It’s always exciting when you get a chance to meet one of your favourite celebrity chefs – and it’s even better if you actually get to cook with them! Last week I attended the Eat Clean, Feel Good Culinary Master Class with Rachel Allen at Cactus Studios in London. Sponsored by Ecover, the Eat Clean Master Class was a chance for journalists and bloggers to cook with one of Ireland’s most popular celebrity chefs, as well as to learn more about Ecover’s Eat Clean, Feel Good initiative. I’ve got lots to share with you from the master class, including some fantastic recipes, hints and tips. In fact, it’s going to take more than one post to do it!
Rachel began by explaining that she had chosen to support the Ecover Eat Clean, Feel Good initiative to encourage people to think carefully about the ingredients they use in both their cooking and washing up. Ecover’s washing up liquids – including their Pomegranate and Lime washing up liquid – are made with natural plant based ingredients. This means you don’t inadvertently feed any ‘nasties’ to your family through residue that may have been left on the dishes. Rachel has produced a series of tips which incorporate advice for both cooking and washing up, as well as seven delicious and nutritious meals, all made from fresh, seasonal ingredients.
The first recipe Rachel showed us was for a Soda Focaccia. She took pains to explain that Soda Bread isn’t Italian and Focaccia isn’t Irish, but nevertheless soda bread dough can be used to make a quick and easy focaccia style bread.
All you need to make it is flour, salt, baking soda, buttermilk, olive oil and some rosemary.
If you haven’t got any buttermilk on hand, you can substitute sour milk by adding a couple of teaspoons of vinegar to fresh milk and letting it sit until it begins to curdle a bit.
After sifting the flour, soda and salt together, simply add the buttermilk and mix the dough with your hands. When the dough comes together, turn it out on to a flour board and just turn it once or twice in the flour. Never knead soda bread. Then the dough is rolled or spread out in a rough rectangle with your fingers on to an oiled pan.
Using your fingertips, poke some focaccia like holes in the dough and place sprigs of rosemary in the holes. Then drizzle the soda focaccia with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Then just pop it in the oven to bake.
We then had a chance to make the soda focaccia ourselves. We each had our own little kitchen station to work in, and Rachel came round to help us.
All our soda focaccia came together really well. Unfortunately, the ovens had been set a bit too hot so they were a bit overcooked, but they were still very tasty!
- 1 pound (450 grams) plain flour plus a little bit extra for the bread board
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 12 to 14 ounces (350 to 400 ml) buttermilk or sour milk
- Sea salt for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C or 180°C for a fan oven).
- Brush a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) baking tin with olive oil.
- Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a large bowl.
- Make a well in the centre.
- Pour all but a couple of ounces of the buttermilk into the well.
- Using one hand with the fingers outstretched like a claw, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl until the dough comes together. It should be soft, but not too wet and sticky. If necessary, add the rest of the buttermilk, a bit at a time.
- Turn the dough on to a floured bread board and just turn it in the flour, shaping the dough into a rough circle.
- Put the dough on the oiled baking tin and roll it out into a circular shape.
- Make little holes, or dimples, in the dough with your fingertips.
- Pop some rosemary sprigs in the holes and drizzle the focaccia with olive oil.
- Sprinkle with the sea salt.
- Bake the focaccia for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
- Drizzle a little more oil over top, allow to cool slightly and then serve.
Olives can be used as well as or instead of the rosemary to garnish the focaccia before baking.
Watch out for more delicious recipes here on The 21st Century Housewife from Rachel Allen and the Eat Clean, Feel Good initiative.
This is not a sponsored post. I was invited to attend the Eat Clean, Feel Good Master Class by Ecover and I received a gift bag to take home from the event.