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#figbarcookbookclub: Classic Koffmann: 50 years a Chef

#figbarcookbookclub: Classic Koffmann: 50 years a Chef

“The difference between good food and bad food is a pinch of salt.” Pierre Koffmann (and probably my favourite quote from this book). When I first began dating a chef (oh, hi there, husband), this was indeed the secret he taught me in the kitchen. Clearly, it’s the secret of many kitchens!

September’s Cookbook Club pick from our home shelves is the brilliant Classic Koffmann: 50 years a Chef by the incomparable Pierre Koffmann. These recipes are indeed delicious, easy to follow, and contain simple ingredients. In the opening, Chef Koffmann recommends gathering ingredients for home cooking “everywhere, except for meat or fish; for these need a butcher or fishmonger you trust.” And we’d have to agree. Here in Norwich we have an array of brilliant local producers that are easy to find (nod to the Norwich Market!), many that are family run and independent businesses who really know their stuff. Having these types of ingredients helps all of the recipes in this book truly shine. You can find 6 sections: 1) entrees (appetizers), 2) poultry, meat and game, 3) fish and seafood, 4) sides, 5) desserts, & 6) Chef’s Essentials. I think the chapter that gets the most use in our household is Chef’s essentials. There are lovely recipes for stocks, mayonnaise, vinaigrette, and beurre blanc alongside choux and puff pastry recipes that you know will work. This trust is an invaluable resource for the home cook ready to further experiment. Now, all you need to add is a pinch of salt.

We’ve made Creme Caramel and highlighted the recipe below. It’s SO PERFECT you’ll never need another creme caramel recipe in your life. Don’t be scared of it: the satisfaction of watching the caramel slide out from the ramekin onto the plate is worth it.

Creme Caramel

Ingredients:

500ml milk

1 vanilla pod, split and scraped

3 egg yolks

2 eggs

80g caster sugar

For the caramel:

130g caster sugar

130ml water

Method:

Line a large roasting tin with newspaper and place four 10cm ramekins inside the tin- the newspaper prevents bubbles from forming in the caramel.

You need to start by making the caramel. Place the sugar and water in a large heavy-bottomed stainless-steel saucepan over a medium-high heat. Heat, until the caramel turns from a golden to a darker brown, then immediately remove from the heat and very carefully pour it into the bottom of the ramekins to create a layer about 3mm thick (you my have some left over caramel). Set aside at room temperature to cool and set.

Heat the oven to 130*C.

Bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla pod and seeds, then remove it from the heat and remove the vanilla pod. Whisk the egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar in a bowl until thick, then pour the hot milk over this mixture, whisking constantly, until smooth. Pour the custard over the caramel in the ramekins, then pour some boiling water into the tin containing the ramekins so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Transfer the tin to the oven and cook for 30 minutes, or until set- you can check this by inserting a small knife into the centre; if it comes out clean, the caramels are ready. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes.

To serve, simply turn each ramekin upside-down on to a plate- the caramels should slide out easily.

nb from Chef Jaime: You can experiment with this recipe by infusing the milk with different flavors (than the vanilla) like herbs or teabags.

#figbarathome: Cold Brew Tiramisu

#figbarathome: Cold Brew Tiramisu

Cold Brew Tiramisu

Our fine city has had some SUNSHINE this summer haven't it?? We've had the oven on in Figbar and in our house regardless (bakers gonna bake!), but it's also super nice to have elements that require refrigeration, because any reason to open the fridge or freezer when it's hot out- am I right? 

This simple, yet DELICIOUS, dessert is easy to pre-prepare for a BBQ or dinner party, but it does require use of the hob, the oven, and the fridge. Feel free to make the elements in whatever order you need- all will keep for a week properly stored- and bring together when you need it for a light, but decadent, dessert! 

Cold Brew Tiramisu

Cold Brew Mousse

Ingredients:

450 ml heavy cream

45g caster sugar

65g tahini

35g cold brew coffee

pinch of salt

Method:

1.     In the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the cream into stiff peaks (about 5-6 minutes).

2.     Add sugar, tahini, cold brew, and salt to whisked cream. Whisk to combine.

3.     Place either in serving cups or into a large container (to store) and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

 

Cocoa Crumble

Ingredients:

70g cocoa powder (best quality and darkest you can find)

6g salt

5g cornflour

100g light brown sugar

120g plain flour

120g melted butter

Method:

1.     Preheat the oven to 150°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2.     In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, combine cocoa powder, salt, cornflour, light brown sugar, and plain flour.

3.     Add the melted butter and mix to cluster.

4.     Evenly spread the crumble onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, push the crumble about a bit, preventing it from sticking and having too big of pieces. Bake for another 10 minutes.

