OMG! This is amazing. It’s like the easiest lasagne ever but no need to stand there layering stuff up. Instead you dunk garlicky buttery crisp bread into oozy cheese sauce and rich bolognese. A word of caution though, let it stand for 10-15 minutes once removed from the oven or prepare for a scalded mouth for the next 2 days. I learned the hard way.
For the garlic butter toasts:
4 slices white bread
1 Tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves, grated
Parsley or oregano, chopped For the fondue:
100g gruyere, grated
3 tsp corn flour
1 cup white wine
A splash of milk
Salt & Pepper
25g parmesan, grated For the Bolognese:
1 Tbsp oil
1 carrot, finely diced
1 red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, grated
250g beef mince
1tsp each oregano, thyme, chopped
1 Tbsp tomato puree
400g can chopped tomatoes
Salt & Pepper
Preheat oven to 180ºC.
Roll slices of bread flat with a rolling pin. Add the crushed garlic and herbs to the butter and melt in the microwave for 10 seconds. Brush the bread with garlic butter on both sides. Cut into four triangles, corner to corner.
Place flat on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes flipping half way through until golden brown and crisp.
To make the Bolognese, add the oil to a pan over a high heat and brown the beef mince. Add the onion, carrot and peppers, reduce the heat to medium and continue to brown gently for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the herbs, seasoning and tomato puree. Stir to combine.
Add the chopped tomatoes and a little water then let the Bolognese simmer over a low heat for 20-30 minutes. Set aside.
Mix together the cheese and toss in the cornflour.
Heat the wine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cheese mixture a handful at a time until you have a thick smooth sauce.
Pour in some milk and allow the mixture to bubble and thicken.
Spread Bolognese on the bottom of a dish. Pour fondue mixture over top and grate parmesan to cover. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until bubbling.
Italian Stromboli loaf loaded with artichokes, olives, sausage, gooey mozzarella and rich tomato sauce. I seem to be making a lot of stuff under the guise of baked bread stuffed with cheese recently but it’s not something I plan to change any time soon. This is a really satisfying, comfort food. It takes a while to put together but is surprisingly simple and totally worth the effort. You can put whatever you want in the middle. Jalapeño and chorizo is another winning combo. My little brother even likes ham and pineapple in his.
1 quantity pizza dough (see my recipe for pizza dough on ‘pizza’ post)
1 jar pizza topping sauce
1 bunch fresh basil
3/4 cup artichoke heart pieces, drained
1/2 cup chopped green olives
1/2 pound cooked Italian sausage, crumbled
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon melted butter
Cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C. Roll out the pizza dough on a piece of parchment paper, into an 11 X 15 inch rectangle.
Spread 1/2 cup pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a 2 inch border around all sides.
Top the tomato sauce with fresh basil leaves. Layer the sausage, olives, artichokes and cheese over the basil leaves.
Then lifting the parchment paper, gently roll one short end toward the other short end, creating a log with the seam facing down.
Brush the loaf with melted butter then sprinkle with pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow the Stromboli to rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve the remaining pizza sauce in a bowl to dip the Stromboli slices into.
Fatayer is a pizza-like dough stuffed with a herby cheese filling in this case. They are found throughout North Africa and the Balkans in differing variations and are traditionally served during breakfast or as a snack with a hot drink.
The combination of the salty cheese, fresh parsley, fresh mint, and nigella seeds makes these fatayer irresistible. I used feta cheese since it is more readily available but if you wish to make the fatayer more authentic, use akkawi cheese.
I have also tried a combination of ricotta and mozzarella cheese, using half of each, which was equally tasty but more subtle and creamy. Experiment with different cheeses and see what you like best. I prefer the tart tanginess of feta.
Tip: Shape the fatayer as soon as the dough finishes resting. To keep the fatayer from puffing up too much and losing their shape, it is important to bake them right away. I made the cheese fatayer into boat-like shapes, which is the way they are traditionally made, but you can use any shape you prefer, including making them into mini pizzas.
450g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon caster sugar
2 x 7g sachets fast action dried yeast
300ml warm water
2 Tablespoons good olive oil
200g crumbled/grated cheese of choice (I used 100g feta, 50g parmesan, 50g boursin)
½ bunch of parsley, finely chopped
½ bunch of mint, finely chopped
½ tsp baking powder
3 spring onions, finely sliced
Freshly grated black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg
For the dough: Place salt, caraway, nigella seeds and flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and yeast but do not let the yeast directly contact the salt.
Pour in the water and olive oil. Mix together with your fingers.
Work the dough into a soft warm ball then slap it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft and elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled, large bowl and lightly oil the dough itself so a crust does not form. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and leave in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
For the filling and constructing: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well until combined.
Divide the dough into 6-8 equal pieces.
Roll out into an oval shape.
Put 1½ teaspoons of the filling in the middle and spread.
Lift one edge and press the ends. Do the same with other edge making a boat-like shape.
Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.
