Easy Rye Bread

My Easy Rye Bread Loaf

 

I love my little island life with my beautiful family but greatly enjoy travelling, seeing new sights, cultures and perhaps this won’t surprise you trying new food. And I really do think that food is all the better for being in the right location and ambience, pasta just seems to taste better in Italy and simple salads of tomato and olives burst with flavour in Greece. One of my enduring experiences as a teenager was winning a trip to Norway, the stunning scenery, the wonderfully hospitable people and the really fantastic food. Fresh seafood, particularly bucket loads and I do mean bucket loads, of crayfish for breakfast caught that morning, buttery cinnamon porridge, sweet and tangy Brunost and most of all the Smörgåsbord; pickled herrings, Gravadlax, sausages, meatballs, lobster, prawns, basically a buffet table of many of my favourite foods.

Easy Rye Bread

Rye Bread Open Sandwich

Smörgåsbord means buttered open sandwich and many of my favourite types are made with rye bread, a dark, intensely flavoured bread, high in fibre, which is popular across Northern Europe. Rye bread spread with cream cheese and topped with prawns or salmon with a little watercress and lemon is my number one sandwich. Don’t be put off by the thought of bread making, it is not particularly difficult if you follow the Rye bread recipe carefully and be patient. I hope you try it and enjoy the results.

Easy Rye Bread Loaf –

You can top the loaf with sunflower and pumpkin seeds for a little extra crunch

500 gr Rye Flour

500 gr Strong White Bread Flour

20 gr fresh Yeast

35 gr Black Treacle

30 ml good quality Olive Oil

20 gr Salt

¾ litre warm Water

25 gr Fennel Seeds, roughly ground

A little extra flour for dusting

If you possess a kitchen mixer place all of the ingredients in the bowl apart from the flour for dusting. Gently combine the ingredients a little with a fork, this stops a face full of flour when you switch on the mixer ( I have been there I promise ). Fit into the mixer with the dough hook. Switch on at the lowest speed setting and then once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed turn up to top speed. Mix for five minutes. When mixing by hand I would allow a thorough ten minutes.

When the dough is mixed, shape into a large ball, coat with a little more flour and place in a large bowl covered with a clean tea towel. Leave the dough to prove. In an airing cupboard or similar warm environment, the dough will rise to around one and a half times its original size in approximately two hours. If you have the time prepare the dough on the day prior to baking and you can slow the proving process down by leaving it in the fridge overnight. This method of proving produces a dough with deeper more robust flavours.

Half an hour before you are ready to cook turn on your oven to 475 F / 240 C / Gas Mark 9 and place in a heavy non-stick baking tray. Five minutes before baking, fill a small ovenproof dish with hot water from your kettle and stick it in the bottom of the hot oven. Turn your dough quickly out of the bowl onto the baking tray and put it straight into the hot, steamy oven as fast as you can. Try to leave the door open for the shortest possible time so the temperature does not drop.

After ten minutes, drop the oven temperature to 350 F / 180 C / Gas Mark 4 and check on your loaf. Opening the oven door will drop the temperature quickly and help prevent the loaf from burning. Cook for a further twenty-five minutes and check again. When cooked the loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. It should be left to cool thoroughly on a wire rack before slicing.

For the toppings –

Gravadlax and Mustard and Dill Sauce

Ham and sliced Dill Pickle

Cream Cheese, fresh Prawns with Lemon and Paprika

Sliced hard boiled Eggs, Beef Tomato and crisp Bacon

Sliced rare roast Beef, Watercress, quick pickle Red Onion and Horseradish Crème Fraiche

Pickle Herring and Remoulade

Blue Cheese, Apple Batons, and Watercress

Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Baby Gem and finely diced Red Onion

 

Allergens in the Rye Bread recipe are;

  Flour

Please see the Allergens Page


British Sandwich Week – The Best Ever Sandwich Recipe

Panfried Cheese Sandwich.jpg

It is British Sandwich Week and while my tastes have not changed that much, my favourite is still an unctuous melting ham and cheese sandwich and I have found the most incredible way to prepare one. No more lengthy preparation for a correct Croque Monsieur, forget the oven, throw away your toaster and get out your frying pan, I want to shout out from the rooftop just how incredible this sandwich is, and I want you to try it today. I’m so proud I might just enter in the granddaddy of all competitions, the big cheese ( sorry ) of competitive grilled sandwich making the Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championships and a  $40,000 prize.

