29 Feb 2008


We all agreed this loaf was a winner and earned its place on the cheeseboard. Savoury bread with gruyere cheese, herbs and sultanas is a very tasty flavour combination.
Knowing that you can't go to the supermarket and buy a loaf that resembles your own, makes breadmaking worthwhile. If you take the easy route and use a breadmaker to prepare the dough then the whole process doesn't take very long.
The recipes in this book are for making bread by hand, but if you have had a bread machine for a while you soon get used to making small adjustments to the list of ingredients.

As you can see, I chose to bake the bread on a non-stick sheet which was then placed onto a heavy baking tray. Sometimes the thoughts of bread sticking to the tray and not budging is nothing short of frustrating. As a rule I don't have any problems but somehow when I looked at the dough it said 'trouble'!
Step-by-Step Baking was printed in 1999 and when you flip through the pages it really is a book that seems to be almost timeless. The contents include everything from pies and savoury flans, sweet yeast breads to small cakes and pastries.
An example of some of the recipes are Lemon and Lime Pavlova Pie, Italian Easter Tart, Baked Cheesecake with Exotic Fruits or how about Pistachio Angel Cake?
Leek and Mascarpone Tart, Baked Garlic and Goats Cheese Parcels, Spiced Fig and Ricotta Bread or Taleggio Pizzette with Pancetta and Red Onion - have I tempted you yet?


ISBN 0091865794 - Page 123

MAKES: 2 loaves (will freeze - simply refresh in the oven or microwave)

You will need:

450g strong plain white flour, 1 tsp salt, ½ x 7g sachet fast-action yeast, 1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence, 2 tsp sugar, 25g finely grated gruyere cheese, 250ml warm water, 30ml olive oil, 50g sultanas, 2 fresh rosemary sprigs (to decorate).

1. Place all of the ingredients except the sultanas and the 2 fresh rosemary sprigs in the bread machine, on the raisin dough setting, in the order as specified in your instruction book.
2. When your machine bleeps add the sultanas.
3. Remove the dough from the machine.
4. Knock back the dough and divide into two. Shape each piece into a baton. Place on a large baking sheet and sprinkle with flour. Slash along the length of each baton and top with the rosemary sprigs. Cover loosely and leave to rise for 30 minutes (or until double in size).
5. Bake at 220°C/210°C Fan/Gas Mark 7 for about 25 minutes until risen and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.

13 Feb 2008


Traditionally, Cottage Pie is made with minced beef, and Shepherd's Pie with minced lamb. The meat and vegetables are then topped with mashed potatoes.

I like to make Cottage Pie with lean minced steak or lean minced beef, chopped celery, carrots and onion. I'm not a fan of Shepherd's Pie. The minced lamb, even after removing all of the fat, still tastes too fatty for me.

This recipe evolved from a Cottage Pie base in the freezer. I simply cooked some new potatoes, crushed them, popped them on top of the defrosted pie base, drizzled some olive oil over the potatoes and cooked the Cottage Pie in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Some grated cheddar cheese was sprinkled over the potatoes and a few cherry tomatoes tumbled on the top. Freshly ground black pepper was then sprinkled over. Return to the oven until the base is bubbling and the cherry tomatoes start to burst their skins.

I haven't given a recipe for the Cottage Pie base as most of us have our own personal favourite. The recipe I use is one from a Mary Berry book that I have used for years!