Category Archives: Bread, Pastries and Pizza

Merry Noël (Christmas Crackers)

Hello. I haven’t written in a long time because I am lazy and fresh produce in France is actually not great and I am lazy. Thus cooking creatively isn’t high on my to do list. I still like food though so don’t worry. I have had a lovely first semester in France, it’s been great, I’ve met great people and the weather has been great. What I have realised mostly this semester is that the French are slim because the food is too expensive. It’s been hard going from Leeds to Montpellier, where sweet potaotes are about 2 € per ‘patate’. Mayynnnn.

017Christmas in France is not necessarily the same as Christmas in the UK. I feel they do the façade  they do the lights and the Christmas market. BUT IT’S NOT THE SAME. That’s why I am very happy to be back in London and celebrating Christmas here being jolly and eating. It sounds so cliché, but now it feels like Christmas.

If you were ask me how France has changed me, I’d say that I am now a cheese and coffee snob.  I nothing-ed coffee before I came to France, but now I have an obsession with good coffee. No instant please. I loved cheese beyond all measure before I came to France, but the obsession has since increased. To share this obsession, I brought back more than 1 kg of French cheeses, including this one, a Brie with a line of 5 berries down the middle. I love cheese.

Xmas 2012 087ed

SO THEREFORE, it only seemed suitable that I made crackers for the cheese. I made poppy seed crackers. And because my sister can’t eat flour I also made oatcakes. Yummy. Everyone please have an amazing Christmas, or enjoy your holidays!

Xmas 2012 071ed

 

Poppy Seed Crackers-makes 20 crackers-adapted from this

Ingredients

-1 cup of plain flour

-1 tsp salt

-1 tsp sugar

-1 1/2 tbsp cold butter, diced

-1 tbsp poppy seeds

-5 tbsp milk

-Salt crystals

Method

-Sieve the flour salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl.

-With your fingers, crumble together this mixture with the diced butter until it resembles very fine breadcrumbs.

-Add the poppy seeds and milk, and with your hands, start to knead the mixture together to form a soft dough ball.

-Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least an hour.

-Pre-heat oven to gas mark 2/300f/150 c and line a baking tray or perhaps two with baking parchment.

-After an hour, unwrap dough and lightly dust a surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out dough until about 5 mm thick, then cut shapes. Place shapes on baking sheet, brush lightly with milk and sprinkle salt crystals on top.

-Place in the oven for half an hour, making sure to keep an eye on the crackers. Once browned and the base feels firm, take out and leave to cool.

Xmas 2012 079ed

Oatcakes-makes 20 oatcakes

Ingredients

-200g rolled porridge oats, processed to make oatmeal.

-1 tsp salt

-1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

-2tbsp butter

-1/4 pint of boiling water

Method

-Mix together the ingredients apart from the water.

-Add the 1/4 pint of boiling water slowly whilst using a spoon to bring the ingredients together to form a moist ball. DONT do what I did, and be abstemious with the water, use all of it otherwise the ball will fall apart.

-Wrap in cling film and place in fridge for at least an hour.

-Preheat oven to gas mark 5/375 f/190 c and line two baking trays with baking sheets.

-After at least an hour, unwrap dough and place on a surface dusted with porridge oats. Using a rolling pin also dusted with oats, roll out the dough as thin as possible, being careful not to break the dough too much.

-Cut your shapes and place on the baking sheet. Brush with milk (if at hand) and place in oven for 30 minutes, or until the cakes are hard and starting to brown a tiny bit. Take out and leave to cool.

 

 





 

 

 

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OH HAY.

No posts depuis longtemps, je suis desolée. I’ve been too adventurous with my cooking to warrant a point less post about how to make toast or something like that, so apologies. France has been incredible so far, really exceeding my expectations. I know France well, I’ve been to France every year of my life, but living here is a lot different. It’s very cool.

The food is good, we’ve been out a few times, mostly to the same burger restaurant. It’s not easy being a vegetarian AND a student in Montpellier, there are restaurants which aren’t French, of course, but most are French. And the French don’t do vegetarian. We’ve got pizza, and like I said there’s this amazing burger restaurant that we can’t get enough of. Just thinking about it now…I’m gonna have to go back. I wont drone on about restaurants that you can’t visit, but hey, if you want advice come to me.

