Monday, September 1, 2014

Rosemary Croutes

"Bread Ahead", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). We are currently cooking from Nigel Slater's recipes. I was searching for some bread recipes of Nigel when this recipe caught my attention, at least the herb paste did. Originally, this recipe is called Leek and Bacon Soup with Rosemary Croutes, but I have made only the Rosemary Croutes, did not make the soup. 

In the recipe, rosemary needles are weighed at 10 grams. This is the first time I'm weighing rosemary! LOL! I have always seen recipes using either in tablespoons measurement or sprigs, so how much is 10grams of rosemary needles? Snipped two large sprigs from my garden pot, and the above photo is 10 grams of the leaves, about a small bowl. There's really no need to follow the exact measurements, simply get a cupful of rosemary needles, then blend or process it with enough of olive oil until it comes to a spreading paste. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

The leaves are blended with some olive oil to a paste. Now, I tried to cut down on the amount of oil, from 6 tablespoons to about 3.  But I guess, that is not a good idea! I find that I got to use all the 6 tablespoons in the end, to make the paste really nice. Season with some salt and black pepper. It tastes amazing! I thought that the scent of the rosemary might be overpowering, but it is really, really nice!

This is like a simplified pesto! Minus the cheese and nuts. Maybe next time, I'll try it with cheese and nuts to make it Rosemary Pesto! 

Get a couple of sliced baguettes, spread the Rosemary Paste over it, with some of the oil. I've sprinkled some garlic powder over, and place under the hot grill for about 2 minutes until the bread is crispy.

Serve it immediately. I made this for my kids after school meal with some eggs, ham and green lettuce.  All of us love the Rosemary Croutes. It's really yummy! I will definitely make this again!

Rosemary Croutes
(adapted from
6 tbsp olive oil
10gm rosemary needles
6 slices bread
some garlic powder for sprinkling (my addition)

Make the rosemary paste by putting the olive oil into a food processor or blender with the rosemary needles. Blitz the herbs and oil, with a little salt and pepper, till all is bright green. Cut 12 long thin slices of bread from the loaf above (Nigel has given a recipe for bread, but I have used store-bought baguette). Place them flat on a baking sheet, then spoon over the rosemary oil. (Sprinkle with some garlic powder). Place under a hot grill till the bread is lightly crisp.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week "Bread Ahead"

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Vegetable Pickle

"In Quite A Pickle", our theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). I love pickles! Found this recipe in Nigel Slater's book "The Kitchen Diaries II", which he entered on November 26, page 463. He made this pickle for a pork sandwich which he has included in the recipe as well. But I'm only giving the pickle recipe since I did not cook the filling for the sandwich.

For this recipe, Nigel has given a rough amount of each ingredient, so adjust accordingly.

Firstly, the brine is made by heating the rice vinegar and sugar till the sugar melts. He mentioned that he uses a small wineglass of vinegar and equal amount of caster sugar. I do not know how big is "a small wineglass", and since I've used a medium size each of carrot, daikon (to replace the radishes) and cucumber (remove the soft centre core), I used half a cup of rice vinegar and caster sugar. Then 4 slices of fresh ginger and 2 star anise are added in, together with some fish sauce to taste. Take the pan off the heat, and I poured the brine into a heatproof casserole bowl.

Put all the vegetables in the bowl, mix to combine. I could not help adding 2 small red chillies from my chilli plant which is heavily fruiting right now. Besides, I love a little spiciness for pickles like this. Chop the chillies and add to the veggies. According to Nigel, "After an hour in the mixture, they have become crunchy. Two hours and they are full of zingy bite and refreshing crispness".  Now whenever I make pickles, I would place them right in the refrigerator,  for a couple of hours or overnight before eating, where they will become really crisp and still maintain their crispiness even for days. So instead of leaving the bowl  of pickles on the kitchen counter, I have placed it in the refrigerator.

About 4 hours later, I ate the first piece, then the second, then the third....!!!  Oh my! These are so delicious and addictive. You would not stop at just a few pieces. The veggies are so crunchy, sweet, sour and slightly spicy from the red chillies, especially delicious when eaten cold, straight from the refrigerator. These would be great to accompany any roasted meat or sandwiches, though I ate them as a snack! I would definitely make this again! 

