No butter… no problem

What do you do if you run out of butter and it’s not convenient to nip out to the shops to get some more?

I suppose there are probably many answers to that question, probably depending largely on why you want the butter in the first place (with apologies to anyone who is now thinking of Last Tango in Paris – if you don’t already know, I suggest you don’t google it!).

In my case, I wanted it to go on some bread-type products – more specifically in pitta bread and on crumpets, all in a savoury context.

As I was contemplating what to do in light of my rapidly diminishing butter reserve and the remaining pitta breads and crumpets I was hoping to finish over the weekend, before my next grocery delivery (including a couple of blocks of butter) arrives on Monday night, I remembered enjoying bread with olive oil on my visits to Catalonia a few years ago.

In fact, they have a regional delicacy called pa amb tomàquet, which consists of bread with tomato (and, as I recall, usually also garlic) rubbed in, then salt and olive oil sprinkled on top. This is very delicious. However, I’m fairly sure that bread with just salt and olive oil (or even just bread and olive oil with no salt) is also a thing in those parts, and even if not it’s certainly something I’ve enjoyed from time to time, preferably with nice fresh, still slightly warm bread.

I figured that this ought to work with pitta bread since that’s also a mediterranean thing (albeit from further east than Catalonia), and my guess turned out to be correct, so I decided to save my remaining butter for the crumpets I had lined up for tea tonight and instead enjoy my pitta breads (or pitta(s)?; pita breads or pita(s) for any visitors from the USA; I’ve no idea how the rest of the anglophone world spells them but according to a brief survey of Wikipedia in different languages, most seem to favour a single ‘t’) with oil and a little salt.

As it happened, I didn’t have quite enough butter for my crumpets in any case. I considered having the last couple with honey instead, but curiosity got the better of me and I decided to see what they would be like with oil and salt. The answer is, to my palette at least, “surprisingly nice”.

I think I’ll probably stick to butter (with a bit of salt and pepper – an idea I picked up from the classic Grammar of Cookery by Philip Harben, widely recognised as the first celebrity TV chef, though I’m not sure his name would be all that well-known these days) for my crumpets when I have it available, but it’s good to know that olive oil works as a fine alternative. And I’ll definitely be aiming to have pitta breads with oil from time to time in the future.

Culinary Gold

It’s strange, looking back, to discover that I’ve only been aware of how good Staffordshire oatcakes taste since this September, as it feels like they’ve been part of my life for considerably longer.

In the last 3 or 4 months, I’ve continued to enjoy oatcakes fairly frequently (probably about once every 3 weeks or so on average), including one very delicious set of homemade ones that were made for me – thanks, Glenys!

Mostly I’ve been sticking to my two basic savoury fillings – either fried egg (with or without extras – recently I’ve been using a bit of onion chutney to good effect here) or baked beans and cheese – and an occasional marmalade one to satisfy my sweet tooth. Last night, though, I came up with another very tasty filling. Traditionalists (and perhaps nutritionists) might want to stop reading at this point in order to avoid being horrified…

I tested my new oatcake idea again last night to ensure that it’s as good as my first impressions and found that, if anything, it’s even better. It’s deliciously simple (and simply delicious): butter and honey. The approach I’ve used so far for preparation is to heat the oatcake in a frying pan (since that’s how I do them with fried eggs, and I was having one of those first), then stick it on a plate, plonk a (relatively) thin slice of butter on top, drizzle honey over the top, roll it up and eat it while it’s hot. The heat from the oatcake warms the other ingredients through and causes the butter to melt nicely to give a lovely, sweet treat for the tastebuds (if not the arteries).

I probably wouldn’t want to eat more than one of these at a time, as they are pretty rich (and perhaps not incredibly healthy), and not every time I’m having oatcakes, but as an occasional indulgence I think this is definitely an idea to which I’ll be returning.

I also have a handy, and hopefully not too hard to complete, New Year’s Resolution lined up: to acquire a recipe (or perhaps several) for Staffordshire oatcakes and have a go at making some for myself.

The Magic of Mushrooms

Normally, grocery shopping is not a highlight of my week. Occasionally, however, I stumble upon a bargain that makes it altogether more pleasurable. Today I found some button mushrooms going for about a third of their usual price, as they were approaching there sell-by date (but still looked in pretty good condition). Needless to say, these came home with me and were cooked up for my tea with garlic, olive oil, butter and a bit of salt and pepper. Very tasty and a great way to show I can write short blog posts if I put my mind to it. 🙂