Cooking From: Triple Chocolate Cookies from Lucy Bakes by Lucy Cufflin [gifted]

Around 18 months ago I was invited to attend a festive baking workshop with Lucy, and she kindly gave all of the participants a pre-release copy of her book: Lucy Bakes. I haven’t spoken about it all that much, apart from featuring a slightly edited version of the Peanut Butter Fudge, but it is one of my favourite baking books. There’s nothing overly fancy in it, but what there is are basic and delicious recipes that create minimal washing up. And the recipes work. Always. It might not be one I cook from directly all the time, but if I need to check the ratios for a sponge, an ideal oven temperature, optimum baking times etc this book is the book I turn to.

 photo Triple Choc Cookies_zpswbkgl1tn.jpgThe book is essentially my baking bible. It would be ideal for beginners to baking, and I think it’s even suitable for cooking with kids as most of the recipes will both appeal and be suitably short to keep them occupied. The nutella cake in particular I image would be a hit! But for me the winner has to be the soft cookie recipe. It’s a super-simple recipe giving huge America style cookies which are soft and chewy and just totally delicious. The full recipe given is for a basic dough, then there’s loads of flavouring suggestions – but of course I went for the double chocolate version, and then added more chocolate to make triple chocolate cookies. Because why the hell not?!

Of course you could add any kind of chocolate chunk or other addition you want – nuts work amazingly well in cookies, as do pretzels. If you want a non-chocolatey dough then replace the cocoa powder with more flour…

 photo Lucy Bakes Chocolate Chip Cookies  10_zpsizryb1pc.jpg photo Lucy Bakes Chocolate Chip Cookies  8_zpske045blo.jpgRecipe (makes around 15 good sized cookies)

  • 125g salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 5g bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g white chocolate chunks
  • 100g milk or dark chocolate chunks

Beat together the butter and sugar until soft and creamy, then add the egg and vanilla extract. Add the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of sofa and stir until you have a stiff dough. Stir through the chocolate chunks, and then roll the dough into around 15 balls (each should weight around 45g). Flatten slightly, then pop onto lined baking trays (they do spread lots when cooking) and bake for 8-10 minutes at 190C – a shorted cooking time gives a softer cookie. Allow to cool on a wire wrack, though they are delicious served warm and gooey with a glass of milk or a hot chocolate…

 photo Lucy Bakes Chocolate Chip Cookies  14_zpsea6l2zth.jpg photo Lucy Bakes Chocolate Chip Cookies  4_zpsghod3ohf.jpgOther recipes worth trying: the Rose & Poppyseed Cake, Honey Lavender Flapjack, Florentine Bars, Peanut Butter Crispy Squares and the Potato and Onion Seed Bread. All delicious!

*I was gifted a copy of this book directly by the author at an invited workshop in 2017. There was no request to feature the book or workshop on my blog, and this isn’t a paid feature.

What is your go-to cookbook for baking?

Cooking From: A Review of Ottolenghi’s Simple

This is taking a slightly different format to my usual Cooking From posts. Whilst I usually include one of my favourite recipes from each book, with a review of how the recipe works and what changes I did/would make, I just can’t do that with Simple. There are too many excellent recipes to choose from, most of which I wouldn’t change at all.

 photo Ottolenghi Simple 2_zpshad0xv3c.jpgSince getting this for Christmas it’s become our most used cookbook of 2019, and it’s pretty much knocked my beloved Save with Jamie off top-spot for all-time favourite too (sorry Jamie!). Whenever we are stuck for inspiration for our weekly meal plan we’ll flick through this. If we want an interesting side, we’ll look in here. If we want to use up random freezer veg (looking at you edamame beans!) then this is the book we’ll grab first. Dinner parties, date nights, after-work meals, cosy weekend brunches. This book has done it all for us. I now need more of Ottolenghi’s books in my life.

Ottolenghi Simple is a collection of recipes that are ‘simple’ in one of five ways – Short on time”, “10 Ingredients or less”, “Make ahead”, “Pantry”, “Lazy” and “Easier than you think”- or a combination thereof. Colour coded, and sectioned roughly into chapters such as Cooked/Raw Veg, Meat & Fish etc. And there’s hardly any recipes I don’t want to cook as-is, or adapt to be tomato-free.

 

 

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Of the recipes we have so far cooked, there’s been not one dud. Nothing which has been ‘meh.’ Everything has been devoured in silence. Many have been declared ‘that was really, really tasty.’ If we want a delicious meal, we know we’ll find it in this book.

The Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemon is the epitome of simple. And it’s also amazing. Yes it is covered in butter and so is a thousand more calories that your usual roast chicken – but I’d prefer to die happy and fat than thin and miserable. We don’t make it every time we have a roast chicken, but when we’re entertaining or just fancy something different from the norm then it’s delicious.

Two Bean Two Lime Salad introduced us to Kaffir Lime Leaves for the first time. So zingy and fresh, this was the recipe we picked for emptying our life of the half bag of lingering edaname beans – and I’ll now go out and buy more of the bleeding things just to make this again. It also makes eating green beans actually enjoyable, and is definitely one I’ll be keeping up my sleeve for summer BBQs.

New Potatoes with Peas and Coriander is bright green and glorious. A real celebration of peas. And good cold/reheated too.

 

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The Mackerel with Pistachio and Cardamon Salsa and Ginger Cream. Now this was a real celebration of mackerel (which is THE oily fish for those on a budget), and whilst sounding like an odd combination everything really worked well together. We served it with a little brown rice and it was a lovely light meal.

And then there was the Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Mint and Cumin. Perhaps not the best recipe to make during the 24C heat of the Easter weekend (8 hours of the oven on made our flat pretty much unbearable) but it was well worth it. Incredibly tasty, so tender it fell apart when poked with a spoon. The best lamb I’ve ever made, and quite possibly the best lamb I’ve ever eaten.

We also used the leftovers in a Spiced Shepherd’s Pie with Butterbean Mash. There’s two ‘shepherd’s pie’ recipes in the book, both incorporating tahini into the topping. This was the simpler version, though we adapted it to use the leftovers rather than standard mince. The butterbean tahini topping was particularly good – and served with a salad made for something really rather tasty.

 

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Braised Eggs with Leeks and Za’atar was our brunch dish of choice for the Easter weekend, and what a choice it was too. Soft and sweet leeks, punchy za’atar, runny egg yolks and plenty of feta. Another variation on a ‘green’ shakshuka type dish which I’m totally here for. So much more exciting than the tomato-ey versions anyway.

We’ve also cooked a variety of other sides from the book – all good, all delicious. Next on my list are the Herb Fritters, Bridget Jones Salmon and pretty much the whole book…

To conclude. If you only ever want one recipe book in your life, it’s quite possible this one will do the job.

Are you an Ottolenghi fan?

Cooking From: Stewed Spinach Eggs from The Little Swedish Kitchen (Rachel Khoo)

This is the recipe that, having seen on Instagram, made me buy this book. I’m a sucker for a good egg recipe that isn’t a tomato-ey shakshuka and this is basically my dream brunch dish. Lots of green veg, indulgently creamy, runny egg yolks and a hint of heat and sharp from the pickle. Perfect with a big stack of hot buttered sourdough and a cuppa for a lazy Sunday morning.

 photo Spinach Eggs_zpsytsyfkxn.jpgThe entire book is basically perfect for lazy weekend reading. It’s not really a book I’d pick up for meal planning inspiration for weekday nights (with the exception of the Smoked Sausage Stroganoff), but it’s something I’d dip in and out of for weekend cooking. I’m desperate to try out Rachel’s recipe for Swedish Meatballs (she has both a regular and a vegan version in the book, both looking and sounding delicious). The Chocolate Cake The Dog Ate is another vegan recipe in the book which I’ll be making soon – and don’t worry, the dog suffered no ill effects.

The whole book is full of delicious sounding recipes, nothing is overly complex, but it does feel like this is one to take your time over. What really pulls me in is the photography. It’s not fussy, there’s no fancy plating, but it’s beautiful and rustic, and there’s plenty of landscapes and non-food photographs too. It really is a beautiful book, worthy of any coffee table for sure!