5.     Remove from oven and allow to cool completely (again breaking up if necessary).

 

Cold Brew Syrup

Ingredients:

100ml cold brew coffee

70ml caster sugar

Method:

1.     In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk the cold brew and the sugar to combine. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for about 5 minutes until reduced and syrupy. (nb from Chef Jaime: This is a bit of a ‘feeling’ kind of a cooking situation. Reduction by half may be helpful for some, maple syrup consistency to others, but mostly, it’s how thick you like. You can also double or triple this recipe if you like to get more syrup drizzle or to reduce it further if you like it super sticky).

 

To Serve:

Either:

1)   sprinkle cocoa crumble on top of the prepotted mousse and drizzle with cold brew syrup

OR

2)   sprinkle cocoa crumble on the bottom of a serving dish, quenelle (or spoon) mousse on top, sprinkle more crumble, and drizzle with cold brew syrup

#figbarcookbookclub : #RECIPESHORTS

#figbarcookbookclub : #RECIPESHORTS

I cannot help but love a good gimmick, and so this book jumped straight off the shelves and into my arms. I am so so glad that it did. Hot pink spine, bright orange cover, and every recipe guaranteed to fit into a 140 character tweet. I was sold. #RECIPESHORTS by Andrea Stewart is a go to favourite from our bookshelf because of the sheer joy of reading a recipe that concise. Though seemingly simple, I will warn you that this book isn't for those new to the kitchen (as you'll see in the recipe we've made below) because certain instructions just won't fit into the 140 character limit (for example, how high of heat or what to 'whiz' with, or even how to serve). There are a few cheats on the pages (as seen below "garnish with fresh lime"), little boxes that add a bit of extra info to the tweetable recipe, but I just consider it a reply from another user and call it a day :-)

You'll find breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, snacks, and sides. All relatively simple (only so many ingredients fit in 140 characters). There are beautiful pictures, strong typeface, and all around social media happiness. A great range of recipes that simply work. You'll also find a glossary for the inevitable abbreviations (I'm getting too old for text speak tbh <--- see what I did there? ;-)), so it's also a cool way to cook and keep up with the kids these days (without aging myself too much, but srsly, the new grammar and text is cray). 

As an aside, part of what I adore about this book is how it highlights the movement of the English language so beautifully. It's absolutely fascinating that we are able to watch the morphing and changing of our language in real time through social media. It's even more interesting that we are able to see the progression of emotion into print. For example, using a full-stop to answer a text question shows a bit of agitation and and indication that the conversation is over: "yes.".  Meanwhile answering the text "yes" without punctuation is a simple answer. There now are new uses for the ellipsis to encourage completion of thought: a reply like "OK..." instead of "OK".

I LOVE THIS STUFF SO MUCH! I could go on and on, but instead, the recipe from the talented Andrea Stewart.

 

SW.POT PNUT SOUP

Sweat 1 chop'd onion,1Tgrlic w/2t garam masala, +600g sw.pot&300g carrots &1.2L chix stock. Whiz w/60g pnut butt. S&P

(text box: garnish with fresh lime. Serves 4-6.)

 

THAT'S IT! Genius. (also... so.deliciously.good!) #dinnersorted

(n.b from Chef Jaime: Pictured here is our home go-to super simple easy flatbread recipe mentioned in the Hugh post with a variation from flatbread to crouton. 1 to 1 self-rising spelt flour to greek yogurt. Spoon drop balls of batter about 1 tsp in size into hot veg oil to fry till crispy. Scatter on top of the soup. Note reply from Steph- how did Andrea Stewart do it!? We couldn't even make a recipe with 2 ingredients that we've written here before fit in 140 characters! Go buy this book.). 

#figbarathome : Island Banana Bread

#figbarathome : Island Banana Bread

When I (Steph) was growing up, my mom used to make banana bread once every week or two. She'd bake it at night, and then she would allow it to cool under tea towels until breakfast in the morning. When I finally was gifted her recipe for my own, I shouldn't have been surprised to discover it was actually banana cake that we were lucky enough to eat for breakfast smothered in butter and honey. I have taken this entirely to mean: if we cook it in a loaf tin, we can call it bread and eat it for breakfast. 

This recipe is originated with my mother's, but Chef's jazzed it up to bring a bit of summer and brightness... and if we throw in extra fruit, we can definitely call it breakfast, right?

 

Island Banana Bread

Ingredients:

1 banana, mashed

250g self-raising flour

225g sour cream

115g coconut oil, melted

200g caster sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

The juice of 1 lime (about 1 Tbsp)

25g desiccated coconut

60g chia seeds

500g frozen mango, defrosted and drained

for top: flaked coconut, chia seeds, and sliced banana

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Butter and flour 2 loaf tins (or cake tins if you like, I used one loaf tin- for breakfast and one small 6-inch cake tin, for slices with my cuppa. The only variation to watch out for is the cooking time).