These buns came about by accident. I was helping my house make pizza dough, and she had lots of YOW (yeast oil water) mixture left. She suggested that we make some sort of bread so as not to make the yeast, and this is what I came up with? It’s basically BIG DOUGH BALLS. They taste Italian and bready and are darn good with some butter, and maybe something more exciting…

Ingredients

-250ml warm water

-1/2 sachet of yeast

-2 tbsp oil

-2 cups of flour

-salt and pepper

-Parmesan (optional)

Method

-Mix together the water, yeast and oil, and leave to sit for a couple o’ minutes.

-In a bowl, start to mix the YOW mixture in with the flour and a tsp of salt, using a fork. When the fork becomes redundant, use your hands to knead the mixture. Knead for 5 minutes, the dough should be silky and slightly sticky. If it’s too sticky, add some water.

-Leave to rise for 1-2 hours in a warm place. While that’s happening, pre-heat oven to gas mark 6, grease a 6 case muffin tin.

-After the dough has risen, punch it down, knead a bit more and separate equally into 6 balls, placing each one in a case.

-Top with salt crystals, pepper and some parmesan and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until when you tap the base of the buns, they sound hollow.

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My Cheapest Recipe Yet: Thrifty Thlatbread

AND SO, I’m off tomorrow for my year abroad. I’ve  been through every emotion possible. Fear, excitement, apprehension, apathy, confusion and now I just cannot wait! I’m just so ready to live in France. YAY. I will continue to blog, I hope, but I foresee that the next year will include me eating bread, cheese, and carrot remoulade so I can’t imagine I’ll be doing a whole lotta cooking. But I’ll try!

This flatbread was so GREAT to make and it is the cheapest recipe I’ve ever posted. FACT. And it is probably the easiest, but that’s subjective.

Have you been watching Best British bake off at all? I have. Well I’ve watched two episodes, and in one of them they have to make flat bread. So I was like: Yeah, well I CAN MAKE FLATBREAD TOO. I don’t know why I wanted to make flatbread so much, we all know my trouble with  bread making. But I was determined. Turns out flatbread is pretty easy. Well this flatbread is…

Ingredients-Makes 6 flatbreads

-250g plain flour, plus more for dusting.

-150ml warm water

-1tsp salt and 1 tsp olive oil

Method

-Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Once the dough comes together use your hands to work the it a bit. You want the dough to be slightly dry, but not crumbling apart.

-Dust a surface with flour, then dust your rolling pin.

-Pull a small handful off your dough, and roll out as flat as you can into a ‘flat’ shape. (This isn’t a beauty contest, my flatbreads don’t have any distinguishable shape).

-Fold the dough in half and roll flat. Fold the dough over again and roll flat. This traps air into the bread thus allowing it to puff up.

-ROLL THE DOUGH AS FLAT AS POSSIBLE. I wanna stress how important this is. It does require some elbow grease as the dough is tough, but really really try. Put the flatbread on a plate and dust with flour. Repeat with the remaining dough until finished, dusting between each flat bread.

-Heat up a flat frying pan till it’s very hot (you’re dry frying the bread). Place one flat bread and continue turn every 30 seconds until the bread has puffed up and looks about done. Do this with your remaining doughs.

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Montpellier and Cooking Up My Bookmarks: Soda Bread

[Source]

I’m moving to France in September. I have a flat all sorted and I’m RIDIC excited. I just went to Montpellier for 4 days to flat hunt, and I just fell in love. I’m so excited to get there. I mean,  who wouldn’t want to live in the South of France? For one thing, it’s hot. And I always say that I’m a reptile. A cold-blooded reptile. I am always cold and can just bake in the mid-day sun with no shade.

Secondly, it’s FRANCE. It’s the home of bread, cheese and wine. We had amazing cheese and bread and wine. True, there were some difficulties being pescetarians, erring on the side of vegetarians, but we survived.

