Lately, my inclination to bake has stepped up quite a few notches. Perhaps it's all the birthdays, or maybe it's because I miss my grandma and this is something we used to do together. Either way, I've been rather busy.
The one thing we don't tend to buy is bread but often this means we're left short on a weekend morning at brunch time. I'm a no-fuss kind of bread baker and love a no-knead recipe. The time saved means you can also get creative with fillings - think taleggio and thyme, or walnuts with cranberries, or this week's version: spelt and green olive.
With no-knead bread, you get a really fantastic crust, so it's wonderful straight out of the oven. This does mean, however, that it gets tough when cold. NEVER FEAR. For dinner that evening, or the next day, you can tear it into big chunks, drizzle them in olive oil and grill them lightly to act as croutons or big mops for dip or soup.
For lunch today, I did just this and had the pleasure of discovering that Palacio de Oriente squid pieces (octopus style) makes a fantastic, protein-filled option. Just a small tin (£1.99) is enough and you can throw in with it whatever you like. I found sundried tomatoes, basil, fresh lemon, balsamic vinegar and some garlic worked well. I had mused that tinned squid might very well taste awful but it was excellently satisfying.
Working hard with Lindt chocolate at the moment, I'm liaising with a lot of food bloggers on Lindt dark chocolate recipes. It's all very well asking them if they'd like a big box to play with, but I've always found that it helps to offer suggestions or show examples. Plus, who needs an excuse to bake delicious things?
Lately you might have seen my Dark Coconut Chocolate Creme Brulee but this weekend I got stuck into making a Dark Chocolate Earl Grey Torte, using the best earl grey tea from JING. The flavours pair so well together but it's a good idea to have some cream handy to cut through... this bad boy is RICH.
For easier and quicker chocolate fixes, I turned my eye to the garden. With an abundance of hierba buena (spearmint) in the garden at the moment, I ought to be thinking of long, tall mojitos but I've sadly run out of rum and am usually not so extravagant as to buy some. Instead, I melted some of my stash and dipped the leaves in, making a refreshing treat to go alongside my afternoon tea.
And so that's just a few of the things I've been playing with. What have you been making lately? With all the lovely rhubarb, asparagus and more in season, I'd love your suggestions and inspiration.
This asparagus empanada (Galician-style) didn't really work out for me, although I suspect it was because I chose to use sardines instead of tuna.
Until next time.