In our house, we are relaxing into the new year with just the right amount of nervousness in the three years of the pandemic, while keeping a busy workload on hold, parenting two young children. Needless to say, we’re not planning a dry January! No, 2022 is a year to take stock, lean towards achievable goals and just celebrate moving forward.
The same can be said about cooking in the kitchen. I am all for meal plans. In fact, they are what we get in the week. But sometimes you just need the comfort of home. Around this time of year, there should definitely be places to eat lighter, but for goodness sake, we’re still in the depths of winter. We need room for indulgence and frivolity,
Most of my comfort food is derived from nostalgia — foods I grew up eating and dishes that bring me back to a certain time and place — and often a good starting point is a really good sandwich. Even the bare bones of my mom’s kitchen have always had some form of bread for magic in their lunch fix: brown bread, batch bread or just a regular old sliced bread.
One of my favorite Dublin cafes, The Pepper Pot in Powerscourt Townhouse, has long been making some of the best sandwiches in the city. A few years ago, he shared the recipe for his white leavened loaves—a crisp crust with just the right amount of pillowy soft white interior making it the perfect sandwich loaf. That’s my starting point for this week’s recipes, because if making your own bread isn’t the antidote to the doom and gloom out there, I’m not sure what is.
Once you’ve whipped up your homemade bread, I recommend making a nostalgic classic — a fish finger sandwich. I’ve provided a recipe for sandwiching white fish with tartar sauce and baby gem lettuce leaves to turn white fish into crunchy golden pieces. However, if you have a pack of fish fingers in the freezer, The decision won’t be made if you want to give up on the good part straight away.
Finally, if you can’t make it to the fabulous Pepper Pot Cafe, you should try and make their signature sambo – Cheddar, Roast Pear and Crispy Bacon. Amidst that pillowy soft white bread, it’s a little moment of heaven,
Time: 2 hours 30 mins Makes: 3 loaves
1.5 kg strong white flour
30 grams salt
30 grams butter
50 grams fresh yeast (or 3 x 7 gram sachets of active yeast)
875 grams of water
1. Sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl and then whisk in the butter with your fingers (add active yeast at this point, if using). Make a well with your hand, making a large space with a wall of flour in the middle of it. Crush your yeast in the well and add water. Dissolve the yeast by moving your hands in a circular motion.
2. Using your hand or a wooden spoon, start adding in the flour, little at a time, until a thick dough forms. Invert the dough onto a clean work surface and knead until the dough is smooth, elastic, and elastic to the touch. Place in a clean bowl and let rise for 45 minutes until it doubles in size. After 45 minutes, mash the dough and lower it.
3. Line three 1lb loaf tins with silicone paper or use parchment paper.
4. Divide the dough into three parts and measure each third into 800 grams using a weighing scale. Make three round balls of the dough. Cover again. After 5 minutes, flatten with your knuckles, from left to right along the edges, fold in the middle and roll yourself up into a Swiss roll shape. Place in lined tin. Sprinkle with flour and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 210°C/Gas Mark 8.
6. Once the bread is puffed, use a sharp knife to make three slits from the top of each loaf. put in the oven to bake
for 30 minutes before removing
Taking it out of the tin 5. put back in the oven to crisp up
more minutes. Remove the bread and keep it on a wire rack to cool.
fish finger sandwich
Time: 45 mins Service: 4
750 g white fish (you can use most fish here, such as cod, haddock or lemon sole cut into 6 cm long, thin-ish fingers)
3 tbsp all purpose flour, seasoned
2 free-range eggs, beaten
100 grams fine breadcrumbs
4 tbsp olive oil
25 grams unsalted butter
4 soft white flour fathers
1 baby gem lettuce, leaves separated
for tartar sauce
75 g mayonnaise
50 grams greek yogurt
5 cornichons, finely chopped
1 tbsp capers, chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
good squeeze lemon juice
1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Make tartar sauce. Blend the ingredients together, season to taste, and set aside.
2. Dip the fish in flour, then the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs.
3. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan on high flame till it glows. Add fish fingers and when it turns brown, add butter and start frying. Fry for 2-3 minutes, turning halfway, until they are golden brown and cooked through. Sieve on kitchen towel.
4. Split the baps and add a dollop of tartar sauce. Add a couple of lettuce leaves, then fish fingers. Top with more tartar sauce and serve.
Roasted Pear, Bacon and Cheddar Sandwich
Time: 45 mins Service: 2
3 pears, peeled and cut into eighth pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
6 slices of dried treated bacon
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 slices of batch white bread
100 g Montgomery Cheddar cheese, sliced into thick slices
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp whole grain mustard
sea salt and ground black pepper
large handful lettuce leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark. 6. Toss pears with olive oil, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a large roasting tin. 2. Bake the pears in the oven for 35 minutes until pierced with a fork. Turn them occasionally with a fork to prevent sticking. Remove and keep aside to cool down a bit.
3. Cook the bacon under the hot grill until crisp on both sides.
4. For the salad, combine the vinegar, extra-virgin oil and mustard in a bowl and add the sea salt and ground black pepper. Add lettuce leaves and toss to coat.
5. Spread a little mayo on each slice of bread and assemble the sandwich by placing the leaves, bacon, ripe pear and cheese on top. Cut in half and serve straight.