2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except desiccated coconut, chia seeds, and mango. Once combined, fold in desiccated coconut, chia seeds, and mango until even throughout.

3. Pour mixture into prepared tins about 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle the top with flaked coconut and chia seeds and decorate with sliced banana. 

4. Cook at 160C for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes (loaf tin). (nb: the 6-inch cake tin took 40 minutes in our home oven. Our recommendation would be to check every 10-20 minutes by inserting a sharp knife or cake tester. When the cake is cooked, the knife should come out clean).  

5. Allow to rest 10 minutes, then gently tip from loaf tin onto a cooling rack.

6. Serve slightly warm with butter or at room temperature (also with butter if you like! Or honey... or nutella... or maple syrup... or more banana!). 

#figbarcookbookclub : River Cottage Veg

#figbarcookbookclub : River Cottage Veg

Vegetables! We love 'em. One thing I didn't really anticipate in running a dessert bar (weirdly, I know), is quite how much sugar I'd start eating! I mean, someone has to be the official taste tester, right? But that does mean both Jaime and I quite often crave salt, protein, and vegetables. Lots and Lots of vegetables. 

One great cookbook that satisfies any veg craving we have is River Cottage Veg everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. BBQ corn on the cob? Yup. Lemony Guacamole? He's got it. Beetroot Hummus? Why, yes please! Brussels Sprout winter stir-fry? Don't mind if I do!

Although- I must admit our love for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage runs deep (so deep, he is in fact referred to as "Hugh" in our household), so we would recommend any of his books/shows/restaurants anyway, but this one is a pretty solid 'go to' in our house when we want variety. With over 200 recipes, it's hard to get stuck in a rut of making the same old, same old!

Last night for dinner, we made one of our favourites from this book: Mexican Black Bean and Tomato Soup. YUM. Chock full of veg, lovely beans for protein, and a dollop of sour cream so you feel a bit naughty, this hearty soup works through all the seasons and is generally made of staples in our household: tomatoes, black beans and red onion. It's easy to alter based on your fridgeful (for example, sometimes we roast the tomatoes first, other times we use a leftover jar of pasta sauce instead of passata, or sometimes we even throw in bean variations, extra vegetables, or toss a few tortilla chips over the top). We also tend to leave this soup pretty chunky and take the 'finely chopped' suggestion with a grain of salt (see what I did there? ;-), so if you do go ahead and make this recipe, chop it your way! 

All I know is that vegetables are great, this soup is magical, and this cookbook is often used in our house and highly recommended!

Mexican Tomato and Bean Soup

Hugh Fernly Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg everyday!

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 red onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1-2 medium-hot green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

1/2 tsp ground cumin

600ml veg stock

200ml roasted tomato sauce or passata

400g ripe tomatoes, cored, deseeded, and finely chopped

400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed

a handful of oregano, chopped

a pinch of sugar

juice of 1 lime

small handful of coriander, roughly chopped

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

To Finish: sour cream, chopped coriander

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium-low heat, add most of the onions (reserving a little to finish the soup) and salute for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, chillies and cumin and stir for a minute. 

Add the stock, roasted tomato sauce or passata, tomatoes, beans, oregano, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice and coriander. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve the soup topped with dollops of soured cream, if you like, and scattered with the reserved red onion, chopped coriander, and freshly ground pepper.

N.B (from Chef Jaime): We like to top our soup with a bit of grated cheddar and some chopped avocado as well. In these images you can see the homemade bread we made- simply mix 1:1 greek yogurt to self-raising flour with some olive oil, roll out, and pan-fry in a non-stick pan! Perfect for dipping and the tang of the yogurt in the bread accompanies this soup particularly well.  

#figbarathome : churro muffins with pear chocolate jam

#figbarathome : churro muffins with pear chocolate jam

With two little figs running around our house (ages 1 and 3 years-old), we love recipes that involve a bit of a 'project'. Filling these muffins with pear chocolate jam is just the ticket for a little bit of extra fun (and mess! I can't lie!). Plus, the left over pear chocolate jam is a great 'special treat' (as our girls say) on rice cakes for snack times later on in the week. With a bit of freshly sliced pear layered over top, you can also enjoy 1 of your 5 a day!

