It's the same every year, despite my determination to buy less for Christmas I still manage to cram the fridge with more stuff than we can ever consume over the festive period. This year was no exception. My family bravely attempted to scale the food mountain but the challenge was too great. I have frozen much of the excess but still find that I have three, yes three, camemberts waiting to be eaten and getting riper by the day.
I also cannot resist buying pots of growing basil and currently have four on my kitchen window ledge. They are looking a little the worse for wear, I think the very frosty weather has taken its toll, my windows are not double glazed and my kitchen is pretty cold.
As I hate to see the herbs go to waste and we all love pesto what to do with the basil was a pretty easy decision. I make masses of pesto, freezing it in ice cube trays for my son to take to university or just storing it in the fridge. It doesn't hang about long, it get stirred into pasta, chicken casseroles or simply dolloped into a ciabatta roll with mozzarella, parma ham and tomato for my daughter to take to work for lunch.
The rest was easy, baked camembert and freshly baked bread is a family favourite.
I have used my simple white bread recipe. Really quick and easy if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook. I just bung everything in and let the mixer do the work, I'm sure purists say I should knead it by hand but I don't and it turns out fine.
I then leave it, covered with cling film or a damp cloth, to prove until it has doubled in size, this should take an hour or so depending on how warm your kitchen is. Then on a lightly oiled work surface divide the mixture into 10 equal sized bits and roll into balls. Arrange them on a greased baking tray around the empty camembert box, leaving space for expansion.
Cover with a plastic bag and leave for about an hour until doubled in size and almost joined up, pop the unwrapped cheese back in its box and you are ready to go.
Place in your preheated oven and bake for approx 25 minutes. The cheese is ready when the rolls are baked.
Remove from the oven and slide onto a bread board, drizzle with the pesto and there you have it, a delicious lunch for sharing! If you don't have any pesto then make up some garlic butter and spread over the rolls, but if you simply can't wait just break off a bit of bread and dip into the lovely melted cheese.
So! That's one of my cheeses sorted, just got to find something to do with the other two before they walk out of the fridge on their own.
Just a note on pesto. If you don't want to make your own then many of the supermarkets sell quite good fresh pesto in the chiller cabinets, usually found near the hummus and dips. I think its fine to use that but please don't use the jars of other stuff that looks the colour of dried hay, I personally really dislike the flavour, it tastes nothing like the real thing. If that's all that is available then make some garlic butter instead.
Active time: 10 minutes
Large bunch of Basil
Garlic clove crushed
1 tsp Salt
50g Pine nuts
50g Parmesan cheese grated
1 tsp Caster sugar
NOTE - You can omit the cheese if you want it to be dairy free. I often run out of pine nuts and throw in almonds or walnuts instead
Place basil, garlic, salt, pine nuts and parmesan in a food processor with a good glug of olive oil and blitz until consistency of lightly whipped cream, adding more oil if necessary.
Taste the pesto, if it is bitter add the sugar a little at a time, you don’t want it to be over sweet
That’s it, as simple as you like. Pop it into a bowl and cover with cling film and keep it in the fridge until needed, it freezes very well too.
BAKED CAMEMBERT WITH TEAR AND SHARE PESTO BREAD
When I first started making bread I used a bread maker, I still put everything in the bowl in the same order as I did then. Just keep the yeast away from the salt. I have used a stand food mixer but you can make this by hand, mix and knead for 10 minutes.
Total time: 3 hours
300ml Luke warm water
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tbs Olive oil
500g Strong White Bread flour
10g Instant yeast
2 tsp Dried Thyme (optional)
1 Round Camembert
Using the same order as listed in the ingredients put everything in the bowl of your food mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Mix on low to medium for 8 minutes. The dough should be soft and pliable.
Leave in the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to double in size, this will take about an hour depending on how warm your kitchen is. You could remove the dough, clean the bowl and then oil it and replace the dough but who needs more washing up?
On a lightly oiled work surface divide the proved dough into 10 equal pieces. Roll into balls. Don’t worry if they are not all exactly the same it will add to the rustic, homemade look.
Place the empty bottom of the camembert box in the middle of a lightly oiled baking tray.
Place the balls around the box leaving space for expansion.
Cover with a plastic bag and leave the dough balls to double in size. This should take about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200C Fan or 220C Conventional
Remove the plastic bag, insert the unwrapped camembert into the box and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes until bread is golden and cheese is bubbling.
Slide bread and cheese onto serving board.
Drizzle pesto over the bread and serve immediately.