Comfort Munching

You Can’t Beat Home Backed Bread

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You can't beat home made bread....

There is nothing like the comfort and smell of a home baked loaf of bread; and it is so easy. I’m awaiting the day when someone buys me a bread making machine for my birthday – yes I know thats pretty sad, but when you buy a property your life inevitably changes, and you find yourself getting excited over a tin opener.

But, for now, I head down to my local supermarket and buy the cheapest bread mix I can find. It doesn’t have to be complicated, often the best food is kept simple. Above is a loaf I baked this weekend; multi-grain mix from Sainsbury’s, to which I added some rosemary and thyme. It’s all about experimenting, and when the bread mix is 65p per loaf, it’s not going to break the bank if your loaf doesn’t quite come out as you wished.

All you have to do it combine the bread mix with warm water and get your hands stuck in. The bread packet will confirm the amount of water needed; often it’ll be around 300ml. Kneed the bread – you do not have to be an expert just get stuck in; think of someone at work who you thoroughly hate and go mental – that often works for me! This is when I chuck in some herbs, dried, fresh – what ever you have in the cupboard.

There’s alot of ‘resting’ time when making bread, but it’s not exact science. Just leave your mixture in your mixing bowl for half an hour – I put a damp tea towel over mine, and pop it under the radiator. The mixture will rise, almost double in size. Give it another kneed and then place it into a greased baking loaf tin. If you dont have one of these just make some buns – take the mixture and rip into bun sized portions – it doesnt have to be exact – just make the portions to suit you.

Most bread mixes will be baked around 200 degrees farenheit / 95 degrees celsuis for around 30-40 minutes.

You’ll be so chuffed once the bread is ready; and you can’t beat warm bread with butter – trust me. Carbs are not my best friend but there are some guilty pleasures that I can not resist. Enjoy 😉

Where to buy?

Sainsbury’s Multiseed 75p // Morrisons (Offer) Wright’s Mixed Grain 89p // Lidl’s Seeded Mix 87p // Aldi Wholemeal Mix 65p

Pea ‘n’ Ham Soup

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Pea'n'Ham

This is a classic winter warmer, and can be altered to your personal taste. If you like thick, chunky soups, just add less liquid; if you like creamy, indulgent soups, add cream and milk at the end; if you hate ham or bacon, think creatively about what you could add instead, perhaps chicken? White Fish? This dish can be molded to suit you.

Get your ingredients ready: One large onion // 2 celery sticks // 2-3 garlic cloves (adjust to taste) // salt and pepper // half bag of frozen peas // half bag of baby spinach leaves // any left over green veg (Brussels, cabbage, green peppers etc) // large bunch of coriander // small bunch of basil // 1 pint vegetable stock // ham or bacon // herbs to serves. (if desired add a splash of cream at the end before serving)

Heat some oil in a pan – you only need a tiny amount to help the onions not burn or stick to the bottom. Finely chop your onion and start to sweat on a medium to low heat. Finely chop or crush your garlic, roughly chop your celery, then add to the mix. Gentle let these ingredients soften in the pan for a good 5-10 mins. If the ingredients start to stick, add a tiny bit of water. Now look at your green vegetables and think about how long they take to cook; If you have some left over Brussels from Christmas, chop them in half and add to the mixture first. Let them cook for a few minutes before adding your peas, spinach and other greens. Stir together until everything is mixed well.

Pop the kettle on and crumble your veg stock cube into a measuring jug. Add the boiling water and stir until dissolved. I sometimes add some dried herbs to the stock – anything will do, coriander, parsley etc. Add this to your veg and bring to the boil. Rip in your fresh herbs, season to taste and stir well. Boil for a good 5-10 minutes and then turn the heat down to a low simmer, cover with a lid and leave for 20 minutes.

Now this is the point where you can decide how thick your soup is. If you prefer thick, bring the heat up and boil your mixture for about 10 minutes; this will reduce the liquid.

Take the pot off the heat and place onto a heat proof surface. Leave to cool for a few minutes. Get your blender at the ready. Once cooled, blitz your mixture – again you can do this to your personal taste – blitz for longer to produce a smoother texture. If you really hate lumps, strain your mixture through a sieve.

Once you’ve got your desired texture, pop the pan with the mixture back onto the hob and gently simmer. Have a taste and add salt/pepper to suit your taste buds. If using bacon, chop up to small, bite sized pieces and add to the soup. The gentle simmer will cook the bacon in about ten minutes. Once the bacon has turned a pale pink it’s ready to serve. If using ham, roughly chop and add to the soup. Stir for a few minutes and serve. Rip some fresh herbs on top if desired, and enjoy!

Where to buy?

All your veg you can buy from your grocers or local supermarket – always buy loose you’ll save a huge amount of money. For your peas, the best tasting and value for money are: Aldi Frozen Garden Peas 99p // Aldi British Bacon 1.99p

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