Tag Archives: Food

Semolina Bun Bread with Wild Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes


23rd April 2013

The Dan Lepard fan club knows that in his repertoire of awesome buns are some absolute treasures to which one returns time and time again. My favourite three are the legendary soft white bap, the top teacake and our eternal favourite, the BBQ semolina bun. Known in this house variously as the duvet bread or the pillow bread because of the scoring to the top, I make this bread over and over again. The recipe for the Semolina BBQ buns is still available on the Guardian website and I don’t change anything at all when I make it.

Today I made a double batch and made a duvet with one portion. With the second batch of dough I thought I would try something a bit different for me. When the dough had finished its first prove, I patted and gently rolled it out into a largish rectangle and spread it lightly with some wild garlic, grated pecorino cheese, ground almonds and olive oil made into a pesto-like sauce and a few sundried tomatoes. I rolled it up gently into a sausage shape and curved it into a ring. I set it on a sheet of baking parchment on a tray and put it inside a clean bin bag to prove. Before baking, I slashed small slashes in the top and brushed it with water and sprinkled fine semolina over it.

I baked it at 240º C (220º C Fan) for 15 minutes and then reduced the temperature to 200º C (180º C Fan) for another 15 minutes and then took it out of the oven and left it to cool and stop sizzling on a rack. The bottom was very crusty. If you don’t like crusty then bake it a bit cooler.

The trick with doing this is not to squash all the air out of the dough when patting it out to the rectangle, use the flat of your fingers to start the process off. When you use the pin, roll as gently as you can from the centre of the dough towards the corners to get a rectangular shape, and take your time. If the dough is pinging back a lot, walk away for five minutes and let it relax before you try again; try not to compress the dough too much, you are sort of stretching and fluffing it, rather than rolling and squashing. I am thinking about the way I pat out pizza dough rather than use a pin, though that is of course a different dough and more delicate than this.


My dearest old neighbour from where I used to live came round for lunch and we ate in the garden, yes really it was warm enough to eat outside!! We were accompanied by the sound of building work from two doors down, visits from some very large bumble bees, and the grumbles of small poodles, but you know what, it was glorious!


Brian had bought an entire box of aubergines for the sum of £2.75 at the weekend and even though he gave two-thirds of them away we still had lots left to cook, so it was more swooning and more olive oil and more Imam Bayildi for lunch today. I changed the spices slightly this time and left the onions chunkier, using allspice and a very new hot smoked paprika. We are still swooning… and I promise not to mention it again, but it is really very good indeed.

Of Celery and Stock and Lentils…

Celery Gratin Prep

Last week I made a celery gratin and a lentil salad side dish to go with it. I also cooked some tiny chorizo sausages that Brian had bought as they needed using up, so it wasn’t in the end a vegetarian meal, but it was meant to be. Good intentions eh?

For the celery gratin I followed the method in Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s book on Vegetable cooking. I do have lots of cook books and after writing the last post I realise I am maybe not using them properly, so by writing the post it prompted me to open my books!

You bake the celery covered in foil with aromatics and a little butter.  In this case, I used bay leaf and thyme, both from my garden. Once baked and tender, I followed the recipe to make a sauce from the liquid exuded from the celery and a little cream and sprinkled the top with a mixture of breadcrumbs and grated hard cheese, such as parmesan and then put it back under the grill to bake and go an inviting golden crispy colour.  I found it a little bland so if I was going to make it again I would maybe add some other vegetables into the mix, but it was good to do something I wouldn’t normally do and see how it came out.

Uncooked Le Puy Lentils

I am on much more familiar ground with cooking lentils. One of my favourites, and I suspect that of many other people too, are the Le Puy lentils which hold their shape when they are cooked and have a wonderful earthy nutty flavour.

Home made vegetable stock

I boiled the lentils briefly first, before covering them in home made vegetable stock, the recycled bay leaf, (I have a whole shrub of it in the garden but I was feeling lazy)  parsley stalks and a couple of cloves of garlic. For the vegetable stock I used the leaf and off cuts from the celery dish, some ageing carrots, parsley and an onion.

Cooking Lentils

Once the lentils had cooked, I drained them and dressed them while warm with a little balsamic vinegar and oil and then added some cubes of yellow beetroot, cooked the day before, some feta cheese, some little tomatoes, spring (salad) onions and some basil and salad leaves.