 

 

 

You can use any ham and any cheese that you have in the fridge and sliced white, it’s like the post night out store cupboard classic, I have just gone a little crazy in the delicatessen section and used some of my favourites.

 The Best Ever Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich

2 freshly sliced Bloomer Loaf

3 heaped tablespoons Mayonnaise

½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard

2 or more slices of Swiss Cheese such as Gruyère or Emmental

2 or more slices of Mature Cheddar

1 large slice of Smoked Ham

Assemble the sandwich as follows, on one piece of bread spread half of the mayonnaise and place mayonnaise side down on a plate, spread the other side of the bread with the mustard and top with the ham. Repeat the process with a second piece of bread and top with the cheese. Place together mayonnaise on the outside.

Heat a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed, non-stick frying pan over a very moderate heat and lay the sandwich in the pan, pressing down several times as the sandwich browns rather slowly on the bottom, for around three to four minutes. Turn and brown the sandwich on the other side, pressing down upon the sandwich several times until its bottom, too, is lightly browned and the cheese is starting to melt. Serve with salad and tomato chutney.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Try pairing your Sandwich with a fruity and refreshingly acidic Beaujolais wine or the citrus, fruity hoppy flavours of an American style IPA.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Flour  Milk  Mustard

Please see the Allergens Page

 


National Sandwich Week – Croque Monsieur Monte Cristo

Croque Monsieur Monte Cristo

It is apparently National Sandwich Week and not surprisingly bacon and chicken feature at the top of all the polls for people’s favourite sandwiches. I am sure you are aware that the sandwich was created by a gambling-obsessed Earl who asked a servant to put meat between two pieces of bread to enable him to continue playing cards and eat. Interestingly his direct descendants founded a chain selling guess what?

Now I like a bacon sandwich as much as any person, it is almost the chef’s staple diet but my favourite is a little different. At the simplest level, the Croque Monsieur is a French grilled ham and cheese sandwich. One of those all important combinations where the sum of the parts, in this case, ham, cheese (typically Emmental or Gruyère), white bread and butter transcend their humble origins and make a perfect match. Golden brown, crisp toast with a blisteringly hot creamy, melted cheese and slightly salty ham filling. C’est Magnifique as the French would say.

Unfortunately, for the French nation, there is no accurate record where or when the first Croque Monsieur was made and who was the unrecorded creator, they first appear on a Parisian café menu in 1910 and in literature in Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past in 1918. The rise of the Croque Monsieur is such it is now offered in Paris branches of McDonalds as the Croq McDo. C’est horrible. So for a classic Croque Monsieur, I am going to offer you the recipe of a magnificent pair of redoubtable chefs who should know their classic toasted French ham sandwich, the Francophile Julia Child and the even more actually French Jacques Pepin.

Croque Monsieur

This recipe below is directly from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home


Julia’s Croque Monsieur – 
One sandwich

2 slices fresh, reasonably soft home-style White Bread,

removed from the loaf in sequence for accurate reassembly*

1 tablespoon Mayonnaise, preferably homemade

½ teaspoon Dijon-style prepared Mustard

2 or more slices Swiss Cheese (Gruyère or Emmental )

3/16 inch thick and large enough to cover each bread slice.

1 slice excellent baked or boiled Ham,

3/ 16 inches thick, trimmed of fat, and same size as the cheese

2 tablespoons clarified Butter

Preheat the oven to 300F / 150C / Gas mark 2. Assemble the sandwich as follows, on one piece of bread spread the mayonnaise and a thin smear of the mustard top with one piece of cheese. Add the ham the second piece of cheese and the second piece of bread. Gently push down on the fresh bread. Using a very sharp knife remove the crusts. Wrap in cling film until required.

