JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

An early Christmas present

An early Christmas present from Celia at Purple Podded Peas. The most cheering sort of present ... continue reading, at my new blog, An English Kitchen

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Creamy Puy lentils

Luxurious way with lentils. We ate this with chunks of squash roasted with herbs and orange zest. Horatio said it would have been nicer with chicken, but he's a well-known lentil hater.

200g Puy lentils
1 finely chopped onion
1 clove finely chopped garlic
juice of an orange
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2-3 tbsp creme fraiche

Cook the lentils (about 20-30 minutes, depending on their age). Drain, but keep the water, which will be thick and black.

At the same time, fry the onion until it is soft, then add the garlic and keep cooking for five more minutes. Add the orange juice, vinegar, creme fraiche and a little blackwater (start with 1-2 tbsp). Warm through, then add the lentils. Taste and season.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pastry, and a frangipane filling

Because my blog is my kitchen notebook, and because I keep having to look up these recipes ... and because, if you think you can't make pastry, these just may transform your baking (they have mine).

1. Shortcrust pastry

200g STRONG flour
100g unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tbsp water

Blitz all in the processor until it forms a ball.

This is enough to line a 23cm tart tin, but it goes a great deal further if you roll it at room temperature and then chill it. It doesn't seem to make any difference to the finished pastry. Chill for half an hour, and bake blind before filling.

2. Sweet shortcrust

250g flour (I use strong flour for this, too; it's a kind of superstition, and I do not know if the gluten is responsible for my success with these pastries)
125g unsalted butter
85g caster sugar
1 egg

Proceed as for shortcrust.

3. Frangipane

This is enough to spread on a 23cm tart tin (or 6 individual tarts). You can either spread jam underneath, or arrange fruit on top.

50g softened unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
1 egg
50g plain flour

Blitz to a soft cream.

Bake at 160C for 20-25 minutes.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Top 25 cookbooks

Last week, the Observer Food Magazine published its top 50 cookbooks. This week, Joanna's Food presents its own top 25. Very difficult indeed to choose - in the final cut, I lost Elisabeth Luard, Michael Smith, Sarah Raven, Claire Macdonald of Macdonald, Ballymaloe and Pomiane. AND I've had to cheat by including more than one book by some people. Also, the order at the bottom end is a little haphazard. And, yes, I know there's no Chinese food (Fuschia Dunlop? Kenneth Hom?) or Indian (Madhur Jaffrey, obviously), but we don't eat them often enough to justify a whole place in the top 25.

I'm surprised that there are (I think) four telly chefs, although only one (HFW) was discovered by me through the medium of television, and I haven't seen all of them on TV. More than half these books have no or very few photographs.

25. Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book. This actually belongs to Eleanor, but she has abandoned both it and cake-making.

24. Tamasin Day-Lewis, Tamasin's Kitchen Bible. She can be annoyingly prescriptive about stuff that is none of her business (I neither want nor can afford wild salmon at all times), but this book lives up to its name. The quiche lorraine is to die for.

23. Anna del Conte, The Classic Food of Northern Italy. I was brought up with this food in England in the 1950s and 60s because my grandparents, who had met in Italy during WW1, had a succession of lovely Italian cooks.

22. Pam Corbin's River Cottage Preserves. If you're making jam, this book is so much better than the rest (about 10 in this house) that I'm going to chuck out most of them.

21. Robert Carrier, Great Dishes of the World. In my early 20s I lived in Pimlico, close to an Italian deli that was our late-night corner shop. Carrier's book - the height of 70s sophistication - was very useful for unfamiliar ingredients. I wowed many with the taramasalata - utterly unknown then, before the advent of that pink stuff supermarkets sell. And I had to make the pitta, too.

20. Diana Henry, Cook Simple. The inspirational Crazy Water Pickled Lemons is the more obvious choice, but Cook Simple is the one I actually refer to, particularly when I'm in a hurry.

19. Frances Bissell, The Scented Kitchen. Flowers in your food. Way beyond a few pansy and nasturtium petals in the salad. Utterly lovely.

