Goat’s Cheese and Rosemary Rolls – My First Culinary Adventure of 2016

Happy New Year everyone!

I’ve spent today getting reacquainted with my baking spirits, which is always a worthwhile activity, even when it is stinking hot. And even when it’s not always appreciated by others.

And it was important that it happen today. You see, I am starting a new tradition. Okay, more like ‘borrowing’ and running with someone else’s tradition.


Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Rolls 1


As some of you know, I bought Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries III when it first came out – no way was I risking that one on the Christmas list… what if no one bought it for me??? I would be bereft of Nigel…

So I had already read his entry for New Year’s Day, which he called Rising. In it, Nigel talks about how the new year comes to his kitchen quietly, with a pot of soup and freshly baked bread. He writes:

‘I like the notion of yeast rising, of new life in the kitchen on the first day of the New Year. Eccentric, daft even, but to me it just feels right.’

Is that not a glorious notion?

And I think that those with bakers’ souls will feel a certain affinity with this notion…


Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Rolls 2


Yeast rising in the kitchen on the first day of the new year can become a quite a compelling metaphor for an unbelievable number of different things, for an unbelievable number of different people. So don’t forget to make 2016 the best year you can for yourself.

And you can start by joining the fiesta party! Our hostess with the mostess, Angie @The Novice Gardener, and her lovely co-hosts – Judi @Cooking with Aunt JujuMolly @Frugal HausfrauSteffi @Ginger & Bread and Suzanne @A Pug in the Kitchen – are extending the party over the festive season, so come along and share your first dishes of 2016.


Goat’s Cheese and Rosemary Rolls

  • Servings: makes 6 rolls
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Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Rolls 1



  • 500g white bread flour
  • 7g sachets instant dried yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 350ml water
  • 3 large sprigs of rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 100g goat’s cheese (cut into small chunks)


  1. Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add almost all the water and mix to a sticky dough.
  2. Continue to mix for a further minute or so – the dough will gradually become less sticky. Add a touch more flour or water until you are left with a dough that is soft and springy, yet slightly sticky to the touch.
  3. Flour a large work surface and gently knead the dough for 10 minutes without treating it aggressively. It should feel soft, smooth, light and springy.
  4. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover it with cling film and leave it to prove for an hour in a warm place.
  5. When the dough has doubled in size, tip it back onto a floured surface. Knead it again for 30 seconds.
  6. Work the rosemary and cheese into the dough so that they are evenly distributed.
  7. Cut the dough into six equal pieces and shape each piece into small rolls.
  8. Lay the rolls on a floured baking tray, leaving a good amount of space between them.
  9. Decorate each roll with a few rosemary needles on top.
  10. Leave to rise in a warm place under a tea towel for 45 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  12. Bake the rolls for 30 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
  13. Great as a burger bun. Fantastic eaten warm and slathered in butter.


Recipe by Nigel Slater as found on BBC website.



Sweet Fig and Dark Chocolate Loaf

As some of you know, I’ve been participating in The Kitchn’s Baking School, trying to do the smaller homework assignments each night and then getting my bake on during the weekend.

The homework assignments have led to some mighty tasty baked goods, I must say, including choux pastry, which was turned into mushroom sandwiches; proper, time-consuming puff pastry, which became sweet and crispy allumettes; yeasted dough, which was almost effortlessly transformed into a stollen-like loaf full of dark chocolate, figs and walnuts.

I am not a novice baker, but I have found that the Baking School lessons are laden with information, history, chemical alchemy and tips and tricks that even the most qualified bakers out there would find useful. Although I want to take step back now that we’re coming up to the cake layering and decoration side of things… Still don’t see why I can’t just bake the goodies and leave the decorating to someone else… someone with a lot more patience…

Fig and Chocolate Loaf

A string of events forged a path to this bread. This bread had to be baked. And now.

It started with figs. It occurred to me that we were nearing the end of fig season and I had yet to cook with them. The Baking School lesson for Day 13 was rich yeast breads and sweet breads. I purchased and started reading A Year of Good Eating: The Kitchen Diaries III by Nigel Slater, where, in the very first entry, he evocatively writes about his tradition of baking bread on New Year’s Day. Around the same time, he also published a sweet fig and dark chocolate loaf recipe in his column for The Guardian.

I may not have followed the homework assignment to the letter, but I made the bread that I was meant to make.