Montpellier was diverse and, luckily, quite sporty. I went for a 33km bike ride. And I gotta tan. Some photos. Sorry they’re so awful, I was travelling only on hand luggage, so sadly I couldn’t bring my canon:

 (it doesn’t look very hot here, but it was)

ANYWAY, onto food. I made bread. I don’t think it was my greatest success, but it’s soda bread which has that densey, cakey flavour. It’s made with oats as well. GORGE. VOILA (Thats French you know).

It requires buttermilk, but I’ve made soda bread with normal milk, and this time I used normal milk PLUS lemon juice. This is from my bookmark at Eat Live Travel Write, but I altered it slightly because I added porridge oats.

Ingredients

-2 Cups of plain flour

-1 cup of porridge oats

-2oo ml of buttermilk, or normal milk with 2 tbsp of lemon juice (left to sit for 10 minutes)

-1 tsp salt

-1 heaped teaspoon of Bicarbonate of soda

Method

-Preheat oven to gas mark 8, and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

-Sift the dry ingredients(not oats) together in a bowl and THEN add the oats, then 3/4 of the milk.

-Mix together with a fork until it begins to bind. Once binding, add a bit more milk, Dust your hands with flour and knead the mixture. It should be on the sticky side, if not add the milk. Dont knead for too long. For more advice on this part of the process, go directly to the bookmark above.

-Either divide into 4  and turn into rolls, or simply plonk the dough on the paper (did I just say plonk?). Cut a cross through the top(s). And cook for about 50 minutes, when you tap the bottom of the bread, it should sound hollow.

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Caramelised Onion and Rosemary Bread

I have returned to twitter now after about 2 years, I’m very funny so follow me @jes_sca.

Came home from a night out to find this little dialogue. Oh the communication of the metropolitan 21st century family.

In other news, I think I’ve cracked bread-making.

As some who read this may know, bread-making is not my strength. I don’t know why either. You’d think my excellent pizza dough making skills would make me apt at making bread. WELL NO. Something happened between the 18th and 21st century that made the common person unable to make bread with their hands, do you  know what we historians call it? THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.Thanks to technology, hands and elbow grease are no longer a pre-requisite for bread-making. We have bicarb, baking powder, bread-makers, Hovis etc. However, I am a die-hard, and I just WANT TO BE ABLE TO MAKE THE GODDAMN BREAD BY MYSELF.

I succeeded one time, but I’m sure that was a fluke. I think my problem is that I don’t use enough yeast, especially when I use wholemeal flour. So this time I used 2 sachets of dried yeast, and I think that may have led to a successful loaf.

Not happy with the ordinary ‘white loaf’, I obviously had to jazz my bread up a bit. I’ve previously used mustard, but this time I chose onions, they’re cheap and make everything better. Their softness is ideal, as they make sure the centre of the loaf is moist. This bread, as you can see, is quite dense but extremely soft and not tough at all.

I always forget, however, that when I don’t wear my contact lenses that my eyes STREAM. I always gloat: “Ohhhhh I’ve cut so many onions that they don’t make my eyes water anymore”, but secretly it’s just down to my contact lenses being a barrier between me and the onion fumes. Note to self: always wear lenses when chopping onions.

PLEASE don’t be daunted by these instructions, I’ve only given a lot because I want to make it as easy as possible, most of it is common sense.

Ingredients

-1x red onion chopped

-1x white onion chopped

-3x cloves of garlic chopped

-1 tbsp butter/olive oil

-1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

-4 cups of flour, plus extra for dusting

-1 tsp salt

-250-300ml warm water

-2x 7g sachet of dried yeast

-3 tsp dried rosemary

-Pepper

Method

-Melt your butter in a frying pan, or heat the olive oil. Once melted add the onions and garlic with the balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt to stop sticking. Keep an eye on the onions, stirring from time to time. You want them to soften up. Add a bit more balsamic if they’re burning to make sure they don’t get all crispy. This will take about 10-12 minutes.

-While the onions are cooking, dissolve the yeast in the water, stir with a fork and set aside.

-In a large mixing bowl, mix together the salt, flour, rosemary and some pepper.

-Once the onions are cooked, add to the flour mixture and add some of the yeast water. With a fork, mix the mixture, adding a bit more water in order to make it come together.