18. Elizabeth David, Summer Cooking. VERY hard to choose. I have all her books, and consult them frequently, mostly for reading pleasure and history. This is the one with the food stains.

17. Jane Grigson, Fruit. But let's be clear, I also want The Vegetable Book. And probably the one about charcuterie too. The only reason it's not English Cookery is because of my 7th choice.

16. Rick Stein, English Fish Cookery. I think my copy says it's by Richard Stein. Anyway, it predates his telly work, and, these days, you have to use it in consultation with Marine Conservation Society lists of endangered fish.

15. Yottam Ottolenghi, Plenty. So delicious, so glamorous.

14. Michael Pollan, In Defence of Food. I know it's not a cookery book, but cooks can no longer ignore the bigger picture. Although the specifics are American, Pollan writes about real food with more immediacy than anyone else. And besides, at the end, he gives a very useful recipe for good eating: "Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly plants.

13. Claudia Roden, The Book of Jewish Food. And Arabesque. Both full of things you want to eat. The now ubiquitous orange/almond cake originated here; it's one of my winter staples. It's also one of the best history books in the house (and there are significantly more history books here than cookery books).

12. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Meat. I live amongst carnivores. My copy falls open at the gravy-splattered section on roasting.

11. Caroline Blackwood & Anna Haycraft, Darling you shouldn't have gone to so much trouble. This was a life-saver when my children were tiny; if it's out of print, it shouldn't be, as it hasn't dated. The Earl of Gowrie's fowl is typically delicious: you put Boursin in the cavity of a pheasant and roast it. The sauce makes itself.

10. Paula Wolfert, Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking. Better than all her others (Morocco/Gascony), and that is saying something. History, technique, original research, delicious food.

9. Jennifer Paterson, Feast Days. One fat lady, her pre-telly columns from The Spectator, full of prejudices and non sequiturs, larded with saints, as good to re-read as they were in the first place. Lots to cook, even if her infallible method for poached eggs (say the Hail Mary) turns out to be useless.

8.Felicity and Roald Dahl, Roald Dahl's Cookbook. One of the few "lifestyle" books in the list. Mrs D's stunning woodcuts, photos of the garden (which I have visited and which really does look like that) ... and lovely, lovely food.

7. Caroline Conran, British Cooking. Ignore the fact that this is a Marks and Spencer book. Comprehensive, clear, CC really knows her stuff. The photographs have that 1970s brown quality - but the food doesn't.

6. Fergus Henderson, Nose to Tail, I & II. It's only polite.

5. Ann & Franco Taruschio, Leaves from the Walnut Tree. The only thing I dislike about this book is the lingering regret that I never ate at the Walnut Tree while it was run by the Taruschios.

4. Patience Gray, Honey from a Weed. Rather more likeable than Elizabeth David, perhaps because she reveals more of her slightly rackety life in the Mediterranean. But only slightly - this is no kiss and tell memoir.

3. Nigella Lawson, How to Eat. My copy is dropping to bits. And when it does, I will go out and buy another.

2. Andrew Whitley, Bread Matters. I should throw out all the other baking books, really. Superlative.

1. Geraldene Holt, French Country Cooking. I've cooked more from this book than any other. I've learnt more from Geraldene Holt about cooking, baking, gardening, living well (not just in a material sense) than from all the others on this list. Memorable dishes: creme bachique, the shaken pastry, a good daube, faux-filet with Roquefort, delicious braised leeks ... and now I've found a courgette and sorrel recipe which will be good with the chicken roasting in the oven for today's lunch.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Eliza Acton's redcurrant jelly

The quickest and best way to make redcurrant jelly, so that the flavour of the fruit shines through. Can't believe I've never posted this before, but I couldn't find it when a friend asked for the recipe. It comes via Jane Grigson, from her Fruit Book, so I'm quoting her direct:

Run a thin layer of water over the base of the preserving pan, then put an equal weight of red currants - no need to remove the stalks - and sugar. Stir and heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved, then raise the heat and boil hard for 8 minutes. Tip out onto a sieve set over a bowl, or into a jelly bag, and pour the resulting liquid into small pots.

