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For Christmas Eve dinner we like to eat a baked Camembert and nothing else. It is pure indulgence and feels very wicked, but it is a tradition of our own making and it feels like something special.
We bake the Camembert in its box – just take the lid off and pull open the paper. This time I scored the cheese with a cross, added a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a garlic clove, sliced in half and wedged into the cut cheese.
After about 15-20 minutes it comes out as gooey liquid cheese encased in its rind – which is my favourite part of it. It goes a bit crispy but chewy at the same time.
Usually we just have a bowl of rustic bread, roughly cut into hunks to dip into the cheese. This year we also opened a jar of Real Ale chutney to go with it.
Although I can be a purist when it comes to dishes like this, refusing to dilute the taste of hot runny cheese and bread, I must admit a dab of chutney with it was delicious.
We ate it in front of a cosy log fire…
Does anyone else have Christmas traditions they’ve created for themselves?
What to eat for lunch when the fridge is almost bare? My solution is homemade hummous and toasted pitta bread – all which can be made from what’s in my cupboards and freezer.
My homemade hummous is inspired by some my friend Jane made – it’s a simple matter of whizzing together a tin of chickpeas and olive oil, with lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.
Today I’ve used 1 medium garlic clove, juice of about 1 small lemon (I find getting the amount of lemon juice right is what makes or breaks this hummous), and about a teaspoon of ground cumin.
Today I’m eating my hummous with toasted pitta breads from the freezer. Pitta breads freeze fantastically and I always try to have a packet in the freezer ready to toast whenever I’m out of fresh bread.
They can be easily popped in a toaster or if, like me, you are toaster-less, simply bung them under a hot grill for a couple of minutes on each side. Beware of hot steam escaping from the pittas once toasted!
Here’s me eating my lunch in my not-so-romantic working space…
A Cozy Kitchen is full of recipes that you want to cook. You can get lost in pages and pages of great sounding (and looking) recipes, but it was this recently posted recipe for Fresh Tomato Bruschetta that caught my eye.
Image: A Cozy Kitchen
Although tomato bruschetta almost doesn’t really need a recipe, it should be tried if you’ve not made it before. The best tomato bruschetta I’ve ever had was in Italy last year in a tiny cafe in Amalfi.
However, the tomatoes from Naples are reputedly the best in the world due to the volcanic soil they are grown on – it makes them beautifully sweet. So what could be nicer than to send off the summer with a plate of toasted bread topped with sun-warm chunks of tomato drizzled with a little oil and a scattering of torn basil.
Here’s the delicious tomato bruschetta we had in Italy…
On Thursday two bundles of squeaky green garlic scapes arrived in my veg box from Northern Harvest. I’ve had garlic scapes before, but they were thin and spindly, these were much fatter and incredibly beautiful with their bulging flower heads tightly encased in a wafer thin skin. Garlic scapes have all the taste of ordinary garlic, but more subtle, and with a fresher, grassier tang.
I decided to make a garlic scape pesto, using a bunch of the garlic scapes (stalks chopped and flower heads), a handful of pine nuts, lots of olive oil, and some grated Parmesan.
Blitz up the garlic scapes and pine nuts in a blender, before adding the olive oil. Add more oil to get the desired consistency and salt for flavour. Tip the pesto out into a bowl, add the grated Parmesan and some ground black pepper.
But what to do with the freshly made pesto? N was making pizzasusing bases that we’d frozen, so I thought why not try using the pesto to make a sort of garlic pizza bread. It was gooooooood. Simply spread the pesto over your prepared pizza base…
…bung in a hot oven (250°C) for about 6-8 minutes until the dough is golden at the edges and the pesto sizzling.
Raw this pesto has quite a kick to it, but none of the lingering, overpowering garlicky taste that a clove of garlic has. But cooked it mellows out, has a softer garlicky flavour and is altogether very enjoyable. It made quite a lot of pesto so I’ve popped one pot in the freezer for another day, and one in the fridge to use this week.
I am visiting my family in the Cotswolds for the weekend. I have left N with his dissertation research, two naughty bunnies, and the rugby to keep him occupied. After having a rather blonde moment and ending up four junctions down the motorway too far and nearly in Bristol (I have done this trip a million times so there’s no excuses) I finally made it down on Friday for lunch with my parents.
Visiting my family in the Cotswolds always feels like I’m coming home, I just feel so relaxed and at ease here. By the time I was 18 I had lived in over twelve houses, been to about four or five different schools, and lived in the USA, but this is my home, the place I will always come back to.
This morning I dragged my mom and little sister (not so little anymore, nearly 16 as she likes to keep reminding us) to Stroud Farmer’s Market. I visited this renown farmer’s market for the first time last summer and it was fantastic. It is in the heart of Stroud, set throughout the small ancient streets and offers a huge variety of goods. I was struck by the choice, which is often so limited at farmer’s market, especially by the stalls selling vegetables.
Despite being a rather chilly and blustering early Spring day, we had a lovely morning and came home with a basket of goodies. We weren’t there to do our weekly shop, although I wish I lived close enough to do my weekly shop here, so just bought some ‘treats’. We also tried some scrumptious olive oil and cheese. The little sister tried a lot of cheese.
My basket contained: Monmouthshire air dried ham from Trealy Farm…
…a Jammie (like a jammy dodger but made with shortcrust biscuits and homemade blackcurrant jam – I will be trying to recreate these at home) from Hobbs House Bakery…
…a piece of Morn Dew (cow) cheese and a Little Rachel (goat) cheese made by a man in Shepton Mallet (this is the best cheese I have tasted in a long time); a bottle of organic whole milk from Jess’s Ladies Organic Farm Milk (I dream about this milk when I’m at home in Cheshire – it is to die for and how all milk should be)…
and a Mixed Berry Doughnut (yes I said doughnut) made by Pippin Doughnuts.
Mom’s contained: a bunch of locally grown purple tulips…
…two Mixed Berry Doughnuts and a Cinnamon and Brown Sugar doughnut from Pippin Doughnuts…
a loaf of bread from a lovely bakers whose name I can’t remember…
…an Organic Cotswold Brie from Simon Weaver (check out their website for some delicious sounding recipes); a Black Nancy (rolled in charcoal) and a Trickle both from the Shepton Mallet cheese man. The little sister also polished off a vegetable samosa.
The afternoon was spent at the local garden centre where I picked up a couple of small trays of lettuce (oakleaf and red little gem) and some purple sprouting broccoli plug plants. I will plant them down at the allotment and cross my fingers that the wild bunnies don’t annihilate them.
All in all I have had a pretty perfect day – food and gardens – and my family thrown in for good measure.