And that brings me onto this recipe. It’s no surprise it has been used by many foodie magazines highlighting the book, it’s visually stunning! The vibrant green and pinks and the golden egg yolks just make an attractive dish. And it tastes as good as it looks. I will say I am tempted to add some plain flour to thicken the mix when I next make it, as despite some fairly long simmering ours was still a little watery. But there will definitely be a next time! I loved the sharp pickle with the eggs, and loved getting a good portion of green leafy vegetables into my first meal of the day. Whilst the book serves 4, we scaled the recipe by two-thirds-ish and still used four eggs and this was perfect for a late breakfast. I rather think one egg per person is a tad stingy!

 photo IMG_1655_zpsksznqrqb.jpg photo IMG_1659_zpsvmojjwyq.jpgRecipe (serves 2 for breakfast)

  • 350g frozen spinach, we used a mix of wholeleaf and chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • large knob of butter
  • 100ml single cream
  • 100ml milk
  • whole nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 packet of fresh dill (and the same of chives, though we didn’t have any)
  • for the pickle: 1 small fresh red chilli (deseeded and thinly sliced), 1 small red onion (peeled and finely chopped), 1 tbsp white wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar

First make the pickle. Put the chilli and red onion into a glass or ceramic bowl with the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of water, a pinch of salt and the sugar. Mix well and leave to sit whilst you cook the rest of the dish.

Put the spinach, onion and butter into a large frying pan. Place on a very gentle heat and cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover, stir and continue to fry for another 5–10 minutes, until the water from the spinach has evaporated. Add the cream, milk, a generous grating of nutmeg and some freshly ground pepper. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring at intervals. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking. Make four wells for the eggs. Crack in the eggs and continue to cook for 5 minutes or until the egg whites have just set.

Just before serving, toss the dill (and chives) with the chilli and red onion. Sprinkle over the spinach and eggs and serve immediately.

 photo IMG_1658_zps3zbmpwgg.jpgAs I said, I do think this is an absolutely delicious brunch recipe – I especially loved the spicy pickle, although next time I’d take charge of the chopping as I felt my husband left it a tad chunky given the short pickling time! The herbs added so much vibrance-y and freshness to the flavour, and of course you can never, ever go wrong with some runny eggs!

What’s your favourite at-home brunch recipe?

Cooking From: Midwinter Suppers from The Christmas Chronicles

This book is so much more than just a cookbook. Not only is it ones of the most Instagrammable books I own, it’s also one of the loveliest to cosy up and read at this time of year. Nigel has such a wonderful way of writing, so personal that this feels more like a diary than a collection of recipes. Indeed it’s full of so many of his own memories of the festive period, interspersed with recipes covering the main event of turkey and goose, to how to use leftovers and all manner of other delicious things. And it’s not just the usual Christmassy fare either, the book takes the reader from the beginning of November all the way to the end of February. And somehow each recipe seems absolutely perfect for this time of year.

 photo Nigel Slater Christmas Chronicles 11_zpsdzfefrii.jpgNigel is able, in both his cookery programmes and books, to completely relax me. It’s his voice, but also his wordings and the way he simply puts sentences (and ingredients) together. And his recipes are just the same – simple, uncomplicated and all the ones I’ve tried have been delicious. This book is all about cosy winter food, which sums up both recipes we’ve cooked.

 photo Nigel Slater Christmas Chronicles 14_zpsmvwb833m.jpg photo Nigel Slater Christmas Chronicles 15_zps56obvc7p.jpg photo Nigel Slater Christmas Chronicles 16_zpslfvfgbhr.jpgThe Black Pudding and Baked Apples with Celeriac and Mustard Mash might be a bit of an unusual combination, but it’s one of the best things I’ve eaten in the past few weeks. It’s warm and comforting, and genuinely feels like a big hug on a plate. Just a few ingredients, a bit of time (but not too much) and you’ve got a delicious plate of food – and this also makes the whole flat smell amazing from the baked apples.

Then there’s the Pork Chop with Cheesy Spinach Polenta. We’d never tried cooking with Polenta until last week, but I’m fairly sure it could become a new obsession. Super creamy, a little cheesy, instensely savoury and perfectly matched with the tender yet slightly caramelised pork chop. Another dish which made us feel enveloped in a satisified happy foodie fog.

As a last minute edit, we also ate the polenta with onions and cheese (Camembert will do – favourite line in the whole book) yesterday evening. Rib-stickingly heavy with cheese and oh so glorious.

But there’s so many other recipes I’d love to try! The Roast Goose with Lemon Potato Stuffing is high on my list, and the Oxtail with Butter Beans and Sherry sounds amazing.

 photo Nigel Slater Christmas Chronicles 10_zpsqywase2j.jpg photo Nigel Slater Christmas Chronicles 13_zpskswejamu.jpgSo much more than a cookbook, this is currently living on my bedside table. I can see it becoming almost a tradition to pull it out and cook from it each festive season…

What’s your favourite festive recipe?

