“Ciabatta” from “Crumb”

It was Mother’s Day in the U.K. yesterday, so I thought what better way to celebrate My Special Day than to have one of my favourite meals (fondue*) that would showcase one of Tim’s best skills (making bread).

So I didn’t actually make this recipe, though I admired Tim’s handiwork when it was all done. I asked him how it went. He said ciabatta can be tricky, because the dough is incredibly wet and difficult to form. Once he mentioned it, I remembered a “Great British Bake Off” episode– it might have even been Ruby’s year– where they all struggled with the ciabatta task from “Scary Bread Guy” (what we called Paul Hollywood in Season 1).

Tim didn’t need to worry. It was delicious. We HOOVERED this bread up. The boys couldn’t Cget enough of it. We now have a second loaf, which we will enjoy just as much tonight.

This is another winner from Ruby Tandoh.

Spoiler Alert: The fondue uses a recipe from next month’s cookbook. Watch this space!

If you’d like to try this yourself, Google Books has indexed “Crumb.” Click through this paragraph to see for yourself. 

“Ciabatta” from “Crumb”

“Parathas” from “Crumb”

We make our fair share of bread but have only made parathas once before. Though this was a Jamie Oliver method from “Save with Jamie” and he called the chapatis.  For what it’s worth, they seemed the same to us. I just did a quick Google search, and indeed, they are the same thing.   With good memories of that and plans for an Afghani lamb and rice dish from the amazing “Sirrocco” from Sabrina Ghayour (which we reviewed in June 2016) Ruby’s version seemed an obvious accompaniment.

It’s interesting that, for something so basic, how different the two recipes are. Jamie uses both white and whole wheat flour, Ruby just white. He adds olive oil and milk, hers calls for butter and water. What they share: both are easy and disappeared quickly. These will have to become a regular on curry night.

If you would like to try this recipe yourself, click through here to see it on Google Books.

“Parathas” from “Crumb”

“Rye Bread” from “Crumb”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, loyal readers! (Top Tip: Remember to brush your teeth if you’re drinking any green beer today.)

Last Sunday, with St Patrick’s Day just around the corner, we thought what better way to celebrate than with some corned beef. Of course, what’s better alongside corned beef than rye bread? Now we like a seeded rye or dark pumpernickel more than most but find the options on offer lacking in our part of London (this is true for most of London). That means making one at home.

For the inexperienced these breads can be scary: The dough is dense and hard to work, so success never seems guaranteed. Ruby’s couldn’t have been easier but had its own uh-oh moment. While working the water/orange juice/treacle into the dry ingredients it seemed there wasn’t enough moisture. Avoid the temptation to add more. Just keep going, keep working the dough, and everything will come out fine.
Although it’s not quite the rye bread that we grew up with on the East Coast of the U.S., it’s still delicious. It’s even better toasted the next day if any lasts that long.
“Rye Bread” from “Crumb”

“Lemon and Marzipan Cupcakes” from “Crumb”

Marzipan is always a winner for me. Ruby admits elsewhere in the cookbook that she is guilty of eating marzipan as a snack. I do the same thing. There’s nothing like the solid hit of almond and sugar to keep me going when I’m dragging.

These were delicious and easy. But I do think calling them cupcakes is a bit of a misnomer. To me, cupcakes are a perfect cake at the bottom (which this is) featuring a pillow of icing on the top (which this doesn’t). This is more like a lemon and marzipan muffin. Whenever I gave these to friends after I made them, I would ask, “But don’t you think this needs some icing?” since they’re called cupcakes. But everyone said, no, they were perfect as they were.

I have to agree. If you added icing on top of this, it would be a bit much. Ruby does advise that you can make a lemon drizzle for the top, which I might try next time, as it would make them less like a muffin and more like a cupcake.

I still wouldn’t call them cupcakes, though. I would call them delicious, however.

“Lemon and Marzipan Cupcakes” from “Crumb”

“Garlic Dough Balls” from “Crumb”

I’m sure the first time I was introduced to garlic dough balls properly was at Pizza Express. They’re known for them. They’re known for them because they are delicious. So when I saw this recipe, I thought I ought to give it a go. If nothing else, I knew the rest of my family would be willing to try them, since they’re fans of dough balls too.