Oh and if you make this, do yourself a favour and have a slice while it’s still warm and the chocolate filling is still gooey. Trust me.

It may not be warm any longer because I am so late this week, but I’m bringing the few slices I haven’t eaten to the Fiesta Friday 91 party, joyfully co-hosted this week by Angie @The Novice Gardner, Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju and Indira @ I’ll Cook, You Wash.

Sweet Fig and Dark Chocolate Loaf

Fig and Chocolate Loaf


For the Dough

  • 50g butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 7g easy bake yeast
  • 100ml milk (warmed)
  • 25g sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)

For the Filling

  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 3 figs (roughly chopped)
  • 100g dark chocolate (chopped into small pieces)
  • 50g walnut halves
  • 40g golden sultanas
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Glaze

  • 50g butter
  • icing sugar


  1. Melt the butter in a small pan, then leave to cool down. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast then stir in the milk, sugar, salt, cooled butter and the lightly beaten egg. Mix thoroughly – the dough will be soft and rather sticky. Turn out on to a lightly floured board. As you knead, the dough will become less sticky, more like a bread dough. When it is soft, elastic and no longer sticking to the board, transfer to a floured bowl. Set aside in a warm place, covered with a clean tea towel, for a good hour.
  2. For the filling, break the cardamom pods and remove their black seeds. Crush the seeds to a coarse powder using a pestle and mortar or a spice mill. Mix the figs, chocolate, walnut halves, sultanas, cinnamon together.
  3. Dust the work surface with flour and tip your risen dough on to it. Roll out into a rectangle about 24cm x 20cm. Place the longest side towards you and spread the fig filling over the dough, then roll up, swiss-roll style, to form a plump loaf shape. Lift onto a floured baking sheet, cover with a tea towel and return to a warm place to prove for a further hour. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  4. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes until pale gold. Melt the butter for the glaze and brush over the loaf. Cool on a wire rack, then dust generously with icing sugar.

Recipe by Nigel Slater as found on The Guardian’s website.

Salad of Spiced Chickpeas and Puffed Rice for Meat Free Week

I have finally started using Instagram properly. I’ve now set it up so that I’m following my favourite people. This allows me to have a sticky beak into their latest adventures, to gawk at their beautiful photos and to save them for inspiration at some later date.

I’ve also been saving all of Nigel Slater’s latest instagrams. You see, he is currently travelling around Japan, and accompanying his gorgeous photos are some cleverly crafted little snippets that bring the pictures to life.

Salad of Spiced Chickpeas and Puffed Rice

I seem to be obsessed with photos lately, although I don’t think it’s helping much with my own photography skills. Or, you know, lack of patience… I don’t want to eat cold food…

This week is Meat Free Week, an event that encourages people think about not only how meat they eat, but where that meat comes from. And it just so happened that as I was admiring Mr Slater’s latest Instagram photos, his new column came out featuring the humble chickpea, a vegetarian staple, and with it, an amazing sounding salad.

Salad of Chickpea and Puffed Rice

So to kick off Meat Free Week 2015, I give you Mr Slater’s salad of spiced chickpeas and puffed rice. It’s meaty enough for all those omnivores participating in Meat Free Week, and it’s different enough with its contrasting textures and temperatures to inspire all vegetarians, pescatarians and vegans.

Salad of Spiced Chickpeas and Puffed Rice

  • Servings: Serves 4 as a side salad
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Salad of Spiced Chickpeas and Puffed Rice


  • 1 small pomegranate
  • 400g cucumber
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 50g almonds (whole and skinned)
  • 1 x 400g can chickpeas
  • 30g hemp seeds
  • 30g sunflower seeds
  • 30g unsweetened puffed rice
  • olive oil


  1. Crack open the pomegranate and remove the seeds, putting them into a mixing bowl and discarding any white pith as you go. Peel the cucumber, lightly, leaving as much colour as you can, then cut in half lengthways. Scrape out the seeds and pith with a teaspoon and discard, then cut the flesh into small dice. Toss the cucumber and pomegranate together.
  2. Put the coriander and cumin seeds in a shallow pan and warm them over a gentle heat. Let them cook, moving them around the pan, until crisp and fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat and tip the toasted seeds into a mortar. Crush them to a fine powder.
  3. Warm the oil in the shallow pan, then, keeping the heat low, add the ground cumin and coriander, the garam masala and the curry powder, then the skinned almonds. Warm the nuts and spices, moving everything round the pan so it doesn’t burn.
  4. Drain the chickpeas and stir them into the spices and almonds, together with the hemp seeds, sunflowers seeds and puffed rice.
  5. Tip the warm chickpea mixture into the pomegranate and cucumber, add a trickle of olive oil, then toss gently together and serve.