Cooking From: Blackberry & Custard Biscuits (Sweet by Ottolenghi)

Confession time! The actual recipe in Sweet (by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh) is for Rhubarb & Custard Biscuits and, whilst I’m sure they are utterly delicious, it just isn’t the season for rhubarb. I’ll be making them for sure next spring, but for now we’re using the very much in season (and very foragable, unless you live in London!) blackberry. We actually bought blacberries in our weekly shop, expecting the first weekend of September to be cool enough for a crumble – wrong. The heatwave made a brief (albeit slightly cooler) reappearance and so biscuits it was.

 photo Blackberry Custard Biscuits_zpsox78ji5s.jpgAnd what delicious biscuits they are. Sweet custardy biscuits, made with Bird’s custard powder so that they taste of my childhood. Tart homemade blackberry jam, beaten into buttercream and used to sandwich the biscuits. It all combines beaitfully, with the vanilla-sweetness tempering down the sharpness of the berries. It tastes like a bowl of crumble and custard, but it’s far easier to eat. Almost too easy, as the batch disappeared rather quickly…

And the other recipes in this cookbook are just as good, though I confess we’ve used it very sparingly over the year. It aims to “bring the Ottolenghi hallmarks of fresh, evocative ingredients, exotic spices and complex flavourings – including fig, rose petal, saffron, aniseed, orange blossom, pistachio and cardamom – to indulgent cakes, biscuits, tarts, puddings, cheesecakes and ice cream.” It certainly delivers, and in part that’s why we’ve not used this book as much as I’d like. Quite a few recipes seem to request more unusual ingredients, or use a more time consuming method, and quite often we bake as a random, spur-of-the-moment decision. Having tried this recipe, however, I know I need to make more of an effort to thumb through and use it more.

There are around 100 recipes, and a lot of them are very original – you’re not going to find basic brownies. Instead there’s brownies laced with tahini and halva – and as soon as I can find some halva I’ll be making them. There might not be your usual choc-chip cookies, but there are “Chocolate O Cookies” which are said to be the ultimate homemade Oreo. There’s a coffee and cardamon pound cake which sounds delicious. There’s several cheesecake recipes, many desserts we’d prepare for a dinner party (I’ve genuinely already started planning a feast for our next New Year’s Eve dinner – despite not having any guests yet!). Whilst we’ve not really used this, I can imagine it will be a book that will become well-thumbed over the years. Now I just need to get hold of some of Ottolenghi’s savoury cookbooks…

 photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 15_zpssfwr42xd.jpg photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 12_zpsqspu1gi6.jpg photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 18_zpsonjwyria.jpgRecipe (makes around 15)

  • 175g flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 65g custard powder
  • 65g icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 170g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the icing: 1 small stick of rhubarb (or 2 handfuls of blackberries – roughly 70g of fruit), 65g unsalted butter, 130g icing sugar, and 1/2 tsp lemon juice

If you making the rhubarb icing: spread pieces of rhubarb on tray and roast at 180C for 30 minutes, or until soft. Remove from oven and cool, then puree in food processor before adding butter. Add icing sugar and lemon juice and continue to process for a few minutes until it thickens. Transfer to a small bowl and let sit in the fridge to firm up. To make our blackberry filling, we popped the blackberries in a small pan with a tiny splash of water and simmered until soft, pureed, passed through a sieve to remove the pips, and then added butter and continued as per the recipe.

For the cookies, cream the butter with the flour, custard powder, icing sugar and salt on low speed til the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Increase speed to medium and beat for about 30 seconds until a dough forms. Roll dough into balls about 3cm round – they should weigh about 15g. Place on lined trays about 4cm apart. Dip the back prongs of a small fork in the extra flour and then press firmly but gently into the back of each ball so that the cookie flattens. Bake at 170C on lined baking trays for about 25 minutes, let cool on trays for about 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble, spread 15g of icing on the flat side of a cookie and sandwich with the flat side of another. The forked sides should be facing out. Store in an airtight container if you manage not to eat them immediately.

 photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 8_zpsajnh5wwy.jpg photo Blackberry and Custard Biscuits 20_zps78yop1qu.jpgThese we found were the perfect afternoon snack for a weekend. Lovely with a cup of tea (I’m favouring Yorkshire’s Biscuit Brew at the moment), they were light, sweet and had a really comforting taste coming from the custard powder. The biscuits really melted in the mouth too! I’m looking forward to next year’s rhubarb season when I can try the full recipe…

Have you tried any of Ottolenghi’s books? Which do you recommend? 

