Robert May’s French Bread with the Bread Baking Babes

rick holding loafThis month I am once again baking along with the Bread Baking Babes and Friends, that lovely group of intrepid bakers who choose a bread to bake together each month.  I joined their page on Facebook many months ago but so much time goes along and often I miss out on baking the recipe before the due date.

bee and irises bread

This month I wanted to join in as Ilva of Lucullian Delights has chosen a recipe adapted from Elizabeth David’s “English Bread and Yeast Cookery”, 1977. Ms. David one of my favorite food writers of all time and I have been a fan of Ilva too for many years. Within Elizabeth David’s book is a recipe for Robert May’s French Bread from his book The Accomplisht Cook; Or, The Art and Mystery of Cooking from 1660.
Ilva also challenged the group to decorate the loaves as the recipe is quite simple and easy. The ones I have seen are gorgeous! Check out the BBB members here:

Bake My Day – Karen
Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire – Katie
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle
girlichef – Heather
Life’s A Feast – Jamie
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies – Natashya
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien
My Diverse Kitchen – Aparna
Bread Experience – Cathy


bee and flower

Here is the recipe as given by Ilva my notes are in pink:

from Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery, 1977. (I have adapted her recipe a little, not the ingredient list but the directions.)

500 g/ 1 lb 2 oz preferably a half-and-half mixture of unbleached white and wheat-meal (King Arthur organic whole wheat)
15 g/ 0.5 oz of yeast (fresh) (active dry yeast for me- 15g equals about 2 packets)
2 egg whites
280-340 g/ 0.5 pint to 12 oz water and milk, preferably 3/4 water and 1/4 milk (warm to lukewarm in a saucepan)
15 g/ 0.5 oz salt (I always use less salt than suggested in bread recipes and did so this time as well, I know that Elizabeth used 10 g and I suggest you do that too) (I used 10g too)

Warm flour and salt in a very tepid oven. (You can skip this but I did it)

Pour in the yeast creamed in a little of the warmed milk and water mixture. Add the egg whites, beaten in a small bowl until they are just beginning to froth. Pour in the remaining milk (but not all at once like I did, I had to add more flour to get the right consistency). Mix as for ordinary bread dough.

Leave to rise until spongy and light. This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the temperature of the ingredients when the dough as mixed.

Break down the dough, divide it into two round loaves-or long rolls if you prefer. (I made one round loaf). I covered it with a round bowl but Elizabeth David recommends covering the bread with plastic or a light cloth and leave it to recover volume. About 30 minutes should be enough. If you plan to decorate the bread like I did, don’t forget to put aside a part of the dough.

Decorate crust with cuts or with dough decorations. Bake in a pre-heated oven (230°C/450°F) for the first 15 minutes. Then to prevent the crust to get too hard, cover the loaves with bowls or an oval casserole. In another 15 minutes the loaves should be ready.


I followed all of Ilva’s suggestions and my loaf turned out deliciously. I baked it on my baking stone and covered it as suggested with a stainless steel bowl.  I chose to decorate with fleur de lys and a wee bee. It made me think of a French garden.

crumb robert mays french bread



Thanks for reading, and thanks to Ilva for a lovely challenge and to the Babes and Buddies for letting me jump in here and there with a bake-along.  🙂

Pork Chile Verde and Smothered Enchiladas

  adding pork One of the best things about learning to cook is having the freedom and the ability to make what you want to eat taste the way you most enjoy it, and also to be able to make it with the ingredients you decide to use. I believe that your food should be about making what you enjoy- without rules imposed by others. Skills that get you there?, well yes, those are things that you should learn and eventually master so that you can get the result you want from your cooking. Recipes should be a launching point to give you a structure to improve and make each dish your own. This is my Pork Chile Verde recipe. It may not be how others make it and it may not even be traditional but it’s what I like, the way I like it- that’s all that matters to me- not making it “perfect”. You can eat it in a bowl with cornbread or tortillas or you can use it in and or on top of enchiladas, burritos, tostadas and chimichangas. Really- it’s good in any form. You choose. cheese enchiladas smothered with pork chile verdeHere’s the recipe:

