A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: basil

This week I baked a really lovely wholemeal loaf bursting with brie and fresh basil. Mmm, cheese. This is another recipe adapted from Paul Hollywood’s 100 Great Breads BUT there is no picture. This is what mine came out like, though of course I have no idea whether the great Mr Hollywood would approve of my interpretation.

What? No, that strategically placed butter definitely isn’t covering up a slightly underbaked bit in the middle of the loaf.
This bread is tasty, but if I made it again I’d probably make it with half white flour rather than all wholemeal as I find the flavour a bit strong.

  • 500g strong wholemeal flour (use part strong white if you want)
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 10g salt
  • 15g instant yeast
  • 300ml water
  • 100g brie, thinly sliced
  • A handful of fresh basil

1. Add the flour, salt, yeast and olive oil to a bowl, with the salt and yeast on opposite sides. Combine the ingredients.
2. Slowly add the water, mixing with your hands between additions, until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is soft to the touch. You may need a little more or less water.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured countertop. Knead for 6 mins until the dough is pliable.
4. Lightly oil your bowl, then return the ball of dough to it. Cover and leave to rise for two hours.
5. Line a baking tray with parchment. Again, put the dough onto a floured surface and shape into a ‘mini baguette’. I did mine like this.

6. Sprinkle the top with wholemeal flour, then make several slashes in the dough lengthways down the middle. I think I made mine too long and deep (you’ll see the consequence later) so be careful at this stage.

7. Push the Brie and basil into the grooves.

8. Cover and rest for 2 hours.

As you can see, my overly large slashes damaged the structure of the loaf, making it looked weird. I squished it all back together but, startlingly, it didn’t really work.

9. Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Bake bread for 20 mins, until golden. Cool on a wire rack.



My basil plant continues to flourish, so I needed another lunch idea. Something fresh, flamboyant and delicious. Something… Italian.


Each day, I have a tomato, a third of a ball of mozzarella and a third of an avocado. I’m not sure if avocado is traditional, but who can resist something healthy that has the texture of butter? The dressing is a handful of basil leaves blitzed with some salt, a few pine nuts and some olive oil. Next time, I’ll add a clove of garlic too. Garlic makes everything better.

I’ve had a relative glut of basil recently from a plant an old housemate left in the flat. Who knew that plants need plant food? Go figure. For me, fresh pesto was a revelation. I find the jarred stuff a bit artificial tasting, but fresh pesto has a real zing and next time, I’ll show you a simple, filling and healthy use for it.


Due to the exorbitant price of pine nuts, I did a little test this time and made half of the batch with walnuts. Personally, I didn’t think the walnut pesto was quite as nice but I would still make it again considering how much of a saving it is.


  • 2 packed cups fresh basil leaves (you’d get this amount from one small supermarket plant)
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (you can use normal olive oil)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan (I use pecorino and freeze the remainder for next time)


  1. Strip your basil plant and thoroughly wash the leaves, shaking off as much excess water as possible.Image
  2. If using walnuts, chop either by hand or in a food processor.
  3. Put the basil, garlic and nuts in the processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  4. With the processor running, pour in 1/2 cup of the oil. Don’t process for too long, just until the oil is incorporated. If you’re using a hand-blender, don’t worry about having it running while pouring the oil.Image
  5. Season to taste, then stir in the cheese (unless you want to freeze it, in which case, just pop in a container and pour the remaining oil on top. I also think it would be okay to freeze with the cheese in it).
  6. If using immediately, stir through the remaining oil. If you’re going to store it in the fridge, put the pesto in a jar and pour the oil in a layer on top.Image

Here, the walnut’s on the left and pine nut’s on the right.