Vegetable Pickles
(adapted from "The Kitchen Diaries II", Nigel Slater)
"This morning I make fresh, hot vegetable pickles. I thinly slice a raw carrot, 4 radishes and a quarter of a cucumber. I bring to the boil a small wineglass of rice wine vinegar and the same of caster sugar. In go 4 slices of raw ginger and 2 star anise. I then add enough Vietnamese fish sauce to make it interesting, about 2 tablespoons (everyone's tolerance to fish sauce is different; keep tasting as you go), put in the vegetables and let the mixture cool. After an hour in the mixture, they have become  crunchy. Two hours and they are full of zingy bite and refreshing crispness."

This is what I used :
1 medium carrot
1 medium daikon
1 medium cucumber
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup caster sugar
3 tbsps fish sauce
2 star anise
4 slices ginger

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week "In Quite A Pickle"

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Buttery Flaky Rolls

I made these Buttery Flaky Rolls a week ago, and am already thinking about it again. If you love soft, fluffy and buttery rolls, then these would be a great recipe to try. Better still, get the book! This lovely recipe is from "Williams-Sonoma Home Baked Comfort" by Kim Laidlaw. I have tried three recipes from this book, and all are fabulous. And to think I almost did not get this book at the Big Bad Wolf sale last December, only got it during their second sale, a few weeks later. I have seen this book at the first sale, but thinking that I have way too many baking books, I thought I pass it on. But during the second sale, I could not help it! I just got to have it! And I am so glad I did. No matter what anyone says, one can never have enough of cookbooks! LOL! If cookbook makes you happy, go for it! That is, only when budget allows! And I have a long list ! :(

These dinner rolls are really good! Buttery and fluffy soft.

The dough is soft and a little sticky, but after the first rising, it is really easy to work with. Just flour your hands very lightly with flour and divide them into small balls. For constant size, use the weighing scale to divide the dough into 18 pieces. These dough balls rises really fast, with our hot humid weather, it takes only about 40 minutes. The best part of bread making for me is when the dough rises during proofing, bring a smile to me each time!

The rolls are baked in two 9" round pans, with 9 rolls per pan. According to the author, it can be baked as individual rolls, simply space the dough rounds on two parchment lined baking sheets and then let rise and bake as directed.

These rolls are really so soft and fluffy. It has a light salty buttery taste to it, as I've used salted butter, and with a hint of sweetness from the honey and sugar. These rolls are brushed with melted butter before the final proofing and again when the rolls are hot from the oven. So good! For those who are health conscious, you may skip it, but there's really not much butter used, only 3 tablespoons for 18 rolls, and it makes such a yummy soft buttery crust.

Good enough to eat it on its own. I had three rolls with a cup of coffee for my breakfast the next morning, and they are still as soft. A keeper recipe!

* notes : my changes listed in blue
Buttery Flaky Rolls
(adapted from "Williams-Sonoma Home Baked Comfort", Kim Laidlaw)
Makes 18 rolls
6 tbsp (3oz/90gm) unsalted butter (salted butter)
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp dark honey
1 cup (8 fl oz/250ml) whole milk
1 package (2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 cups (15 oz/470gm) all-purpose flour (bread flour)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt (1/8 tsp sea salt)

In a small saucepan, melt the 6 tablespoons butter with the honey over low heat. Stir in the milk and gently warm the mixture to about 110F (43C). Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in the yeast and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the eggs, flour, sugar, and salt. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium speed for about 5 minutes. The dough will be very soft and sticky. Form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.
Generously butter two 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pans. Dump the dough onto a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 18 equal pieces, each about 1-1/2 ounces (45gm). (This is when a scale comes in handy!). Roll each piece into a ball and place 9 balls in each prepared pan, spacing them evenly. Brush the dough balls generously with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand until puffy, about 1 hour.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375F (190C). Bake until the rolls are golden, about 18 minutes. Brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven. Serve warm.


I'm linking this post with:
Little Thumbs Up event organized by Zoe of Bake For Happy KidsDoreen of My Little Favourite D.I.Y, and hosted by Diana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

THB : French Galette with Cranberry-Almond Topping

The Home Bakers (THB) bake no. 40, French Galette with Cherry-Almond Topping is selected by Lena of Frozen Wings. I have however used cranberries instead of cherries, thus the name, French Galette with Cranberry-Almond Topping.

