Friday, 28 June 2013

Adventures in sourdough, travels with my mother



My no knead sourdough bread has a better structure
I've been making sourdough bread, pretty regularly, like a good little foodie, for about six months now. I'll be frank, it's not perfect. It's got the taste, the crumb, the crust but the loaves are still a bit, well, flat. I've got a problem with structure.
Here is what I've learnt in my sourdough career so far:

  • The starter is also called the 'mother'. I'm so glad to hear that there is a goddess culture within the food world. 
  • Make the starter with rye flour, it takes about five days initially. I learnt this from Dan Lepard.
  • If you bake a loaf every day, refresh the starter every day. What does this mean? Keep your starter in a jar and every day, empty out enough of it (say 2/3rds) to leave room enough to add one cup flour (I alternate rye and strong white) and one cup water. 
This is alive!
  • A starter is alive and kicking if it froths up in the hours after you have fed it.
  • Texture of starter: some people have thick gloopy starters and some people have thin ones. Take that into account when you are thinking of 'hydration' or how much water to put in your dough.
  • Once you've got your starter to a stable state, you can keep it in the fridge and 'refresh it' every few days if you don't bake every day.
  • A recently refreshed starter gives you a better structured loaf.
  • If I've recently refreshed the starter, I use a cup of what I would usually throw away, to start my loaf.
  • I don't usually use cups to measure, but I've found that I do with making bread. I keep one in the flour sack. Use the same cup for everything, that way you are working with ratio not measurements. 
  • I fill a cup with flour loosely, then level it off. If you are using cups, make sure you use the same way of filling it each time. Otherwise one cup could be tightly packed, the next loosely and the amount of flour in your cup could vary by 50g easily.
  • If you are embarking on the sourdough journey, I recommend that you order some large sacks of flour from Shipton Mill. They deliver and it works out a great deal cheaper than constantly buying small bags of flour. I have a 16 kilo sack of strong white flour. 
  • If you live near a traditional mill, then get flour from them. Support local farmers and millers and you'll get a more interesting, better loaf.
  • Going on holiday: unlike Sweden we don't have a starter hotel. So I just keep it in the fridge with clingfilm over the top of the jar. When I was away for a month, I checked on it and even though it smelt funny, with the addition of a little flour and water, it sprung back into life. 
  • Starters are remarkably strong and rarely die. When it has gone green though, I do draw the line and chuck it.
  • The oldest starter in the UK, around 300 years old, comes from Italy and lives at Franco Manca pizzeria in Brixton. If you ask nicely they will give you a bit.
  • Hydration is the bakers favourite word. What is it? It's the ratio of water you combine with the flour. For instance my starter is refreshed with 100% hydration, ie: one cup flour, one cup water.
  • The thinking is that the more hydration, the stickier the dough, the more moisture, with a more open crumb structure, in your final bread. A good sourdough loaf lasts days, with no additives or e numbers whatsoever.
  • Hydration does make bread dough difficult to handle however which is probably one of the reasons that No Knead breads have become popular
  • Wet your hands with water and your dough shouldn't stick when handling if you are kneading. I learnt this from Jane Mason at Virtuous Bread.
  • The amount of water in a dough depends on the weather, your flour, a million things. So learn as you go, what your dough should feel like. Eventually you won't need a recipe.
  • Folding and tucking: when your dough is proving, every few hours, pull the dough together carefully by stretching one side from the bottom over to the other side. You are not pummeling it down, you are merely strengthening the structure. I learnt this from Richard Bertinet.
  • I often overproof my dough, because I forget about it. You can tell when this happens as your dough gets really big, then you go back and it's burst and sunk. Try not to do this, it weakens the life in your loaf. It's probably why I don't have a good structure.
  • Those pretty birch wood bannetons are a nightmare! The dough always sticks, I've ruined so many loaves this way. I've tried painting it with layers of cornflour and water. The dough stuck. I've tried to flour it heavily and dig the flour into each groove. The dough stuck. 
  • Keep one of your tea towels just for proving dough: So I've given up on the banneton by itself and now line it with a heavily floured favourite tea towel. I'm using the same tea towel each time, never washing it, because the tea towel accrues cultures and flavour which add to your bread dough. Your loaf still gets the banneton pattern through the tea towel. This I learnt from Rachelle Blondel
  • Scoring: every baker has a signature design slashing on top of their bread. They all have their own special 'lame' even (French for blade). I'm rubbish at remembering to slash, at the actual slashing. But right now I just let the loaf crack open organically. However, you are supposed to control this by cutting the top of the loaf, just before it goes in the oven, with say a square or a cross.
  • Baking: in a domestic oven is not going to produce the results you get in a commercial bakery. Domestic ovens don't get hot or steamy enough, to give your loaf a fantastic crust.
  • I'm baking in an Aga, so I use a slightly floured (with flour or cornmeal) peel (that long handled 'spade' you see in pizzerias) and bake on the floor of the hottest oven.
  • To get a crust you can spray the oven with water as you put in the loaf.
  • But the easiest is to use a 'dutch oven', in other words, a heavy cast iron Le Creuset type pot which has a lid. This ensures that you have a good shape to your loaf. 
  • Oven spring: you will see websites talk about this, it's very desirable. It's the initial rising that you get with your loaf once it is put in the oven. Much of the rising takes place in the first 5 minutes.
  • One of the best websites on sourdough that you can read is written by a North London suburban housewife from Portugal. It's called Azelia's Kitchen. She's clearly bonkers obsessional in the kind of foodie geek way that I adore. I love her site.