Cooking From: Moo Pad Prik (Stir Fried Chilli Pork) from the Easy Thai Cookbook

I’ve been saying it for months, but I really want to try cooking more authentic Asian food and follow actual recipes. I can cook a great stir-fry (see my storecupboard recipe here), but it’s far from traditional and there’s a whole world of recipes out there to explore.

 photo Stir-Fried Chilli Pork 5_zpsz29j2lwj.jpgI think in my head, I’ve always perceived authentic Thai cooking in particular to be very complex, very time consuming, and very expensive to buy all of the necessary hard-to-find ingredients. And in some cases that is true – the book I’m posting about had a lot of ingredients I wasn’t sure where to find, how to prepare or even what they were (is it a fruit? a spice?). But that was only a really small sub-section of the recipes, with the vast majority of them being easy to follow, kind to the purse-strings and quick to put together.

The Easy Thai Cookbook by Sallie Morris*, aims to encourage you e seeing a little less of your local take-away driver and lot more variety on your plate. Showcasing the ingredients and techniques used in Thai cookery, there’s over 70 delicious sounding recipes and a very detailed guide on ingredients and equipment. I definitely feel a little more confident venturing to my local Thai store now (though it’s not needed for this recipe!).

 photo Easy Thai Cookbook_zps78rk3lee.jpgOnto this recipe, and I have a feeling it’s going to become a firm favourite. Pork fillet is a pretty bargainous cut of meat, costing around £4 for a full fillet which easily fed two of us (and we’re greedy!) for two meals. It is quite easy to dry out so needs careful cooking, but it’s perfect in a stir-fry style recipe. We served this pretty simply with a small amount of rice, and some courgettes tossed in a soy and basil dressing – it made for a speedy, tasty and light Saturday night supper.

Recipe (served 2)

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 a pork fillet, around 200-250g
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (we used two)
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, cut into lengths and quartered
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper

First off, trim any excess fat off your pork, and slice into thin rounds of equal thickness. Make sure the rest of our ingredients are chopped and ready to go.

Heat a wok, add the oil and, once it’s hot and shimmering, toss in the pork, onion and garlic. Stir-fry for 5 or so minutes until the pork is almost cooked through, then add the remaining ingredients and toss together until the pork is cooked.Season and serve immediately.

 photo Stir-Fried Chilli Pork 6_zps3pftfx1m.jpgTold you it was easy – and despite the relatively short list of ingredients it was super-tasty. The pork stayed tender, with the quick cooking time preventing it from drying out. I also loved the garlicky taste combined with the fish sauce – really savoury, but it avoided being over-salty too. Definitely one to make again…

*I received a copy of the Easy Thai Cookbook to review however all opinions are, as always, my own.

Are you a fan of Thai food? What’s your favourite Thai recipe?

Cooking From: Bolognese Baked Eggs (Toast Hash Roast Mash by Dan Doherty)

The subtitle of this book is “Real Food for Every Time of Day” – it’s the type of food Dan (executive chef of Duck & Waffle) likes to eat at home and, quite frankly, if he eats like this I’d be happy to move in with him tomorrow. This book is basically a book of comfort food under many guises – there’s pancakes, there’s things to top toast with, there’s sweet things, there’s savoury things. Most dishes are designed for breakfast or brunch, but can really be eaten any time of day.

Whilst we haven’t cooked that many dishes out of this book, it’s one we turn to again and again for inspiration. It’s a joy to read, one of those cookbooks that makes you feel cozy and comforted. In fact reading it again for this review made me realise just how many recipes I want to make!

Chapters are On Toast, Eggs, Hash, Eggs Over Easy, Pancakes, Hangover, Savoury, Sides & Salas, Sweets and Drinks. Basically there’s something for anyone, something for every occasion. There’s jams, homemade nutella, cocktails, instructions to make the best pancakes. And recipes I want to try? Around 99% of them! I won’t list every single one, but top of my list? Dan’s take on Egg’s Benedict featuring a saltbeef bagel and mustard hollandaise. It sounds amazing! The recipe for a Black Pudding Hash made with leftover roast potatoes sounds like the stuff of dreams. But it’s the Hangover chapter which really gets me excited. Scotch Bhaji (basically a scotch egg, with runny yolk, encased in an onion bhaji). The Patty Melt, merging a grilled cheese sandwich with a burger. I’m slobbering at the thought.

