continuous sunshine for any length of time. But I had a huge box of cherry tomatoes that were just begging to be used.

So here is my version; simple oven-dried cherry tomatoes with garlic and sea salt. The concentration of flavours into these tiny slivers of rich tomatoey goodness is amazing – truly sunshine in every bite, even on a gloomy and rainy day. Thanks for the inspiration, Rhea.

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Pesto and chilli bacon pull apart rolls with coconut milk and Parmesan


I love pull-apart rolls. There is so much joy to be had in the tearing and sharing of bread with loved ones. And there is a certain hedonistic pleasure in biting into soft, creamy bread and getting hits of flavour with each swirl.

I’ve been toying with the idea of using coconut milk in bread for a while now. The pesto rolls are a firm favourite in our household but I wanted to do some other flavours too. And my gaze fell on a small jar of smoky chilli bacon jam.

The end result was a wonderful partnership of flavours. Coconut milk to knead into the dough and provide a slightly sweet, creamy back note, paired with the half the rolls having salty pesto and the other half having smoky, hot bacon and chillies. All complemented by some grated Parmesan.

The recipe is simple, and the rewards are great.

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Maritozzi Con La Panna (Roman cream buns)

 The June bread challenge set for us in the We Knead to Bake group was ‘Maritozzi Con La Panna’ – which is an Italian sweet bun, sort of like a brioche. They have an orange and vanilla flavour and are traditionally filled with whipped cream or with a glaze or even dusting of icing sugar. We decided to forego both versions, and they tasted brilliant even served as-is with our evening tea/coffee. The combination of orange with vanilla was very nice, and the raisins and toasted pine nuts provided an interesting texture with each bite.

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A crusty white loaf or a Ciabatta?

Sometimes a disaster can turn out to be pretty good.  I started out to trial my new banneton for the first time by making a simple white loaf. But something went wrong. The dough wouldn’t behave normally, and after kneading for a while, I thought I’d let it rest (and hopefully autolyse).

After a couple of hours of resting, and stretching and folding, it was a little better but not much. With a great dusting of flour, I put it into the Benetton and waited with bated breath. When I judged it to be roughly doubled in size, I turned it out onto oiled parchment paper. I had thought about scoring, but on seeing it visibly deflating and subsiding before my very eyes, I decided to forego that. Quickly, it went straight into a pre-heated, pre-steamed oven.

I peered anxiously through the window, and hail the deities, there was oven spring! After a while, it seemed to have achieved final stature, and so I turned down the heat a bit and  let it bake for a good while longer, until I judged the colour and sound was just right.

There’s nothing to drive you up the wall with hunger more than the smell of freshly baking bread.

Eventually, after all the hidden drama, I ended up with a gorgeous smelling hunk of bread that had a nice crust on the outside, with a soft crumb on the inside. It hadn’t held its shape long enough and so lost the patterns of the banetton. The crust wasn’t soft enough for it to be a ciabatta, even though I had made it with olive oil rather than butter. Hence the quandary, is it a cob, a batârd or a ciabatta?

For curious minds, here are the ingredients.

  • Strong white bread flour – 400gm
  • Instant yeast – 6gm
  • Sea salt – 7gm
  • Water – 210gm
  • Olive oil – 25gm
  • Flour for dusting

P.S I blame the flour 😉

‘Gone-in-ten-minutes’ Rosemary and Thyme Focaccia


This classic Italian bread is a firm favourite in our household. It rarely lasts long, so much so that I’ve nicknamed it my ‘gone-in-ten-minutes’ focaccia. It is super easy to make, requiring very low skills in bread making or kneading. What it does require though, is a little self-belief and confidence in handling wet doughs, and the faith that it will turn out alright despite appearances.

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Spicy Garlic King Prawns


Looking for a quick and easy side dish to accompany your main meal? Try these spicy king prawns, with a hit of garlic and curry leaves.

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