Monthly Archives: October 2010


I really ought to make this more often.

Fairly standard bread recipe: make a dough using 500g flour, 350mL water, 10g posh sea salt, and 30mL of nice olive oil. Mix, knead on an oiled surface, form into a ball, and let it rise, covered, somewhere warm, for an hour or so. (If the flour is strong enough to take more water than that, get stuck in. A wet dough is good.)

No fancy shaping required. Knock back the risen dough, stretch it out, and push it into a baking tray; all the way to the edges. You could also just stretch out your ball into a circle and put it in the middle of a baking sheet. The stretching action after the first rise helps produce the big irregular bubbles. If you think your tray might stick, then pop a sheet of baking paper on the bottom first, and maybe not quite go to the edges. In the case of this batch, the 800g of dough fitted nicely into a 10″ × 14″ baking tray, resulting in a layer of dough about half an inch thick, which is about what you should aim for.

Cover with cling film, and allow to rise again. You could also do the second rise in the fridge, obviously you’d need longer, which would suit an overnight rise, or perhaps whilst you were way during the day.

Dressing your focaccia is more fun than dressing your dolls or teddy bears. The classic approach is to brush the top with olive oil, sprinkle with flakes of sea salt, and bung in the oven. Be fairly generous with the olive oil, so the top crust fries as well as bakes!

Twenty minutes only: first ten as-hot-as-it-gets, second ten about 180ºC. Don’t forget to poke holes in it with your fingers to get the traditional appearance. Poke all the way to the bottom.

You could pop a needle of rosmary into each hole if you like. Or you could put sliver of garlic  instead. Maybe some whole or sliced olives? Or sundried tomatoes?

Caution. If you have any more than the merest hint of topping, the foccaccia will emerge soggy and doughy. Peppers in particular will suddenly ooze water at the wrong moment.


Venison Sausages

Grumpy? Maybe it’s because it’s cold, wet and miserable, or perhaps there’s just not enough sausage in your life. This is based on a similar idea where Saint Nigel roasts thinly sliced spuds, and then slips some mackerel fillets on just before the end. In this case, I’m using venison sausages, although any kind of sausage is good.

To prick or not to prick? Some people get very passionate about this: see Matthew Fort’s articles. Out of scientific curiosity, I pricked half of the sausages, but couldn’t tell once they were done.

I used:

  • 6 sausages + 500g charlottes, sliced about 5mm thick; no need to peel
  • salt+pepper
  • you could add thyme, garlic, sage, bay leaves etc – I popped two unpeeled gloves of garlic in

Now, I don’t know how fatty your sausages are, nor how thickly you sliced your spuds, so there is no foolproof procedure for what happens next – St Delia would doubtless be horrified. Start with 45 minutes at 160ºC (fan forced temp) and then take a look. The sausages will most likely be done, but the spuds will need a bit longer, pick one of the larger pieces and taste it to make sure. Pop the sausages to one side (on a plate covered with foil is a good start) and put the spuds back in, turning the oven up to 200ºC, and see how they’re looking after 15 minutes. Don’t despair if they take longer, just slip the sausages back on top for a few minutes to warm them up, if necessary.

The final phase is straightforward. Dole out the bangers and spuds, tip out any excess fat from the tin (not down the drain!) and add a splash of port plus a generous spoon of redcurrant jelly. Tonight I used 30mL of port and about a tablespoon of redcurrent jelly, but feel free to mess around with the proportions. The port will hiss and spit, and the jelly will sit there unhelpfully, so stir like mad. (Or you could melt the jelly into the port in another saucepan if you don’t mind the extra washing up.) The resulting sauce/gravy is just the right thing, although might need to be pushed through a coarse sieve to get any recalcitrant lumps of jelly and spud out. (Munch them when nobody’s watching.)