Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Cheese and Bacon Rolls

Whether you call them cinnamon rolls or chelsea buns or something else entirely, the concept of rolling a filling in bread dough to make something delicious is a great idea and something that I seem to see pretty often online. However, I started to wonder – why are these rolls always sweet? Why not make a savoury version which is really just like a pre-filled sandwich? That way, I could have a tasty lunch for no more effort than packing a couple of rolls…well, no more effort than that first thing in the morning, which is my least favourite time of day – there is of course all the mixing and kneading and cooking and rolling that is required to make these tasty morsels, but that can be done the night before.

The dough recipe below is actually my second attempt at a good dough for this. For the first one I used quite a high water to flour ratio which meant that when it came to rolling out the dough, I was stuck (literally – to the counter). I nearly gave up after that first batch of dough as I had already spent quite a long time experimenting (unsuccessfully) with a Roman nut custard recipe (more on that to come  if I ever figure it out) but I persevered and it was worth it! Try to resist adding too much extra flour to your hands and the counter when kneading the dough – you can usually go longer than you think before you need more. However, do make sure that there is a healthy sprinkling of flour on the counter when it comes to rolling it out as it is important that the dough doesn’t stick at that point. All the cup measurements are based on a 250 ml mug as equal to 1 cup. If you want to, you can add a pinch of salt to the dough when you add the flour. However, I found the salt in the bacon and cheese was enough for me and so have not included it in the recipe below.


What you need:

3 cups plain flour

7 gram sachet fast action dried yeast

1 dessertspoon + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for greasing the pan)

1 cup warm water

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Large handful of roughly chopped cooked bacon

Large handful of grated cheddar cheese

What to do:

1. Mix together in a bowl the flour and yeast.


2. Add one dessertspoon of olive oil and the water to the flour and yeast and mix together thoroughly.





3. Tip the dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead for at least 10 minutes. Then put the dough back into the bowl, cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave to rise somewhere warm for about 20 to 30 minutes.




4. When the dough has risen to about twice its original size, tip it out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead again for at least 10 minutes. Re-flour the surface well and then roll the dough out into a large rectangle – mine was about 60 cm long by 25 cm wide.





5.Mix together 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the Dijon mustard – don’t worry if they don’t mix together very well.


6. Liberally brush the olive oil and mustard mixture over the top surface of the rolled out dough and then sprinkle the bacon and cheese evenly over the oil and mustard.







7. Roll up the rectangle of dough along one of the wide ends. I found it easiest to do this by rolling a little at a time from one end all the way along to the other end, and then going back to the first end and rolling it a little more all the way along to the other end and so on.



8. Cut the dough into evenly sized pieces – I went for 12 tallish rolls but you may prefer more short rolls. I found that cutting the rolls squashed them a little bit flat, so I squished them into slightly more round, sausage shapes and then adjusted them further so that they stood upright, but you could just leave them in their squished shapes and lie them flat in the pan in the next step if you prefer.



9. Put the rolls in a greased tin (to grease the tin, just brush the sides with olive oil, or, if you prefer, melted butter), spaced evenly apart, and leave to rise again, covered with a damp tea towel, somewhere warm for 20 to 30 minutes until they have approximately doubled in size. I figured it would hurt to have the bacon out for about 20 minutes and then put it straight into a hot oven, but I’ll leave that decision up to you.



10. Just before the rolls have finished rising, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180º C or 350º F). Remove the tea towel from the top of the baking pan and bake the rolls in the middle of the pre-heated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath.


11. When the rolls have baked, remove them from the pan and cool on a cooling rack. These are also very good (if not best) served warm straight from the oven. Yum!



Wednesday, 13 June 2012


I am currently reading a very good book called Dangerously Alive, which is by Simon Guillebaud and recounts his time as a missionary in Burundi. In the book (on page 108 for those who have it and are interested), Simon Guillebaud gives a quote from the UK newspaper, the Independent, which relates the story of a Burundian woman who, when commanded by the soldier who had just murdered her daughter to show him her ID card, handed the soldier a Bible and said that it was her identity.

What an amazing challenge I find that story. So often, I read Jesus’ words, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, NIV) and don’t really pause to consider the implications of them. That following Jesus is a whole-heart commitment in which we let our story become His story, His way become our way, and His will the guide for our lives. It is scary and often hard to give up ‘me’ and submit to God – to find my identity in Him - but it is also exhilarating and liberating. I am many identities, but it is good to stop and take time to reflect that foremost should be the fact that I am a sinner saved by God’s grace. Jesus didn’t just say the words that I quote above – He lived them as He quite literally denied Himself, took up His cross, submitted to God the Father, and died for the sins of the world. And because of that, I am not just a saved sinner but am also a child adopted into God’s family and an heir of grace.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17, NIV).

Friday, 8 June 2012

Chicken ‘Parmo’

I am very excited about today’s post – my first guest post, from my lovely friend Lucy (one of the friends with whom I made these decorated sugar cookies). As this is Lucy’s first blog post, please do share some comment love, even if it is just to say hi. Before handing over, I must add that I got to taste this the evening the pictures used in the recipe below were taken, and it is very good (but then again Lucy’s food is always good!). Now…take it away Lucy…



It is wonderful to be able to be a guest blogger on some some and some! I will attempt to post to the same high standard one normally expects from this page.

This recipe is for a ‘parmo’. If this term means nothing to you then you clearly are not from the North East of England and have yet to experience this delicacy! The ‘parmo’ is a chicken parmesan to give it it’s full title, and consists of breaded chicken covered in a béchamel sauce with cheese on top. Traditionally the chicken would be deep fried and then covered in so much cheese that one quite expects to have a heart attack after consuming it; my version is (slightly) healthier and a lot tastier due to the fact that I oven bake the chicken mainly and use skimmed milk and low fat cheese in the process.


Ingredients for 2 people:

2 chicken breasts
Breadcrumbs (two slices of stale white bread, crusts removed and whizzed in a blender)
Flour to coat the chicken
One egg white
Half a pint of milk (whatever version you prefer, but works perfectly well with skimmed)
One big knob of butter
2 tablespoons (heaped) plain flour
1 bay leaf
Some cloves and peppercorns if you have any lying around
A small block of cheese – mature cheddar works best


1. Put the milk in a pan with the bay leaf, whole peppercorns and cloves and warm until simmering, then turn off and allow to cool in the pan while the herbs infuse. Grate the cheese.

2. Butterfly the chicken breasts with a sharp knife (this means to cut them down the middle, without actually cutting them in half, then opening them up to make the breast half the thickness). Once butterflied give the chicken a bash with a rolling pin to make it evenish in thickness all over.IMG_3249


3. Coat the chicken in the flour, then egg white then breadcrumbs. Shallow fry for approx. 2 minutes on either side until the crumbs are golden brown, then transfer to the oven on a baking tray. The oven should be set to about 180 degrees centigrade (gas mark 4 or 350º F).








4. While the chicken is in the oven, make the béchamel sauce by first melting the butter in a pan. Add the flour and stir quickly over a low heat until it looks like a paste. Add the infused milk (having strained out the peppercorns and bay leaf) little by little, stirring vigorously all the time. If you are having trouble getting rid of the lumps then give it a quick whisk!


5. Once all the milk has been added continue to stir the sauce until it has thickened.

6. Pour the béchamel sauce over the chicken breasts, add the grated cheese on top (as much as you would like, depending on taste) and return to the oven for 20 minutes.


7. Serve with chips, potato wedges or a baked potato and a summer salad.


Sunday, 3 June 2012

Simple Soda Bread

This recipe is not an authentic Irish recipe. It is the result of much trial on my part – lots of loaves of failed soda bread because I used too much bicarbonate of soda in my quest for an easy and quick bread recipe. But at last I think I’ve cracked it – something that tastes good and is simple and quick to make. And having cracked it, my next task is to experiment with different flavours, but for now I think I’ll just sit with a nice, warm slice of this bread thickly spread with butter and revel in, at last, having made a loaf of soda bread that didn’t taste so soda-y that I immediately wanted to throw it away. This makes a medium-sized loaf and all the cup measurements below are, as usual, based on a 250 ml mug as equal to one cup. I used 1 cup of water – the amount you need may vary depending on how absorbent the flour you are using is, but bear in mind that it may seem, until the last minute, that there is not enough water and so, if you do add more, add it sparingly.


What you’ll need:

2 1/2 cups plain flour

Few grains salt

1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 cup boiling water

What to do:

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180º C or 350º F).

2. Sift together into a bowl the flour, salt and bicarb.


3. Add the water to the bowl and mix/knead it thoroughly into the flour, salt and bicarb. It may take a little while to bring in all the flour and create a firm dough (you’ll probably need to use your hands towards the end…).




4. Shape the dough into a ball and then flatten it into a round/wheel shape about half an inch high and put it onto a greased baking tray. Cut a cross shape into the top of the loaf.




5. Bake the bread in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about half an hour or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped underneath. When done, remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack, or (if you’re me), immediately split open the loaf and spread a hunk of the bread thickly with real butter and a spread of your choice before devouring. If you want to leave the loaf to cool before eating, spear (for example with a cake tester) a couple of places to help the steam escape.