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I made baguettes. This is the first time and they were incredible. I don’t know why I haven’t made them before. They were easy! They tasted amazing, and they even kept for the next day’s lunch. I’m sorry for being so excited about bread, but they just made me so happy.

Much like Siobhann’s Spanishy supper, this was all thrown together and turned out great. The bean and chorizo stew is the kind of cooking that I love doing. It’s haphazard and greedy. It’s ingredients that you just know are going to work. The fact that we had homemade baguette to go with it, was a total bonus. I didn’t stop there though (although those who prefer more elegant, simplistic dinners perhaps should). I also griddled up some courgettes and aubergines and drenched them in tahini sauce. Delicious. We’ve had some good dins recently, but this one just seemed exceptional. I think it’s all thanks to the baguette. I held it in such high esteem, thinking that you needed French flour or French blood to pull it off… Shall be making some more tonight for when Siobhann comes over for some daube

Baguette – makes two

In total, this will take you around four hours, probably only about 15 minutes of that is active work, so don’t let the duration put you off, most of it is just waiting for the dough to prove.

500g strong white flour (or French flour if you have it – shall get some from the mill when I stock up next)

350ml tepid water

2 tspn salt

1 ¼ tspn yeast

In a bowl (I warmed mine on a radiator first to encourage proving) mix all the ingredients together until mixed in. No kneading is required. Just mix lightly with your hands (it shall stick, a lot). Then either clean that bowl or grab another, and lightly oil it, and leave the dough to prove in the bowl, covered with a tea towel.

In the first hour of proving, you want to bash the dough back every twenty minutes (so three times). Then leave for two hours. This time of year I leave it in the warmest part of the house.

Divide the dough evenly into two balls, and on a floured surface leave to prove (covered by a tea towel) for a further fifteen minutes. Then, flatten the balls out, and starting from the top, roll down into a sausage and then firmly press the seam together. Roll the sausage until you have the desired length of baguette (as you would a piece of plasticene), and cup the ends so that they taper. Move to rest on parchment paper on the largest baking tray you have, and lightly dust with flour. Repeat with other ball. Rest for an additional 30 – 40 minutes (again covered by a tea towel), and in the meantime pre-heat oven to the hottest setting you have (220c at least).

Ten minutes before the end of resting, I put an oven tray in the oven and filled it with hot water; the steam helps the rising process.

Slash the baguettes diagonally across with a serrated knife, every couple of inches and then whack the baguette tray into the oven and bake for about twenty five minutes. I kept an eye on mine as was nervous (and our bulb has gone), and probably opened the oven door too many times.

The Bean and Chorizo Stew

About 10cm of chorizo, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

4 or 5 new potatoes, boiled up separately

Tin of butter beans

1 tspn coriander seeds, crushed

1 tspn cumin seeds, crushed

1 red chilli

Dash of dry sherry

500ml chicken stock

6 cherry tomatoes and 6 cloves of garlic, roasted together with some olive oil and smoked paprika

Pinch of cayenne pepper

½ tspn smoked paprika

Bunch of flat leaf parsley

Bunch of coriander

Bunch of spinach

Fry the chorizo in olive oil and butter, ‘til it’s browned and the oil’s turned a lovely red. Add the onion, and fry until soft. Then add the potatoes, seeds and chilli and coat in the oil. Then add the sherry and stir until dissipated. Next add the stock, then tomatoes and garlic, cayenne, paprika and seasoning, and simmer for around twenty minutes. Then add the herbs and spinach, and switch off heat. Check seasoning.

To Serve:

Griddled aubergine and courgette slices

Tahini Sauce

Greek Yoghurt

Like I wrote before, the griddled vegetables are pure greed. The stew and baguette would make a lovely, rustic, comforting lunch or dinner. We discussed how unnecessary they were, and yet gobbled them up in earnest.

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