Pork Chile Verde – my way

  • 4 pounds of boneless pork shoulder (Boston Butt) trimmed of most of the fat and all of the connective tissue you can see
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2-4 Tablespoons cooking oil, I use sunflower seed oil
  • 4 links breakfast sausage
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced
  • 4-5 smallish garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1-3/4 cups fresh roasted Hatch green chile paste (recipe below)
  • 1 large can whole tomatillos (or about 3 cups fresh tomatillos)
  • 2 cups chicken stock, organic if possible
  • 1 large can green enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon good chile powder ( I use Rick’s homemade)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste


chile paste Hatch Green Chile Paste

  • 2 cups fire roasted, skinned and seeded green Hatch chiles
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Roast the chiles, skin and seed them, then measure 2 cups in the bowl of a blender. Add the vinegar and salt and blend until smooth. Store in the fridge until use.

To make the Pork Chile Verde:

Trim the pork and cut into bite sized pieces. Pat dry as you can on a bed of paper towels. Mix the AP flour, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add the pork pieces and toss with your hands to coat. Shake off excess flour. The pork should be lightly coated. Heat the cooking oil in a heavy bottomed large Dutch oven or stock pot. Add the pork in small batches, taking care to not overcrowd the pan. If you do the meat will steam instead of brown. Remove to a plate and keep warm in the oven while you cook all of the pork. Then cook the links of sausage in the same pan, breaking them into crumbles as you go, and remove the sausage to a paper towel lined plate to drain off the grease. They will be adding a toothsome richness of little bites of meat to the sauce. There will be lots of brown bits “fond” in bottom of the pan when you are finished. Add the onion and cook until it turns translucent, scraping up the fond as you go. This adds a depth of flavor to the dish. When the onions are soft, add the minced garlic and cook it together for a few minutes. Add the Hatch chile paste and stir it all up. Cook for about 5 minutes more. Drain the can of tomatillos. Place them in the blender with 2 cups of chicken stock and whiz up. For fresh: remove them from their papery husks and give them a rinse. They have a soapy, greasy feel and you want that removed. Cook them in the chicken stock until they are softened. Blend them and proceed with the recipe. Add the blended tomatillos and chicken stock to the pot. Add the green enchilada sauce too, and the cumin, chile powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir it all up and cook until hot. Add the sausage and stir in. Finally add the pork pieces with any accumulated juices on the plate to the pot. Heat it all through. At this point you can let it simmer away for another couple of hours on the stove on low, stirring fairly often, or you can put it in a crockpot and leave it covered and mostly unattended for the same amount of time. I always start my crockpot on high to get everything bubbling away and then turn to low until ready.

pork shoulder mise dredge mixfloured porkbrowning pork chile pastegarliconions garlic fondwith chile pastetomatillostomatillos whizzed upadding sausagepork chile verde cheese enchiladas smothered with pork chile verde

Cheese Enchiladas Smothered with Pork Chile Verde

  • Flour tortillas (I use whole wheat)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • oil
  • Shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese or whatever you want
  • Pork Chile Verde

Sauté the onion and garlic in oil until softened. Mix the cheeses. Roll the onion mixture and the cheese into a tortilla, line in a baking dish, cover with chile verde and top with more cheese. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes until heated through and bubbling. Enjoy!

making cv enchiladas in the dishsmothered

The Egg and Bacon Pie, and I

plated egg and bacon pir Do you know about Egg and Bacon Pie? I didn’t until one of my favorite authors included it in some of her work and I became curious about it.

