Thursday 26 October 2006

au·ber·gine and to·ma·to gra·tin

A vegetable dish for when you feel like ratatouille but it is too early in the season for all the ingredients to be plentiful in the shop so you only buy an aubergine and a couple of tomatoes because you just can't resist even though it is a bit early.

I saw the idea for this in the Alice Walters book Chez Panisse Vegetables. It is a great way to serve aubergines and tomatoes, with their flavour bolstered by onion sautéed with herbs. The gratin is baked in the oven making it so easy to cook along side a roast chicken.

Aubergine and Tomato Gratin
serves 4, or as many as you like according to the dish and quantity of vegetables

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
a dash and a drizzle of olive oil
robust herbs - thyme and bay for example
salt and pepper
1 eggplant, sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced

Sauté the onion, garlic and herbs in the olive oil over a medium heat until soft and beginning to caramelize. Spread over the base of a suitably sized oven proof shallow gratin dish. Put a slice of tomato on top of each slice of aubergine and arrange nicely. If you have extra tomato or aubergine hide it under the matching slices or use it for another dish to leave the top layer looking nice. Prinkle with salt and pepper and a bit more olive oil. Cover with foil and bake at 200°C for 30 minutes then uncover and cook for another 15 minutes or until it is soft and cooked and begining to turn golden on top, there should not be any watery juices left.

Tuesday 24 October 2006

DMBLGIT : the judg·es

I have great pleasure in announcing the judges for the October edition of Does My Blog Look Good In This are :
  • Bron of Bron Marshall, photographer extrordinaire and DMBLGIT winner.
  • Bea of La tartine gourmande, very talented photographer and DMBLGIT winner.
  • Michael Owen, advertising and commercial London based photographer.
The winners will be announced right here on The Laughing Gastronome at the end of the month.

Entries can be found here - have a look and judge for yourself!

Monday 23 October 2006

left·o·ver ic·ing bis·cuits

I made my friend's father's 80th birthday cake a couple of weekends ago (Happy Birthday Joe!), and if you have had the honor to make a birthday cake for someone using bu

DMBLGIT re·mind·er

Remember entries for the October edition of DMBLGIT close tomorrow, 24th October!

Monday 16 October 2006

World Bread Day

is World Bread Day, organised as a blog event by Kochtopf.

Now, I love making bread, strangely enough possibly more than eating it, so it was hard to choose what sort of bread to choose for this event. So I didn't choose. I just decided to show a few different types of bread that I, and G, make, and to give a basic recipe for the most simple of breads.

The picture above shows clockwise from top left : challah, pain à l'ancienne, bagels, ciabatta, pita, buckwheat soda bread, crispbread and soft white.

Some of these breads have recipes on this site already and some are on the way! And there are many more breads that are not pictured - naan, English muffins, crumpets, lavash, and sourdough.

Simple Bread
makes one loaf

450g strong bread flour
1 teaspoon of yeast
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup tepid water

Mix the yeast and salt into the flour. Add enough water to hydrate all the flour, you might need more or less. Knead
for about 10 minutes to form a smooth and elastic dough, adding more flour or water as necessary. Put in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about two hours or until doubled in size. Punch down (literally) and form into a loaf shape, you can use a tin or go free form. Cover with plastic and leave to rise again in a warm place for about 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 220°C. Slash the top of the loaf to prevent bubbles under the crust and bake for about half an hour or until the loaf sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom. Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes to complete the cooking before slicing.

And the best thing to have with bread? Butter of course!

Sunday 15 October 2006

chees·y feet scones

If it is a Sunday afternoon and you just feel like something nice to eat and you are feeling a bit amused - try these . . .

Cheesy Feet Scones
makes enough for afternoon tea for four people with a few left over to take to work during the week . . .