I always use a fine plastic sieve.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Food photography at the Irish Embassy with Alastair Hendy

Lovely party in the beautiful ballroom at the Irish Embassy in London, a house which used to belong to the Guinness family ...

A group of bloggers was given a masterclass in food styling and photography by Alastair Hendy - author, chef, photographer, stylist (he doesn't seem to have a website so sadly I can't give you a link to his wonderful photographs).

Here's Alastair's "holy trinity" of things to think about: the look (ie the styling), the light (which will make or break any photo), and the lens (seduction by depth of field and point of focus). Suddenly I'm looking at Alastair's images in a different way.

After Alastair's talk, we were given a chance to take pictures. Alastair provided the props, and the food was provided by BordBia, the Irish food board. Lovely produce, in four groups - seafood, cheeses, puds, booze.

Alistair takes all his pictures in natural light, avoiding bright sunlight, and never using flash. So you'll see bloggers working by the window, and using reflectors - not expensive camera shop reflectors, but ones made of cardboard and cooking foil.

This picture was taken at some distance from the window, with a foil reflector to one side (similar to what's going on in the one above). Even before we get on to the question of artistic merit, it's no good - I didn't spot the creases in the tablecloth. It's an illustration of what, for me, was the main photographic lesson of the evening: the camera sees things differently to the way we see them, so images need to be planned, not casually snapped.

The photograph below of black pudding appetizers with samphire sums up, for me, everything that is good about Irish food: wonderful livestock, great seafood, abundant oats. Mixed farming, in other words - something we have largely forgotten about on this side of the Irish Sea.

Shocking to hear from the Ambassador how far adrift UK food production has got from reality: Eire is 666% self-sufficient in beef production, whereas the United Kingdom is a net importer of beef. It's not just Ireland that has the longest grass-growing season in the northern hemisphere - but here, in the United Kingdom, we've sidelined grass production, and that hasn't done us any good, either as individuals, or as an increasingly broke nation.

Amongst the other bloggers there were:

CookSister, Eat Like a Girl, Feast with Bron, Extra Relish, The London Foodie, Kavey Eats, 5amFoodie

PS most surprising photography tip of the evening: travelling food photographers should always take a damp cloth in a bag ... and within moments of starting work on our own pictures, what did we all need? yup, that's right

Thursday, April 22, 2010

An English Kitchen

I've started a new blog, An English Kitchen. I'm not abandoning this one, I'll be using it exclusively for recipes. An English Kitchen will cover all the stuff that goes on here in the heart of our home. Today, there's baking, and I've been eating primroses. Yes, really.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tulips in my study

I often think I like them better when they're half dead ...

Monday, April 05, 2010

Pastry ... and a watercress tart

This weekend I have cracked pastry-making. Perfect every time (4x). And, of course, it's not rocket science; but it's satisfying, all the same, to be able to write it down.

Put into a processor bowl:

200g strong* white flour
100g cubed butter, preferably straight from the fridge, but, actually, it doesn't matter
1 egg
1 tbsp water

Blitz until it forms a ball.

Roll it out until it will cover a 23cm** tin. If you used warm butter, it will stretch to a larger tin, but you will have to roll it around your pin to put it in place, AND you will have to patch it more. Speaking of which, this pastry takes well to patching.

Put it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. All the pastry cases I made were rock hard when I put them into the oven, and this may well be a factor in their success.

Bake blind for 15 minutes at 190-200C, covered with paper and beans. The first time I gave the pastry an additional five minutes without the beans to dry it out.

You can press straight on, or leave the pastry to cool before going further. The custard will need to cook for 30 minutes, although you may need to turn it down a little for the last 10 minutes. Let it settle for 5-10 minutes before serving ... better for the tart, easier for the cook.

