Review of 2011

So it’s that time of year again when we look back and reflect on the year we’ve had and look forward to the next. I’ve just spent an enjoyable afternoon looking through my photography blog reviewing 2011 on there (you can read it here) and what a year 2011 was. The big highlight for me was obviously our wedding in Tuscany. It’s now time for me to take a look at my foodie highlights of 2011. I’ve written 67 posts this year, a big improvements on last years low of 30 (due to studying) so plenty to choose from.

Bread baking

Bread baking continues to play a big part of the time I spend in my kitchen & blogging. I still try to bake as much of our bread as possible. I’ve also continued to co-run and participate in Fresh from the oven.

Favorite bread baking recipe book River Cottage handbook number 3 bread. I started the year by setting myself the challenge to bake my way through this book. Although I have not baked every recipe in there, I have baked a lot of different breads this year (mostly from this book) so the challenge did what I wanted it to (which was mainly to get out of the habit of baking basic white or wholemeal bread all the time). I still love this book and it is definitely my most used recipe book.I can not recommend this book enough to anyone thinking about learning to bake their own bread. Favorite recipes from this book include pikelets (I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve made these), oaty wholemeal bread, wholemeal spelt bread and flat breads.

Favorite bread recipe (not from River Cottage) – either Paul Hollywood’s foccacia recipe from this years Great British bake off (a recipe I have yet to blog about but this focaccia is the closest I have had to the truly delicious foccacia’s we ate in Italy) or for when time is short this Irish soda bread recipe (I’m quiet picky about soda bread and this one is a favorite of mine).

2012 bread baking – I look forward to baking more different types of bread in 2012. I got a copy of how to make bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou out of the library which is full of recipes I want to try. A lot of them use a sourdough starter which I have not had a lot of success with but this book is making me want to try again. Now this one is going to surprise a lot of you, for Christmas I got a copy of Italian home baking by Gino D’acampo. I’ve never picked up any of his books before but I noticed this one in the library and at first I didn’t notice the author. The first section of the book is full of really delicious sounding breads so I took it home and baked two of the loves and loved them both (a fennel seed flavoured loaf and a slightly spicy loaf with chilli flakes in it). I’m looking forward to trying more recipes from this book. Finally I did some recipe testing for a book coming out in early 2012 Bread revolution by the thoughtful bread company.

Baking

I have baked quiet a lot of cakes this year (well for me anyway). Most notably I baked 7 cakes over the August bank holiday weekend for our wedding celebration. I also went on a chocolate making course that I won earlier in the year and I ate the best lemon meringue pie at Chester’s by the River in Ambleside.

Favorite cake recipe – Either Lorraine Pascale’s I can’t believe you made that cake which I’ve baked twice this year or this James Martin recipe for white chocolate cake.

Favorite baking bookThe boy who Bakes – Edd Kimber. Not a book I have blogged about but I picked this book up in September and fell in love with it. It’s a beautiful book, full of stunning photos and inspiring recipes. I baked the salted caramel, pecan and chocolate tart for my husbands birthday, a truly to die for dessert.

Cooking

I’ve continued to enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, I try to cook from scratch using seasonal ingredients as much as possible. I look forward to cooking and eating the recipes below next year but also trying more new recipes and even perhaps creating a few of my own too.

Favorite meat recipeBeetroot, lamb and feta burgers. These burgers were delicious and the beetroot helped them to stay lovely and moist, working really well with the salty flavour of the feta in the middle.

Favorite fish recipeMussels, spinach and bacon gratin, a delicious recipe from a great app – Hugh’s fish fight.

Favorite pasta recipeAubergine polpette. I made this recipe a lot over the summer, often making more polpette than we needed and freezing them for later.

Favorite vegetable recipeOttolenghi’s sweetcorn polenta. The perfect balance of salty feta and sweet sweetcorn make this a dish to cook again and again.

Favorite salad recipe Peach, feta, proscuitto and rocket salad. I loved this salad and could have eaten it all summer, perhaps I will next year!

2011 was also the first time I met up with another food blogger. In November I went to bite’n’write and learnt lots and met lots of fabulous food blogger and had a nice meal at Jamie’s Italian. I won’t list names as I’m bound to forget someone but it was a real foodie highlight of 2011.

I better be off, I have focaccia to bake, an anti-pasti platter to prepare and steaks to cook. I hope you all have a fabulous new year. Happy new year!

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