You know how somehow you’re having a sort of blah day? And you really want a cookie and some chocolate and you want it all at the same time, and you know that means you’ll have to bake it because there isn’t anything in the house? But that sort of makes you want to throw a mini tantrum and you sort of wish that you were three again? Yeah. I have had that sort of day. A low-level grouchy day where even the enjoyable things were sort of not enjoyable because I had a low-level grouch sitting at the back of my mind. And all I wanted was a fucking chocolate chip cookie and the local shop didn’t have any cooking chocolate. But! They did have Dairy Milk bars on sale. So I bought one, and ate quite a lot of it, and then decided to save some for baking. And I know, you’re thinking I’ve gone a bit off track because there’s a reason there’s cooking chocolate and eating chocolate. But, I’ll let you into a secret. These cookies? They use eating chocolate (and it sort of has to be Dairy Milk, because there is something about its creamy sweetness) and they are good. Like, really good. You see, you don’t chop the chocolate into smaller pieces. You just leave it in the chunk and you put it in the middle of a ball of cookie dough and it doesn’t melt but it does soften ever so slightly, and look, just trust me. These cookies are delicious, and they made that low-level grouch go away.
Apologies for the slightly dreadful picture there. I hadn’t intended to write a post about salmon and rice, and that is the picture I instagrammed of my dinner two nights ago. Yes, I am that person.
I really hadn’t intended to write about cooking salmon or rice. But then I remembered that I actually spend a fair bit of time e-mailing people my foolproof way of cooking fish, and I might as well share it here as well. And then I had to try and think of something to do with the leftover rice from Tuesday’s dinner and I thought I might as well share that as well. So all the better pictures are from last night when I was prepared and had my camera ready. Note I say “better” not “good”. My photography skills are minimal at best.
Wednesday’s dinner: salmon, green beans, broccoli and a rice (white and wild) ‘pattie’.
The recipe for these buns comes from Hannah Miles’s The Big Book of Cakes & Cookies which is sort of a go-to recipe book in my house, but mostly as a source of things to adapt. She calls these “Peshwari Cupcakes”, a name chosen, I assume, because they have sultanas in them? I prefer to call them the somewhat more accurate Pistachio Bun. They have pistachios in and they are a bun.
Blitzed pistachios, raisins, coconut and cranberries waiting to be stirred into the batter.
I decided to take things back to basics today, bread-wise. I had too much to do to even think about trying anything particularly complicated; I’m at the beginning of revising a chapter and it is taking all of my available brain space, and I was exhausted from a long and hectic day yesterday. So I did some digging around for a basic white loaf recipe, and came up trumps with the River Cottage Simple White Loaf recipe. Thank you, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall! And not just because I really like saying your surname.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I was tempted along the way by White Chocolate and Raspberry Bread, but I did come to my senses and realise that whilst it would be glorious for a celebration, it wasn’t going to be much good as Everyday Bread, and it was Everyday Bread that we needed. And, more importantly, that I wanted to bake. I don’t need to make bread for us to eat – we can go and buy a loaf from Food For Thought or the supermarket, but I wanted to make bread. Everytime I am thinking, slightly reluctantly, about baking I end up thinking about my grandmother and how even on the mornings she didn’t want to make bread, she still had to make bread to feed her family. I’m not saying it puts it into perspective, because I am too far removed from her life and existence, but it does make me want to bake more. For some unearthly reason.
It appears to be bread all the time in the Stressbaker household. I went on a breadmaking course ages and ages ago – I think I had just started recovering from shoulder surgery (it was run, of course, by Food For Thought – that link takes you straight to the information page about their baking courses) and it was brilliant. I came home with a sack – literally, a flour sack – full of bread. And then sort of failed to make any bread. But, in my attempts to mix baking and finishing my thesis I decided I needed to start making things that had built in breaks, in which I could work. Cakes and buns and biscuits are brilliant, but they sort of have to be done all in one go, and the only break you get is during the actual baking. Bread, with its built in breaks for rising is perfect right now.
So, I flicked through Baking by Martha Day again, and came across Pain Polka. The name Pain Polka comes, apparently, from the fact that the cross-hatching on the top resembles polka dots – this tidbit, and more can be found here. I … guess, if you squinted slightly that the cross-hatching could resemble polka dots. I’m willing to believe it, even if I don’t actually *see* it. To be honest, I picked Pain Polka because I didn’t have any leftover dough from anything and would also have to make a starter, which gave me another four hours of work-time! Hurrah! (Yes, this is what doing a thesis does to you.)