English Farl Bread


Well,  I’m back on the bread baking bandwagon again. A few days ago my wife mentioned how much she missed having homemade bread around so I picked the bread book back up and moved on to the next recipe.

This English Farl Bread is much like the Crusty Cob but with a more buttery/salty taste. Like the Crusty Cub, it is backed at the bottom of the oven and is perfect for toasting and served with sweet preserves. This is a traditional peasant bread from England around the 18th century and it will be one I make again.

Much of my bread making efforts over the last six months have been put on hold as I was having problems with the “rising” process. Bread rises best with a dough temperature of  around 99°. Because of the moist and cool climate of the San Francisco bay area, I have had a hard time regulating the temperature and air flow of my kitchen.

However, during this process I found the perfect solution to my problem. I have put a radiator heater in my closet and let it run on 80° while my bread rises. This has allowed me to regulate my the temperature and gives me a place with no air flow. If you’re having problems getting your bread to rise, you may want to try something similar. Hope this tip helps.


If using dry activated yeast, you will want to start by combining your yeast and warm water and allow to stand at room temperature for around 10 minutes or until nice and frothy. Add a pinch of sugar and make sure your water is between 100° and 110° for best results. (read more about yeast)

While the yeast is activating, take and mix flour and salt in a separate bowl. Once yeast is ready add butter  and water/yeast to the flour mixture. Combine well then tip onto a counter dusted lightly with flour. Knead for about 5 minutes by hand then place back in bowl. Cover with a dry dish towel and allow to rise for 1 hour (in the closet if necessary).

Once dough has risen, tip back onto floured counter and shape into a ball. Flatten slightly until dough ball is about 2 inches thick. Place on lined backing sheet (I use pizza stone) and allow to rise for 1 hour.

After your final rising time, lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and make vertical slashes all the way around the dough. Preheat your oven to 425° and bake bread for 3o minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. Transfer to wire rack for cooling then enjoy. Happy Cooking!

Found in:
Hollywood, Paul. 100 Great Breads. Edited by Victoria Alers-Hankey and Barbara Dixon. New York: Cassell Illustrated, 2004.
Posted in Baking, Bread, British | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Spicy Greens with Cilantro Pesto

Greens are traditionally associated with Southern food like fried chicken or prepared alongside black-eyed peas during New Years, but sautéed greens have become one of my favorite side dishes. Normally, all I use is olive oil, garlic, and salt, but this recipe by Heidi Krahling of Insalata’s in San Anselmo is an amazing way to spice up an already tasty side.

In my house we love all kinds of greens like kale, chard, beets, mustard, and collard, and each brings a distinct tasty flair to this recipe. I would encourage you to experiment and see what you like the best. Most frequently I use collards because I have a section in my garden which just wont quite producing them. I trim off the larger leave and a week later they’re ready to be harvested again!

Don’t let the lack a of picture deter you from trying this recipe. I tried to take one that looked great but to be honest, there is not much spectacular or photogenic about a plate full of sautéed greens. They taste amazing but sadly their taste and smell does not translate well to film. At least not by me. I hope you enjoy.



  • 2 lb of greens, trimmed and chopped. (about two-three bundles)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Cilantro Pesto:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cups chopped cilantro
  • 3/4 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Start by cleaning and trimming your greens. Many will tell you to removed the stem but I like a little crunchiness in my greens so I leave the stems starting at the larger start to the leaf. If it is a really hard stem that I will remove it. Cut your greens in half lengthwise then cut horizontal to the widths you want. I shoot for about 1/2 an inch.

Heat your oil in a large sauté pan on med-high heat. Add your greens after you have washed them good. Don’t dry because you will want a little of the water clinging to the leaf to help wilt them down. Cook until greens are nice and soft. Add all of the spices, stirring occasionally until they are at your desired tenderness.

While your greens are wilting you will want to start on the cilantro pesto. In your blender or food processor add your cilantro, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper until it is at your desired level.

When your greens are cooked the way you want them, stir in the pesto until everything is well mixed and pipping hot. Taste and add seasoning as needed. These go great next to any dish and I’ve even used them as a vegetarian substituent for taco meat. Happy Cooking!

Adapted From:
Heidi Insalata Krahling. Insalata’s Mediterranean Table. San Francisco, Laura Parker Studio, 2009.
Posted in Dinner, Garden, Hot Dish, Middle Eastern, Savory, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mini Fruit Crumble


If you’re like me you’re always looking for fast, easy, and fun dessert ideas to go with that perfect (or not so perfect) meal. Look no further! These mini fruit crumbles will go great with any dinner party or for those nights your craving just a little extra.

With spring upon us and summer just around the corner, these crumbles can be adapted to fit whatever your craving or whatever fruit is in season and available at your local farmers market. Fresh fruit, covered in a streusel topping and baked to gooey perfection. What could be better?

I made these crumbles in mini cocottes for individual servings and topped them with a scoop of ice cream. Baking in individual serving dishes also helps with portion control. I’m afraid without them I would be in a whole lot of trouble. Particularly with how many combinations are possible. Below you’ll find directions for three different crumbles: Cherry, Peach-Blackberry (with basil ice cream), and Blueberry. Hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Ingredients: (Makes 4)

Streusel Topping:

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces ( You can use salted butter if that all you have but cut your salt down to 1/8 tsp.)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Combine brown sugar, flour, salt, and butter into a food processor. Blend until all ingredients are well combined. Dump into a mixing bowl and add oats. Integrate the oats with mixture by using a spoon or your hands. Mixture is ready to go on top of fruit! Note: I make three or four times this recipe and have it in a airtight bag in my freezer for easy and quick access.

Peach and Blackberry:

  • 3 cups peaches, pealed and sliced
  • 1 cup black berries
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp corn starch (optional – for thicker filling)
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional – for sweeter filling)

Mix all ingredients together and let set at room temperature for 15 minuets to allow all juices to combine and mix well. Spoon into for small dishes and put streusel on top in a nice big pile. Bake on °375 for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. I recommend topping with some homemade basil ice cream.


  • 4 cups cherries, pitted
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar

Mix all ingredients together and let set at room temperature for 15 minuets to allow all juices to combine and mix well. Spoon into for small dishes and put streusel on top in a nice big pile. Bake on °375 for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cherries go really nicely with vanilla ice cream. For an added surprise you may want to add a few small pieces of dark chocolate to the top of the cherries before adding the streusel.


  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water

Mix all ingredients together and let set at room temperature for 15 minuets to allow all juices to combine and mix well. Spoon into for small dishes and put streusel on top in a nice big pile. Bake on °375 for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. You will notice the added 1 tbsp of water to the blueberries. That is because they thicken really quickly and can become a little over powering if you down water them down a little.

My personal favorite is the cherry, but all of these are amazing! This is a great recipe and you will empress anyone you have over for dinner. Happy Cooking!

Posted in Dessert, Fruit, Hot Dish, Sweet | 1 Comment