All posts tagged: Baking

almond, manchego, and green olive bites

There are few food rituals I love more than aperitivo. Cocktail hour. It’s the in-between time. The day is ending, the night is beginning. It’s a time for talk. For laughter. For food. Whether it’s a stiff G&T and peanuts in an English garden on a sunny evening, or a vibrantly-coloured Aperol Spritz and a few olives on a cobbled street in Bologna as the lights twinkle on, you can’t really go wrong. J and I have reproduced this ritual many a time. It’s a treasured holiday tradition, and an elegant everyday treat. We’ve enjoyed it with our families. In far-flung places. Sitting in a sunny patch on our living room floor, like cats stretching out in a puddle of sunshine. It’s not fancy – that’s kind of the point. You don’t need much to throw together a pleasing nibble feast. You need a good drink, something you love. Some radishes. A small bowl of nuts. Some rosy, languorous lengths of proscuitto. A few olives. And, in my opinion, these compelling little bites. They’re ridiculously …

peanut butter crisscrosses

Peanut butter is a fairly new discovery for me. We’d circled each other warily for years. I’d seen jars of the stuff swirled with jelly and wanted to like it. Heard about the PB&J but just couldn’t get on board. But then, seemingly through sheer force of will, I started to like it. Now? Can’t get enough of the stuff. My favourite way to eat it: liberally spread in the crevasse of a celery stick and doused with hot sauce. I have been informed that this is something of a peculiarity of mine. An aquired taste, if you will. Happily, these cookies are not. They’re crowdpleasers if ever there were ones. Softly crispy, with a pleasing chew, and a really moreish mix of sweet and salty. While they won’t be as crispy on day 2 (cookies are always going to be best the day you bake them), as long as you keep them in an airtight container, the soft chew remains, and they won’t change much beyond that. Yum. The recipe is adapted from The …

Peter Reinhart’s bagels

I’ve always loved bagels. Chewy, tasty, slightly crispy – they’re the whole package. But I’ve recently upped my bagel ante. Gone are the days when all I’d do is wax lyrical about the different ways to top a bagel – of which, incidentally, there are so very many more than the four I mentioned here back in the day. You see, I’ve now baked bagels. And I can’t go back. They’re too good, and they’re so easy to make. In fact, I think it’s safe to say I’m now forever ruined for supermarket simalcrums. I have baker extraordinaire Peter Reinhart to thank for this particularly wonderful new addition to my life. Not being a native New Yorker, or living near enough London’s Brick Lane, believe me when I say that I did not know bagels could taste like this. Baking these came about as part of the recent bread-baking kick I’ve been on. And, let me tell you, a little bit – and I do mean a “little” bit – of effort here goes a …

bread baking

More often than not nowadays, there is a smudge of flour somewhere on my person. Usually it’s on the cuffs on my favourite baggy blue cardigan. Sometimes it’s on my face. I’ve gone out with it splashed down my front, like a walking Rorschach test, and with handprints on my butt from where I’ve hastily brushed off the snowy white dust before dashing off a few lines on my laptop, or darting to the oven to check on whatever is currently making my kitchen smell like heaven. You see, I’ve been baking a lot of bread. I’ve made bagels and wheaten bread. Challah and cornbread. And one of my happiest achievements to date – sourdough. Sourdough is a tricksome beast. The first time I tried, it was completely off. More like a dense wholemeal loaf than the chewy, crispy, airated bread I was aiming for. All was not lost, however; the brown doorstop made a pretty decent bread salad (once liberally doused in olive oil and introduced to the grill). The problem – I surmised, …

Clementine Drizzle Mini Loaf Cakes

clementine drizzle mini loaf cakes

I‘ve been making some variation on this recipe since I was a kid; my family are now connoisseurs of this particular baked treat. Fairy cakes were one of the first things I ever learned how to cook and this recipe has evolved out of those first messy, gloopy attempts. Aged seven or eight, I remember baking them at a friend’s house and scrawling down the recipe we used on pink notepaper to take home with me. There’s something magic about the alchemy of baking and I am firmly of the opinion that if you bake with love (or – at a pinch – just a smile), you can taste it. Like something fresh and sparkly behind the buttery goodness. I kept that little pink recipe for years, eventually absorbing the recipe and merging it with one from Nigella Lawson, I think. It’s one of those recipes that I’ve now been making for so long that I kind of do it without thinking. As I got older, baking became my stress relief and this recipe got …