However it’s an altogether more simpler recipe I’m featuring here today, and one I’ve simplified even more from the book. Taken from the Eggs chapter, this recipe takes bolognese (see my tomato-free bolognese recipe here, but use your favourite), adds heat in the form of harissa, then nestles in lightly poached eggs, covers in cheese and then bakes. The result is a hug in a dish. It’s warming, spicy, gooey from the eggs, and perfect served with a mound of toast or some freshly baked pitta bread.

Recipe (Serves 2)

  • 2 generous portions of bolognese (I’d veer on the side of too much here!)
  • 1 tsp harissa, or more to taste
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g gruyere cheese

Simply heat the bolognese with the harissa until hot. Lightly poach the eggs until they are just firm enough to remove from the water. Spoon the bolognese mixture into a baking dish, nestle in the eggs and sprinkle over the cheese. Bake at 180C for around 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Serve with plenty of bread for dipping.

It may not be in the hangover section, but I’d certainly be prepared to bet that this would  cure any hangover!

Are you a brunch fan? What’s your go-to at home weekend brunch?

Cooking From: Homemade Pita Bread (James Morton’s Brilliant Bread)

Without a doubt, Brilliant Bread is my most recommended cookbook. It’s the one on my shelves that is well-thumbed, pages stiff with flour, faded with watermarks. If anyone, absolutely anyone, mentions baking their own bread to me I insist they purchase this book. It is quite simply the best book for bread making, both for beginners and beyond.

I could stop with the review and this post there, really, because I quite simply cannot sing James’ praises highly enough.

The writing style is a pleasure to read, it’s a book I can quite happily sit and cosy up with as much as bake from. He has such an excellent way of describing the bread-making process, in a way that’s both easy to understand but also extremely detailed. And the best bit? The majority of the recipes don’t require much, if any, kneading. Bread without having to get my hands dirty is a revelation, and this book alone is the reason I make my own bread so often.

Recipe (I get 10 pittas out of this, as I prefer mine slightly smaller, I quite often quarter or halve too for a small batch)

  • 200g strong white flour
  • 200g plain white flour
  • 8g salt
  • 8g yeast
  • 275g tepid water
  • flavourless oil for greasing

In a large bowl, weigh out the flour. With your fingers, rub in the salt at one edge of the bowl, and the sachet of dried yeast on the opposite side. Add the  water to the dry ingredients, and mix together until it forms a  dough (use your
dough to mop up any flour sticking to the side of the bowl). Cover your bowl with a damp tea towel
and rest in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Oil the fingertips of one hand, and forcefully fold the dough in half inside the bowl. Turn the bowl a
quarter turn, and repeat until you have removed most of the air. Cover your bowl again rest the dough for another 45 minutes, whilst your oven preheats to it’s hottest temperature (around 250C).

Tip your dough out on to a lightly oiled surface and roll into a long sausage. Chop the dough into equal pieces (Jame’s suggests 8, I go for 10). Take each piece and, using a rolling pin, roll them out until they are about half a centimetre thick. Pop straight onto a baking tray and slide into the oven, turning down the temperature to 220C as soon as they are in. Bake for 8-12 minutes depending depending on how soft or crisp you like them. They should puff up into balls and are blush with a golden colour. But even if they don’t puff up, they’ll be delicious…

Other recipes inspired by Brilliant Bread are my Bagels (which I’m now desperately craving – there’s nothing better than a homemade bagel filled with pastrami and mustard!) and Focaccia.  And in short – I highly recommend that if you want to bake bread, you buy this book. You won’t regret it!

Are you a fan of baking your own bread?

Cooking From: Roasted Cauliflower & Caramelised Red Onion Salad (Fress)

“To eat copiously” is what the Yiddish word “Fress” means. And what a wonderfully appealing title for a cookery book that is. Masterchef finalist Emma Spitzer’s  book mergers the food of the Middle-East with that of Eastern Europe, incorporating her Polish and Russian heritage in a combination that is both homely and exciting. Spiced up comfort food, if you will. The recipes are appealing too, with Emma’s aim to get as much flavour as possible from a simple recipe without spending hours in the kitchen.