*strong flour is what you need for making bread, as it is full of gluten; this pastry is noticeably stretchy once it has come together in a ball .... so I think the flour is probably the secret

**A 23cm tin is just a bit too small for a 6-egg flan, but if the butter is warm and the pastry has stretched to a slightly larger tin, then the 6 egg mix is perfect: 2 whole eggs, 4 egg yolks, 500ml single cream poured over ... bacon for quiche Lorraine, or chopped watercress and a sprinkling of finely grated strong Cheddar, which I made for the vegetarians for Easter lunch but which was wolfed down by the carnivores too.

Related links

The shaken hot water pastry is an old French recipe. The olive oil pastry is good too.

Butterless pastry - and a fruit tart
Shaken hot water pastry
Olive oil pastry
Egg and bacon tart

Friday, April 02, 2010

Blue Orpingtons

My beautiful blue Orpington hens laid their first eggs this week, just in time to help with the Easter baking. I bought them in October, a sustained moment of extravagence at the end-of-season auction - the first lot went for slightly more than I wanted to pay, and so I bought the second lot for a little more than that.

They live in an Eglu just outside the kitchen window, where they anticipate my every move as they hope for yet more bread, more baked potatoes, perhaps a handful of weeds and seeds. I love their low contented-hen sounds, their busy-ness, their good-natured sibling banter ... and now, their eggs. What a treat.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A new take on flapjacks

I've always had trouble making flapjacks that don't flake into a hopeless mess of crumbs, never quite managing to achieve the chewy texture that make flapjacks so appealing. So I wasn't at all surprised when this recipe didn't work first time. I say "didn't work" - the resulting crumbs were the most delicious flapjacks I've ever tasted. It's just that if the oats don't stick together, you can't quite call your baking a success.

I followed the recipe faithfully (SO hard), apart from one apparently insignificant detail: I used jumbo oats instead of half jumbo and half rolled. These fudgy oats are going on apples at the weekend for a cheering Easter pud, a sort of cross between apple crumble and a brown Betty. Meanwhile I have now achieved flapjack perfection, by using rolled oats chopped fine which are easily glued together by the buttery sugary fudgy mess you boil up in a saucepan first. Easy.


170g light brown soft sugar
75g golden syrup
130g unsalted butter
75ml apple juice
380g finely chopped rolled oats
95g sultanas
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds

Preheat the oven to 180C

Line a 20x30cm baking tin with greaseproof paper. Do not bother to grease either tin or paper.

Put the sugar, syrup, butter and apple juice in a pan and heat until the butter has melted. Weigh the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pour on the buttery sugary juice and stir well. Pour into the tin, press down, and bake for 15-20 minutes. Leave them in the tin to cool.

Lift the flapjacks out of the tin by their paper and cut into squares or bars. They'll keep for a week in a tin. If they last that long.


* As you can see, the photograph is from the first batch, made with jumbo crumbs. You are looking for oats chopped finely - you can do it yourself in a food processor (when I make our oatcakes, I routinely start by blitzing oats to make fine oatmeal, then I only need to keep one sort in the larder).

* This is adapted from Isidora Popovic's wonderful Book of Baking. The recipes are original yet adaptable, unusual but easy, beautiful and delicious. Not surprising, I suppose, as she ran a baking stall at Portobello Market for years, and so knows through and through what people like to bake and eat.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Peas and beans in the garden

I've just planted out some peas and beans. Sadly, the autumn-sown peas and beans didn't survive the winter, mainly because I was too idle to cover them through the harsh weather. The rotting remnants of the plants stayed in the ground just outside the kitchen window all through February, causing one visitor to remark on how well my compost heap was doing.

So I went to the garden centre and found some sturdy little plants; the weedy-looking sweet peas in the middle were germinated on the kitchen windowsill, and I've planted them out before pinching them out and giving them a chance to bulk up because I had them in tiny little plugs which wasn't doing their lovely long roots any good at all. So it's kill or cure. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Garlic paste

Here's a worthwhile time-saver: garlic paste on hand in the fridge, no need to fry off before adding to - well, anything you're cooking, really. You just need a food mill, unless you've got strong arms and a sieve. Keeps well.