So what I've ended up with, finally, is a mongrel No Knead Sourdough Bread recipe.  This is the only way I can get the bread to retain a lovely shape.
This recipe will keep me going until I manage to make a successful solely sourdough loaf.

1 cup recently refreshed (in the last 5/6 hours) starter
3 cups strong white flour
1 cup to 1.5 cups of water
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of quick acting yeast.

Mix this roughly together in a bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave for 8 to 12 hours to rise slowly. If it's a hot day, put it in the fridge.
Transfer it to the banneton with the heavily floured tea towel, folding and tucking as you go. Leave for one hour.
Heat up your cast iron pot for at least 15 minutes.
Then tip the dough, trying not to catch it on the side, into the pot.
Put the lid on and bake on the hottest setting you have for 30 minutes.
Then take the lid off and bake for another 15 minutes.
Take out the cast iron pot and tip the loaf onto a grill to cool.

If you want to add flavouring, say olives or cheese, or raisins and nuts, put it in the initial dough.


Further reading: Michael Pollan's Cooked, which details Michael's adventures with sourdough in a very accessible and enjoyable way.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Ten great places to eat in Copenhagen

Porridge with rhubarb and 'skyr' an Icelandic sour cream, from Grød.
Flying into Copenhagen

Thanks to Noma, Copenhagen is on every food lovers' map but... most of us who visit will neither be able to afford it or get a reservation. 

There is still plenty of interesting food to be tasted and food places to be visited in Copenhagen. I had the privilege of a food tour from Mia Kristensen, a food anthropologist and chef living in Copenhagen. Mia often comes to London to talk about and demonstrate 'New Nordic' cuisine(more info here). 
Copenhagen is a young city, I doubt I saw anyone over the age of 35. Once people have had kids, they move out. This hipster demographic means that the men are very handsome, often blond and frequently with fashionable facial foliage. I confess, I found myself being distracted from the food and on a 'hot Danish man' safari. 
1) The world's only porridge restaurant 'Grød' (pronounced something like 'gruel'). There is a version of porridge in every world cuisine and it's not only eaten for breakfast. Think of polenta, rissoto, farroto, congee, these are all variations upon porridge. The girl behind the counter told me that people do go there three times a day! Two branches: one in Jaegersborggade and the other in the market mentioned below. 

2) Torvehallernekbh, the main food market:  located in a large square near Norreport station. You can spend most of a day wandering around and eating. Here are my picks:

Shops:
Salty Liquorice! I'm passionate about this stuff but it is a Marmite thing, you'll love it or hate it. Bornholmerbutikken sells artisanal liquorice, made by young entrepeneur Johan Bulow, in different strengths plus syrup which you can use in cooking. (Heston uses liquorice to baste salmon, and I love it with meringues, available from Totally Swedish in London)

Herbs! C.O Torveplads: unusual herbs such as pineapple mint. 
Chocolate marshmallows and blue cheese chocolates at Anton Berg, Copenhagen
Chocolate marshmallows at Anton Berg. These are a retro fetish, invented by the Danes, which were previously, in less respectful times, called 'Negro kisses'. Apparently each Dane consumes at least 45 per annum. 

