I’m 90% sure that we’ve reached what the guardian would call ‘Peak Avocado’. It happened before people started doing those ridiculous Avocado flowers, even before Queen Nigella did a ‘recipe’ for sticking them on toast. I’m unashamed in saying that I absolutely love the stuff. It takes a matter of minutes to get one mushed up with some chilli and pepper on toast to make a quick breakfast, or blended with pine nuts, basil and lemon to make a very quick avo-pesto for your weeknight dinner. They’re versatile, healthy (to an extent) and go with a lot of great fresh flavours. More importantly, they go with Mexican food, and I love Mexican food. These oven baked avocado ‘fries’ are great to munch on but go even better as a filling in a taco, alongside pretty much any other taco filling of your choice.
Last year I properly had a go at doing pastry and while I am certainly no master in it, I felt it went pretty well. You can take a look at a few of my pies etc here, here and here. This year I’ve decided to do similar with bread. I’ve made bread a bunch of times but never on a consistent enough basis to actually get the hang of it. I’ve even booked in a day course at the E5 Bakehouse (my parents said they’d get me a course for a Christmas present, so thanks Mum & Dad!) because I want to really get the hang of it this year. That’s not until July though, so I’ve got plenty of time to get baking myself before then. Olive Bread felt like a good one to get the year going.
It’s absolutely glorious outside, so here I am sat inside blogging. I say that but I’ve spent the last couple of days outside making the most of it and I’m simply inside now as it’s Sunday evening and the Women’s World Cup is on. Last weekend, when it was momentarily warm on the Saturday, I squeezed in a picnic with some friends in Finsbury Park. It was a good excuse to try out my rather nifty new picnic basket (sent to me by the guys and gals across at Joules) and for me to do some summer baking. I opted to make mini spinach, ricotta and chorizo quiches and some mini victoria sponges.
I’ve waffled on about my parent’s holiday cottage on Mull several times now. It makes me happy, alright? The very first booking is imminent and my parents went up the other week for one last weekend of making sure everything was in order and the house was ready for guests to stay in. It made me realise I’ve not been up in about 4 months, which I hate, especially as now it’s completely booked up I don’t get to go again until August. Anyway, my Mother bought me back a wedge of Hebridean Blue from the Isle of Mull Cheese Company. It won silver in the world cheese awards a number of years ago and it’s by far the best cheese I’ve ever eaten (blue cheese is the best cheese, end of discussion). I thought this would be a great chance for me to bake something full of the stuff… but er, I kinda ate the whole thing, in a few days… Oh well, my intentions were good, so I bought myself another wedge of blue (less good, but still served its purpose wonderfully).
So then I had to decide what I actually wanted to make, bread? Tartlets? Muffins? I decided on Scones. I realise I’d not made scones since last year when I made my Chorizo and Smoked Cheddar Scones after a trip to York food festival (which I thought I’d written up but apparently never did, whoops!). Savory scones are definitely the best kind of scones, in my opinion at least. Blue cheese works wonderfully well, especially when you add something like caramelised onion. All these need with them is some chutney and perhaps some soup and they are perfect for a snack. Why not wash ‘em down with a bottle of real ale and a pork pie? Now I want a pork pie, someone bring me a pork pie.
- 115g (plus 2 tablespoons for the onions) cold butter, divided
- 2 medium onions, finely diced
- Salt and black pepper to season
- 255g all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ Teaspoon baking soda
- 90g Blue Cheese (crumbled)
- 180ml Buttermilk (they sell it in M&S, only place I’ve found in Leeds center that does)
- 1 egg, beaten
- Preheat oven to 220°C(200°C fan assisted) and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- Melt the two tablespoons of butter in a pan and fry the onions over a medium to high heat until the start to brown at the edges. Reduce to a low heat and cook for a further 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently so they don’t cash. They’ll be soft and caramelised by the time it’s done. Set aside and allow to cool.
- While the onions are cooking whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda. Incorporate the butter in to the flour mixture, do this using your fingers, a fork or an electric mixer. Combine until it resembles coarse bread crumbs/meal.
- Once the onions are done and cooled slightly, add them, along with the blue cheese and buttermilk to the flour mixture and fold to form a dough. If it’s too sticky add a little more flour.
- Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and roll out into a square that’s roughly 20cm x 20cm. Divide in to 8 matching portions and transfer them to prepared baking tray. Brush the top of each one with the beaten egg, this will help them glaze.
- Place in the middle of the oven and cook until they are golden brown. This should be around 15 minutes. Remove and transfer to a rack. Best served fresh but they’ll last a couple of days after in a sealed container.
Pancake Day! Everyone’s favourite thing about lent, and when everyone momentarily acts half religious again. The other being Christmas, or when they want to get married in a church. Aaaaanyway, Andy (my housemate) has requested American style pancakes this year so that’s what he’s getting. Topped with Maple Syrup and crispy fried bacon. I still remember a few years ago when the idea of this completely disgusted me, but these days the sweet/savoury combo is just down right salivating. PASS ME THE BACON.
Also, I’m doing this before actually making the pancakes… so I’m relying on an old picture of ones I made when some friends came round last year and I made Sunday morning hangover pancakes. I will get some proper snaps tonight, but the recipe is the same.
- For the pancakes:
- 135g/4¾oz plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 130ml/4½fl oz milk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp melted butter (allowed to cool slightly) or olive oil, plus extra for cooking
- For the toppings:
- Streaky bacon, fried until crispy
- Maple Syrup
- Sift the flour in to a large bowl along with the baking powder, salt and caster sugar. In a separate bowl whisk the milk with the egg. Mix in the melted butter.
- Pour the milk/egg mixture into the flour mix and beat with a fork until the lumps have all disappeared. Leave it to stand for a few minutes.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan and melt a knob of butter. Drop one ladle full (two if your pan is big enough for two separate pancakes) and fry until the top starts to bubble. Flip and cook both sides until they are golden brown and the pancake has risen by about 1cm.
- Serve warm topped with bacon and covered in maple syrup.