How to cook goats’ cheese, onion and potato bread

goat-cheese-bread

So the first recipe I cooked for my Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge was goats’ cheese, onion and potato bread with thyme.

I had to preheat my oven to 20 degrees higher than the recipe, because our oven always lets us down and needs adjusting. The red potato I choose was a little too large for the recipe at 250g, so I didn’t use all of it. We had no thyme so I used oregano instead.

I had a heap of trouble with our scales. They only work when you take the battery out of them and then that seems to kick start it, otherwise you can press the on button repeatedly and nothing happens. I had to test my maths skills when I weighted the flour in a bowl.

We didn’t have any self-raising flour, so I added 2 teaspoons of baking powder to add a raising agent to plain flour. I don’t think my grater is very sharp, as the potato kept getting stuck half way when I was grating it. I mixed together the ingredients as per the instructions and the flour stuck to the potato. I wish I had cut the cheese into smaller chunks. I also left out the mustard because we didn’t have any.

My palette knife is over 30 centremetres long, so I stirred the mixture with a teaspoon. I used it for measuring something and was trying to save on washing up! Why I tasted the batter I’m not sure, but it was quite salty. I don’t know whether Matt will like it, because he doesn’t add salt to his food. I used a paella dish for cooking the bread with some baking paper, but I forgot to grease it. I’m usually not very good at following instructions in recipes – I like to get creative and make changes.

Fifty minutes later I had a small loaf which didn’t rise much. The potato bread was yummy with a good crust, although I think I’d prefer the red onion version over spring onion. Matt said “you wouldn’t know there was potato in it” and it “was very nice, a bit like damper.”

Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Fishpond.com.au (Australia)
Delia’s Complete How to Cook – Book Depository (UK)

Written for the Learning how to cook with Delia Smith challenge

Best recipe: French onion soup

french onion soup

I got a little worried at the first reading of the Onion soup Les Halles recipe, as I don’t own either ovenproof soup crocks, nor a propane torch. The recipe I’ve chosen comes Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. I’ve never tried authentic French onion soup in a restaurant, mainly because I love to have snails or frog’s legs as a starter, so I’m not sure how to judge a good onion soup.

My first challenge was researching to find out what a bouquet garni is made up of.  For this dish, I decided to use celery, basil leaf and thyme. My second challenge was converting the recipe to metric and halving the amount. I used the very handy The Cookbook People’s Kitchen Conversion Cheat Sheet.

My eyes started to get teary cutting the first onion, so I precariously tried to chop it at arms length. I was worried I’d cut myself because I could hardly see through the tears. Fortunately, I washed the board and knife, wiped away my tears on my t-shirt sleeve, and then other next three onions were tearless. I have heard the rumour that a blunt knife makes cutting onions harder.

There is some debate about how long it takes to caramalise the onions* – most recipes have 30 minutes, and some suggest at least an hour. Felicity Cloak’s recipe suggests “This will probably take between 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your nerve.”

Flour is often added to thicken the soup, but I didn’t add it. Emmenthal works as well as Gruyere on the toast. Some people prefer to serve the cheesy toast on the side. Apparently the soup improves the day after cooking, but I didn’t notice any difference.

French onion soup is ideal as a winter dish. You could easily make a vegetarian version by changing the stock, and I’m sure this dish has many restorative powers.

French onion soup recipe

Adapted from Onion soup Les Halles recipe from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.

For the broth:

100g butter
4 brown onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsps port wine
2 Tbsps balsamic vinegar
4 cups of homemade chicken stock or beef stock (or vegetable)
100 g bacon, cut into cubes
bouquet garni

For the croutons and cheese:

8 baguette croutons
3/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese 

 For the broth: 

  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over medium heat until it has melted and begins to brown. Add the onions and cook over medium heat. Keep an eye on the onions so they don’t burn and stir occasionally, until they are soft and browned (for at least 30 minutes)*.
  2. Increase the heat to medium high and add the port wine and the vinegar. Don’t forget to stir in all that brown goodness from the bottom of the pot into the liquid. Add the chicken, beef or vegetable stock.
  3. Add the bacon and the bouquet garni and bring to a boil.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the bouquet garni before serving.

For the croutons and cheese:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place croutons on a baking tray.
  2. Toast croutons on one side in the an oven for about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the croutons from the oven and turn them over, and sprinkle on the grated cheese.
  4. Return the croutons to the oven, and toast until the cheese has melted.

Add the croutons to the soup and serve immediately.

Serves 4 people.

Cooked for the 100 recipes to cook in your lifetime challenge. 

Onion tart

Before Onion Tart

I first tried this recipe from Nigel Slater’s Appetite book. He recommends you use any onion (white, red or leek) and any melting cheese (Taleggio, Camembert, fontina). It is terribly easy and perfect snack or party food. You can ad lib with whatever ingredients you have on hand and it doesn’t have to be the whole shebang that you get with making a full-blown pizza with the lot. Minimalist is best here.

2 onions, sliced into moons
1 sheet of puff pastry
grated cheese
thyme

Simmer onions gently until they are soft. Set your oven to 220 degrees C. Flour your working area, and take out a sheet of puff pastry. Score a border 2cm in from each edge and prick all over with a fork. Tip the cooked onions into the middle, and sprinkle handfuls of grated cheese over the top. Season with thyme. Bake until the pastry is puffed up golden, which will take about 15-20 minutes.

Onion Tart

Nigel also recommend the following variations:  

  • pesto, slices of tomato and basil
  • mushrooms and Taleggio
  • pancetta and onion

You can read about how Nigel developed his love for food in Toast (sometimes in spite of his parents attempts at cooking)! A great read about British food and home cooking.

Running with Tweezers will shortly list the entries for best savoury tart in the latest Hay Hay it’s Donna Challenge, which I just missed out it in entering! Next time…