8 heads of garlic
2-3 bay leaves
a bunch of thyme
peppercorns and salt
a little oil

Break the heads into cloves, but no need to peel them. Put in a single layer on a baking tray; add the peppercorns and herbs, a splash of oil and enough water to come not quite half way up. Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 90 minutes at 150C, until the garlic is completely soft.

Fish out the pepper and bay leaves, and some of the twiggier bits of thyme. Drain and push through a mill or sieve. Add a little sea salt and bottle. Keep in the fridge.

Note: These quantities make about 300ml.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Quick real bread - a new take on Jim Lahey's loaf 2

Karen at Cornflower baked the original Jim Lahey bread today ... it's a two-day process that makes good bread. If you need bread on the table NOW, just bake your usual dough in a covered Le Creuset pot (what Americans call a Dutch oven) in a hot oven. The fastest I can manage this is 90 minutes start to finish (45 minutes in the breadmaker on dough setting), straight into the hot pot without a rest (better to rest the dough for at least 10 minutes, but things are not always perfect, and yeast is very forgiving), 30 minutes covered, 10 uncovered. A little time to cool. Method and links here.

The loaf in the photograph was made in a hurry, but, even so, had a good holey crumb and tasted great

Bread - a new take on Jim Lahey's loaf

I've been baking a lot of bread recently. I haven't bought a loaf for a couple of years, and these days my homebaked bread feeds not only the family but also the chickens and the dog. I use a bread machine for days when there isn't the time or inclination to bake by hand; in the winter in this cold house it's the most reliable place to nurture the yeast, so I often use the dough setting and then finish the loaf by hand.

Years ago, I was one of a multitude of bloggers entranced by the New York Times loaf, and this winter I've been reading Jim Lahey's wonderful book explaining how it came about, the journey of a lifetime. And so I've been playing with the core idea of that bread: baking the dough in a hot, covered Le Creuset pan in the oven.

It's the ultimate loaf for beginners: whatever dough you use, the end result is a beautiful boule of bread, a little cracked, full of air

- it even gives rise to a wholemeal loaf made with winter wheat, which normally makes the kind of heavy wholemeal loaf that gives home baking a bad name.

Try it: make your usual dough. After the first rise, shape it loosely into a ball,* dusting liberally with flour or semolina/polenta (it gives it a nice finish, but it also means you can pick it up easily). Leave it to rest while you heat the oven to 220C at least - if your oven will go to 240C, so much the better. Put a Le Creuset pan**** + lid in the oven**. When the oven and the pan are hot hot hot, remove the lid and drop the dough in***. Put the lid back, and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for 10 more minutes. The crust will sing as it cools (on a rack).


* don't worry if the dough is shaggy, don't worry if you can't shape it, the heat of the covered pan will sort all this out
**no need to grease or flour, so long as your loaf has a good dusting of flour or cornmeal, it won't stick
***the dough should be as centrally placed as possible, for a perfectly circular loaf; if you drop it off-centre, you'll get a charmingly lop-sided loaf
****you can apparently also use a Pyrex casserole, but I've never tried this

Things to do with stale or leftover bread

Be warned, these suggestions only work with good bread - useless with supermarket pap!

Herb stuffing for roast chicken
Grilled trout with rosemary stuffing
Baked scallops
Anchovy toasts
Bread sauce

Related posts

Daily bread
Daily bread 2

Six seed rolls
Bread knots - another simple way to make beautiful and delicious rolls, using this dough, or your default dough

Yeast starter for bread - and the bread
make your own sourdough starter

No-knead bread the famous NY Times recipe
Speeded-up no-knead bread and a different take on it

Yoghurt bread fabulous, easy, TRY IT
Quick oat loaf
Spelt bread - it's getting easier to buy this highly-flavoured flour

Anti-oxidant tea bread - I made this for my husband for a pre-surgery boost - delicious, too!

