FRUGAL FOODIE: Use your loaf and make the most of the summer sun

Frugal Foodie's bread.
Frugal Foodie's bread.

The sun is shining again! When it’s like this I want to eat fresh salads, recipes packed with fresh herbs and crusty bread, preferably outside with a glass of wine.

I make bread all the time and it is so easy to make and the great thing about making your own, other than the obvious price difference, is that you can be creative and add just about anything to it.

New potatoes are delicious fresh from the ground.

New potatoes are delicious fresh from the ground.

I always have jars of antipasti ingredients as they last for ages (as they’re jarred in oil or brine) and they are great for adding flavour to meals.

They are also great for bread.

One of my most popular loaves is my sun-dried tomato and olive loaf.

You need hardly any sun-dried tomatoes to make the flavour and the lovely orange colour that the dough takes on and it gives a real wow factor.

Christine McAllister,  twins Evie and Robin and husband Ian.

Christine McAllister, twins Evie and Robin and husband Ian.

It’s the perfect loaf to take you right through the seasons as it’s amazing with a hearty Spanish stew in the winter and with salads and Mediterranean summery dishes too. Lovely to have with a barbecue, while you enjoy this glorious weather!

You can add as many ingredients to your bread as you’d like.

Get experimental.

Use the same basic recipe and chuck in whatever else you fancy! It’s a good way to avoid wasting anything – use up the last bits of cheese and bits and bobs lying around your fridge.

I thought you might like another couple of frugal sides to go with your barbecues.

I make a lot of coleslaw and pickles to use up all the odds and ends of veg that I have in the fridge or some of the radishes that are starting to bolt. You can use any winter veg like Brussels sprouts too.

In the summer, it tends to be summer cabbages, carrots and radishes that get the mayonnaise treatment though.

Simply chuck whichever veg you want to use into the food processor through the grater attachment and then season with salt and pepper, squeeze some lemon juice over and stir through as much mayonnaise as you need and a good heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard. It’s great for sides and sandwiches.

You could also make your own mayonnaise, particularly if, like us, you have hens.

Just whisk up a couple of egg yolks and very gradually add oil to it, whisking all the time.

When you have a thick consistency and a pale colour, add a squeeze of lemon and then whisk some more oil in. Add mustard or garlic, if you’d like.

If you’ve gone to the effort of making your own mayonnaise, you absolutely must make new potato salad.

The potatoes in my garden are absolutely gorgeous and I’m eating them with every meal at the moment so I’m going to have to start doing a few different things with them before the family gets sick of them!

This is a lovely way of jazzing them up but still appreciating the melt in the mouth loveliness that they have at the moment.

Just mix the mayo in with them, when they’re fresh out of the pan and I like to add loads of freshly-chopped herbs from the garden and maybe some chopped capers and little gherkins (another thing that lasts for the longest time in your fridge) and anchovies.

It’s a bit like a salsa verde but with added mayonnaise.

Hot new potatoes and traditional salsa verde are amazing too.

Just chop loads of fresh herbs, gherkins, capers, garlic in the food processor, add mustard, red-wine vinegar and oil and whizz it up again.

Pour it generously over hot potatoes and serve.

The flavours are so summery and fresh and it is also great served cold, the next day.

** Follow Frugal Foodie Christine McAllister on Twitter @thefrugaldiary or read her blog at diaryofafoodie.co.uk.

RECIPE: Sun-dried tomato, olive and Parmesan bread

INGREDIENTS

500g white bread flour

1 tsp salt

7g fast action yeast

2 tsp caster sugar

4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

2 tbsp black olives, chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbsp oil from the jar of s.d.tomatoes (if using, otherwise use olive oil)

2 tbsp grated Parmesan

Approx 40g crumbled feta

Approx 300mls tepid water

METHOD

Mix yeast and sugar with 100mls of the water

Mix all other ingredients together and make a well in the centre.

Add the water and yeast mixture and combine.

Gradually add the rest of the water until you have a sticky but workable consistency.

Add more water or flour, as required.

Knead for about 10 mins until you have a nice soft and smooth dough.

It should be a bit springy. (I use my Kenwood and I knead it for about 5 mins).

Leave your dough in a bowl covered with cling film for around an hour or so, in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size.

Knock back and knead again (by hand) for a minute

Shape and place in an oiled tin or on a baking sheet.

Leave to prove for a 2nd time, for around 45 mins-1hr.

Make 2 or 3 slashes on the top and bake for around 40 mins at 220c/425f/gas7.

I chuck a couple of tbsps of water in the bottom of the oven as soon as I put the loaf in (it helps make a lovely crust).

Check after 10 mins and lower the temperature if it’s looking too brown.

When it’s ready it should sound hollow when you tap the bottom of it.

Leave it to cool on a cooling rack and try not to tuck in until it’s cooled. It’ll be tough as it smells amazing!