-Eventually your fork will prove useless and you’ll need to get your hands a bit sticky and messy (so make sure they’re washed before hand). At this point, liberally flour a surface and turn out the mixture onto it, and knead the mixture, for kneading advice go here. The flour should be quite sticky, but SHOULD NOT get stuck to your hands.

-If you’re having some trouble, here are two common problems and how to solve them:

  • The dough keeps on falling apart and not keeping together. Add a splash more water but not a lot. Keep on working the mixture through so that water can get to all areas, you’ll find the more you knead the more moist the dough becomes.
  • The dough is extremely sticky and I can’t really do anything because my hands are too clogged up. In this case you need to add more flour, don’t worry this happens a lot to me. As said above, keep on working the flour through the mixture, the more you knead the more the flour can access the whole dough mixture and it will become more consistent.

-Okay, so knead the dough for about 10 minutes. As stressed, the dough should be sticky to touch. Place it in a floured bowl, cover with a dish cloth/cling film and leave to rise for 2 hours in a warm place (next to the boiler or a radiator).

-After two hours, the dough should have doubled in size. Turn it out onto a floured surface and deflate with your hand. Knead a tiny bit more, you will need a bit of flour if it has become sticky again, then return to the bowl and leave for about another hour.

-Pre-heat oven to 200 c. Once hot, turn out your dough again, knead it a bit and then shape it into a loaf shape. Place on a greased baking tray and brush with egg-white to give it a brown colour(optional).  It took my loaf about an 1 hour and a half, but it might take quicker for you, so keep an eye. You might need to cover with foil halfway through so the top doesn’t burn. The bread is ready when you hear a hollow sound when you tap the bottom of the loaf.

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House to be Healthy: Simple Chicken Pie

 

Obvs I didn’t eat this. But if it didn’t have the chicken in, I think it would be tasty, because you don’t need meat to make things tasty. Contrary to popular belief. If you want to make this vegetarian, avoid substitute meats, they provide little nutritionally. Add mushrooms, green beans or mini sweet corn. Mushrooms are cheapest.

Pie can be easy at its basic level, i.e bought pastry and bought chicken in white sauce. But they add lots of artificial stuff and lots of salt which is not part of this series. Pie can also HEALTHY, if it’s eaten in moderation and the if only the topping is with pastry. WHY?

  • Pastry is made flour, butter and water. Flour is a good source of carbohydrates, enjoy in moderation and have wholemeal to make it more beneficial to your diet. Butter is not great, but I think we need to get over the initial fear of unhealthy foods. PLEASE REMEMBER If you have a little in moderation, what harm can it do?
  • Chicken is protein, blah blah blah.
  • The entire recipe is filling, nourishing and comforting. Add lots of vegetables to get your quota

Ingredients

-Shop bought pastry OR

-250g flour

-125g cold butter diced

-1 tsp salt

-45 ml water

Filling

2 chicken breasts, roasted for an hour in the oven with lemon and herbs. OR pre-cooked shredded chicken.

-1 onion

-1 carrot

-some peas and whatever vegetables you want

-25g butter

-1tbsp of flour

-1 pint of milk

-1 tsp mustrad and some white wine (optional)

Method

-For handmade pastry:

  • EITHER Put flour, salt and butter in a food processor and process until it is rubble-like. Bit by bit add the water down the feeding tube whilst processing. Stop processing when one dough ball has formed. Wrap in cling film and in leave in the fridge for 45 mins.
  • OR crumble the butter and salt into the flour until it is rubble-like. Add the water slowly, mixing the ingredients with your hands until all the mixture is combined and a dough ball can be formed. Wrap in cling film and in leave in the fridge for 45 mins.

-Pre heat oven to gas mark 6, 200 c. For the filling. In a sauce pan, fry the onions, carrots and mushrooms if using in some olive oil and seasoning, add a splash of water, cover and leave to fry, stirring once in a while.