Together with another bowl of salad leaves and some pita bread popped in the toaster direct from the freezer this was a happy meal which we shared with our lovely neighbour last week.

These sorts of dishes are really adaptable to using up small quantities of salad veggies and bits of cheese that you need to use up. They are colourful, a healthy mix of food types, and they store well in the fridge once mixed, good for lunch boxes too!

Le Puy Lentil Salad

Lean Pork with Creme Fraiche in a Red Pepper Sauce

pork with red pepper sauce

I found myself putting this together the other night and when I had finished I realised that it was very similar to the sort of food my mother cooked, when she cooked, which wasn’t often. Her food usually involved some sort of lean meat, pork was a favourite, paprika, and cream and a slosh of sherry.

For cream I substitute creme fraiche as this doesn’t trigger Brian’s asthma like sweet cream does. I like the tangy taste it contributes to the sauce as well.

home made biber salcasi

It helps if you have a jar of home made biber salcasi to use up and some skinny pork in the freezer which you forgot you had…

Red Peppers

To make biber salcasi the way I like it, which is not too hot, you can do one of two things.

Jar of roast peppers.jpg

  • Use cheap red peppers if they are in season or buy a jar of already roasted and skinned peppers from the supermarket or middle eastern store.
  • If you buy fresh ones. Put the oven on and roast them on a tray until the skins blister and soften.  Then peel the skins off and remove the inside white parts and seeds. Save the liquid that comes out from the middle and add it to a stock or a soup as it is delicious.
  • Puree the roasted peppers with salt to taste, start with a teaspoon for about 6 large peppers, and as much or as little fresh red chilli as you prefer. I use relatively little, but I am a wimp.
  • Spread the pureed mixture on an oven tray and put it back in the oven on a low temperature. This is to evaporate the liquid and thicken the sauce. If you live somewhere hot, you can of course just put it out in the sunshine.
  • Store in a clean jar, covered in olive oil in the fridge. Make little and often and you should use it up fairly quickly.


You can add this simple sauce to all manner of dishes, soups and vegetable dishes in particular when you tire of tomato with everything, but still want the happy red colour that tomatoes bring to a dish but with the delicate bitter-sweet quality that roasted red peppers offer.

Pork with Creme Fraiche and Biber Salcasi

  • 250 grams of lean pork cut into strips
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5 – 10 tbsps of biber salcasi
  • 1 chopped up fresh red pepper
  • Water
  • ¼ tub about 4 tbsps of creme fraiche
  • salt
  • pepper to taste

To prepare:-

  1. Sweat the onion in a little oil or butter until it is translucent and just starting to colour
  2. Add the strips of pork and continue to cook gently for a few minutes, it shouldn’t take long
  3. Add the chopped up red pepper
  4. Add the biber salcasi and some water to create a sauce
  5. Put a lid on the whole lot and let it sweat away gently for another few minutes
  6. Just before you are ready to serve, stir the creme fraiche into the pan and make sure it is well mixed and everything is hot. Don’t let it boil.
  7. Sprinkle a little chopped fresh greenery on the top
  8. Serve with plain rice and a green vegetable of your choice. I used the last of the flower sprouts which are just about all we have left growing in our veg bed right now.
  9. Flower sprouts in February

Just right for a wintery day and it doesn’t take that long to make either!

This is how I cook most of the time –  no cook book, just a memory, I tend to cook most of our suppers that way, either from memories of food I have cooked before or been given. My evening meal tactics are pretty basic.

What needs using up? What is lurking in the fridge and the freezer? Are there leftovers that can be turned into a meal? That’s the first stage. The next one is to think what we have had in the last few days and what might be nice to have. If we have been eating too much of one sort of food then we choose something else. Speed plays a huge part in the process. If I have left it too late to think about supper then simple and speedy wins out every time, opening a book would slow me right down, so I rarely bother at that point. So we live on stir frys and steamed vegetables, baked potatoes and risotto, kedgeree. If my neighbour comes for supper I try a little harder, I might make Nigel Slater’s Thai Fish cakes, or a vegetable gratin. Occasionally I might see a lovely dish on a blog and I certainly book mark some amazing food that I see on the internet. But in real life, in real time, I make simple speedy food and try to waste as little as possible.

How about you?

A Slice of Bread

Sourdough bread with yoghurt cheese, italian figjam, zaatar

But which loaf did it come from?