Recipe by Nigel Slater as found on The Guardian.

Colcannon – A Colcannon by any other name would taste as good

Up until a week ago, I believed that the main ingredients in the most comforting of Irish foods, colcannon, were potatoes, milk, butter and cabbage.

So it came as quite a surprise to find out that cabbage is a substitute, and that kale was indeed the more traditional green to use when cooking colcannon, a kale/cabbage studded mashed potato.

Odd, considering that cál ceannann means ‘white-headed cabbage’…


When reading up on this Irish mash dish, I found Nigel Slater’s amusing column on colcannon, and how such a versatile dish with many variations can really only be called colcannon if it’s made up of potatoes, kale and milk. ‘Any changes you make to the classic,’ Nigel says, ‘will result in your dish getting a new name.’

Yet it was Nigel’s nifty twists that appealed to me more than the traditional version, so I tested it out on some Irish friends. One refused to acknowledge it as colcannon because that’s not how her mum and grandmother and great grandmother (etc.) made it; another said that as long as there were green specks through the mash, it was all good. The third didn’t really care what I called it as long as I gave her another helping.

I will admit that kale would make for a brighter, more noticeable green element to the mash, but the cabbage and leek mix made for a much mellower flavour that complimented the buttery potatoes quite well.

So, happy St Patrick’s Day everyone, and may you enjoy your colcannon any way you like it.


  • Servings: Serves 4 as a side dish
  • Print



  • 900g floury potatoes (peeled, coarsely chopped)
  • 40g butter (divided)
  • 80ml warm milk
  • 60ml crème fraiche
  • 250g leek (white and pale green part only, finely sliced)
  • 300g savoy cabbage (finely shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • Extra butter to serve (optional)


  1. Place the coarsely chopped potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for around 20 minutes, or until tender.
  2. Drain and return to the saucepan over low heat. Stir the potatoes a bit to release the steam, then remove from heat. Add 20g of butter, the warm milk and the crème fraiche and, using a potato masher, mash until smooth and combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the remainder 20g of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until they start to soften. Add the shredded cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 7 minutes.
  4. Once cooked and still warm, fold the leek and cabbage mixture through the mashed potatoes. Season with salt to taste and serve topped with chopped chive and extra optional butter.

Recipe adapted from Nigel Slater.

Celeriac Remoulade – Chunky Condiment or Side Salad?

It’s been about two years now since my sister and I realised how easy it is to make celeriac remoulade, and it’s become quite a common side and even ‘salad’ in both our households.

I’ve certainly come a long way since my first disastrous attempt – twists and variations are generally easier to incorporate once the foundations of a recipe are well-established.

Celeriac Remoulade

One day, I will add shredded beetroot to the remoulade and the whole thing will NOT turn pink.

Now until that day, I will enjoy this odd-looking root’s most well-known dish, usually as a salad or side to seafood recipes, and I will do so using Nigel Slater’s recipe for classing French celeriac remoulade.

Celeriac Remoulade

  • Servings: Serves 4 as a side salad
  • Print

Celeriac Remoulade


  • 1 medium-sized celeriac (approximately 450g)
  • Half a lemon
  • 4 heaped tablespoons good mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (finely chopped, optional)
  • Salt and pepper to season


  1. Juice half a lemon into a bowl and keep on hand.
  2. Peel and then shred the celeriac using a food processor or a large-hole grater. The strips should not be too fine, nor should they be thicker than a matchstick.
  3. Immediately add the celeriac strips into the lemon juice and toss to coat, which will both prevent the celeriac from browning and help to tenderise the root strips. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, crème fraîche and parsley, if using. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Strain any excess lemon juice from the shredded celeriac and discard. Add half of the mayonnaise mixture to the drained celeriac and stir gently to combine. Keep adding spoonfuls of the mayonnaise mixture until there is enough dressing to cling to the roots evenly without the mixture becoming soupy.
  6. Set aside for up to 30 minutes and then serve with salmon, fishcakes, ham or toast.

Note: Unless you are after celeriac clag, it is not advisable that you keep celeriac remoulade overnight.

Recipe by Nigel Slater from The Guardian.



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