-Meanwhile, melt the butter in  a sauce pan, once that has melted add the flour and mix well. When that begins to bubble, add the milk bit by bit, STIRRING CONTINUOUSLY, waiting until the flour has completely dissolved. Keep on stirring and bring the mixture to the boil, keep on stirring until the mixture is really thick and creamy. You might need to add a bit more flour, if so remember to keep on stirring. Add the mustard and wine. This is called white sauce.

-Add this white sauce to your onions and carrots with the chicken. Add the peas, and cover the pan on leave on a low heat.

-Take the pastry out of the fridge and unwrap it, reserving the cling film. Dust a surface with flour and put the dough ball on it. Get your cling film and place on top of your pastry and begin to roll out the  covered pastry until it covers the medium sized dish you are  using. The rolled pastry should be about 5mm-1cm thick.

-Take your filling and pour into your baking dish. Cover with the pastry, making sure it is sealed at the sides. With a knife, make two slices on the top of the pie, to let air out.

-Brush with milk, and cook in the oven for an hour or until brown. An hour minimum, so if it’s browning before an hour, turn the oven down.

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How to make Pizza Dough

Wanna make a pizza?

This is how to make pizza dough. I’ve taken photos, but bear in mind I don’t have a tripod, and it was a Sunday morning so I couldn’t get any of my housemates to help me so please excuse how awkward looking they are…

For a pizza that serves one, you need FOUR obligatory Ingredients:

-180g /1.5 cups of flour, plus extra for dusting.

-125 ml of WARM water

-1/2 7g sachet of yeast (I only use this yeast, so I can’t offer advice for the yeast that is bought in tins, which seems less refined)

-3 tbsp oil (45 ml).

AND two extra ingredients, which simply help to enhance the flavour, but they aren’t necessary:

-1 tsp dried herbs

-1/2 tsp of sugar

Okay, let’s go…Method

1. Wash hands

2. Wash and dry a surface.

3. Mix Yeast, Oil and Water(YOW) in a jar and shake up. Or just put in a beaker and mix well. Set aside.

4. Put flour in a mixing bowl.

5. Add herbs and sugar

6. Add half of the YOW, and stir with a fork, until the mixture starts to collect into clumps.

7. Add the rest of the YOW and continue to stir with fork. As you can see, your mixtuer should be starting to form into one mass. When the fork seems to prove redundant, use your hands to make sure all the flour and water are well combined. You should been able to form one dough ball that is soft and elastic.

8. However, you might have added too much YOW, and your mixture will be very runny like this(click image to enlarge), it is too sticky to touch and is more like a liquid:

9. If so, add about 3 tsp of flour, and mix with your hands until the mixture is stretchy like so. If your mixture is too dry and not elastic. Add a tsp of oil and mix with your hands.

10. Take out of bowl. Your dough should be sticky, but can pull apart from your palm without leaving crap all over it.

11. If not don’t worry just yet, dust your hands and surface with flour (very liberally if your dough is still a bit too sticky to handle) and start to knead.

12. Put the palm of your hand in the middle of the dough, pushing it away from you.

 

Imagine the dough as a clock. Bring 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock, i.e fold the back of the dough back over to the front.

Schmush down and flatten with your palm. You’re trying to get as much air into the mixture as possible.

(Mole-y arms. Must learn to put on sun-cream this summer.)

Continue with the process of constantly folding the mixture.

Just fold and flatten. Do this for 3-5 minutes.

13. The dough should have a lot of elasticity and be very soft to touch.

14. Place back in the mixing bowl. Cover with cling film and place in a warm area for 2-4 hours. Alternatively you could use it straight away.  But let it rise, it’s more authentic that way.

Preferably use cling film THAT IS NOT UNDER £1. Like mine is, and evidently is not clinging at all.

USING YOUR DOUGH

-Sorry for the awful photo, just wanted to show the dough in action.

-When ready to use, preheat oven to 180 c.

-When the dough has doubled in size, tip it out onto a floured surface, and use rolling pin to roll into some sort of shape.

-Using your hands, or whatever utensils you can get your hands on, lift your rolled dough and place on a greased piece of foil or on some greaseproof paper.

-Then top with your favourite toppings. Tomato purée, mozzarella, mushrooms etc. and cook in oven for 30-40 minutes until the crusts are brown. Enjoy!

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