Churro Mini-Muffins with Pear Chocolate Jam

Pear Chocolate Jam

Ingredients

700g peeled & cored pears in a small dice

2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbsp cold water

275g caster sugar

big pinch cinnamon

85g best quality dark chocolate chips

Method

In a wide mouthed pan over low to medium heat, cook pears, lemon juice, & water for about 5 minutes until the pears begin to soften. Add the caster sugar and cinnamon and stir to dissolve.  Leave to cook down for about 20 minutes, until the liquid is a bit gooey. Cool for about 10 minutes. Using a stick blender or food processor, blitz to consistency desired (note from Chef Jaime: we like to leave a bit of texture in our jam, so it’s not completely smooth).  Stir the chocolate into the warm mix until melted. Set aside.

 

Churro Mini-Muffins

(makes 24)

Ingredients

350g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

100g caster sugar

110g brown sugar

2 eggs, lightly whisked

240ml whole milk

85g butter, melted

 

Butter & Sugar Bath

6 Tbsp melted butter

100g caster sugar mixed with 2 tsp cinnamon

 

Method

1)   Preheat oven to 170°C. Butter and flour mini muffin tin and set aside.

2)   Place flour, backing powder, salt, caster sugar, and brown sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk to combine.

3)   Add eggs and milk, whisk again. With the whisk running on low, slowly tip melted butter into the batter. Whisk until fully combined.

4)   Fill muffin tins ¾ full and bake for 12-15minutes until the edges begin to brown.

5)   Allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Push the back of a spoon into the top of the muffin to create a small hole and wiggle around to create space in the center of the muffin. Using a piping bag with a small tip, pipe the pear chocolate jam into the middle until the muffin feels heavier and you cannot fit any more jam inside without the muffin exploding. Immediately dip top into melted butter and then directly into the cinnamon sugar mixture.

6)   Eat and enjoy!

 

#figbarcookbookclub : A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate

#figbarcookbookclub : A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate

It's my favourite post of the month! This year, we have started the #figbarcookbookclub where we will share one of our favourite cookbooks from our home collection (of over 120!) and cook one of the recipes here along with you! Last month was the brilliant Victuals, and if you missed that post, definitely check the archives for it and the biscuit recipe.

This month's pick may seem a bit surprising to you, or maybe not! Either way, I'm super excited to share Hotel Chocolat's A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate as February's cookbook club pick. We received this book as a gift a few years ago and have turned to it for inspiration to add chocolate to literally e v e r y t h i n g. The beauty of this book is helping turn sweet into savoury in a delicate way. Yes, there is a 'dessert' section that, of course, utilizes chocolate in every recipe, but just wait till you flick through the unconventional chocolate uses: black pepper cocoa nib beef jerky, not-so-scotch egg, beetroot carpaccio, rump steak burger with cocoa beer-braised onions, cocoa brine roast turkey, citrus salad with white chocolate dressing, portobello mushroom risotto.... have I enticed your tastebuds enough? If that doesn't, then the gorgeous pictures definitely will. The book also is a lovely introduction to the Rabot Estate in Saint Lucia, Hotel Chocolat's beautiful cocoa estate, with a bit of it's history and ideals of sustainability (brilliant news since I recently read an article that the cocoa plant may be extinct by 2050!!!!! But more on that tangent another time...). As mentioned in a little footnote at the start of the book, "falling in love with Rabot Estate was easy". If this book and it's elegant dishes say anything, it's that I love the Rabot Estate too! 

But, alas (said for increased dramatics), if we can't all go to St. Lucia to eat chocolate, let's use this book to bring the warm islands to our cold February, England! 

One dish in particular has become Jaime's & my go-to for one-upping our friends in the pot-luck appetizer game (now they'll read this and know our secret!), which is this brilliant recipe for 'Smoked Mackerel Ganache'. Oh. My. Goodness, you guys. When I first made this, I thought it would be tasty, but believe me when I say, "It is tasty.". Make sure that you use only the best quality ingredients you can find for this recipe, especially the smoked mackerel, and pair it with really good quality bread. There's a recipe for cocoa nib crispbread in the book that is a great complement. 

Recipes taken from "A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate" from the Hotel Chocolat

Purchase the book here

Smoked Mackerel Ganache

Ingredients:

125g peppered smoked mackerel

100g cream cheese

zest and juice ½ lemon

2 Tbsp White Chocolate Horseradish (recipe follows)

salt and pepper

Method:

Skin the mackerel and make sure there are no bones in it. Break into smallish pieces. Place in a bowl along with all the other ingredients and use your hands to mix everything until completely combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days (note from Steph- the only reason it lasts in my fridge for 3 days is if I make it ahead of time for a party. I’ve never ended up with leftovers!).

 

White Chocolate Horseradish

Ingredients:

50g white chocolate (at least 30% cocoa butter content)

110g creamed horseradish

Method:

Gently melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t actually touch the hot water. (chef note from Jaime- this is called a ‘bain marie’).

