Running the risk here of boring you all … more than usual… but here’s another of my Paris holiday snaps –
Is it odd that a high proportion of the photos I took are of food? Anyhow, there I was stood gazing longingly at this fantastic display of cheeses in the fridge at the front of a Paris fromagerie, and it seemed only right to document the event with a photo. Just look at all those cheeses, tempting huh? Small rounds topped with fig or chilli jam, or rolled in chives or dried fruit. I should at this point tell you that I left for Paris with a shortlist of cheese shops to visit, kindly provided by Fromage Homage (sorry to be so formal here, but I don’t think I know your first name…). See, there are times when holiday planning really does pay off!
Unfortunately, we passed this shop as we were on our way out for the day and had already bought enough food to keep a small coach party well provisioned. So I wasn’t able to buy my cheese fix there and then. But, along with the souvenir photos, I did take away some ideas… among them the idea of using herbs with cheese. It isn’t new of course, but is something I’d like to do more often. There are some well-established cheese and herb pairings that are just perfect… mozzarella and basil, sage Derby, mint and feta. To these I would like to add Wensleydale and seasonal garden herbs – especially if the season is late autumn.
By November the chives in the garden are passed their best – even the biggest, toughest leaves are looking sad and weatherbeaten. So recreating the cheese and chive combo from Paris will have to wait until next spring. I’ve already potted up some chives to keep in the greenhouse over winter, ready to burst into growth a wee bit earlier than the plants left in the garden.
There’s still a good selection of woody herbs to pick from though, and the parsley has grown in huge amounts this year. Even the tiny, neglected parsley seedlings that I planted into the top of the lasagne pots are looking healthy. So, a handful of rosemary, sage and parsley leaves are the seasonal herbs of choice at the moment. I combined them with some lovely, creamy Wensleydale and added the whole lot to a bowlful of soda bread dough. And here it is – a quick to make, white soda bread flavoured with cheese and autumnal herbs. It was very good sliced and dunked into bowls of thick vegetable soup… and just as good toasted for breakfast the next morning.
Do you have a favourite cheese and herb combination?
With its mix of fresh herbs, this bread is my offering for November’s Cooking with Herbs. There’s already a fine collection of herb recipes entered for this month’s challenge, so if you’re looking some herby inspiration get over to Karen’s blog…
Wensleydale & herb soda bread
400g plain flour
1 tsp fine sea salt & a good grinding of black pepper
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g Wensleydale cheese, crumbled
small handful of fresh rosemary, sage and parsley leaves, finely chopped
350g natural live yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 190oC, 375oF, gas 5. Grease and flour a heavy baking sheet.
Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper, bicarbonate of soda, cheese and herbs and stir to combine.
Add the yoghurt to the flour mixture and stir or squish with your hands to bring all the ingredients together to form a soft dough. Add a small amount of milk to get the right texture if needed.
Turn the dough out onto a board and shape into a round loaf. Put the loaf onto the prepared baking sheet and cut a cross into the top with a sharp knife. Bake in a preheated oven for 40-46 minutes, test the loaf by tapping the bottom – when you get a hollow sound, the bread is ready to be taken out of the oven. Cool the bread on a wire rack, then slice and enjoy.