The house smells incredible as these bake and there’s not much that comes close to enjoying them warm out of the oven. The buns keep for 3-4 days and if they last that long, you can microwave them for a few seconds to warm them through and it’s as if you’ve cooked a fresh batch all over again. Win!
7g active dry yeast
1 cup milk warm
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
4 cups (500g) plain flour
1/3 cup soft brown or demerara sugar, packed
3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
Cream cheese icing:
6 tbsp margarine
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. The yeast should start to froth up slightly.
Add sugar, butter, salt, egg, baking powder and flour to a mixing bowl and mix well.
Pour the milk/yeast mixture in the bowl and mix well until well incorporated.
Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. It should be approx 1/4 inch thick.
Preheat oven to 180C degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking tin with butter.
To make filling, combine the butter or margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
Spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. Alternatively you can spread the butter first on the dough and then the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. The roll should be about 18 inches in length. Cut the roll into 1 ½ inch slices.
Place the cut rolls in the prepared pan. Cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise again for another 30 minutes until they double in size.
Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cooking time can vary greatly! If the tops brown too quickly before the dough is cooked, cover loosely with foil to prevent burning.
While the rolls are baking make the icing by mixing all ingredients and beat well until fluffy.
When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.
You could leave them plain at this point as the icing is very sweet and I’m not normally a fan of overly sweet thing but this icing is amazing and melts beautifully into the warm buns giving them a sweet, sticky glaze that works perfectly with the pillowy soft dough and cinnamon.
Sometimes you just want something quick and simple for dinner but that shouldn’t mean boring. This camembert garlic bread is quick, easy flippin’ amazing too. I mean it’s cheese and bread and garlic so it’s hard to go wrong really.
You could try experimenting with this bread by stuffing different ingredients in the bread such as tomato sauce, chorizo, mozzarella, basil, pesto, bacon, whatever you want really.
1 whole camembert
2 garlic cloves, grated
3 Tbsp butter
½ tsp dried rosemary
1 loaf of crusty bread
Sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Remove all the packaging from the camembert and use the outer box as a stencil to cut a circular hole in the centre of the crusty loaf. Do not cut all the way through. Remove just enough bread so the camembert can sit snuggly in the centre of the bread.
Remove the top rind of the camembert and place the cheese in the hole you just cut into the bread, cut side up.
With a serrated knife, score the bread several times lengthways and then widthways to achieve a checkerboard effect.
Add the garlic, butter, rosemary and a pinch of salt to a bowl and microwave for a few seconds to melt the butter. Spread this mixture between the scored lines you just made in the bread.
Sprinkle the whole thing with a little salt and set on a baking tray. Bake in the lower part of the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is oozing, the bread is crusty and the garlic is fragrant.
Rip squares of the buttery garlic bread and dunk them into the gooey cheese. Shake your head in amazement.
So as I have already mentioned, I recently returned from a holiday in France and upon leaving the little gite, I was presented with a huge bag of plums from the hosts who had been busy harvesting the variety of wonderful trees in their garden. I have never really been overly fussed about plums but being one not to let anything go to waste, I thought I’d try my hand at baking something with them and this pudding is the result.
Sharp plums are topped with a light sponge flavoured with almonds and scented with zesty lemons for a really satisfying treat.
8 ripe plums, quartered and stoned
zest 2 lemons
4 tbsp brandy (optional)
100g soft butter
100g light brown sugar
100g self-raising flour
1 tsp almond extract
50g ground almonds
3 tbsp flaked almond
Custard/cream/icecream, to serve
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Toss the plums, cinnamon, lemon zest and brandy together in a bowl, then leave to macerate while you make the batter.
Cream the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time then tip in the flour, almond extract and ground almonds. Mix until completely combined.
Tip the fruit into a buttered shallow baking dish, spoon over the cake batter, then sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Bake for 35-40 mins until browned and cooked through. Test if the pudding is ready by inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean, the pudding is ready. If there is some batter on the skewer then give it a few minutes more. Remove from the oven and serve warm with custard.
Flan patissier is the French equivalent of the custard tart. The delicious dessert is filled with simple, vanilla infused cream. It is the tart that you see in patisseries all over France. It is often made in a long slab that can be sliced as a treat at any time of the day.
I have provided a really in-depth method for making the pastry as this is so important to creating the final flan. The crumbly, buttery base is perfect with the thick, creamy custard filling.
For the sweet pastry:
350g plain flour
125g caster sugar
2 eggs, plus one yolk
pinch of salt
A little butter or baking spray, for greasing the tin
A little flour, for rolling
For the filling:
200ml full-fat milk
200ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
1 medium egg, plus 1 medium yolk
100g caster sugar
20g butter, melted
Essential kit You will need a 20cm loose-bottomed tart tin.
First, make the sweet pastry. You will need half the quantity given here. To make the pastry: Measure out all your ingredients before you start, and break your 2 eggs into a small bowl– there is no need to beat them. Separate the remaining egg. Put the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
Now for the cold butter. What I do is take it straight from the fridge and put it between two pieces of greaseproof paper or butter wrappers (I always keep butter wrappers to use for this, as well as for greasing tins and rings), then bash it firmly with a rolling pin.