But as much as I like to bake, baking bread always frightens me a bit. Unlike cooking or regular baking, you really have to trust in the science and be exact in your measurings. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

So I approached this recipe with a bit of trepidation, but I shouldn’t have worried. The recipe was easy to follow, no disasters occurred and the dough balls were delicious.

It was a win all around, I’d say. So the next time I want some dough balls, I won’t have to go to Pizza Express to have them.

Google Books have indexed “Crumb”, so if you’d like to give Ruby’s Garlic Dough Balls a try, click through this sentence to see the recipe.

“Garlic Dough Balls” from “Crumb”

“Self Care Chicken Soup” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

img_3058There are moments in life that serve as stark reminds that time is marching on, regardless of whether or not we would like it to. One of those moments occurred when eating this soup when Andrew, 17, turned to me and said, “Can you teach me how to make this so I can make it myself when I go to university?”

[I had to take a moment to regain my composure.]

He’s got about 18 months to go before he’ll be off to university, but still, it’s already a hot topic of conversation– not to mention numerous meetings at school– as he weighs his future options. I fear it might be too late to finally construct the Harry Potter Hogwarts Lego that we were saving for a rainy day, but there’s still time to enjoy chats over after-school snacks, watch any and all shows about dogs together and to teach him how to operate the washing machine.

And, maybe most importantly, teach him how to cook.

Andrew already knows some basics, and he certainly is a dab hand at reheating things in the oven. But what he’s asked me to do is start compiling the recipes of all of his favourite foods and then teach him how to make them.

So I knew this recipe was a winner when he asked for the recipe to be added to his “Things I’d Like To Know How to Cook” list. It was a rainy cold day when we ate it and even though it’s quite simple, it’s also quite sublime.

Our particular bowls of self-care chicken soup may have been improved by the addition of freshly-made noodles (see above). But I also think this would be just as good with regular pasta. Needless to say, we all loved it and all of us were clamouring for second– and in some cases, third– bowls of it.

So while this meal may have made me a little bit weepy, it wasn’t the fault of the food. You can’t deny the march of time. Now I just need to get cracking on the cooking lessons, before it’s too late.

Apologies for the lack of photo of the actual soup. But aren’t these homemade noodles beautiful? 

Also, Google Books has indexed Flavour: Eat What You Love, so if you’d like to check out the recipe for this amazingly simple and amazingly delicious soup, click through here.

“Self Care Chicken Soup” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

“Pretzel Peanut Butter Pie” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”

I have to admit that when I stumbled across this recipe when browsing through the book, my very first thought was, “Colour me intrigued!” My second thought was, “When can I make this?”

In the introduction, Ruby said her inspiration for this came from the Candy Bar Pie at Momofuku in New York. Maybe that’s why I felt an immediate need to try this out: it spoke to me in a very deep way because of my American roots.

A flavour combination like this can only go one of two ways: wonderfully or horribly. There is no middle ground when it comes to this sort of combination. But given that this entire family is a fan of the peanut butter and chocolate combination– again, I blame the American in our DNA– I figured we had nothing to lose if we threw in some pretzels, too.

I am thrilled to report that this was wonderful.

But Pretzel Peanut Butter Pie isn’t going to work if you don’t like chocolate and peanut butter together, or indeed chocolate covered pretzels, or even the sometimes odd sweet-salty pairings that are available. (When Googling that exact phrase, I found something called a “Doughnut Burger,” which literally made me shudder. But on the same list from Buzzfeed, I found a listing for Chocolate Covered Bacon and I thought, “Yup. I’d try that.”)

I think the true test of any baked good is how long the leftovers last sitting around the kitchen. With two hungry teenage boys in the house, good things don’t last long. This pie, for example, was gone within 24 hours.

That tells you everything you need to know.

If you’re brave enough and are a fan of peanut butter and chocolate– with pretzels thrown in for good measure– click through this paragraph to find the recipe from The Guardian. 

“Pretzel Peanut Butter Pie” from “Flavour: Eat What You Love”