Monday, 16 May 2011

A sweet treat and more...

This was just a salad starter that I made for my husband and myself one evening, followed by spaghetti with a deconstructed pesto. For the starter I used two gem leaves for each of us and filled it with a mixture of cheese, green olives, tomatoes and parsley in a light salad dressing. It was good fun eating salad in this fashion! This is officially one of the best loaves of bread I've made this far:

I mixed 500g flour with 300ml handhot water and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then I dissolved 20g fresh yeast in a couple of tbsp of water and added this along with 2 tbsp sourdough starter, 10g salt and a handful of flour and kneaded for ages and ages. How come I knead for an eternity and still no windowpane??? I did stretch and fold a couple of times and I think it was slightly over-proved in the end but it did not damage the end result. I shouldnt have bothered scoring it though, lesson learned!

Then an other day I made focaccia to go with tomato soup. There was also some left for my husband to take to work as sandwiches.

Nigella's Italian Tomato and Pasta soup:

Ever since I spotted British tomatoes in the shops I've been itching to make tomato soup. I usually make Linda McCartney's recipe, but this time I decided to give Nigella a go, and it is from Nigella Kitchen. It is the very last recipe in the book.

Approx. 575 g ripe and fantastic tomatoes

3 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 large oinion, finely chopped

1.5 litres cold water

1 tsp sea salt

freshly ground pepper

2 tsp caster sugar

150 g soup pasta

sour cream to serve (optional)

Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Skin the tomatoes by placing them in a bowl and pouring hot water over them. Nigella says to start frying whole garlic cloves and then discarding them before adding chopped onion. I didnt do that, I sauteed onion and added minced garlic cloves and fried a little longer. I skinned tomatoes, you were also supposed to get rid of seeds and white membrane, but not me thanks! Had quite a few small tomatoes and I just couldnt be bothered. Then add tomatoes to onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Now add water and let it come to a boil, then add salt, pepper and sugar and leave it to simmer for 20 minutes for chunky soup and 40 minutes for smooth soup. I chose the smooth option and proceeded to give it a few goes in the blender, then back in the pan for 10 more minutes along with the pasta. Check seasoning.

Verdict: It is a really nice soup, but I think it would greatly benefit from some more flavour, such as a few parmesan rinds while simmering...mmm.. now that's a thought!

OK... this turned out to be a slightly odd meal! I made a Mediterranean Pepper Salad, from Nadia Sawalha's Stuffed Vine Leaves Saved My Life. I thought it was really nice, but the rest of the family thought the dinner was rather poor. I also made some pasta dressed in lemon infused olive oil, but it was rather boring, I should have just mixed the pasta into the salad. We live and learn. The flatbreads are from River Cottage Bread Book, and not unlike naan, only naan is tastier in my opinion. I also made use of them the next morning for breakfast by sandwiching two together with grated cheese, English mustard, parsley and tomatoes and then frying them on the griddle pan. Very pleasant.

Now finally for the sweet finale! This is also from Nigella Kitchen and is called 'No-fuss fruit tart', and it definitely lived up to that. No-fuss it was. Basically, all I had to do was to blitz 375 g digestive biscuits with 75 g unsalted butter in the food processor. Press these crumbs into a 25cm tart tin and put it in the fridge while you mix the filling. In a clean processer bowl, mix 400 g cream cheese with 240 g lemon curd, take your tart tin out of the fridge and fill with the cream and curd mixture. Then decorate with berries of your choice. (actually, she lists 125 g each of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, redcurrants or pomegranate seeds and strawberries.. but I sort of just did my own thing). I let it stand overnight in the fridge. It didnt set completely and was still a little runny, but it was very tasty. Very cheesecaky flavour.
Definitely worth making.


  1. I do love the colours and flavours in your starter, now that is a great teaser to the rest of the meal.

    Well done on your home made loaves, not my strong point at all - though i've been experimenting on and off with focaccis recently. First one was great, second one not so....

    Ah so you have Nadia's cookbook, I quite like her but have not seen her book in bookshops, I like to flick the pages to see if its worth purchasing. Would you recommend it to someone like me who cooks with a lot of veggies, or is is too meat based?

  2. All looks delicious but that easy to make fruit tart with those berries has me yearning for a slice.

  3. An inspiring list of recipes.

  4. All the dishes look delish, especially the tart!