Melt half of the butter in a medium sized heavy bottomed, ovenproof frying pan over a medium to high heat. When very hot but not browning, lower heat to moderate and lay the sandwich in the pan, pressing down several times as the sandwich browns rather slowly on the bottom, for around two minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of clarified butter to the pan, then turn and brown the sandwich on the other side, pressing down upon the sandwich several times until its bottom, too, is lightly browned. Place the frying pan into the oven and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted.[Child, Julia and Pepin, Jacques. 1988 Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, New York.] 

*Very Precise instructions for sandwich making.

The Next Level

The Croque Monsieur has been adapted both successfully and perhaps not quite so, I leave you, dear reader, the pleasure of deciding which, from the selection below;

Croque-madame with a fried or poached egg served on the top

Croque provençal with the addition of sliced tomato

Croque auvergnat with the substitution of bleu d’Auvergne cheese

Croque gagnet with sliced Gouda cheese and cooked Andouille sausage

Croque norvégien with smoked salmon instead of ham

( I would go so far to add a little sprinkling of dill )

Croque tartiflette with sliced potatoes and Reblochon cheese

Croque bolognese / croque Boum-Boum with Bolognese sauce

Croque señor with a tomato salsa

Croque Hawaiian with a slice of pineapple

But now we get into the territory of the serious sandwich maker, traversing from the original fast-food snack served in Parisian cafés and bars to grand, elaborate creations some coated in a Béchamel or Mornay sauce, the use of eggy bread ( Pain Perdu or French Toast ) and Montecristo – the sandwich not the Count or cigar. This sandwich varies across the world and in particular across the United States and many include sliced turkey as well as cheese and ham. They may be open or closed, grilled with extra cheese on top, mustard mayonnaise or Thousand Island dressing and even dredged with icing sugar.If you feel inspired may I suggest to you the one and only Grilled Cheese Invitational for those of a seriously competitive nature? I am working on a few ideas already – see you there.

The Grilled Cheese Invitational for the cheese sandwich enthusiast.

My Croque Monsieur Monticristo – One sandwich

2 slices fresh, thick sliced White Bread

1 slice of good Smoked Ham

2 or more slices Swiss Cheese, enough to cover bread twice

20 gr Baby Spinach leaves, very thoroughly washed

½ oz strong grated Cheddar cheese or Cheddar and Parmesan

4 tablespoons single Jersey Cream

1 fresh free-range Egg

½ teaspoon Dijon-style prepared Mustard

A good pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Sea salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

2 tablespoons Clarified Butter

Preheat the oven to 300F / 150C / Gas mark 2. Press the washed baby spinach between two layers of kitchen paper to completely dry it. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the cream, eggs, cayenne and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Create the sandwich as on one piece of bread spread a thin smear of mustard and top with one piece of Swiss cheese. Add the ham, the spinach and a second piece of cheese and the remaining slice of bread. Gently push down on the fresh bread. Using a very sharp knife remove the crusts. Dip the sandwich in the seasoned egg mix, allowing both sides to soak up the liquid.

Melt half of the butter in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed, ovenproof frying pan over a medium to high heat. When very hot but not burning, lower heat to moderate and lay the sandwich in the pan, gently press down several times as the sandwich browns rather slowly on the bottom, for around two minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of clarified butter to the pan, then turn and brown the sandwich on the other side, pressing down upon the sandwich several times until its bottom, too, is lightly browned. Remove from heat and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Place the frying pan into the oven and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted.

* A Monti Cristo with Thousand Island dressing is I am reliably informed by Wikipedia called a Cumberland Head. Anyone know why? As well as dusting the savoury versions with sugar, sweet Monti Cristo sandwiches usually contain fruit, berries, sour cream, sugar and/ or Maple syrup.