One stall Krydderiet sold various fruit powders (dehydrating a big trend here). I bought a bunch of these.
Danish wine is now being produced. I've heard it's good but rather expensive at almost £40 a bottle. This will be a relief for Noma's sommelier who can now include local wines on his list.
Food stalls: great for a quick lunch

Gorm's: make delicious 'pizza wraps', cooked on a wood burning oven. Do try the Brigitte 'Stallone' Nielsen with cured salmon, mozzarella, cream cheese and watercress. I've read they also do a horse meat pizza.

Danish open sandwiches from Hallernes in the market. They are little works of art really and lower carb than your usual sarnie!
There are also excellent Danish open sandwiches 'smørrebrød' at Aamanns in Copenhagen.
Traditional fishcakes served with dark bread and remoulade, a sauce of mustard mayonnaise with piccalilli
Danish fishcakes called Fiskefrikadeller can be bought at Boutique Fisk. These are traditional heavy Danish cuisine. fiskefrikadeller s
Cupcakes and baked goods at Cafe Rosa. This is run by a kooky Japanese-Danish girl Maya, who looks like a cartoon and has little animals on the counter. It's stylish but she is slightly scary and unfriendly. Don't let that put you off, the food is great. 
3) A supper club: Silver Spoon
This one I found on the supper club lists on my site Find a supper club, where, on joining, you can peruse the UK list or the worldwide one. Silver Spoon is a Copenhagen based pop up/supper club, run by ex-pat American Tiffany who has lived in Denmark for five years. 
The theme was 'The Refined ghetto' an interpretation of the soul/R&B movement and 80s ghetto scene from LA. It was held in an atmospheric abandoned warehouse, covered in graffiti, next to the river, further along from Christiania, the squatted village. San Francisco chef, Jordan Grosser, who has worked with several supper clubs in the States, flew over especially to create a deconstructed Southern style menu. There was street dance, cocktails, and of course, a chance to meet Copenhagen people for we all sat at a long table.
Supper clubs in Copenhagen appear to be very expensive, around £100 to £150 per head but I believe Silver Spoon also does some cheaper events. 
Another supper club recommendation, also expensive, is 1th, a supper club style part-time restaurant. 
@silverspooncph
info@silverspooncph.com
4) Sømods Bolcher, a sweet shop:
We visited a shop that made old fashioned sweets, with a workroom at the back where the public can watch the process of folding and twisting sugar.
Sømods Bolcher
Nørregade 24 og 36b, 1165 KBH.K

5) Street Food:  A hot dog stall: the Danes love their hot dogs. This is a very trendy hot dog stall which even does a veggie one! Near the Round Tower and Church of the Holy Ghost. 
Købmagergade ved Rundetårn
1150 København K
6) Christiania, a 40 year old squat in the centre of Copenhagen: yes this is not strictly foodie, but it's a must visit, the third most popular tourist destination in Denmark. In fact, dear reader, the most interesting things you can consume, I wasn't allowed to take a photo of... I've never seen so different shades, textures, smells and shapes of hash in my life. An open air market, known as Pusher Street, has tens of stalls with blocks of khaki and heaps of weed. You can also visit a few reasonably priced cafés and restaurants inside Christiania as well as listen to music. Many of the original inhabitants have beautiful beach houses in the Scandinavian style, along the river. 

7) Restaurant suggestions:

I did not eat at Kiin Kiin, there was no room, but, according to restaurant critic Andy Hayler, this is the best Thai restaurant anywhere in the world. 
Fortunen was recommended to me, but I didn't get a chance to visit.

Further reading: http://verygoodfood.dk/


8) Places to drink: 

Manfreds also has good food, I'm told on Twitter.
Mikkeller, which brews it's own beer.
1005 Cocktail bar. Possibly the best cocktails in Copenhagen.

