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Baking Cooking Family

Nor good red herring


Most of the time I think my cooking tastes better than it looks.  I’m not the queen of pretty presentation, although I do try from time to time, and my icing skills are on a par with my ability to draw; easily outdone by a five year old.  I’ve always said that your insides can’t see what it looks like, but they do know how it tastes, and for the most part it tastes good.

But I think I’ve baked something that looked a lot more impressive than the taste.  It is supposedly Potato Focaccia Pugliese (of page 62 fame),

which sounds a lot more exciting than when H, eyeing the accompanying sausages with a lot more enthusiasm, asked:

“you made … potato pizza?”

Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t taste bad per se, and the potato topping went very nicely with the sausages (think bangers and mash sandwiches), but it is potato pizza, and it’s just a bit, well, ordinary.

We love a good pizza around these parts (and occasionally the sort that a man in a van brings), but if I want pizza I’d top with spicy tomato sauce and pepperoni, or thinly sliced butternut squash, sage and buffalo mozzarella, or continue my quest to replicate the slices of steaming hot Italian ham pizza H and I bought for lunch from a little side street bakery in Rome on our first holiday together.


Topped with potato it isn’t really just bread, but it isn’t a meal by itself; an uncomfortable halfway house.  Perhaps that’s what it’s meant to be, and my uncultured English taste buds are rejecting it for not being slathered in melted cheese, but if that’s the case, bring on the cheddar.

So from one that’s not on the repeat list to two recipes for chicken that really really are, both originally courtesy of Pablo’s menu links on French Foodie Baby

Firstly, Roasted Chicken Thighs with Clementines, originally an Ottolenghi recipe from Jerusalem but tweaked by Sassy Radish for those of us that just aren’t that keen on fennel and that aniseedy sort of taste.  We made the version with extra onions and orange juice and oh my! Gently caramelised clementines and tender chicken and a lick your plate kind of a sauce.

We gave H’s brother and his wife Jerusalem and a ‘kit’ of all the things that might be a bit difficult to pick up in the supermarket for Christmas (I can’t take credit for the idea, it came from the very wonderful Sous Chef *), and I’m so pleased to know that at least one recipe will be a hit.  I shouldn’t really have doubted, the only time I’ve been to an Ottolenghi shop in London I could have eaten my way down the display, so mouthwatering were the salads, and that was before you got anywhere near the cake!

And if chicken legs happen to be on special offer in your butcher’s this week, let me introduce you to Buttermilk Brined Chicken.   I made half quantities because there are only two and a half of us eating supper at the moment, and that was plenty for three thighs and drumsticks, and I tweaked the recipe a little to use mild smoked paprika (because that’s what I had) and skipped the olive oil over the top of the chicken before I put it into the oven (because that’s what I didn’t have).


It’s another recipe that produces melt in the mouth chicken, this time with a slightly smoky salty flavour.  It reminded me most of summer suppers after you’ve spent the whole day on the beach or in the surf and the sea has impregnated your skin so that everything has that slight tang.

We don’t have any summer yet as it is, alas, raining yet again, and we’re a long way from the sea so anything that conjures up those kind of memories has got to be a hit; food for the soul as well as the tummy.

So there you have it, my moral for the day; don’t bother with potato pizza, eat chicken instead.

*On a side note, I can’t rate Sous Chef’s customer service highly enough; part of the kit had split in transit, I phoned to let them know, and they parcelled up and sent out a replacement straight away so that it arrived in time for Christmas.