BF Bites June Roundup

The Dusty Knuckle Bakery

BF bites 6.17

This year I found bread heaven in an old shipping container at the end of an alley in East London. Yes, a shipping container. Beautified with flowers and a dream logo, The Dusty Knuckle Bakery  arguably produces some of the best bread in London:  delicious focaccia, tangy sourdough with an enviable crust,the most delicious potato bread and outstanding caramelised apple pastries. I admit that I have traveled across town just to buy their goods. While I am thrilled that the Dusty Knuckle is moving to larger premises to expand operations I will miss the shipping container garden bringing colour to an otherwise grey corner of London.

 

Harrington and Squires

BF bites 6.17

Photo: Harrington & Squires

I have an entire (rather large) drawer dedicated to greetings cards. Some I just keep to remind me of a place or a time or because the quote on the front resonates, and others are there just waiting for that special someone’s birthday or celebration. I have recently discovered that there is an even bigger thrill in seeing stationery printed in the flesh, and best of all, designing your own. Through our Supper Clubs I have been introduced to the wonderful Harrington and Squires. The 1.2m wide perfectly designed shop/studio/teaching space over three floors produces hand letterpressed greetings cards, invitations, calendars, books, stationery……the list goes on. And the best bit? The workshops.. Harrington and Squires are the secret behind our beautiful menus, designed by Jeremy and printed with Chrissie and Vicky in their shop. Check them out. The perfect excuse for more stationery.

 

The Perfect Scoop

Last month I talked about my ice cream maker. This month I am revealing my secret weapon behind the gallons of ice cream I produce all summer long. David Lebovitz, ex Chez Panisse pastry chef, and godfather of the food blogging world is, among many things, an ice cream maven. And has written what I consider to be the best and ultimate ice cream book. If you only ever own one ice cream book, this is the one.

 

Rude Health Smoothie Oats

BF bites 6.17

morning smoothies made so much better with Rude Health Smoothie Oats

Smoothies became a breakfast staple about 8 years ago when my friend Kim introduced me to beauty of the all in one breakfast. Little did she know that she would be changing my life and bringing great ease to my mornings of breakfast chaos. You see, no one in my house really likes the same thing pre 9am and the role of short order cook is definitely not in my remit. Smoothies for breakfast provide a perfect solution. They are quick, make no mess, and can be packed full of goodness while maintaining the required level of sweet to satiate the younger palates. And these Smoothie Oats are simply jumbo oats, milled thinly enough so that they dissolve when added to smoothies, providing all the nutritional goodness with none of the porridge stirring or hot cereal rejection. And it gives me great comfort to think we all start the day on the right track. Even if it all goes down hill after breakfast.

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Labeneh – It’s not as Hard as it Looks

One of my personal triumphs of this year so far is mastering labeneh. If I am being truly honest, it was more a realisation that things are not always as hard as they seem than an actual triumph. In reality, labeneh is embarrassingly easy to make.

I should explain: labeneh is strained salted yoghurt that you hang in a cheesecloth overnight rendering a thick, creamy and totally delicious dip, eaten alone or alongside cooked or raw vegetables, with cool watermelon or strawberries in the summer, on crackers or toast, in a sandwich……in fact with everything. I eat it with salad and eggs for breakfast, with grilled vegetables and fish or my favourite way as a little snack with some lavosh crackers or radishes. And, being a dish originating from the Middle East, there are as many varieties as there are regions.

labeneh

ready for the overnight hang

Assuming it was too much of a faff to make at home and finding the shop bought version generally disappointing, labeneh was relegated to that special place in my culinary heart as consumed only on holidays in the Med or Israel or at any of my favourite Middle Eastern hangouts now on my doorstep in London. But in this year of overcoming fears and challenging myself, I accepted the task of tackling what turns out to be an extremely simple delicacy to execute. The result: labeneh is now an unexpected and greatly appreciated notch on my cooking belt, and a fridge staple.

labeneh

the great unveiling

I should add here, the testing process was quite extensive. After gathering many opinions from those I know, and asking those I don’t know on Instagram for their favourite labeneh recipe, I made versions with Greek yoghurt, plain yoghurt, goat’s milk yoghurt and sheep’s milk yoghurt, and with combinations of up to two at a time trying to achieve the ultimate condiment of my dreams. Each variety has a slightly different flavour and consistency, but the sheep’s milk version won my vote overall as it has a milder flavour and the perfect texture.

Give it a try. It’s really not as hard as it looks.

labeneh

 

Labeneh

While sheep’s milk yoghurt is my favourite base for labeneh, a 50/50 goats milk Greek yoghurt mix is a close second place, but feel free to make this with your favourite yoghurt of choice. Just make sure it is not set or low fat.

500g sheep’s milk yoghurt (or any other yoghurt of choice)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt

Stir together all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
Drape a large (approximately 40cm/16inch) square of doubled cheesecloth or muslin over a sieve in the sink and pour the yoghurt mixture into the middle.
Bring together the sides of the cloth and tie together to make a cute bundle.
Hang the bundle overnight. I hang mine from my kitchen tap and let it drain into the sink, but you can hang it by tying it over the handle of a wooden spoon balanced over a mixing bowl.
I leave the mixture out overnight and then transfer to a colander sitting over a bowl and place in the fridge for another few hours to chill. I like to give it 24 hours hanging time total.
Some people hang theirs in the fridge for the full 24 hours. Either works, although I prefer the flavour when left out overnight before going in the fridge.
If you like a dip (my personal favourite), open up the cloth after 24 hours and scrape the thickened mixture either in to an airtight container and leave in the fridge ready to use any time for up to a week.
You can leave it hanging for a few days in the fridge, giving you a stiffer mixture perfect for rolling into balls for a salad or a buffet selection.
Alternatively, transfer to a shallow bowl or plate, drizzle with a good slug of olive oil and any toping of your choice, and dip or spread away.

Optional toppings:
good drizzle of olive oil
zatar
nigella seeds
chilli flakes
fresh herbs – chopped dill, coriander, parsley
pickled shallots

pomegranate seeds

labeneh

lavosh crackers – the pefect dipping tool. photo: Jeremy Coleman

Enjoy!

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Kohlrabi, Fennel and Asparagus Salad – A Summer Staple

Kohlrabi is one of those vegetables that for many years I really had no idea how to use. I knew I loved it in salads, or just thinly sliced with a little salt and lemon juice (ideal for a solo lunch or snack), but I could never find quite the right way to serve it for a crowd.

And then I started paying much closer attention to the salad selections on our last few trips to Israel, where kohlrabi is considered king vegetable and provides the secret bonus crunch to the raw medleys available at those to die for breakfast spreads. So on our return from the latest family trip, the experiments began.

Kohlrabi salad

Chopped Israeli salad inspiration. My holiday breakfast of champions

There were many failures before success.  Grating rendered mush, slicing in advance without lemon juice or dressing left dry yet soft mouthfuls, half moon slices were unwieldy among salad leaves, and then I finally reverted to a take on the classic chopped Israeli salad, and cubed them.

 

Thankfully this was the turning point and the salad started to come together nicely. With a little thinly sliced fennel (I use a mandolin), a few radishes for colour, some pea shoots and asparagus as a seasonal favourite, some treviso or endive (because I absolutely love both the bitter taste and colour) and a buttermilk herb dressing making this a killer summer salad. Delicious alongside the sweetness of tomatoes and bbq’d fish or on its own for lunch with a healthy slice of sourdough, this will feature regularly at our table this season.

Now that we have reveled in a weekend of sunshine, let the summer begin.

 

Kohlrabi, Fennel and Asparagus Salad

I like to let the kohlrabi, fennel and radish crisp up in a bowl of ice water for at least 15 minutes before draining and adding the rest of the ingredients and the dressing.  It is not necessary, but it does retain the crunch.  If you are making this in advance, you could leave the chopped and sliced vegetables in the ice water for an hour or so before draining well and assembling just before serving.  Sliced radishes also work really well, and I replace them when asparagus is not in season.

If you are buttermilk averse and  prefer a dairy free dressing option, olive oil and lemon juice with a good pinch of salt and pepper would also compliment the vegetable crunch.  Just don’t leave out the sprinkling of sumac at the end for colour and authenticity.

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

1 bunch (approx 400g) of asparagus spears (optional when in season)
1 medium sized kohlrabi – make sure it is firm and has tight looking skin
5-6 radishes
1 large fennel
80ml buttermilk
1tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
good pinch of salt and pepper
1 tbsp dill, finely chopped
1 tsp chives finely chopped
1 tbsp mint, finely shredded
50g pea shoots (or you can use watercress or rocket)
2 treviso or red endive sliced lengthways to keep the shape of the leaves
pinch of sumac

Prepare the asparagus by breaking off the ends at their natural break and steaming them until just cooked in a pan of boiling salted water.  Drain and allow to cool.
If you are making this salad a little in advance, fill a large bowl with ice water.
Peel the kohlrabi and cut into cubes the size of small dice.   Put the dice in the bowl of ice water (if using), or into a large mixing bowl.
Thinly slice the fennel and the radishes (I do this on a mandolin) and add to the kohlrabi (in the ice water or mixing bowl depending on what you are using).
If the vegetables are soaking, leave them for anywhere between 15 minutes or an hour to crisp up.
In the meantime, make the dressing.
In a small bowl mix together the buttermilk, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh herbs.  I sometimes do this in a jam jar and just shake them together until they are fully mixed.
When you are ready to assemble the salad, drain the vegetables if they are soaking and lightly dry with a kitchen towel so that they are not holding any more water.
Cut the asparagus into bite size pieces – approximately 2cm lengths (I like to cut them on the diagonal)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the kohlrabi, fennel, radish, pea shoots (or other green leaves of choice), and the treviso or endive.
Pour over the dressing and mix with your hands until the leaves are fully coated with the dressing but be careful not to overdress.
I like to transfer this to a large plate or platter to serve so make sure the dressing does not pool in the bottom of the bowl.
Sprinkle with sumac and serve.

This recipe first appeared in the Jewish Chronicle.

This salad also featured on the menu at our first Supper Club last month.

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