9) Bakeries and delicatessens: 

Danish ryebread is the basis of the celebrated open sandwich: it's dark, full of protein and seeds, mostly sourdough. 
Claus Meyer is René Redzepi's partner at Noma, but, while a celebrity TV chef and prolific cookbook author in Denmark, outside he is hardly known. He has a bakery/deli worth visiting.
Foodshop no26
Fougaz: The Bread Station


Ann-Sofie the hostess, was very creative and made the lamps out of vintage vacuum cleaners. Top left: I love a place with cookbooks: the word for food in danish is Mad...GOD MAD means good food.
10) Finally, not a place to eat but a place to stay 
Copenhagen is expensive so I stayed, for the first time, at an Airbnb apartment, costing around £50 a night as opposed to £200-£300 in a hotel. This turned out to be a good idea; the apartment was Scandinavian in style, bright, tidy, spare, uncluttered, colourful, well-designed containing an actual Danish couple with similar qualities but also wheaten blonde, good-looking, helpful and fluent in English. Just like supper clubs, when you stay with locals, you are instantly immersed in the culture, in tiny subtle ways, an experience that you would not get at a standard restaurant or in a hotel.
I stayed in the vibrant Norreport station district, with many immigrants, which is both trendy and fairly cheap. The only disadvantage was the ten flights of stairs to reach the top floor apartment. Once I went out for the day, I tried not to return! A couple of weeks living there, I'd be very fit. I looked for the bathroom, could not find it, but noticed that there was a shower attachment hanging on the wall in front of the toilet.
Later the hostess remarked "One of the reasons we bought this apartment was for it's spacious bathroom". 
I was nonplussed, was this the Danish sense of humour? "Spacious?..." I quizzed.
I prodded further... "Is the shower in the toilet?"
She smiled "Yes and there is SO much room! Normally in Copenhagen apartments you have to actually sit on the toilet to have a shower."
It's little things like this, the sense of living in Copenhagen, you would never discover in a hotel.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Cookery for Northern wives: recipe for bannocks




During the prime of Miss Margaret B. Stout, on her graduation from the Edinburgh School of Cookery in 1915,  she fed Scottish troops returning from World War One. Once the war was over, she returned to the Shetland Isles, determined to collect and record the simple but plain recipes using local ingredients, passed down from mother to daughter.
Bemoaning the use of 'tinned meats' by modern housewives, "change, although inevitable, is to be regretted, for there is no doubt that a hardy race (the Shetlanders) with good teeth, muscle and bone, thrived upon the food used langsyne*" Miss Stout wrote 'Cookery for Northern Wives', from which I got my recipe for bannocks, a typical scone style bread from the Shetlands.
Making bannocks with buttermilk reminded me of my recent trip to Denmark (soon to be blogged) where grown men commonly drink glasses of milk with their dinner, I saw this too in the Shetlands. Danes also have chilled buttermilk as a refreshing summer drink, seen in Shetland cookery as 'Blaand': "This is a refreshing drink made by pouring enough hot water onto buttermilk to make it separate; the curd is drained, pressed and served as Kirnmilk. The whey is allowed to stand until it reaches the fermenting, sparkling stage". (A similar drink is found in Persian cuisine)
Shetland was part of Norway and Denmark (which used to be one kingdom) for centuries, and only became Scottish in the 15th century. In fact, Denmark still has rights to Shetland, having merely pawned the islands. If Scotland becomes independent next year, it will be interesting to see what happens in terms of independence for Shetland, for much of Scotland's oil wealth is based around the isles. Shetland traditionally has been Unionist.
Visiting Shetland in June means that I got to experience the 'simmer dim', the sun shining at midnight. I have to say though, I did not sleep well in the disorientating brightness. I kept waking, looking out the window at 2 am, seeing that it was sunny and having difficulty going back to sleep. In the winter, the Shetlands only have a little daylight, between 11 am and 2.30pm. It's dark by 3pm. But winter is the time to see the Northern Lights.
Things have changed so rapidly on the Shetland Isles over the last century: photos show women wearing entirely woollen outfits, with rough skirts, in the 1920s. My taxi driver, whose family came from the Southern part of the island, said a trip to Lerwick, the main town in the centre, for his grandparents, was a twice yearly thing, taking all day by boat. Nowadays you can drive it in 25 minutes.
The advice in Northern Cookery for wives is delightful: "On Beainer Sunday (Sunday before Christmas) it was usual to hang up an ox head in the chimney to make broth with". The book includes mysterious recipes such as 'Krappin Muggies', 'Sparls', 'Vivda', 'Tar-Tin_Purrie', 'Virpa'. With very few ingredients, the Shetland wives managed to make an ingenious amount of dishes.

