food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘bread & pastry’ Category

oat cakes

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Quintessentially Scottish, these savoury oat cakes are equally good served with a cheese platter or with butter and jam. A coating of dark chocolate works too. Read more about the art of oat cakes here.

Preheat your oven to 190ºC (375ºF). Mix 225g of instant oats, 60g of flour, ½ a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, ½ a teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt (less if your butter is salted). Rub in 60g of butter then add 60-80ml of fairly hot water bit by bit until you have a thick but pliable dough. Sprinkle some extra flour on a work surface and roll out the dough to approximately ⅔ cm (¼”) thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out rounds. Place them on a baking tray and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. 

*recipe from BBC Good Food


Written by michelle picker

June 20, 2018 at 12:25 am

salmon wellington

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Milan made this impressive salmon wellington (or should I say Saumon en croute), as the main course of a delicious lunch in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. He didn’t pass on the recipe so I hope he approves of this one.


Cook 70g (2½ oz) of well-rinsed quinoa for about 15 minutes until tender. Drain, cool under running water, drain again, then set aside. In a large pan, fry 3 crushed garlic cloves in butter before adding 300g (10½ oz) of baby spinach leaves. Allow the spinach to wilt then leave it to cool. When cooled, squeeze out any excess moisture and chop it finely before adding it to the quinoa. Add a large handful of finely chopped dill and a little lemon zest and season to taste. Now prepare your salmon. Cut the fillets in half horizontally to make 2 thinner fillets and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place a piece of ready-made puff pastry into your oven dish, making sure it comes up the sides and is long enough to cover the top. Place a piece of salmon onto the pastry then spread the quinoa mixture over it and put the other piece of salmon on top. Cover the fish with pastry, moisten the edges to seal then brush with a beaten egg. Chill for 20 – 30 minutes while you preheat your oven to 180°C (350ºF). Make cuts in the top for steam to escape and bake for 25-30 minutes.


Written by michelle picker

November 24, 2016 at 5:53 am

multi-grain no-knead bread

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This very grainy cob loaf doesn’t require much hands-on work, just some time.


Mix 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 cups of wholemeal flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 2½ teaspoons of dry active yeast and 1 teaspoon of bread improver. To this add 1 cup of mixed seeds and grains. I added pepita seeds, different coloured quinoa, amaranth and barley (I pre-soaked this). Any grains or seeds will work. Now prepare approximately 1½ cups of warm water – this should be quite warm to the touch but not hot. The amount you use will always vary due to different flours and humidity. Don’t pour all of it in at once, you’ll just need enough to make a moist dough that’s not too sticky. When thoroughly mixed, place the bowl in a warm place, cover and allow the dough to rise until it’s doubled in size. Now place a cast-iron pot and it’s lid in the oven and preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF). When the oven is hot, flour a bench, carefully remove the bread dough and gently shape it into a floured ball. Remove the pot from the oven and drop in the dough. Cover and cook for 20 minutes then remove the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes. Take the bread out of the oven then out of the pot and cool, covered with a clean tea towel, on a wire rack.

Written by michelle picker

August 2, 2016 at 5:51 am


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A truly delicious cheeseburger made by Thomas.


Thomas made the sweet potato burger buns following this recipe by Chef John of Food Wishes. For the burger itself he coarsely ground his own beef and simply seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Each burger was served with 2 thin patties which were cooked on a hotplate using this smashed burger technique from Serious Eats. When the patties were cooked, Colby cheese was sandwiched between the two patties and allowed to melt. The other ingredients were bacon, fresh tomato and dill pickle. For the sauce he combined a finely diced shallot, some chopped parsley, mayonnaise, tomato sauce (ketchup) and a little apple cider vinegar. Yum!

Written by michelle picker

January 4, 2016 at 5:53 am

leek, brussel sprout and stilton tart + roasted beets and carrots

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A lovely combination of flavours improved by being encased in Maggie Beers sour cream pastry.


Make the pastry according to the recipe (it works very well with light sour cream too). Roll the pastry out and cut a circle for the bottom of a springform cake tin and some strips for the sides and line the tin making sure there are no gaps. Remove as many outer leaves as possible from 6 brussel sprouts and set aside. In a fry-pan heat some oil and butter and fry 1 diced leek, 1 diced onion and 3 cloves of garlic until the onion wilts. Add the sliced insides of the brussel sprouts and cook for a few minutes more. Deglaze with some white wine, allowing it to completely evaporate. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and set aside. In a food processor combine 200g (7 oz) of cottage cheese, 155g (5½ oz) of crumbled Stilton cheese, 4 eggs, ½ a cup of milk and 3 teaspoons of cornflour (cornstarch). Process until smooth then combine with the leeks and pour into the prepared pastry shell. In a small bowl toss the brussel sprout leaves with a little oil, salt and pepper. Scatter the leaves over the top of the tart along with a handful of walnuts. If the pastry is higher than the filling bend the edges of the pastry down over the filling. Bake in a moderate oven for 45-60 minutes until the pastry has some colour and the filling is set.

These roasted beetroots and carrots make a good contrast to the tart.


Cut 1 beetroot and 3 carrots into wedges. Drizzle with equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar, add 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 1 hour and serve on a bed of roquette.


banana sesame walnut loaf

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This delicious variation on banana bread is wholemeal, full of walnuts and not too sweet. The recipe (published in Gourmet Traveller) is by Dan Lepard.



Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Mash 4 bananas with 200g (7 oz) of dark muscovado sugar or unrefined molasses sugar until smooth then stir in the juice of ½ a lemon. Add 1 tablespoon of honey, 75g (2⅔ oz) of tahini and 125g (4¼ oz) of softened butter and beat well until all the butter is incorporated. Add 1 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground sumac (if you don’t have this you can substitute grated lemon rind) and 2 eggs and beat well. Stir in 200g (7 oz) of walnut halves. Add 250g (8¾ oz) of wholemeal flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder and mix well. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with some unrefined sugar and sesame seeds. Bake for 70 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin and (if you can wait) slice the next day.



Written by michelle picker

September 16, 2015 at 6:01 am

corn and sweet potato muffins

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Try these as a savoury snack with cheese, in a lunchbox or as a side dish with chilli or spicy sticky pork ribs.


Peel and steam a medium sweet potato and 2 corn on the cob (or an equivalent amount of frozen corn kernels). When cool, mash the sweet potato, cut the corn from the cobs and combine this with 3 large eggs. In another bowl combine 1½ cups of plain flour, 1½ cups of arepa flour or harina de maiz (maize flour), 6 teaspoons of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt. Gently mix the wet and dry ingredients and transfer into a prepared muffin tray. This recipe makes 12 muffins.

Written by michelle picker

August 23, 2015 at 5:37 am