This is pretty easy to make. The original recipe calls for this bread to be baked in a 14" pizza pan, but I have used a rectangle pan, size 12"x9". I mixed the dough in the stand mixer, and it is pretty soft and slightly sticky, but the stickiness is greatly reduced after the first proofing. The dough is then placed in the greased baking pan, instead of using the rolling pin to roll it out, I used my hands to stretch out the dough to cover the pan. It may pull back, just let it relax for a couple of minutes before stretching it again to completely cover the pan. Brush the top of the dough with some softened butter, and sprinkle some sugar over. As you can see from the photos above, I have scattered one half of it with almonds and dried cranberries, while the other half with only dried cranberries, as not everyone likes nuts in my house. Cover the pan, leave it to rise for about 20-30 minutes until slightly puffy.

It was recommended in the recipe, to preheat the oven at 500F (about 250C-260C) and bake for 7 minutes, but I have preheated my oven at 220C, and baked the bread for 11 minutes until golden brown and bread is done.

 Freshly baked. One half with almonds, the other without.

 Slice and serve warm, with a cup of tea of coffee. I had mine with a cup of hot black coffee. So satisfying! This bread is so good, one of the best bakes that I've baked from this book.

 The bread is so fluffy soft. Press it down...

and it bounces back up again. I like the topping so much, with the sprinkling of sugar, each bite of this lovely bread has that sweetness from the sugar, the slight sourish taste of the cranberries, the nutty crunch of the almonds, together with the fluffy soft bread, makes one really yummy sweet bread. I made this bread yesterday, and this morning when I had a few slices for breakfast, it was still soft. A keeper recipe, which I would make again when I'm craving for some sweet bread for tea time treat!

My notes:
- use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour
- use only 1/8 teaspoon of salt as I've used salted butter
- use 2 teaspoons of instant yeast
- use 2 tablespoons sugar for the topping instead of 3 tablespoons
- baked at 220C for 11 minutes

For the full recipe and instructions, please visit the host of this bake, Lena of Frozen WingsTo view other members' bake, please visit The Home Bakers (THB).

Welcome to The Home Bakers

We are a group of home bakers who are currently baking from "Coffee Cakes" by Lou Seibert Pappas. This is our bake no. 40 and we have 20 recipes more to go. If you are interested to be a member and join in our bakes, you may drop me an email at


and I'm sharing this post with :
Little Thumbs Up event organized by Zoe of Bake For Happy KidsDoreen of My Little Favourite D.I.Y, and hosted by Diana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Olives & Capers

A simple pasta lunch. Very tasty and delicious. I bought a small jar of anchovies in oil a few months ago. Wanted to use that in a pizza but ended up in this spaghetti dish instead. 

I love anchovies in oil, but do not buy it often, as it is pretty expensive. I like it's taste and the flavours it gives to a dish. I've read from the internet about the labour intensive process involve in the making of Anchovies In Olive Oil, that's the reason why they are expensive. Yup, there's a lot of labour involved, mostly done by hand. 

Very simple and easy pasta dish, the ingredients are cooked, refer to the recipe below,  and then the cooked drained spaghetti are tossed in, season with salt and lots of black pepper, and a light drizzling of olive oil.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Olives & Capers
(adapted from "Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food", Gordon Ramsay)
300gm dried linguine or spaghetti
sea salt and black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
6-8 anchovies in oil, drained and finely chopped
200g pitted black olives, quartered or chopped
3 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
250gm cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of basil leaves, shredded

Add the pasta to a pot of boiling salted water and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a wide pan and fry the garlic, onion, chilli and anchovies for 1-2 minutes. Add the olives, capers and tomatoes, and stir over a high heat for a few more minutes until the onions are soft.
Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce and shredded basil. Taste and adjust the seasoning (salt probably won't be needed because the anchovies, capers and olives are quite salty).
Divide among warm bowls and drizzle over a little more olive oil, if you wish, before serving.


I'm linking this post to Cook Like A Star (Gordon Ramsay) hosted by Zoe of Bake For Happy KidsYen of Eat Your Heart Out and Mich of Piece of Cake.



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