Recipe for Bannocks:
I made two types:  'top' bannocks, as a lady I met in the supermarket called them, cooked on a griddle, (probably even better on a peat fire) and, presumably, 'bottom' bannocks, baked in the oven. Roll them out a bit thinner if you are doing it on the griddle or in a dry frying pan, otherwise they can remain uncooked in the middle.
Eat,  spread generously with butter, perhaps with a boiled kipper and serve with a glass of cold buttermilk.

450g (1 pound) of plain flour
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
300-350ml of buttermilk

"Mix the dry ingredients together, make into a soft dough with the buttermilk, just as soft as can be easily handled. Turn onto a floured board" and form patties. I liked them to look quite rough and not too smooth.  Cook them either on a dry griddle or frying pan, on a low heat, until risen and golden on the outside. Or bake them in the oven, 180ºC, on a baking tray, for about 15 minutes. (Baking oven of the Aga).



*langsyne= long since, long ago in Middle English

Saturday, 15 June 2013

How to eat mussels: tips and recipes

Male mussels are paler than female ones and do not have such a strong taste.
A mussel farm
The Shetland Isles, halfway to the Arctic circle, the furthest point north in Britain, is nearer to Scandinavia than anywhere else. The people speak with a Pictish lilt, although they attempt to straighten it out for a 'soothmoother' like me.
Michael Laurensen runs BlueShell mussels which arrive in our shops, scrubbed, in kilo-weight fishnet stockings of thick marine nylon, after being grown, like grapes, clinging to underwater vineyards. These mussels are MSC certified, which is a global guarantee of sustainably sourced seafood. The mussels are raised in sheltered 'voes' or inlets, and at times when the weather was too severe to venture out to sea, or the small amount of fertile land upon which they could grow crops, failed, mussels and crabs were the reason that Shetland did not starve. Fish and seafood from cold waters are the best. Spain buys most of the Shetland crabs: they know their shellfish.
Mussels are fertile: just six could produce enough sperm (both male and female, white and orange) into the water to populate all of Shetland. Looking at the shells, ridges indicate times of stress (transplantation for instance); you can count the years, as in trees. They grow less in winter. The mussels are harvested at three years old.
The Belgians have moules et frites as their national dish. With crusty bread or chips to mop up the liquor, it is poor mans food, cheap and tasty but, in England, somehow still exotic. People are often nervous of cooking with mussels so here are some tips and a couple of recipes.

Tips for cooking with Mussels:

  • Chuck out the broken shells
  • Chuck the ones that don't close when raw
  • Chuck the ones that don't open once cooked
  • Mussels should be de-bearded no more than 30 minutes before cooking
  • Rinse in cold water then keep them in the fridge, covered with a damp cloth, for up to three days.
  • The simplest way to cook them is, as above, a quick rinse in cold water, drain, then cook them in a lidded pot for six minutes. They don't need liquid, there is enough in the shells.

Recipe for Thai style mussels

Enough for 3-4 people

1 kilo of cleaned mussels
1 red birds eye chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped
1/2 can of good quality coconut milk (no stabilisers)
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled, diced
1 large clove garlic, finely crushed
A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Wedge of fresh lime
Place the mussels into a deep saucepan which has a tightly fitting lid. Add all of the other ingredients on top, but reserve half the coriander and the lime for garnishing. Put the lid on the pan and heat. Every so often jiggle the pan. After six minutes, your supper is cooked!

Recipe for grilled mussels with persillade and Parmesan

Feeds 2

I had this all the time when I was in Chile. It's also a dish that the Parisian restaurant Le pied de cochon, aux Halles, does very well. I used to be taken there, when I was broke and living in Paris, as a treat, by my mother, on her occasional visits. We'd sit in the Art Nouveau interior and order these, tipping the ebony tear drop shells into our mouths, savouring the oily garlic sauce, swigging back a syrupy yellow Gerwurtztraminer.

