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This is really all about the bread. And the photo of omnomnoms.

So some of that is just plonked on a plate. I've done nothing with the bocconcini or the olives. The haloumi is just sliced and fried although anyone who's had it knows that there's no such thing as "just" fried haloumi. The rest of what's on the plate is some small home-grown tomatoes cut in half, some Swiss brown mushrooms, likewise just thrown into a pan with olive oil, black pepper, garlic and basil leaves, some of which were chopped fairly small but mostly torn into big pieces. I wound the heat up and waited until the garlic started to brown at which point it was all done. There's also one of my favourite things which is a red capsicum placed directly onto the gas hob until the skin is charred all over. I need to wind up the exhaust fan for this game or the smoke detector in the kitchen loses its shit completely. Once it's charred, let it sweat in a bag for a little while, After that the skin rubs off really easily if you run it under the tap. It gives the capsicum a wonderful smoky flavour and I love it either by itself, as it was here or as an ingredient in a dish.

The bread though...that was what I was really playing with here. I'd tried making herby bread and it was a bit tentative so I decided to try making it a bit more characterful. Basic bread is four parts flour to three parts water by weight, at least as far as mixing the dough to start with goes, so I put the requisite amount of water in a jug the night before, bruised a generous amount of basil and thyme and shoved it in the jug with a pinch of salt to steep. A day later, it looked like a swamp but smelt amazing. The water and flour was mixed up with another small pinch of salt, more fresh herbs (they were selling a packet of mixed fresh herbs at the supermarket that looked about right. Thyme, rosemary, sage and other things I can't remember) and a teaspoon of yeast and allowed to rise while I got on with shopping and otherwise faffing about. I'd ideally liked to have given this a couple of hours to rise but in the end it still worked out well. I kneaded it, divided it into four balls, put them onto a floured tray, let them rise just a little more and then into an oven at about 190° until they were brown and crusty and made bread smells. Butter for the bread, wine in the decanter. Decadent, slightly over-generous dinner for two.


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April 2017

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