225g plain cake flour
pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
150mL buttermilk
75g grated strong cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Rub the butter into the flour then mix in the salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Lightly mix in the buttermilk, then almost all the cheese. Knead briefly until the dough is smooth. Roll out to 2cm thick and cut out foot shapes with a floured cutter and set on a lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Leave for 10 minutes then bake for 10 minutes. Leave to cool while you make some tea, open some wine or just hang around a bit. Eat warm spread with some lovely fresh butter and enjoy the last bit of the weekend.

Sunday 8 October 2006

ov·en roast·ed as·par·a·gus

I am so pleased the asparagus season has begun! And the easiest way to cook some asparagus to go with the roast chicken you are having for dinner is to wrap the wet-from-washing spears, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, in foil and pop in the oven for about 5 minutes. Lovely! No boiling, steaming, heating an element or washing up, just using what you already have going.

Saturday 7 October 2006

sour·dough but·ter·milk pan·cakes

I am lucky enough to have been given some of a wonderfully active sourdough starter by a friend. This is seriously active stuff. I had a starter a few years ago, but the resulting bread was fairly solid, so I didn't use it that often ; the weekly feedings seemed such a waste that we weren't that upset to loose it after one holiday. The bread made with this new starter is as good as bread made with commercial yeast. Although I must say that I hope my bread making techniques have improved in that time too!
This morning I thought I'd try out sourdough pancakes and since I had some buttermilk in the fridge from making butter last weekend I made sourdough buttermilk pancakes.
I figured that sourdough and buttermilk together would result in quite a tangy pancake that would go brilliantly in a stack with some wonderful, salty bacon and sweet maple syrup. Happily they did just that, a brilliant stack of breakfast!
sourdough buttermilk pancakes
to serve two

1 cup of sourdough starter, best if fed the night before so it is good and lively.
2 tablespoons of buttermilk
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 egg
2 teaspoons of sugar
large pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of water
olive oil for greasing the pan

Mix the starter, buttermilk, olive oil, egg, sugar and salt until well combined, but not too much so you don't develop the gluten and end up with a tough pancake - no one wants a tough pancake!
Heat a pan to medium and an oven to low with a foil covered plate in it to keep the pancakes warm. Pour a little olive oil in the pan and then wipe around and off with a paper towel. Use this now oiled paper towel to wipe the pan between pancakes.
When you are ready to cook the pancakes mix the baking soda with the water and then mix into the batter. Leave for one minute to active the baking soda. Since the batter is acidic the baking soda quickly and powerfully releases its carbon dioxide. Pour some batter into the pan and cook until golden on each side, then transfer to the oven. I used about 1/3 of a cup of batter for each pancake.
Serve in a stack with crispy bacon, maple syrup and, if you are me, a grinding of black pepper over the top. What a great breakfast!

More information on sourdough can be found here.

Thursday 5 October 2006

Sunday 1 October 2006

Does My Blog Look Good In This 2006 #10 Oc·to·ber

I am very pleased to host the October round of Does my blog look good in this?, the food photography challenge originally devised by Ronald of LoveSicily, which he describes as :

The idea behind the event/contest is to give everyone a chance to enjoy some of the best pictures of the month posted on food blogs. There are so many food blogs now and stories are constantly posted that it's very easy to miss some great posts and pictures. This event takes us back through the food photos.

How to participate :
  1. Choose the very best, the most beautiful, your favourite photograph of food or drink that you took and posted to your food blog in September.
  2. Email your chosen photo as an attachment to with DMBLGIT in the subject, and the following information in the body of the email :
    • your name
    • location
    • blog address
    • the title of the photo
    • the URL of the relevant post
    • the type of camera you used
  3. Entries close on the 24th October 2006.
A panel of judges will rate all the entries for eatability, originality and aesthetics and the winners will be announced right here on The Laughing Gastronome at the end of October.

Good luck and I can't wait to see your entries!

Previous rounds : September (results coming soon!), August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January.

The small print :
  • The photo must have been taken by you.
  • The photo must have been posted on your blog during September 2006.
  • The photo must be food/drink related.
  • Only one entry per person.
  • The judges may not enter.