1/2 a kilo cleaned mussels
Olive oil
2 shallots, finely minced
3 cloves of fresh garlic, finely minced
A handful of parsley, finely chopped
50ml white wine
150g finely grated Parmesan cheese
40g Finely ground breadcrumbs

Sweat the shallots until translucent in the olive oil. Then add the garlic, and half the parsley, a splash of white wine.
First steam your mussels for six minutes, with no water or liquid added, broken ones discarded, in a deep pot with a lid on, jiggling it every do often. Take off the heat.
Carefully remove the mussels and prise off the top of the mussel.
Add the shallot, garlic, parsley mixture to the half shell containing the mussel.
Mix the remaining parsley, Parmesan and breadcrumbs and top the mussel half shells with the mixture
Place under a grill and leave until the cheese is starting to melt.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Notes on the Doctor Who menu

The Sonic Screwdriver

Ginger beer and blue curaçao

The screwdriver has been sonic’d. Obviously thanks to the blue curaçao this is the Tenth Doctor’s screwdriver, which was blue, rather than Eleven’s more complex green one. Ginger beer was also a favourite drink of the Fourth and Eighth Doctors.

The Tenth Doctor and his sonic screwdriver

Bananas

“Bananas are good”, declares the Doctor in The Doctor Dances. In The Girl In The Fireplace, also penned by Steven Moffat, the Doctor tells Rose to “always bring a banana to a party”. So we thought we’d bring the banana to you. And here's a video of some Doctor Who banana clips.

Celery and blue cheese sticks

The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) had large shoes to fill when he replaced the immensely popular Tom Baker, a challenge possibly augmented by the novelty of such a young actor in the role - Davison was only 29. To add some Eleventh Doctor-style quirkiness, Five accessorises his cricket whites by placing a stick of celery in the lapel of his blazer. Kooky. In The Caves of Androzani, companion Peri asks the Doctor why he wears celery and receives a fairly irritated response as the Doctor hadn't quite warmed up to her at this point.
Peri: Doctor, why do you wear a stick of celery in your lapel? 
The Doctor: Does it offend you? 
Peri: No, just curious.
The Doctor: Safety precaution. I'm allergic to certain gases in the praxis range of the spectrum.
Peri: Well, how does the celery help? 
The Doctor: If the gas is present, the celery turns purple. 
Peri: And then what do you do? 
The Doctor: I eat the celery. If nothing else, I'm sure it's good for my teeth.
The Third Doctor eating gorgonzola in Day of the Daleks and finding it “absolutely delicious”. 

The Daleks, of course, are the Doctor's greatest enemy, whether they are in menacing black and gold or entirely non-threatening pastels (as in Victory of the Daleks). Or at least they used to be until Asylum of the Daleks written by Steven Moffat, current showrunner of Doctor Who, wiped the Daleks' memory of the Doctor (or his new random name "the Predator"). Now it's more of a one-sided legendary enmity.

Hence, celery and blue cheese canapés (in this case, Danish blue cheese).

Cheesy Yorkshire puddings

While the Doctor, Amy and Rory eat fish custard (see our next course) in The Power of Three, the Doctor says that if he ran a restaurant it would serve only fish custard. He then compares it to the Yorkshire pudding, which he claims to have invented: “Pudding, yet savoury. Sound familiar?”

Fish custard and chips


The first episode of series 5, The Eleventh Hour, introduced both the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan). Prior to whisking Amy off in his TARDIS, the Doctor met Amelia Pond, Amy's younger self (played by Karen's cousin, Caitlin Blackwood). The Doctor is in the process of regenerating when he lands in Amy's garden. The regeneration process has apparently affected his tastes: "New mouth, new rules" he says after spitting out apple and yoghurt. The little girl cooks this strange raggedy man various dishes, including fried bacon ("Are you trying to poison me?"), baked beans ("Beans are evil") and buttered bread (the Doctor chucks it out through the front door - “And stay out!”). He finally settles on fish fingers and custard, which becomes the Doctor and Amy's signature meal.


In the same way that fish custard became a symbol for the friendship between the Doctor and Amy, chips were important to the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose Tyler's (Billie Piper) relationship. Series 1’s The End of the World was a formative episode for Doctor/Rose as Nine (Christopher Eccleston) takes Rose to the year 5.5/apple/26. This is when the Earth is finally destroyed by the expansion of the Sun. The pair hold hands while Rose witnesses the death of her home planet, which makes for a moving scene and allows both the Doctor’s latest companion and the audience to empathise with the horror of the Time War, which led to Gallifrey, the homeworld of the Time Lords, being destroyed. When the couple return to London they go off to eat chips, which Rose refers to as their “first date” in New Earth.