The idea is to soften it while still keeping it cold. I end up with a thin, cold slab about a centimetre thick that bends like plasticine. Put the whole slab into the bowl of flour – there is no need to chop it up.
Cover the butter well with flour and tear it into large pieces.
Now it’s time to flake the flour and butter together – this is where you want a really light touch. With both hands, scoop up the flour-covered butter and flick your thumbs over the surface, pushing away from you, as if you are dealing a pack of cards.
You need just a soft, skimming motion – no pressing or squeezing – and the butter will quickly start to break into smaller pieces. Keep plunging your hands into the bowl, and continue with the light flicking action, making sure all the pieces of butter remain coated with flour so they don’t become sticky.
The important thing now is to stop mixing when the shards of butter are the size of your little fingernail. There is an idea that you have to keep rubbing in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, but you don’t need to take it that far. When people come to my classes, I find they can’t resist putting their hands back into the bowl to rub it just a little bit more, but if you want a light pastry, it is really important not to overwork it. If the mixture starts to get sticky now, imagine how much worse it will be when you start to add the liquid at the next stage. Add the sugar at this point, mixing it in evenly.
Tip the eggs, and the extra yolk, into the flour mixture and mix everything together.
You can mix with a spoon, but I prefer to use one of the little plastic scrapers that I use for bread-making. Because it is bendy, it’s very easy to scrape around the sides of the bowl and pull the mixture into the centre until it forms a very rough dough that shouldn’t be at all sticky.
While it is still in the bowl, press down on the dough with both thumbs, then turn the dough clockwise a few degrees and press down and turn again. Repeat this a few times.
With the help of your spoon or scraper, turn the pastry onto a work surface.
Work the dough as you did when it was in the bowl: holding the dough with both hands, press down gently with your thumbs, then turn the dough clockwise a few degrees, press down with your thumbs again and turn. Repeat this about four or five times in all.
Now fold the pastry over itself and press down with your fingertips. Provided the dough isn’t sticky, you shouldn’t need to flour the surface, but if you do, make sure you give it only a really light dusting, not handfuls, as this extra flour will all go into your pastry and make it heavier.
When you flour your work surface, you need to do this as if you are skimming a stone over water, just paying out a light spray of flour. (Funny as it seems, people in my classes actually practise this, like a new sport.) You need just enough to create a filmy barrier so that you can glide the pastry around the work surface without it sticking.
Repeat the folding and pressing down with your fingertips a couple of times until the dough is like plasticine, and looks homogeneous.
Your pastry is now ready to roll out and bake. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5.
Lightly grease a 20cm loose-bottomed tart tin with butter or baking spray
Lightly dust your work surface with flour, then roll out the pastry into a circle 5mm thick and large enough to fit into the tin, leaving an overhang of about 2.5cm.
Roll the pastry around your rolling pin so that you can lift it up without stretching it, then drape it over the tin and let it fall inside.
Ease the pastry carefully into the base and sides of the tin without stretching it, and leave it overhanging the edges. Tap the tin lightly against your work surface to settle it in. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork to stop it from trying to rise up when in the oven (even though it will be held down by baking beans, it can sometimes lift a little).
You can use a large sheet of baking paper for lining your tart case, however I prefer to use clingfilm (the kind that is safe for use in the oven or microwave) as it is softer than paper and won’t leave indents in the pastry. Place three sheets of clingfilm (or one sheet of baking paper) over the top of the pastry case, then tip in your baking beans and spread them out so they completely cover the base. Don’t trim the pastry yet. Put the case into the fridge for at least one hour (or the freezer for 15 minutes) to relax it.
Pre-heat the oven to 190C / gas 5.
Remove the pastry case from the fridge and put in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes until the base has dried out and is very lightly coloured, like parchment.
Remove from the oven and lift out the clingfilm (or baking paper) and beans. Don’t worry if the overhanging edges are quite brown, as you will be trimming these away after you have finished baking your tart.
Brush the inside of the pastry case with the beaten egg and put it back into the oven for another ten minutes. The inside of the pastry, and particularly the base, will now be quite golden brown and shiny from the egg glaze, which will act as a barrier so that the pastry will stay crisp when you put in the filling.
Let the pastry case cool down then you can trim away the overhanging edges.
Turn down the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
To make the filling, put the milk, cream and vanilla pod (split and seeds scraped in) in a pan, bring to a simmer (be careful not to let the mixture boil), then take off the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour. Remove the vanilla pod.
In a bowl, mix the egg, yolk and sugar until pale and creamy, and then whisk in the cornflour. Stir in the melted butter.
Put the pan containing the milk and cream mixture back on the heat and bring slowly to the boil, whisking all the time, then turn down to a simmer for 1 minute, still whisking all the time. Take off the heat and pour onto the egg and sugar mixture, stirring well.
Pour the mixture into the tart case and bake for around 45 minutes, until the filling is firm to the touch and a deep, dark golden on top — like the top of a crème brûlée. Take out of the oven, slide off the tin, and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.