While the bowl is still sitting over the pan, add the creamed horseradish and mix until fully combined with the chocolate. Remove the bowl from the pan and beat for 1 minute further. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge until needed- it will keep for up to 2 weeks. (Note from Steph – eat this for breakfast to up your avocado and salmon toast game!).

 

#figbarathome : Adnams Earl Grey Lager Bread

#figbarathome : Adnams Earl Grey Lager Bread

The most winning combination I can think of? Beer and bread. There is some yeasty magic behind how beautifully the flour and beer bubble together that cannot be topped. You can make a simple beer bread with just 3 ingredients (beer, self-raising flour, and sugar), or you can exercise your right to experimenting by adding extra elements. This beer bread recipe below does that, twice. We've taken one of our favourite lagers from Adnams (Earl Grey Lager, which we also have our our menu at Figbar) and upped the ante by creating a beautiful little beer bread bundt with it (we only did that for the alliteration, any bread tin or cake tin will do). The brilliance of beer bread (sorry, I love alliteration!), is that you can create so many flavors just by changing the beer you use in your basic recipe. What I love about this particular recipe we are sharing here is that the honey prevents the sweetness from distracting from the beer.

If you have ever tried the Earl Grey Lager by Adnams, then you'll remember the tea that lingers on your palette. This bread barely hints at the strength of the tea, but instead lends itself to a slight acidity with lovely buttery tang. We've included a variation with the ingredients to give more of an earl grey kick, but do try it each way and see which you prefer.

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Adnams Earl Grey Lager Bread

Ingredients

400g plain flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

80g honey (reduce to 75g if including optional ingredients)

1 x 330ml bottle Adnams Earl Grey lager

100g butter, melted

1tsp lemon juice (optional)

1 earl grey tea bag, contents only (optional)

 

Method

1.     Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease a 6 hole bundt tin with butter (see n.b for other options of bread tin).

2.     In a large bowl, place flour, baking powder, salt, and honey (if using lemon juice and tea leaves, add them now too)

3.     Pour Earl Grey Lager directly over the other ingredients, and, using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix until all ingredients come together. Do not over mix.

4.     Pour half of the melted butter evenly into the bottoms of the bundt tin. Use a pastry brush to push the melted butter into all the crevises.

5.     Evenly split the dough into each hole in the bundt tin. (It will about double in size, so try not to overfill your particular tin).

6.     Evenly brush the remaining 50g butter along the top of the dough.

7.     Bake for 20-30 minutes until the bread is golden and a knife inserted to the middle comes out clean. (Fair warning here, this is the trickiest part of the entire recipe and does take a bit of practice. A toothpick can come out clean, but you’ll slice the bread only to find the texture doughy to eat. Next time, add 5 minutes to your cooking time. If you do find this, I recommend slicing the bread and popping it into the toaster and then slathering with butter. J).

8.     Serve immediately from oven (though it’s still good for days in the bread drawer and makes a killer sandwich bread).

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n.b.

A few notes:

* You can use any bread tin your have, you’ll just have to adjust the baking times. For example, a 9x5x3inch standard bread tin will take 40-50 minutes to cook properly. I made this recipe in a large bundt tin and it cooked in 35 minutes. If you feel unsure, set your timer for 20 minutes and then every 5 thereafter until the bread is done. The sheer amount of butter drenching the top of this bread helps keep the browning turn to burning.

* It may help to ‘melt’ your honey a bit in the microwave so it cooperates when mixing.

* Try this same recipe with any brand or style of beer and taste the results! It’s super fun experimenting with flavours and styles (ale vs. lager, pumpkin vs. clementine,  American craft vs. British craft, etc.), and also great to know you can have good bread quickly just with a can of beer on hand!

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#figbarcookbookclub : Victuals

#figbarcookbookclub : Victuals

New Year, new things to cook! Or in this case, for me anyway, old things, memory-type things. Each month here on 'Crumbs' we are going to be recommending and sharing one of our favourite cookbooks on our home kitchen shelves. To start, I wanted to feature a beautiful cookbook that hit the shelves in 2016: Victuals: an Appalachian Journey, with Recipes by Ronni Lundy, a US author and editor. The book won the prestigious James Beard Media Awards in April 2017 for Best American Cooking as well as the top book award for Cookbook of the Year. If that doesn't indicate it's going to be a stunning collection of recipes, I don't know what will! 

As many of you know, I am from the USA- East Tennessee to be exact, and this book focuses on all my childhood favorites (I'll spell like an American for this :-). There's unashamed use of buttermilk, cornmeal, and sorghum. There are stories and words that only those from Appalachia will recognize or be able to pronounce. And there are flavors, ooooh my goodness are there flavors!  Every recipe we have made from this book in our kitchen has brought out a new story from my youth, my tastebuds filling my head with memories.