Jammie dodgers


Eleven defends himself from the Daleks in Victory of the Daleks with a Jammie Dodger, pretending it’s a self-destruct button. Home-made Jammy Dodgers were therefore inevitable.


Dalek cupcakes

To exterminate your appetite...



Guest post by Sienna Rodgers (blog).

Friday, 7 June 2013

5 best breads in Paris

Baguettes, paris. pic:Kerstin Rodgers
The baguette is an iconic wand of dough, symbolic of France. Commercially produced baguettes, baked from frozen, are the most widely available so you must look out for the sign 'Artisan Boulanger' for a baguette traditionel which lasts longer, is fermented and baked from scratch, and most importantly, tastes better. You can tell if a bread is not artisanal by the snakeskin-style raised dots on the bottom of the bread. It's acceptable to ask for your bread 'bien cuit' (well baked, darker) or 'pas trop cuit' (not too baked, lighter in colour) and the boulanger will happily sort through the loaves to pick one to your taste.
There are more boulangeries than any other type of food shop in France. Although the number of artisan bakers is reducing each year, it is the least threatened of small businesses. The French eat more bread than any other nation but consumption is dropping: from 900g per person daily in the year 1900 to 136g today.
Here is my list of great bakeries in Paris.
Baguettes and coffee, paris. pic:Kerstin Rodgers
63 Boulevard Pasteur
Metro: Pasteur
This chic modernist bakery with its velvet drapes rather suggests a funeral parlour. Their baguette tradition, which I tucked, still warm, under my arm, was wider than the classic but had a crispy crust, a chewy inside and was still good the day after.
du gateaux et du pain, paris, pic: Kerstin Rodgers
Des gateaux et du pain, Baguettes Paris Pic: Kerstin Rodgers
Au paradis du gourmet
159 Rue Raymond Losserand
Paris 14th arrondissement
Metro: Plaisance
Ridha Khadher, pictured below, won this years first prize in the Meilleur Baguette de Paris competition out of 152 entries. Another 52 entries were rejected because they didn't adhere to the strict rules: the baguette must be between 55 and 65 cms long, weigh between 250 and 300g, contain 18g of salt per kilo (not 18%).
Ridha Kjadher, of Au paradis du gourmet Winner of 2013 baguette of the year.  Baguettes Paris Pic: Kerstin Rodgers
Ridha Kjadher, of Au paradis du gourmet Winner of 2013 baguette of the year.  Baguettes Paris Pic: Kerstin Rodgers
34 Rue Yves Toudic
Paris 10th arrondissement
Metro: Jacques Bonsargeant
I was too late to try their baguette so I bought a half of the famous 'Pain des Amis' a smoky caramel pavé of a loaf. It lasts for days, has an open, almost cakey texture but tastes like good slow-risen bread. This beautiful boulangerie has queues out of the door.
Du pain et des idees, boulangerie, paris pic: kerstin Rodgers
Gontron Cherrier


Gontron Cherrier, for this is his name, is one of the most media cool and handsome bakers right now. Apart from a fantastic baguette traditionel, he also bakes a unusual squid ink black baguette.
Gontron Cherrier, squid ink baguette, normal baguette. Paris pic:kerstin rodgers
Gontron Cherrier, squid ink baguette, normal baguette. Paris pic:kerstin rodgers
226 Rue des Pyrenees
20th arrondissement
Metro: Gambetta
This was my old haunt when I lived in the 20th arrondissement. Baked to a secret recipe by the Ganachaud family, they have 4 shops and 290 licensed outlets all over France. Using a poolish fermentation technique, this chewy, creamy sourdough baguette traditionel remains my favourite bread in Paris.
A la flute gana, my favourite baguette in Paris. pic kerstin rodgers
La flute Gana
Thanks to Trish Deseine for additional help with this list. She will be bringing out the ultimate food guide, The Paris Gourmet, her personal notebook of addresses, of Paris this Autumn.
slices of baguette, paris pic kerstin rodgers