Yeast conversion - fresh/dried/quick
Oven temperature conversions - Centigrade, Fahrenheit, gas mark, descriptive

Useful links

Susan at Farmgirl Fare has just updated her very good post of tips for better baking

She's one of the contributors to A Year in Bread, which is a very useful resource for anyone interesting in baking

Tanna at My Kitchen in Half Cups has been an inspiration to my baking, although our paths don't cross so much these days ... try her cornbread

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Heinz 57 varieties ....

... in case you've ever wondered about the other 56

Thanks to Posterous

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Oven-baked polenta

This wonderfully easy new-to-me way to cook polenta comes from Paula Wolfert's terrific new book, Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking. There's none of that strewing cornmeal onto fiercely boiling water, followed by constant stirring. You just mix cornmeal, oil and cold water, put the resulting mess into the oven & let time do all the work for you. Amazingly, it comes out of the oven entirely lump-free. Not sure if it works in a metal pot, although I can't think why not.

Waitrose in Henley have just begun to stock bags of Italian stoneground cornmeal ... perfect for this, and for a loaf of cornbread later this week.

Oven polenta in a clay pot
for 6

2 cups cornmeal, stoneground if you can find it
2 tablespoons olive oil, or butter if you prefer
8-10 cups water (see note below)

Note: Paula Wolfert's instructions say: the consistency of the polenta is a factor in deciding how much liquid to use. For soft polenta, use 5 parts liquid to 1 part cornmeal and for firm polenta 4 parts liquid to 1 part cornmeal. She also specifies a wide, shallow dish; I cooked mine in a narrower, taller pot, and therefore didn't need so much water.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Stir the cornmeal, oil salt and water. Bake uncovered for one hour and twenty minutes. Stir, and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven. If you're using a clay pot, be careful where you put it or it will break; it will be safe on a folded kitchen towel, or on wood. Let the polenta rest for 10 minutes before serving.

You could spread it out flat to cool, for cut and grilled/fried polenta shapes. That's the thing to do with the leftovers (especially good if you stir in a little parmesan). But I couldn't bear to deprive my blue Orpington hens of the pleasure.

Greater spotted woodpecker

All through the winter I've seen this greater spotted woodpecker feeding in the garden. In the last few days he's been boring holes in one of the finials Lucius made for the rose pergola. It looks like a toy our children used to have years ago.

Photographed through my study window. No chance of getting much work done, particularly as he announces his presence with short bursts of drilling.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Raymond Blanc's tomato essence

Five years ago, when I started this blog, I posted two recipes on the first day. One of them has reappeared in the Telegraph, which is where I think I got it in the first place. It is Raymond Blanc's truly wonderful tomato essence ... glamour without much effort, haute cuisine without the high price of Le Manoir**. Although it's a little shocking that Monsieur Seasonality is suggesting tomatoes so early in the year.

The fundamental recipe hasn't changed - why tinker with perfection? And now, M Blanc suggests that, as well as using the golden liquid as a soup, you can use it in a tomato risotto. I'll be posting that one day soon.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Tarte tatin

I made Tarte tatin for pudding the other night; it's an indulgence, but an enjoyable one - Lucius said it was the best thing I'd ever cooked, and he was still talking about it the next day. It's very rich, so not for everyday .... but it's perfect for friends, as you have to make it early so that you don't burn your mouth on the caramel.

I followed the instructions on the box of the de Buyer tarte tatin tin I bought from Lakeland; so delicious there's no need to look for another recipe. By the way, you don't need to have a special tin for this: any heavy-duty oven-proof tin would do (a Le Creuset frying pan would be ideal, provided it doesn't have a wooden handle).

This is a very good way to use up slightly-past-their-best apples; I know we're supposed only to use the freshest produce we can, but we also need a few strategies to combat waste in the kitchen. My grandmothers used to cook up wrinkled apples, and so do I.