The book includes recipes for sharing, soups, big plates with meat and fish dishes (the Sticky Pomegranate Salmon looks especially good),  salads, and some sweet treats. There’s classics like Chicken Soup, which looks wonderfully comforting, something I’ll be sure to get W to make me the next time I’m under the weather. Of course, it helps that this book, this cover is the prettiest one to grace my bookshelves.

The recipe I’m reviewing today is aesthetically pleasing too. The cover recipe for the book, upon tasting it’s not hard to see why it was chosen as not only does it look good, it also tastes amazing. I’ve made the recipe as per the book several times, but the version I’m giving you today is my regular recipe – I generally cook it for lunchboxes, so I’ve made it even less complicated, using less pans, using less ingredients to make it a bit cost effective. I highly recommend you try the original version as the flavours are a lot more complex, but this basic salad is just as delicious.

Recipe – makes 3-4 lunch servings

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced relatively finely
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large cauliflower, broken into small-ish florets with the smaller leaves kept
  • 120g giant couscous, cooked as per pack instructions
  • 3 tsp za’atar spice
  • 100g blanched almonds
  • 3-4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

Heat half of the oil in a large frying pan, and fry the onions with a little salt over a low heat until soft – around 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile toss the cauliflower florets in the remaining oil, spread out onto a baking tray and roast at 180C for 15 minutes – then add the za’tar and the cauliflower leaves, toss together (with some additional oil if it’s looking dry) and roast for another 10 minutes. Tip into a large bowl along with the cooked giant couscous.

When the onions are soft, turn up the heat to medium and turn in the sugar and balsamic vinegar, before cooking for around 5 minutes until sticky and caramelised. Add to the bowl along with a good grind of black pepper and toss everything together.

When ready to serve (at room temperature, not fridge cold), add 25g of almonds per serving, plus a tablespoon of pomegranate seeds. This is excellent on it’s own, alongside homemade pitta breads, or part of a Middle Eastern style spread (think hummus, falafel, spiced chicken, fesenjan…).

Have you tried any Middle Eastern recipes? What would you recommend?

Cooking From: Asian Salmon & Broccoli (The Roasting Tin)

Welcome to a new little series over at Life & Loves. With a ridiculously-sized collection of cookbooks that just keeps on getting bigger, we’ve set ourselves the challenge to use them more. To not cook from the same ones each time. To try out new recipes. And to make myself more accountable for this, I’m going to blog about it.

The first cookbook under scrutiny is The Roasting Tin. One of the most anticipated cookbook releases of 2017, even the cover with its bright yellow sunniness makes me want to pull it off the shelf. Added to the fact that it’s full of simple one-dish recipes that require little preparation and are generally ready fast but deliver flavourful, healthy results means it’s become regularly reached for.

It’s pretty much the perfect midweek cookery book for foodies. Good, fresh ingredients combined with just a few minutes work and very little washing up means a happy Chloe!

We’ve cooked a few things from this book, with the favourites being the recipe below, but also a veggie dish involving Broccoli, Orzo Pasta, Lemon and Chilli – it makes damn good leftovers! There’s so many other dishes we have on our list too! We’ve found the cooking times can be a bit off, so I’ve adjusted for it slightly in the recipe below – as well as playing around with the dressing to suit our tastes – mainly making more of it!

Now onto this recipe. It’s delicious! One of my favourite ways to eat salmon, it’s so simple and easy yet full of flavour. The dressing is punchy, the peanuts add crunch and the broccoli is yum. I rarely eat broc boiled or steamed now, I want it roasted all the time…

Recipe – for 2, easily scaled up or down

  • 300g broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil (use vegetable oil if you don’t have any)
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2½ cm ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 limes, zest and juice
  • Small handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 55g peanuts, left whole

Pop the broccoli in a roasting tin, add the garlic and sesame oil, and use your hands to coat. Place the salmon fillets on top, cover tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 180C. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes.

Meanwhile make the dressing. Mix together the spring onions, ginger, chilli, fish sauce, vegetable oil, lime zest and juice, most of the coriander and the peanuts. Once the salmon is cooked, pour the dressing over the roasting tin. Serve garnished with the rest of the coriander.

We would usually just eat this with no other carby side, but I can confirm it is delicious with brown rice if you feel like you need it! I’ve also taken to cooking broccoli this way, with the same dressing – it’s great served with noodles as a quick study day lunch.

What’s your current favourite cookbook?