Kerry Greenwood is a terrific writer! I first discovered her book “Cocaine Blues” on a library shelf  several years ago; it introduced me to her strong, smart, smart and stylish detective, the fabulous Miss Phryne Fisher. (Phryne rhymes with briny.) Since that time I have read all twenty published Phryne novels, which are set in Australia in the end of the 1920s, plus a collection of short stories (and a few bonus cocktail recipes) involving Miss Fisher called:

resized_9781741753639_224_297_FitSquare “A Question of Death: An Illustrated Phryne Fisher Treasury” and enjoyed them all exceedingly. I await the next with great anticipation.  Phryne is the heroine I always dreamed of- smart, clever, kind, generous, but self preserving. She is tough when needs be and soft when she wants. She is Queen. She decides, period. It also doesn’t hurt that she is beautiful, wealthy, stylish and brave.

The Australian broadcasting company ABC  has produced two seasons of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries based on Kerry’s books. I am thrilled to say that they announced in June that they have optioned a third season after a fan campaign was raised asking for more of Miss Fisher. These fabulously produced shows are available in the USA on DVD and on Acorn Television at present. Watch them, you won’t be sorry. Essie Davis as Phryne and Nathan Page as Detective Jack Robinson smolder together, SMOLDER, I tell you! Even though the episodes are an adaptation, and a few things have been changed from the books, they are as delightfully close as you will ever be to 1929 Melbourne and its surroundings. Led by executive producers Deborah Cox and Fiona Eagger, with acting by such a talented and stellar cast and guest actors (wish I could name them all), and sublime art direction with the divine production design by Robbie Perkins- each episode is a treasure. If you like vintage fashion at all you must not miss the wardrobe/costume design created by Marion Boyce- it is exquisite. We in the USA may not be familiar with these actors and the crew, but we are very fortunate to be able to import their work. OK, enough hyperbole!, but well- it’s true! 🙂

Kerry has also written so many other great books. Her other detective series which is set in modern day Melbourne and concerns the baker Corinna Chapman is a naturally a favorite as well. I have just started her book Medea and will be interested to see yet another side of her writing. baked egg and bacon   SO, well back to the Egg and Bacon Pie. The dish is described as being something comforting and homely, something to be tucked into a picnic basket or maybe a lunch pail. I wanted to make one and I didn’t find anything in the recipes Kerry had posted online on the publishers Allen and Unwin’s website.

And have I mentioned that Kerry is very generous with her time and attention and she invites her readers to correspond with her? I didn’t?,- well she is and she does. So I wrote to her and asked her about it and she very kindly replied and this pie is the result. Well, I first made one for a breakfast dinner party last year and that is when she helped me.  🙂
I’m just getting around to making another to share. egg and bacon inside It is somewhat like an enclosed quiche except that the eggs are left on their own to mingle with the bacon and firm up in the crust. It does firm up quite a bit and it will make your crust slump- just be prepared is all I am saying here. I found a recipe for a Bacon and Egg pie on Saveur here,  but it’s not what Kerry told me. Here is what she wrote:

Hello Gabi,

Simplicity itself. It is indeed an enclosed quiche, sort of. Line a pie dish with puff or shortcrust pastry, I use shortcrust for the lining and puff for the lid, but as you like. Cut up five rashers of bacon and sprinkle them around the pastry. Break over this four to five eggs, add pepper and parsley, pour over about a tablespoon of milk. You can stir it around if you would like a more blended filling or leave the yolks intact. Cap the pie dish with pastry and cook in a hot oven until the pastry is risen and golden. Grandma made egg and bacon pie like this, and so do I. It’s excellent hot and really tasty cold. Bon appétit! Kerry

I made it as directed, used my best pie crust recipe this time as I didn’t have puff on hand, but the first time I did use the puff pastry as suggested. I scrambled the eggs with a fork because Rick is not fond of yolks, but had I just pleased myself, I would have left them unscrambled. I cooked it at 375F for about 40 minutes and it is indeed excellent hot and really tasty cold!

Kerry is generosity herself, and I feel myself really lucky to have found her work.  Her writing has greatly increased my enjoyment of life- and I think that is really the purpose of fiction. Thanks Kerry!enjoyed egg and bacon pie Cheers! xox