Sunday, 20 June 2010

Roasted Tomato and Thyme Soup with Twice Baked Potatoes

For my birthday, I received some fabulous foodie gifts. So much so, I thought I would make a mini-series as I revealed each one and made something using each one. So, today is the day I start!

Gift: Sophie Dahl’s book “Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights”

Recipe: Roasted Tomato and Thyme Soup with Twice Baked PotatoesDSCF7211Now strictly speaking, these recipes aren’t in the book. Which is a travesty because they were in the TV series that accompanied the book and are both fabulous dishes! The book, like you might expect from a former model, is beautifully laid out, full of pretty pictures and glamorous stories but most importantly to me – good food! DSCF7217Like this deep, rich, hearty-yet-summery, velvety soup. My sister and I have been meaning to make this soup for ages and today regretted waiting so long as it filled the house with the best smell of slowly roasting tomatoes. Sophie Dahl’s recipe is super easy because it cuts down on any fussy chopping, peeling, boiling etc. Everything is just halved and put in a roasting tin, left to cook in the oven and release all their gorgeous juices, then whizzed up in a blender and enjoyed. That was the basic plan, but this leaves a very thick soup – more like a tomato puree or sauce for pasta. After years of extremely smooth Heinz tomato soup, I do look for a smoother soup so after a quick boil and slosh of cream the soup was perfect. And all made by my sister who originally found the recipe. So on to the side dish, made by me…DSCF7213Twice Baked Potatoes. Which essentially means you bake potatoes, cut them in half, scoop out all potatoey goodness and then mix with cheese, chives, and a dollop of yoghurt, replace in the potato and bake for a tiny bit more to crisp up the top. Gorgeous and quite filling by themselves, let alone with a big bowl of soup! These are something I would like to repeat because they make a refreshing change to ordinary jackets and could make good use of odds and ends from the fridge. DSCF7220Individually – delicious. Together, curled up in front of the Doctor Who finale as it rains in the middle of June – perfect. Find the recipe and video of Sophie Dahl making both recipes here, and I do also recommend the charming book! More recipes from that and other birthday gifts to come soon :) 

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Rosemary and Olive Oil Focaccia

Recently, my message was opinions can change. Today, my message is much more basic but just as important: Always Read The Recipe Thoroughly.DSCF6966Unlike when I first made cinnamon rolls and thought the dough was so lovely and easy to work with. Turned out I’d forgotten the egg. Or when my friend E made gingerbread men and simply forgot to add the flour. And definitely not like today, when I didn’t read to add most of the water to my dough and simply poured it all in nicely, before adding an extra two tablespoons of olive oil. Smooth. DSCF6967This not-so-clever mistake then led to fifteen minutes of kneading and liberal additions of flour every now and then. Gradually, slowly, my sticky determined-to-get-everywhere dough morphed into a smooth, calm and elastic dough ball.DSCF6976 Then it was ready to get to a warm place, rise, be taken out, stretched out onto a tray, doused liberally in olive oil and salt and set back to its warm place. After a sprinkle of chopped rosemary and twenty minutes in the oven, everything was ready. The family settled down to watch Great British Menu, everybody with a generous square of bread on their plate. Crunchy on top, soft and chewy within. Scented and flavoured with olive oil, salt and rosemary – simple but classic. I think this may be one of my favourite things I have made, simply because I couldn’t stop eating it! Find the recipe here, (the dough recipe is linked to on the page as Classic White Loaf) and my only adaption of course was to leave out the red onions. Enjoy!DSCF6973

Sunday, 6 June 2010

BBBB: A Blogger’s Birthday Brunch On a Boat

Scarily eagle-eyed readers may have noticed my sidebar changing from “I am a 14 year old baker…” to “I am a 15 year old baker…” ! This past week I celebrated my birthday in a rather wonderful way…IMG00049-20100604-1033 On the last day of our weeks’ family holiday in Suffolk, on my birthday, we got up early (I say early, I mean 9…) and strolled down the main street to Orford Quay. Here we were greeted with the pretty boat Lady Florence, below.IMG00033-20100604-0918This was to be our transport for the morning. The planned route along the river and up to the next town Aldeburgh was explained to us and off we set! My family set up camp at the back of the boat where we enjoyed fresh orange juice in the sunshine and opened presents (of which more another time…) before the time came to head into the saloon for a rather delicious birthday brunch. Why such a “birthday” brunch? Because…IMG00048-20100604-1014I had a candle in my breakfast! It was unexpected but definitely appreciated. And the brunch itself totally delicious and undeniably filling. But after we finished this mammoth breakfast, there was more time out on deck, enjoying the sunshine and the countryside view…IMG00041-20100604-0944 …followed by yet more good food – apple pie and chocolate muffins! IMG00060-20100604-1105 We had a lovely morning, sailing and eating and laughing. The boat took us all around the local area, and it was interesting to see places we had previously only noticed from a car from the river perspective. And the sunshine certainly wasn’t a hindrance! All in all, a lovely birthday treat and one I would definitely recommend. Find out more here at the website!