A happy or lucky discovery that happens by accident
That's what I love most about life, when you stumble upon something wonderful, completely by accident, and just when you're not expecting it!
Last Sunday was grey, damp and blustery, exactly what you'd expect of a January day, no wonder so many animals hibernate........hmmm actually that doesn't sound like a bad idea!
So anyway, to escape the creeping malaise, my man B. and I ventured out to our local Farmer's Market in Winchester in search of inspiration.
I started to get excited at the sight of the green and white striped awnings. The fruity, musty smell of mulled wine and cider drifted around the stalls, mingling with the hog roast, ripe cheeses, smoked garlic and bread. We wandered through the market.......what to choose, what to choose?!
Eventually, we decided on a some rich and buttery Tunworth soft cheese, and some oak-smoked garlic, all warm smelling and woody in it's golden tissued sheath. Excitedly we carried home our hoard, constantly opening the bag to sniff the wonderfully pungent aroma of the mixture, already anticipating the feast ahead!
Deciding that the perfect partner for the cheese and garlic was with some other autumny/wintery tastes; walnut and pear, I baked a Walnut and Pear Tea bread to go with them. A kind of cross, really, between a scone and a soda bread with nutty nuggets and earthy dried pears. I made mine with wholemeal flour, but if you prefer the texture a little lighter you could use half white and half brown flour. It's quite a dense loaf, and really needs to be eaten on the day it's baked - not that that's any real hardship!
With the Walnut Pear loaf cooling on the rack, I baked the cheese in it's box (minus the wax paper of course!) with a few cloves of the oak-smoked garlic nestled in it, in a hot oven - 200 C / 400 F / Gas 6.
What a lovely cosy and indulgent way to end a dismal, dark Winter afternoon; sat by the crackling firelight with a glass of Port, scooping the oozing garlicky cheese straight out of the box with the bread. The nutty, pear-sweet taste being the perfect foil for the luscious creamy, tangy cheese.........mmmmmmmmm heaven!
If you fancy trying the Tea bread for yourself, here's how,...... my adaptation of a basic soda bread / scone recipe........
Walnut Pear Tea bread
175 g wholemeal self-raising flour
1 egg + 2Tablespoons of walnut oil - made up to 150ml with natural yoghurt
50g each of walnuts
25g-50g dried pears, depending on how sweet you want it
1 tsp salt
Measure out the flour, oats and salt into a bowl and stir to mix.
Rub the butter into the flour mixture - or, if you prefer you could bung it all in a food processor and whizz it up until it looks like the butter is well incorporated, a bit like breadcrumbs. Then stir in the nuts and pears.
Add the wet ingredients, and bring together lightly. If you overwork the mixture you'll end up with very solid, hard tea bread!
Tip out onto a floured surface and knead lightly to bring it all together. Then shape into a rough oval and put on a floured baking sheet. Score lines across the top of the loaf for decoration, and then bake at 190C / 375F / Gas 5 for about 30 minutes until the loaf is golden brown.
This is lovely eaten when slightly warm, either smothered with salty butter, or as we ate it, just dipped straight into oozy unctuous cheese.........enjoy!!