Sunday, February 17, 2013

Marinated olives

I'm not sure what Spanish food I miss the most now that we are living in Scotland, but I think  olives would definitely make any list. I can't get hold of fresh olives here, but I can get hold of barrels of salted Greek ones, and these make a good alternative for marinating at home. After some trial and error, me and Sammy decided that 4 parts water to 1 part vinegar was about as close as we could get to the delicious verdiales we used to buy at the market in Cadiz.

2kg salted olives
2 litres of boiling water
0.5 litres of white wine vinegar
2 tbsps dried oregano
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
virgin olive oil

Mix the water and the vinegar. Drain but do not rinse the olives, then transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle with plenty of oregano, add the garlic, mix well, and transfer to large, sterilised jars. Cover with the water and vinegar mixture, top up with olive oil to seal, then close the jars with lids. Leave for a few days to allow the flavours to influse.

White sourdough

This is my 'standard' sourdough loaf . Although I describe it as a 'white' loaf, I actually add a small proportion of malted wholemeal flour to add flavour and texture.

625g warm water
400g white sourdough starter
20g salt
75g malted wholemeal flour
900g strong white flour


  1. Measure the water into a large mixing bowl, add the starter, tearing it into very small pieces, and mix until you have a wet batter. Add all the flour and the salt, mix thoroughly with a spoon, then stretch and fold the dough in the bowl about 12 times.
  2. Place the bowl inside a plastic bag, leave at room temperature for 15 minutes, remove bowl from bag and  stretch and fold the dough another 12 times. Repeat this rest-'stretch and fold' cycle three more times (so that by the end the dough will have rested for 1 hour in total). After the last stretch-and-fold, return the dough to the bag and leave to sit at room temperature for a further hour.
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into two equal portions (about 1kg each). Form each piece into a loaf - I generally make one boule and one batard - and leave to rise in a well-floured, lined banetton for about 6 hours at room temperature. An hour before the loaves have finished rising, put your stone in the oven and set the oven to 250oC.
  4. When the loaves are fully risen, boil some water in the kettle. Turn out one of the loaves onto a well-floured peel, and slash the top. Pour about 200ml of water into the oven tray to create steam, transfer the loaf onto the hot stone, spray a little more water into the oven and close the door.
  5. After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 225oC and bake for a further 25 minutes or so, until done. Leave to cool on a wire rack, while you bake the second loaf.

Fried matzo

This is another quick breakfast option. My grandma used to make this for me when I was a kid, and my mum made it sometimes too. I guess it's really a matzo (or cracker) omelette, which sounds a bit weird. The matzo should still have a little crunch left in it.

1 matzo
1 egg
oil for frying


  1. Break the matzo into largeish pieces (about 2 to 4 cm across) and place in a colander. Quickly run a little water over the broken matzo - enough to make it wet but not soggy.
  2. Beat the egg in a bowl, add the matzo and a little salt, and mix well.
  3. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, pour the egg and matzo mixture in, fry gently until golden, flip, and fry the underside.


I've been making focaccia on and off for a few years, but I think the method below is the one I will be sticking with. It isn't too involved, and the end result is as good as any other focaccia I have tasted.

800g strong white flour
15g salt
5g instant yeast
600g warm water
50g olive oil
salt, olive oil and sprigs of rosemary for topping


  1. Combine the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and water in a large mixing bowl. Mix well with a dough scraper. Leave dough to stand at room temperature for an hour.
  2. Stretch and fold dough a few times, and leave for an hour.
  3. Stretch and fold dough a few times, and leave for one more hour.
  4. Set the oven to 220oC. Lightly grease two cookie trays. Transfer dough to a non-porous surface and divide into two pieces. Form each piece of dough into a boule, then fold it to form a fat rectangle. Transfer to one of the prepared trays and, working with wet hands, gradually stretch the dough out until it forms a large rectangle, trying to keep the thickness as even as possible. Use a dough scraper to push it into shape so that the edges are reasonably straight. and leave the dough to rise for 20 minutes.
  5. Dimple the shaped dough by pressing your fingertips into it, sprinkle with salt, put a few wet sprigs of rosemary on top, and drizzle with olive oil, then transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Slide the focaccia off the cookie trays onto the oven shelf, and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Eggy bread

I find it hard, first thing in the morning, to think of more than about three breakfast options - pancakes (or some variation on them), cereal, or toast. Here is a simple alternative to toast, which my mum used to make for me, and that I now make for my kids.

4 slices of bread
2 eggs

Beat the eggs in a flat dish. Add a little salt, soak the bread in the egg, then fry in a little oil, until it is done on both sides.


This recipe comes from one of the many spin-offs from the Little House series, "Little House in Brookfield: The Caroline years", that tells the story of the childhood of Caroline, the mother of Mary, Laura, Carrie and Grace. They are really just a variant on pancakes, but the batter is slightly stiffer, and a little sweeter.

300g plain flour
25g sugar
1 tbsps baking powder
300 ml milk
4 tbsps melted butter
1 large egg
1 tsps vanilla extract


  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix until you have a stiff but fairly smooth batter.
  2. Heat a large heavy-bottomed frying pan, and grease it well. Add large spoonfuls of the batter, cook until golden brown, turn and cook the other side as well.
  3. Serve with the topping of your choice - maple syrup, strawberry jam, whipped cream or melted chocolate.