Food matters. Where it comes from, what is in it and how it tastes. We don’t need to eat copious amounts of it neither do we need to throw away as much as we do – it is all about shopping wisely. I love finding new producers, makers and markets and when the chance came up to help with publicising our local food festival, I volunteered and I am so glad that I did. I met some wonderful local people and producers as well as the talented husband and wife team behind The Elephant Bakehouse. They ran a workshop as well as a stall and I am happy to say that the stall sold out well before the festival was over. They produce the most delicious varieties of artisan sourdough bread using local (as much as possible) organic flour.
I bought a loaf of Sun and Flowers which was delicious with poached eggs from my favourite supplier at our weekly farmers market and the Sarum Mount which is a triple wholemeal. They also produce a Wellfield Rye made with white and rye flours and a Hazy Raisin. The flavours are complex and the texture dense, chewy and so, so satisfying – no comparison can be made to the flabby mass produced sliced loaves which have never been touched by human hand. Duncan makes the bread himself and his wife looks after the rest of the business – they are both really passionate about their bread and with every reason. They are having trouble finding local premises (everything they have seen has had mould issues – not great for a bakehouse as this would kill off the starter) but I am hoping that their overwhelming success at the festival is a sign that the stars are lining up for them!
Update Summer 2014 – Elephant Bakehouse have found premises in Gleneldon Mews in Streatham from where theyhave built a loyal following and can also be found at the weekly Streatham Food Market on Saturday.
We only have the Sarum Mount left and I am slicing that thinner than Fagin in order to make it last. A recent rummage on-line led me to a tomato tartine for which this gorgeous bread is the perfect vehicle. A tartine is essentially an open faced sandwich and is lovely for lunch or a light supper at this time of year.
The star of the show, however, is this garlic confit – spread it on a toasted slice of good bread or squash it into a salad dressing; melt it into a tomato sauce – it lends a mellow savoury depth that belies it’s origin. The resultant oil can be used where you might want a more subtle hint of garlic. It only takes about 15 – 20 minutes from start to finish, giving off a gorgeous aroma to boot.
Poke a sharp knife or a toothpick into the bases of unpeeled cloves from a couple of heads of garlic – this prevents them from exploding.
Place in a small pan with a few sprigs of rosemary and cover with olive oil and simmer for 10-20 minutes. Cool, decant into a clean jar and refrigerate. That’s it. You now have a jar of umami which will add an evocative depth to your savoury concoctions.
For the delicious tomato tartines, make a dressing using olive oil, pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar), salt and pepper. Slice up some tomatoes and chop some herbs and let these steep in the dressing while you get on with the rest.
Squeeze out the soft garlic confit from its skin and slather over a couple of slices of toasted bread.
Top with the herby tangy sliced tomatoes and drizzle over some of the dressing. Pour yourself a little glass of rose and you could be in the South of France!
Barely adapted from Food52
- 2 heads of garlic
- a few sprigs of rosemary
- olive oil to cover (not virgin)
- Break apart the heads of garlic and make a small slit or poke a hole into the bases of the unpeeled cloves to stop them from exploding.
- Place in a small pan with a few sprigs of rosemary and just cover with olive oil.
- Bring to a simmer and turn the heat very low, letting this putter away for 10 – 20 minutes depending on how thick the cloves are.
- They are ready when they yield easily to a knifepoint.
- Let cool and decant into a clean jar and refrigerate.
If you want to have more flavoured oil for dressings and drizzling, top up the jar with some extra virgin olive oil.