I haven’t got a lot to say right now. I had a very busy weekend and worries on my mind once more. But this post is meant to invoke the sunshine gods to return to the UK so that we can have a bit more outside time. It’s been pouring all day, I’m doing tax stuff, which involves lots of shouting and gnashing of teeth, mostly my own. And, as anyone who is a procrastinator like me will know, it suddenly becomes extremely important to write a blog post, or look at your photos, or leap onto Twitter or do almost anything rather than the task at hand. Or eat a slice of bread and jam…

What are your favourite ways to avoid doing the stuff that you have told yourself you should be doing?

Falafel with Fava Beans and Chickpeas

Fava bean falafel

This is my small contribution to the falafel making discussions.  I have till now, only ever either made a packet mix one or bought someone else’s and re-heated them.  I have read many posts and people saying sadly that their falafel fell apart and what was the secret, so I have been reading and asking a little and Lynne has been making them too and I think between us we are establishing some clues…. Continue reading

Making Good use of Oven Space – Breadbox

Zeb Bakes Bread

I am often asked if I repeat the breads I bake and the answer is that of course I do, but just as no two days are the same, no two breads that I bake are ever quite the same, I’m a home baker after all!

We have favourites and variations on themes so this is what I am going to call a Breadbox post, it will probably have a bread I’ve blogged about before but these posts will have nice pics ( I hope) of those and any half baked thoughts that are floating around in my head. Continue reading

Aebleskiver for Pancake Day

Aebleskiver Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day

Before anyone says anything, yes I know these aren’t pancakes and that pancakes are flat and cooked on both sides in a frying pan. However, these are what I was asked to make today by Brian and he doesn’t ask for specific things very often; he was made to eat salad, griddled vegetables and chicken first. (Griddled by the way for my overseas friends, means cooked on a flat cast iron pan with ridges on the stove top in my British home.)

Aebleskiver Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day

I had never heard of these round batter balls which resemble nothing more than a slightly sweet Yorkshire Pudding masquerading as a miniature football until I saw the pan for sale in the Lakeland catalogue. Once I had the pan I set about finding out about them and the traditions associated with them. Before all the Danes tell me I’m making them at the wrong time of year and they are for eating before Christmas with glogg, yes I know that  but they are too nice to only have in December and a quick squint down the Wiki list of Aebleskiver traditions in the States shows them being eaten at all times of the year, including this very night in Urbandale, Iowa, so I had company!

Aebleskiver Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day

I think we didn’t have them as children because my Mother wouldn’t have liked their squidgy insides, she liked her pancakes more in the French style, thin and crispy crepes, like the ones I make usually. I don’t remember them either at any of my relatives’ homes, but maybe my sister remembers them?

Aebleskiver Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day

Aebleskiver (literally apple slices)  are far more common in their native country, Denmark and I suspect in the USA too, which has so many people of Danish descent living there. Certainly the internet is swamped with videos and restaurants offering these robust pancake balls and it is easy enough to work out the technique from watching a few videos.

Aebleskiver Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day

The recipe I used for my batter is adapted from a sourdough aebleskiver formula from Teresa of NorthWest Sourdough, which you can find in her wonderful E-book and as a pdf on her site.  My version doesn’t have much sugar in and uses a lot less butter,  but it’s basically the same sort of thing. Any thick pancake or waffle type batter will do a similar job.

Aebleskiver Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day

Brian and I speculated as we drizzled golden syrup over the tops of ours as to whether in fact Yorkshire puddings were a legacy of the Viking invasion and whether or not we could make Yorkshire puddings this way at Christmas, using dripping in the batter. We thought it might be rather good. Yorkshire Puddings, though now eaten with the meat and veggies all together on the plate, were I believe eaten with sugar as a ‘pudding’ originally, cooked beneath the roasting meat and basted with the fat and juices that dripped down as the meat cooked.

Aebleskiver Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day

Anyway, these are great fun to make and if you can find a pan at a reasonable price, it is one that I have used several times and we are very fond of making them. These ones today we filled with small pieces of apple, but we have tried them with banana and eaten them with yoghurt and icing sugar on top too.

I think they could catch on here if the pans were cheaper. I know that you can currently get them from a Danish food importer based here in the UK so if you really want one have a quick google and you will find them.

All photos copyright Brian Kent 2012.