The recipe I'm going to share with you from the book is for the 'Bigger isn't Better Buttermilk Biscuits'. After I made the recipe and took a bite of one hot from the oven, I did one of those incredibly cliche closed-eyes, full-mouthed sighs of 'ooh, yeah...'. They are everything from my youth: biscuits and sausage gravy (a breakfast food), fried chicken, pork chops with applesauce, afternoon snack... It's one of the first things you learn to make because they are quite easy, but delicate, and you use your hands to mix so to really get to know the dough and the power of mixing the ingredients. They also whip together quickly without much fuss, so you can have fresh biscuits for breakfast or dinner in 20 minutes. Perfection.

Bigger isn’t Better Buttermilk Biscuits

from Victuals

Ingredients:

8 Tbsp (113.5g) butter, cold, diced plus extra for the cookie sheet

2 ½ cups (400g) of plain flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda in the UK)

1 tsp salt

1 cup (215g) buttermilk

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together twice. Cut the butter into the flour mixture and use your fingers to flightly mix the flour and butter together until they form pea-sized clumps. Add the buttermilk all at once. Quickly and lightly mix it in until the dough just holds together.

Turn the dough out on a well-floured surface and gently pat it down; then fold it over and gently pat it down again. (Gently. Really.) Lightly roll the dough out to a thickness of about ¾  inch and cut out biscuits with a straight-sided 2- or 2 ½-inch biscuit cutter. Cut straight down, without twisting. Place the biscuits on the prepared cookie sheet with space between them and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are just turning golden. Serve immediately.

NB: Watch your biscuits, when I made this recipe, they cooked in 10 minutes. Remember all ovens are different! After cutting the biscuits, take the scraps and gently mush together dough the size of a large egg and round it into a dome shape. Place them onto a prepared cookie sheet. They will be ugly, but just as tasty, and you can’t say fairer than that. 

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#fillourtable : moon + moss jewellery

#fillourtable : moon + moss jewellery

The countdown is ON!! Only 4 sleeps to Christmas morning! Who better to lead us closer to the morning of cinnamon buns (in our house anyway) and fresh coffee (shout out to Strangers Coffee Christmas Blend!), than the fabulous Sophie Kowalyk of moon + moss jewellery? We are SO excited to have Sophie here to #fillourtable!! OK, full disclosure, Sophie is often here to #fillourtable because she's our incredible manager here at Figbar (a woman of many talents!), but for this (fictional) event, she comes to us with her creative maker hat on because we really want to highlight her side gig moon + moss jewellery because, frankly, it's SO PRETTY. 

Sophie is stellar. She is so motivated, so talented, and so creative. She has such a keen eye for detail and beauty, and she brings her artistic force to every aspect of her life. Her beautiful jewellery adorns many a person in Norfolk and beyond, and you can find your very own piece at Elm on Dove Street (This jewellery makes a great gift or stocking filler for you, Santa! Add it to your list, friends, as I'm sure we've all made the 'nice' one!). The aesthetic of moon + moss really highlights the beauty of the semi-precious stones individual to each piece. My personal favourite are the copper star earrings... or any piece with the rainbow quartz! (I think I may just have convinced myself to go shopping...)

Sophie, you are such a superb addition to our Christmas Dinner Party, and we are delighted you are here to #fillourtable!! 

Name: Sophie Kowalyk
What you do: Baker by day, Jewellery maker by night

A Bit About Sophie: I live in Norwich with my cat Chip, staffy dog Gypsy Rose and my housemate who cooks the best Chinese food! I work at Figbar during the day and make moon + moss jewellery in my spare time. 

Find Sophie @moonandmossjewellery on Instagram

#fillourtable

1. You are at our Christmas dinner party, aside from us, who would you have at your ideal table and why? 

I would do anything to have my late Grandad there. I never met him as he died when my Dad was 17. He was born in Ukraine and had a very tough early life and lost all his family at a young age due to the war, but seemed to carry on in life with passion!  I would also invite the late Carl Sagan, so we could talk about star stuff! Also Tom Hardy because, why not?! 


2. What foods are you most thankful for? 

Food my Mum cooks and food my fiancés Mum, Gina, cooks. Both do it with love and will always make sure my belly is full.  I also absolutely love my partner's scrambled eggs. He makes the best scrambled eggs. (Sorry, Jaime!! - my boss who also always cooks me scrambled eggs).


3. What is your most cherished family tradition regarding food?

I can't really think of a family food tradition that my family has but I have started cooking a roast dinner for my house mate and who ever else is round on a Sunday and this now feels like a little tradition which I hope to carry on when I have my own family! 


