9 November 2011

Pissaladiere

I made this a few weeks ago for lunch with my sister. We hadn't quite made the switch to this horrible weather by then, so the sun was shining and with a bit of imagination we could have been in France.


I know lots of people don't like anchovies, but they really do make a difference in this recipe. Also, if you can, try to use small olives with stones, like kalamata, rather than the stoned ones you get in brine.

If you're really organised, you can cook the onions the day before, or even a couple of days before and just keep them in the fridge. They take a little while to soften, whereas the rest of the recipe is super quick.

Pissaladiere
Serves 3-4

1 tbsp olive oil
15g unsalted butter
Small bunch of thyme, leaves picked
800g onions, finely sliced
250g puff pastry (ideally the all butter type)
6-8 anchovies
8-10 black olives
Sea salt
Black pepper
Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy-based pan until the butter has melted. Add about half of the thyme leaves and the onions, and cook over a low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally - they should be soft and slightly caramelised, but not brown. Season and leave to cool. 

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 220C.

Line a baking sheet with some grease-proof paper (or you can just brush it with a little olive oil), then roll out the puff pastry until it's about the thickness of a pound coin, and place it on the baking tray. 

Brush the surface of the pastry with a bit more olive oil, then cover with the cooked onions, leaving a gap of about a centimeter from the edge, all the way round. slice each anchovy in half, then arrange on top of the onions in  a lattice pattern. Place the olives in the gaps between the criss-crossed anchovies. Sprinkle with the remaining thyme.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the pastry is puffy and golden and serve warm with some salad and bread. Yum.

4 November 2011

Book Club: Printing by Hand

This is a really, really lovely book. Textile designer and illustrator, Lena Corwin, walks you through the three primary ways of printing by hand: stamping, stenciling and screen printing. 

Printing by Hand starts with a straight-forward guide to all of the materials that you need to get started, including the different fabrics, inks and paints. It's really well laid out with beautiful photography and really simple step-by-step instructions. Lena has even included a pack of her designs at the back of the book, so you can create stencils and stamps with the minimum of artistic talent! 

From napkins and table cloths, to stationery and soft furnishings, it's impossible not to find something tempting in this book.

3 November 2011

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Who doesn't love pictures of animals? Exactly.  And now the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is back at the Natural History Museum. The exhibition runs until March next year, so there's plenty of time to go and see it, but make sure you do.

2 November 2011

Apple Rum Twist

Autumn is absolutely everywhere at the moment - golden trees, orange pumpkins and lots of apples. And this is a cocktail to match, helping to get you in the mood for the season and keep you warm when it's cold outside. It's a perfect drink for sipping while you sit round a bonfire and enjoy the flashes and bangs of the fireworks. 


I made a cold drink, with ice, but if you need to warm your cockles, try it with hot apple cider. Just put the ingredients in a pan and heat gently. Don't let it boil though, or you'll start to burn off the alcohol.

Apple rum twist
Makes 1

1 1/2 shots dark rum
3 shots apple juice (or warm cider)
1/2 shot lemon juice

Put all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with a couple of cubes of ice. Shake it well and pour over more ice. Garnish with a good slice of apple.