Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Binning banned

I'M IMPRESSED with the French government's decision to ban supermarkets from binning food that is fit to eat. There are many that would oppose this "big" government interference in the operation of the free market, and I expect such feelings would prevent the UK government from doing something similar. But this would have a bigger and more beneficial effect than putting a price on plastic bags, something they are prepared to do. And apart from those in the business of disposing of some of this waste, there is no commercial damage and it would be a boon for those charities trying to feed those who can't afford to buy it for themselves or their children. Take a look:

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Adapt and adopt

OAT CUISINE: More bite
THE DAILY BREAD is evolving. As well as strong white (250g), wholemeal (150g) and rye (50g), today I included medium oatmeal (50g). It gives the loaf a nuttier flavour and more bite without much affecting the rise, crust or crumb.

But while I stick to the basic recipe -- using a total of 500g of flour -- the experiments continue and so, I hope, will yours. What goes into your favourite bread... spelt, perhaps? Or some seeds?

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Friday, 14 August 2015

A thousand a bottle

A VERY happy liquid lunch at the Glenkinchie distillery -- five whiskies sampled, in order of preference: Haig Club single grain, a triumph of style and hype over lack of substance (and you can keep it, Mr Beckham); Glenkinchie,
a lowland malt that I'm sure is more enjoyable with the smell of the stuff all around as you drink it in the distillery; 14-year-old Clynelish,
which deserves further investigation; smoky and peppery Talisker,
curry in a glass and always a favourite of mine; and the star of the show, offered to a couple of us after the others had left, a very rare Mortlach that I wish I could get more of. But I can't afford to. I've just found out on the interweb that it spent 32 years in sherry casks before it was bottled in 1971, and how much a bottle would cost: £999!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

I HAVE written before about moka pots, so I'm very pleased that my partner splashed out €7.80 (about £6.25) on this at Marsaxlokk Market during our holiday on Malta. It's elegant, it does a good job and it will travel with us again.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Peerless in Gozo

I THINK I'd like to live in the shop I stumbled on today in Victoria, Gozo's principal city. La Botega del Sole e della Luna is a floor-to-ceiling treasury of Gozitan and Italian delicacies, chosen with diligence and care by Ori. She is a mine of information about what she sells, and a great enthusiast for food and ingredients from the island and her native Italy. I plan to return next week, so watch this space...

Sunday, 2 November 2014

White? Not quite!

This weekend have I mostly been... baking. Some digestive biscuits worked well, and so did this bread:
FLAVOUR: my bloomer
I've used Paul Hollywood's recipe to bake a bloomer before, and it's fine and dandy, but now I've modified it to suit my taste and to make it work in the combination microwave ovens I often use. Paul uses only white flour, but I prefer the extra flavour that comes from substituting wholemeal and rye for some of that. If you've seen Paul make bread on TV you'll know he uses cold water and longer proving times. And if you're using a conventional oven you should use his baking times: 20 minutes at 220°C followed by 10 minutes at 200°C.


  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 150g strong wholemeal flour
  • 100g rye flour
  • 10g salt
  • 7g instant yeast (the sachets usually hold 7g, but check)
  • 40ml olive oil
  • 320ml cold water

Put the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (with the salt on one side and the yeast on the other, so that the two don't meet straight away). Add the oil and 240ml (three-quarters) of the water, then get your hands in and mix until you have a wet, sticky ball of dough.

Put a little oil on your clean worktop, spread it out a little, pick up your dough and knead it for 5-10 minutes until it's smooth and elastic. Put it back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave it at room temperature until it has trebled in size. The cold water means this will happen in hours and not minutes, but the resulting bread will be tastier.


Punch the dough down, fold and flatten it until all the air is expelled, then roll or flatten it to make a rectangle. Fold each end to the middle, roll (like a Swiss roll) and lightly tuck the ends under before placing the dough on a lightly greased or parchment-lined tray, loosely covered in clingfilm. Leave for an hour or two to double in size.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC with a baking tray or dish of water in the bottom (to help develop the crust), and while you're waiting remove the clingfilm, lightly spray the dough with water and put three or four slashes in the top with a sharp knife or razor blade. Dust with flour.

Place the dough in the hot oven, leave for 20 minutes and then lower the temperature to 200ºC. Bake for another 15 minutes, remove and cool on a rack.