4. What act of kindness has made the biggest/greatest difference to your life?

I've met the most beautiful group of women through social media and have friends who would help me out no matter what so there's been lots of times when this has made a difference. I also am super lucky to have a pair of amazing bosses in my day job who have made me think differently about food, work and life! 

5. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

A couple of my friends have told me that I inspired them to start their own businesses and that I gave them the courage to do so. To hear that is very lovely because most of the time I have no idea what I'm doing, it just looks like I do! 
 

6. If you had a dollar/pound to give to anyone in the world, who would you give it to and why?

I would give it to an animal charity. My dog and cat are big part of my life and I can't bear to see any animals suffering. Although a pound isn't a lot every little donation helps. 

Thank you, Sophie!! We love having you at Figbar, especially for our Christmas Dinner Party :-) 

#fillourtable : Dynamic Fitness

#fillourtable : Dynamic Fitness

It's the last day before the winter equinox, and we have a brilliant guest here to #fillourtable at our (hypothetical) Figbar Christmas Dinner Party. The incomparable Ross Lenton from Dynamic Fitness Norwich! And he definitely brings the party wherever he goes. 

Ross has an endless supply of energy, positivity, and the most motivating playlist you'll find. He knows when to pump up the volume and when you need to turn it down a little. He is a fab listener, incredibly thoughtful, supportive, and just plain fun. We definitely need a cool guy like him here at our dinner table. 

One of the best things about Ross and his awesome personal training studio, Dynamic Fitness, is that once you start, you don't want to stop! They have running clubs, summer BBQ's (don't worry, egg and spoon races are likely to appear here!), rowing competitions, press-up challenges (he even had Chef Jaime Garbutt doing the 6 weeks to 100 press-ups!), and more. Ross is another Norwich gem born and raised. He's well-travelled, but he knew the best place to settle down was obviously our Fine City! So 10 years ago he rooted his dynamic business here (see what I did there? ;-), which is currently located on Ber Street. I know, I know, having a personal trainer in our midst may make us a little anxious- rethinking that extra helping of mashed potatoes (oh. my. goodness. I know this dinner party is hypothetical, but Jaime's mash is unbeatable- sorry, Mom), but I promise- Ross gets it. He gets good food, moderation, extravagance, and that this dinner party especially is a time to go a bit overboard. So, let's dig in, Figbar fans! We've got Ross to help whip us back into shape come January! 

Ross Lenton of Dynamic Fitness, thank you for bringing the party and coming to help #fillourtable! 

 

Name: Ross Lenton


What you do: Owner at Dynamic Fitness

 
A Bit About Ross: I'm a Norwich boy originally but after Uni I went to Sydney, Australia and qualified as a Personal Trainer. After some amazing results I decided to come back to Norwich in 2008 to set up Dynamic Fitness. I have had almost 10 successful years of helping clients get fitter and happier, together with running many successful Fitness Events.

Currently, I live in the Golden Triangle with my lovely new wife Sarah. My amazing Mum lives in Norwich and my 2 brothers live in Thailand and Vancouver!

Find Ross & Dynamic Fitness here:

Insta twitter and facebook @dynamicfitnessnorwich

www.getdynamic.co.uk

#fillourtable


1. You are at our Christmas dinner party, aside from us, who would you have at your ideal table and why?

Even though I actually met him this year, it would be cool to have David Beckham!

2. What foods are you most thankful for?

Sorry, Steph, but I would have to say steak!

(Editor's note- Steph here, the apology is because I'm a vegetarian! :-) 

3. What is your most cherished family tradition regarding food?

Summer BBQ's!


4. What act of kindness has made the biggest/greatest difference to your life?

My Friend, Paul's, Parents allowing me to rent their house and allow me to turn the back room into my first Gym!

5. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

My best man, Tom Ellis, said in his best man speech (amongst other things!) that I am the most positive person he has ever met :)

6. If you had a dollar/pound to give to anyone in the world, who would you give it to and why?

Whoever needed it the most

Thank you, Ross!! We love having you here at our table, and cannot wait to clear the table for a little dance party when we are done :-) 

ROSS_0068.jpg

#fillourtable : Tofurei

#fillourtable : Tofurei

Ok, ok, so it's been almost a year (what?!) since we've posted here, and a LOT has happened, BUT I promise our lengthy absence from the blog will have been worth the wait because today I present to you our Christmas campaign to highlight and champion some brilliant lovely fabulous folks in our Norwich/Norfolk area: #fillourtable 

As you know, we here at Figbar have a big sharing table in the middle of our restaurant. It's central to our ethos- scootch up and make friends over a shared delicious experience. What you may not have known is that we stole that table directly from Chef Jaime's mum's kitchen! The table holds so many memories for our family, and we love that it now has shared memories for you and your families and friends.