Tarte tatin

(it says for 2-4, but I'd say this would easily do 6)

20cm tin

shortcrust pastry (I used ready-rolled Dorset puff, a truly excellent product)
85g butter
200g granulated sugar
4-5 apples (800g is specified, probably unpeeled weight)
juice of half a lemon

Use the tin as a guide to cut a circle of pastry 2-3mm thick. Prick the pastry and put in the fridge.

Peel and core the apples. The recipe says you should end up with apple halves; that's too fiddly for me, and quarters looked fine in the finished dish. Drop them into a bowl of lemon juice as you work.

Put the butter and sugar into the pan, stirring constantly for about five minutes until the mixture starts to become golden. Arrange the apples over the caramel (pour in the lemon juice too) and keep cooking, without stirring, for 15 minutes.

Now give it five minutes in a very hot oven (250C is suggested; I used 220C on fan, and that was quite fierce enough).

Next, arrange the pastry over the apples, tucking the edges under. Put the tin back into the oven for 15 minutes (have a quick peek just before the end, you don't want the pastry to burn).

Cool the tin for 25 minutes before turning out onto a dish. It will come away easily and firmly in one piece, glued together by the caramel. Eat lukewarm.

The recipe ends with this instruction: Lovers of Tarte tatin savour it without whipped cream nor vanilla ice cream to appreciate its authentic taste. To be honest, anything with it would be overkill.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A rustic rye boule

I tried a couple of weeks ago to make a rye loaf, but it was fit only for the hens. They loved it, but they're connoisseurs of good grains and flours, rather than bread. This one is a success, because 75% of the flour is white, giving the dough enough gluten to rise. I'm still on a mission to make a loaf which is mostly rye - and I'd also like to find some darker rye meal than the very pale flours available here. Suggestions warmly welcomed.

I used the no-knead method for this loaf: it's my favourite way to bake, because of its elegant simplicity - you let time do all the work for you, and the result is a flavourful rustic boule. (You may remember the sensation this recipe caused when it went viral in 2007.)

400g flour altogether (100 of which was rye), about half a teaspoon of yeast, and a little less than a teaspoon of salt. Otherwise, no change from Jim Lahey's original no-knead method.

Related posts

Daily bread
Daily bread 2

Six seed rolls
Bread knots - another simple way to make beautiful and delicious rolls, using this dough, or your default dough

Yeast starter for bread - and the bread
make your own sourdough starter

No-knead bread the famous NY Times recipe
Speeded-up no-knead bread and a different take on it

Yoghurt bread fabulous, easy, TRY IT
Quick oat loaf
Spelt bread - it's getting easier to buy this highly-flavoured flour

Anti-oxidant tea bread - I made this for my husband for a pre-surgery boost - delicious, too!

Yeast conversion - fresh/dried/quick
Oven temperature conversions - Centigrade, Fahrenheit, gas mark, descriptive

Things to do with stale or leftover bread

Be warned, these suggestions only work with good bread - useless with supermarket pap!

Herb stuffing for roast chicken
Grilled trout with rosemary stuffing
Baked scallops
Anchovy toasts

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fabulous lemon risotto

We eat risotto at least once a week, as I always have plenty of home-made stock & we're not great soup drinkers.

This is a good way to give flavour to a plain risotto (which I usually scent with saffron), using ingedients which are generally found in my kitchen, unless I'm unusually disorganised.

Lemon risotto

Melt finely chopped onion, carrot, celery in a little oil. When all is softened, add arborio rice, then, after a few stirs, add a splash of wine. I generally add the hot stock in three diminishing dollops. The more you stir the smoother yr dish will be, but if you're busy don't fret if you don't stir, it's not a competition and it will still be delicious.

While this is going on, chop a whole lemon into pieces so that you can remove all the pips. Put them into a processor with a little rosemary (sage wd be good, too). Whizz to a pulp.

Stir this into your finished risotto together with a little Parmesan & a splash of cream.

PS remarks about stirring also apply to stock: use what you've got. But I urge you to make yr own, as it is no effort, takes no time, & is very thrifty and life-enhancing

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone