Bored With Sourdough? Try This Instead – A Pretty Perfect Pain de Campagne

Get a taste of the good life with this delicious rustic country bread (the French equivalent of Sourdough)

The slow proving process gives this French country bread a depth of flavour that’s incomparable with shop bought breads

Ingredients

Day 1 – Dough Starter

  • 142g organic strong plain white bread flour
  • 142g dark rye flour (or use the white bread flour for a less tangy taste)
  • 2g fresh yeast (or use 1g instant dried yeast)
  • 204g cold water

Day 2 – The Campagne Dough

  • 475g organic strong plain white bread flour
  • 65g dark rye flour (or use the white bread flour for a less tangy taste)
  • 6g fresh yeast (or use 3g instant dried yeast)
  • 290g cold water
  • 16g fine sea salt
  • 490g Dough Starter

Method

Day 1 – Dough Starter

Note: make sure you use cold water directly from the tap. We’re going to be working the dough which will warm it and that combined with using warm water would activate the fermentation process too quickly, leaving you with a less tasty loaf

  • In a bowl, mix together the water and yeast until the yeast has dissolved then add the flour and mix until combined (with instant yeast, stir it through the flour then add the water)
  • Give the dough a good stretch and tear for 5 minutes (ideal if you’ve had a rough day!)
  • Cover with cling film and leave to ferment at room temperature for 2 hours then it’s in the fridge for 12-24 hours

Day 2 – The Campagne Dough

  • Combine the flour and the salt in a bowl
  • In another bowl, mix the yeast with the water (with instant yeast, stir it through the flour instead)
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour then add the water and the Dough Starter and gently bring the dough together then stretch and knead it for 10 minutes on an un-floured work surface. Alternatively, use a food mixer with a dough hook attachment on low speed for 5 minutes then medium speed for 5-7 minutes (the slow speed brings the ingredients together and the faster speed warms the gluten in the flour which makes the dough elastic and creates the right conditions for the fermentation process)
  • You should be able to stretch a small piece of dough between your fingers without it breaking, otherwise keep on kneading to get the desired level of elasticity
  • Shape the dough in to a ball then place it in a bowl and cover with cling film and leave at room temperature (20C) for an hour to increase in size. Make sure your room is no hotter than 20C otherwise this will activate the fermentation process too quickly. Also, a draughty room would add a crust to the dough so be careful with where you place it
  • Divide the dough into two and pre-shape into a loose round shape then leave to rest for 10 minutes
  • Either heavily dust a proving basket or line a flat tray with non-stick baking parchment paper
  • Shape your dough into a tight round shape on an un-floured work surface. Take the palms of your hands and place them either side of the dough, now turn the dough over in your palms bringing the edges of your palms together as you work underneath the dough. This creates the right level of tension in the loaf to get a lovely texture
  • Place the dough seam side up in the proving basket or tray. Cover with a clean cloth (to prevent it drying out) and leave to prove at room temperature for an hour, or until it has doubled in volume. Test it by pushing a finger in to the dough, it’s ready if the dough springs back, if there’s an indent it needs more time to prove
  • Slide a baking stone or upturned baking tray in to the middle shelf of your oven and place a small roasting tin on the shelf below then preheat your oven to 250C (without the fan) / gas mark 9 or as hot as it’ll go
  • Dust the loaves with flour then using a sharp serrated knife, score the loaves with three diagonal cuts each way to form a diamond pattern. The cuts should be around 2mm deep
  • Slide the loaves onto the preheated baking stone or tray in the oven
  • Quickly add a jug full of boiling hot water into the roasting tin being mindful not to let too much heat out of the oven
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until the bread has a golden crust and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom

This loaf is ideal for a simple rustic lunch, like a sandwich of cooked ham and gruyere cheese. Simple and delicious!

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The Best Baguette (Golden and Crisp on the Outside, Soft and Fluffy on the Inside)

Nothing beats the smell of freshly home-baked bread…

Prep time: 1-2 hours

Cooking time: less than 20 minutes

Serves: makes two loaves

Ingredients

Day 1 – The Starter

  • 50g cold water
  • 2g fresh yeast (or 1.5g dried yeast)
  • 50g strong white bread flour

Day 2 – The Dough

  • The Starter (see ‘Day 1’)
  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 20g wholegrain rye flour
  • 4g fine sea salt
  • 4g fresh yeast (or 2g dried yeast)
  • 140g cold water

And, semolina or more flour for dusting the baking trays

Method

Day 1 – The Starter

  • In a bowl, mix the fresh yeast and water until fully combined (if using dried yeast, skip this step)
  • Add flour and stir to fully combine (if using dried yeast – stir the yeast through the flour, then add the water, it’ll be easier to combine this way)
  • Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for 2 hours then place in the fridge overnight (for 12-24 hours)

Day 2 – The Dough

  • Take your Starter out of the fridge and check for a bubbly consistency and slightly alcoholic aroma
  • Combine in a bowl the two flours and the salt (if using dried yeast – stir the yeast through the flour as well)
  • In an another bowl, mix the fresh yeast and water until combined (if using dried yeast, you’ll just need the water)
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the liquid and your Starter. Gently bring the dough together, which is easier said than done, I know! Here’s how I do it: gently move a wooden spoon in an increasingly-large circular motion to gradually pull in more of the dry ingredients around the edge of the well then, when the majority comes together, use a hand to gently move the sticky messy ball around the bowl to gather the remaining dry ingredients
  • Remove the dough on to a work surface (tip: don’t add any flour to the work surface – it messes with the recipe)
  • Use the heel of your hand to push and stretch the dough a good full arm’s length into the work surface for around 10 minutes. The longer the better as this creates the elasticity to shape your bread later on
  • Place the dough back in to your bowl (if making two small loafs, divide the dough in half now), cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for an hour
  • Gently shape the dough into a round by turning it over and over in your hands. Then it’s back in the bowl, cover with cling and leave to rest for 10 minutes
  • Line a tray with a heavy tea towel and dust heavily with flour
  • On your worktop, shape the baguette by forming it into a rough oval (around 25cm long, 20cm deep). Form a lip on the top edge, tuck the dough in and roll into a sausage shape, making the roll as tight as possible
  • Place onto your tea towel seam side up. And, if you’re making two baguettes, pull the tea towel up beside one then fold it back down to create a ridge and place the second baguette next to the ridge
  • Let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour (and up to 24 hours)
  • Preheat the oven to 250C / 230C Fan / gas mark 9 and place a roasting tin on the bottom shelf, ready to be filled with some water prior to baking
  • Sprinkle semolina (or flour) over one or two large baking trays and move your dough from the tea towel to the baking tray
  • With a sharp serrated knife, score the loaves, either once down the middle or with three diagonal cuts around 1-2cm deep
  • Bake the baguettes on the top third of the oven one at a time adding 100ml of water to the roasting tin each time and remember to close the oven door as quickly as you can
  • Bake for 18 minutes turning once, or until the baguette has risen, has a crisp golden crust and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom

Allow to cool and then tuck in, you’ll never buy shop bought baguettes again!

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The Best Gooiest & Most Delicious Chocolate Cake Ever, I Promise (and it’s Healthy Too!)

A crowd-pleaser without the guilt trip because it’s vegan & sugar-free — but you’d never guess!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves: approx. 10

Ingredients

  • 4 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 250ml almond milk
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 150g medjool dates, pitted
  • 50g walnuts, crushed
  • 225g oat flour (or simply whizz rolled oats in to flour with a food processor)
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 150g vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt

Plus, a drizzle of sunflower oil to line the loaf tin

Method

  • In a bowl, blend the bananas, milk, dates, and lemon juice until smooth
  • In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa and cinnamon
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the milky mix to the well and gently bring the batter together. Here’s how I do it: gently move a wooden spoon in an increasingly-large circular motion to gradually pull in more of the dry ingredients around the edge of the well (but don’t overwork it as you’ll end up with a gluey consistency!)
  • Let the batter sit for half an hour so the oats have time to soak up the milk
  • Preheat your oven to 200C / 180C fan / gas mark 6, then line a 2lb loaf tin with sunflower oil making sure to go all the way up the sides
  • Finally, gently fold the walnuts and chocolate chips (reserving a few) in to the batter
  • Add the batter to the loaf tin, cover with foil and bake on the middle shelf in the oven for 20 minutes
  • Remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with a few crumbs
  • Allow to cool before running a knife around the tin and place onto a wire rack then sprinkle with the reserved chocolate chips

This super-moist chocolate cake is absolutely delicious any time of the day x

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The Best Banana Bread, Vegan-style (it’s not naughty, but it is VERY nice)

Treat yourself without the guilt trip, any time of the day…

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves: approx. 10

Ingredients

  • 4 very ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 80ml sunflower oil, plus extra for lining the tin
  • 50g dark soft brown sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour (or wholemeal flour, to be super healthy)
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Frosting (optional)

  • 225g icing sugar
  • 25g vegan butter
  • 30ml soy or almond milk
  • 1tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 25g brazil nuts, rough chopped

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 200C / 180C fan / gas mark 6, then line a 2lb loaf tin with oil making sure to go all the way up the sides
  • In a bowl, mash the bananas with the sunflower oil, vanilla extract and sugar
  • In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and cinnamon with a fork
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the banana mix to the well and gently bring the dough together. Here’s how I do it: gently move a wooden spoon in an increasingly-large circular motion to gradually pull in more of the dry ingredients around the edge of the well (but don’t overwork it as you’ll end up with a gluey consistency!)
  • Add the dough to the loaf tin, cover with foil and bake on the middle shelf in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with a few crumbs
  • Allow to cool before running a knife around the tin and place onto a wire rack
  • If you’re making the optional frosting, put the sugar, butter, half the milk and the extract into an electric mixer. Whizz at low speed and slowly add the rest of the milk while gradually increasing the mixer speed until thick. Spread smoothly over the cake and decorate with chopped nuts
  • This four-banana-cake is super moist and absolutely delicious any time of the day!

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Simple & Delicious Mouthwatering Mediterranean Seafood Supper, Keto-Style

Missed the Mediterranean this year? Try this super healthy supper for an instant taste of Greece

Prep time:  15 minutes

Cooking time: around 2 hours (mainly to tenderise the Octopus, around 1 ½ hours)

Serves: 4

Ingredients

For the seafood

  • ½ whole octopus (approx. 750g)
  • 2 tuna steaks (approx. 300g)

And, for the seafood dressing:

  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 60ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ½ tbsp dried oregano
  • Sea salt, pinch
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

For the vegetable medley

  • 200g carrots, cut into batons
  • 200g courgette, cut into batons
  • 200g green beans, trimmed

And, for the vegetable dressing:

  • 30g olive oil
  • 30g balsamic vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1tsp mustard
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Method

Octopus (Part I)

  • When it’s out of season in the UK, I buy Octopus online from The Fish Society or Brindisa –unpaid plug 🙂 — otherwise it’s generally available in the larger supermarkets
  • I always recommend that you ask the fish monger to remove the Octopus’s ink sac, eyes and the beak, otherwise do that now
  • Now tenderise the octopus by cooking it. First, give it a good wash under cold running water then place in a large pot of cold water, with enough water to fully cover, and put a lid on it. Simmer for around 1 to 1 ½ hours, timing from when the water gets up to a boil (then turn down the temperature). The octopus is done when a knife easily goes through a tentacle. Take it off the heat and leave in the pot with the water to cool
  • Once cooled, drain and cut into bite-sized pieces

Vegetables

  • Prepare the vegetables. Wash them well then peel the carrots and, along with the courgette, cut into batons, then trim the beans
  • Steam for the following times: carrot 10 minutes (or until tender), green beans 3-5 minutes and courgette 2-5 minutes
  • Now make the vegetable dressing. Simply add all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well until combined and the dressing has thickened

Tuna

  • While the vegetables steam, cook the tuna. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/ 400F/ gas mark 6
  • Rub the tuna steaks with the sea salt and olive oil (a drizzle is fine)
  • Heat a skillet until hot and sear each steak until light brown in colour (30 seconds each side, but longer if a thick cut of tuna). Reserve the skillet and line a roasting tray with parchment paper. Add the tuna to the tray and place on a low shelf in the oven for a couple of minutes while the octopus cooks. They’re done when slightly pink on the inside

Octopus (Part II)

  • Heat the reserved griddle pan over high heat and sear the octopus pieces for around 3 minutes until cooked through and the tentacles start to char
  • Now make the seafood dressing by whizzing the olive oil and lemon juice in a blender for a few seconds, until it thickens
  • On one side of the serving plates, portion the tuna and octopus then pour over the seafood dressing followed by a pinch of oregano and sea salt. Drizzle the vegetable dressing on the other side of the plate and layer the vegetables on top
  • Serve immediately while still hot, perhaps with my fluffy Fluffy Flatbreads, Keto-Style : )

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Quick & Easy and Super-Delicious Prawns Pil Pil

For an instant travel-fix transport yourself to the sunny Mediterranean with this Spanish-inspired dish

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 4tbsp olive oil
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 60g green peppers, finely diced
  • 60g red peppers, finely diced
  • 200g raw sustainable king prawns
  • 2tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • Salt, to season

Method

  • In a large skillet or frying pan, heat 2tbsp olive oil over a medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 3 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, or until the onion and garlic is translucent and soft to the touch. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a small bowl. Reserve the skillet.
  • In the reserved skillet, add the remaining oil and sauté the peppers for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Push them to one side and, in the other, add the prawns. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly; when the prawns start to turn pink add the reserved onion and garlic, chilli flakes and paprika. Give everything a good stir and cook for a further minute, or until the prawns are cooked through.
  • Season with salt and serve straight away as the prawns must be sizzling hot!
  • Mop up the delicious sauce with my fluffy Keto flatbreads : )

Enjoy x

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Quick & Easy Fantastic and Fluffy Flatbreads, Keto-Style

The perfect healthy accompaniment to a Middle Eastern meze (or use them to mop up sauces!)

Prep time:  10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: makes 6 flatbreads

Ingredients

  • 240g mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2tbsp cream cheese, room temperature
  • 60g almond flour (or substitute 1:1 with plain wheat flour, if Keto’s not your thing)
  • 1tbsp za’atar seasoning
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1tsp fine salt

For the topping, mix

  • 1tbsp za’atar, with
  • 1tbsp sumac
  • Olive oil

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 180C / 160C fan / gas mark 4 and line two baking sheets with baking parchment paper and set aside
  • Melt the cheese in a saucepan over medium-low heat stirring as required. When fully combined take off the heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes
  • Mix the flour, seasoning and eggs in a large bowl using a plastic spatula. When nicely combined add the cheese a little at time (around 1/4 of the cheese mix) stirring to combine between additions
  • Give the dough a quick knead in the bowl to fully combine; a minute or two is fine
  • Divide the dough into six pieces and flatten each one in the palm of your hand using the heel of your other hand to around 3mm in thickness
  • Sprinkle the za’atar and sumac mix over each piece then make a few cuts in the dough with a sharp knife and drizzle over with a little olive oil
  • Place the flatbreads on the baking trays and bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown

Enjoy with hummus and olives or my delicious Greek Keto Meatballs x

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Quick & Easy Mouthwatering Mediterranean Meatballs Keto-style

These Greek inspired Keftedes — that’s meatballs, to you and I — will have you licking fingers and smacking lips!

Prep time: 10 minutes 

Cooking time: 20 minutes 

Serves: 4 (approx. 32 meatballs)

Ingredients 

  • 2tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 white onion, grated 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2tbsp unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 30g fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 30g almond flour, plus extra for dusting 
  • 1tbsp ground coriander 
  • 1tsp dried oregano
  • 1tsp ground cumin 
  • 1/2tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4tsp ground nutmeg 
  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2lb ground lamb or pork
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

Method 

Taste alert – follow the order in which the ingredients are mixed, to properly combine the wet and dry ingredients, for mouthwatering meatballs : )

  • In a large skillet heat 1tbsp olive oil on medium heat and cook the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes, or until they’re translucent and soft to the touch then transfer to a small bowl. Reserve the skillet for later
  • In to the bowl, add the milk and egg and whisk together. Add the fresh mint and lemon zest and give it a stir. Set aside for a couple of minutes
  • In a large bowl, stir the dry ingredients (flour, dried herbs & spices and seasoning) using a wooden spoon. Gently push the mixture to the sides of the bowl to create a well
  • Pour the milky mix into the well and use a rubber scraper to combine (pull the dry ingredients in to the wet ones by running the scraper around the edge and to the bottom of the bowl). Make sure the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly combined
  • Add in the ground meat using your hands until just combined (TASTE WARNING – you’ll end up with tough meatballs if you overwork the mix!)
  • Form the mixture into meatballs the size of a rounded tablespoon then roll them lightly in the flour and place on a baking tray
  • Heat 1tbsp olive oil in the reserved skillet (medium-high to start with then turn down to medium) and add the meatballs, cooking in batches for 10 minutes at a time. Turn occasionally to ensure there’s a nice even crust on the meatballs. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to drain any excess oil

Serve on wooden sharing platters with grilled tomatoes and a lovely Tzatziki dip  x

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Fast, Flavourful & Filling Bulgur Wheat Tabbouleh

This Middle Eastern favourite is a yummy tummy filler come brunch or supper

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 100g bulgur wheat
  • 10 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 100g fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 30g fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • Salt and black pepper to season

Garnish

  • Reserve a few uncut parsley leaves to sprinkle over

Method

  • Place the bulgur wheat in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 20 minutes or until soft to the touch 
  • Empty the bulgur wheat into a fine sieve to drain the water then rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Drain again then press out the excess water with a wooden spoon
  • Place the bulgur wheat in a clean bowl and fluff it with a fork. Add the tomatoes, herbs and onion and stir well to combine 
  • Quickly whisk the olive oil and lemon juice dressing to combine, then drizzle over the tabbouleh
  • Season with salt and black pepper to taste
  • To garnish, sprinkle over a few of the reserved uncut parsley leaves

Serve with a hunk of warm bread and simple green salad for a delicious and nutritious super-quick brunch or supper x

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The Best Smashed Avocado with a Runny Poached Egg

Get fired up right now with this zingy dish!

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes 

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 1/4tsp chilli flakes
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • White wine vinegar, a dash

To serve (optional): 

  • Balsamic vinegar, little splash of
  • Toasted sourdough, couple of slices

Method

  • Halve and pit the avocado 
  • Scoop out the flesh onto a chopping board and cut into little cubes
  • Place the avocado in a small bowl and smash it! Add the lemon juice, olive oil, chilli and seasoning. Stir well to combine 
  • Toast the sourdough and, while the egg cooks, spoon the avocado over it
  • Meanwhile boil a pan full of water and add a dash of white wine vinegar to help the egg white set faster. Add the eggs and cook for around 3 minutes or until the white is set and the yolk is still runny. Tip: if you’re cooking one egg, swirl the water before adding it as this helps wrap the egg white around the yolk and make it look more restaurant-worthy. With two eggs this becomes more problematic (egg bumper cars anyone?)
  • Lift the eggs out with a slotted spoon and – important point – dab off the water with kitchen roll to avoid soggy eggs 
  • Arrange the egg on top of the avocado and add a little splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Season and enjoy x

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