Strawberry and Almond crumble

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Well I was going to write about my infamous chocolate slices today, and rant about the use of the word tiffin, but I have found myself delightfully distracted by stumbling across Nigella’s recipe of the day on twitter.

As you may or may not be aware, I do have a huge amount of respect for Nigella. Not because of her television programmes, her sultry looks to camera, or her seemingly glamorous lifestyle.  In fact none of the typical love her or loathe her arguments cross my mind for more than a second.  The reason why I think Nigella is fabulous, is that in spite of all the heartache she has suffered over the years, her passion for food remains.  And her honest passion is just so obvious, as any lover will testify.

Therefore, it is to this end that I follow Nigella on twitter.  Now for me twitter, facebook and the other social media forums, are something that I dip in and out of. But with twitter I am especially drawn to the notion that you can ‘pop in’ for literally seconds, and get a snapshot of what those you follow are thinking.  Which gives me endless amusement and knowledge.

So today, when I dropped in for a few seconds to see what was happening on twitter, Nigella had posted strawberry and almond crumble, to which my mind said, ‘ah ha, we have some strawberries that we didn’t eat yesterday, I’ll use them’.  Of course, when I went to check the weight of the strawberries, (you need 500g, hulled), to see if I needed to buy more, the box I had were festering in the vegetable rack, oozing a red liquid which even to me, looked unpalatable.

And so it was, that I had to trundle off to the supermarket and buy more strawberries, and some almonds, and actually almost all the ingredients, which was not my intention but once I have the idea in my head, tell you what, there’s not much that stops me…  Barring lack of money, time, or just forgetting what I went for.

Having gathered all the ingredients together, I made the crumble which I have to say is extremely easy, and popped it in the oven.  Now, taking into consideration that my oven doesn’t always understand what it has been designed to do, I checked on the crumble regularly to make sure it didn’t come out half burnt, and did exactly as instructed i.e. left it out for ten minutes before serving.

The verdict?  We all agreed it was sweet, indulgent and absolutely delicious.

I’ll definitely be slotting this recipe into my repertoire.  Thank-you, once again, Nigella.

http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/strawberry-and-almond-crumble

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Making Bread

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Every so often, I make bread.  Now don’t get too giddy just yet, because, I don’t do the whole ‘mother earth’ thing and knead until I’m coming out in a small sweat, no, no, no, I have my outfit to think of.  Although I was given the loveliest of aprons as part of a Christmas present from my big sister a couple of years ago, but I digress.

My favourite recipe is as follows: 14 fl oz of warm water taken from a kettle which has boiled recently, but not too recently.  My rule of thumb is, if you could make a cup of tea with it and it doesn’t taste like dishwater, the water is too hot.  Next I add two tablespoons of butter, although I have used olive oil and it is just as delicious and great for those who are lactose intolerant.  The way I add my flour may seem a little kookie to you, but I tried doing it all in one go and it just didn’t taste the same.  So, I add 10.5oz of strong plain white flour followed by another 10.5oz of the very same strong plain white flour.  And here I must write about the flour.

I always use ‘Bradshaws, ORION high quality strong white flour which is grown, ground and bagged within a mile of where Big Dave lives.  Big Dave is my dad.  Every so often he will call me up and we arrange to rendezvous, him with a bag of flour, me with a bag of buns.  I promise you it is the most loveliest of flours you will ever bake bread with.  And, I believe, the secret ingredient.

On top of all that I put two teaspoons of sugar, two teaspoons of salt and two teaspoons of dried yeast.

It is all then put into the bread maker, popped onto the dough setting, and left to do its thing.  I leave it for another ten minutes or so when the bread maker has finished, before putting onto a floured surface, kneading for moments, cutting into small circles and placing onto floured baking trays.

I then let the little plump circles of potential heaven, (a nod to Nigella there) rise for around fifteen minutes in a warm space with a tea towel over them and finally pop them into a warmed oven, gas mark 6, for around ten minutes.  Remembering, of course, to remove the tea towel.  You may think it would be impossible to forget, but trust me, in my ‘looks to camera’ moments, I almost have.

There is nothing quite like the smell of home cooked bread wafting around the kitchen.  Except for perhaps, the taste of just cooked bread, buttered, with a glorious cup of tea.  And sometimes, just sometimes, I add honey… delicious.

One goddess point for me I think, no?

Starting out…

American Pancakes

So here we are, 23.23 on 16 June 2014 and I’m starting out with my story of how, over many years, I have been fascinated by the idea of being a domestic goddess.  It’s not just about cooking, although, thanks to Nigella, I have, and will continue to have, a deep fascination and love for the idea of creating delicious food.

But alongside my, and many others love of the books, programmes, radio shows and all types of media, I find myself caught up in the notion that we can create perfection, whilst being dumfounded that as I trawl through life, it just never seems to work out that way.

Let’s begin with breakfast.

American pancakes.  Probably my favourite breakfast recipe of all time.  Why?  Because every time I make them, without fail, they work.  Almost.

To be honest, I did try them with gluten free flour once and it was, as they say,  an unmitigating disaster.  Actually, that’s not quite right.  A slight, shall we say, exaggeration.  They were just floppy, sludgy, slightly grey (don’t ask me why), and only edible with a whole heap of syrup loaded onto them. 

The other very strange thing is, I can never remember the quantities and so always have to go to page 77 of ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ to reassure myself that I know what I’m doing.  Nine times out of ten, I’m right.  I did, however, get cocky one time and dismissed the need for the book.  

That morning we had very excitable pancakes made with bicarbonate of soda and not baking powder.  Nigella would never have done this.  A rookie mistake.