With that in mind, we were thinking of our Christmas dinner and those ideal dinner parties that often become the focus of conversation- who would you invite? Why? and all those other party game questions that really get you thinking. So that's what we are doing for the whole of December in the lead up to Christmas. We're introducing you to some of our favorite people: restaurants, chefs, entrepreneurs, bloggers, managers, friends, and people of interest who we have come to know through this Figbar adventure. These lovely folks have agreed to take a seat at our table, answer a few questions, and allow us to highlight their brilliance over our social media in the lead up to a lovely hypothetical Christmas meal. 

First up, it's my great pleasure to begin with one of our neighbors on the Norwich Lanes- the incomparable Tofurei. We've been big fans of them since they opened shortly after we did, but we only truly became friends after being pitted against each other for the title of 'Best Newcomer' in the Norfolk Food & Drink Awards this year. Do you know that the EDP made all the category finalists sit at the same table for 3 hours before the awards started?! But what could have been awkward was instead one of the most fun evenings you could have with competitor... turned colleagues... turned support network.... turned friends. (3 hours is a long time, you guys!). And it's remained steadfast since!

So without further adieu... TOFUREI we are SO excited for you to be the first to arrive to #fillourtable 

Name: Tofurei - "a relaxing vegan coffee shop and grab'n'go. Showingcasing output from the UK's first shop based micro soya dairy and their unique deli-counter with soysages, burgers, as well as tofu."

About: Team tofurei are just 14 months old, and growing quickly.  We’re a diverse bunch ranging in age from 20 to 60 years old. We include natives of Norwich and Norfolk, Leeds & Mansfield but also naturalised citizens of 30 years residency. Our previous occupations range from animal sanctuary workers, barista’s, chefs & ‘kp’s’ to teaching assistants & teachers, ofsted inspector, the RAF and business analyst. We all share a passion for plant based food.

Where can we find you? 12 Pottergate, Norwich NR2 1DS @tofurei and @tofurei_norwich

#fillourtable Tofurei 

1. You are at our Christmas dinner party, aside from us, who would you have at your ideal table and why?

Well, it’s very generous of you not only to invite us, but also our guests so we hope it’s a big table:-) There are quite a few of us - with a lot of different ideas for who we’d also like to share the table with! A great meal deserves to be shared, especially with those who from necessity rather than choice might otherwise be alone, or unable to organise the feast we know you’ll provide. So one guest, suitably anonymous, would represent that group. It also deserves interesting and erudite conversation, and whilst everyone could contribute that, we’d also like David Attenborough & Jeremy Corbyn along to add an extra dimension - assuming that for practical reasons only the living can attend!

 

2. What foods are you most thankful for? 

A difficult one - we love food, and have a suitably diverse range of tastes. Some of us have very sweet tooth’s, but others love their savoury treats. The one thing we have in common is that our foods are all plant based. Probably predictably we love Soya for its versatility. We can use it to make drinks, & cereal accompaniments. It can give us tofu, which we can use for a really rich cheesecake, or tasty Cumberland style soysages and savoury burger patties - and we haven’t even yet got into smoked and fermented varieties. It’s also a great crop for our local farmers. Some of us are also partial to a nice cheese and we have some really interesting ones ones made using traditional techniques and cultures but applied to nuts. Finally a big shout out for cocoa and coffee beans. Where would we be without chocolate and coffee to finish a good meal!

 

3. What is your most cherished family tradition regarding food?

We’re a bit new to have our own tradition yet, so we draw on those from our backgrounds. Through all the hectic whirl of day to day life, the very busy weeks and noise of technology in our lives, we all enjoy finding one opportunity a week to share a meal together with those we live with. For that one meal, the only technology that may be allowed would be music - phones, TV and tablets definitely off..... and at least once a year we also like to extend that to the diaspora of those whom we are emotionally close to, but geographically distant.

 

4. What act of kindness has made the biggest/greatest difference to your life?

Collectively we can’t say other than the kindness that has supported team tofurei to come into existence, and is giving us the opportunity to do so much more next year. It also marks a tremendous act of faith, and vote of confidence in us.

 

5. What is the best compliment you have ever received?

Being thanked, ‘just for being there’.

 

6. If you had a dollar/pound to give to anyone in the world, who would you give it to and why?

The value of a gift is so contextual - a £ is such a small sum to us, and in comparison to the costs of things in our society, so little. In other societies that value may be greater but even here there are people for whom the act itself would have a symbolic value far greater than its monetary value. If we correctly chose our anonymous dinner guest, then hopefully it would be them.

 

Thank you, Tofurei! We've loved getting to know you better! Now everyone go grab some of their delicious tofu!!