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Bake-Off Fougasse

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We have been fans of the Great British Bake Off since it first started and occasionally I cook something inspired by the programme. This week they did a Fougasse, which I hadn't heard of but looked good. The version on the programme was flavoured with herbs but I thought I would start with a plain version then try flavoured ones another time.

I followed the bread part of the recipe precisely, scaling it down a bit since I didn't need two loaves.

  • 300g (2¼ cups) of bread flour
  • 6g salt
  • one sachet of yeast
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 200 ml warm water

The method involved adding ¾ of the water at the start, then slowly adding the rest, using a food mixer with a dough hook. I followed it to the letter, including the 8 minute mixing time.

I actually split the dough in 2, adding extra flour to one half to use for a pizza base. The other half I left as-is and shaped into an approximate leaf shape and cut down the middle and diagonally from the centre.

After about an hour or so proving, I transferred the bread, still on the baking paper, onto the pizza stone and baked it (at gas mark 7) for 15 minutes.


It looks a bit irregular (or informal as Mary Berry might say) but that was mainly because it slid off the tray while I was getting ready to transfer it to the pizza stone. We ate it with some dips. I made the cheese and courgette dip again, but this time using cream cheese and pecorino instead of goats cheese. The fougasse was good. The outside was crispy while the inside was soft and fluffy. The dip was cheesy and went well with it.

Next time, I will add some extra flavours to the bread. Possibly garlic and chilli or parmesan/pecorino. We have some fresh herbs in the garden (and more chopped in the freezer) so I could also do Paul Hollywood's herb version too.

Reverse Gear

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I was watching the new episode of Top Gear on the BBC iplayer and I noticed something slightly dodgy during one sequence. Co-presenter Richard Hammond was pretending to hide from one of the guests (Mike Rutherford from Genesis) when I noticed the picture had been reversed.

Top Gear in Reverse

I wouldn't have noticed if it hadn't been for the 'SONY' boxes on the floor and the box of kitchen foil on the table.

The Indian Doctor

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Earlier today we finished watching the Indian Doctor, which is a BBC TV programme which was on every day last week. I don't know why the BBC decided to show it during the day on weekdays, when it would be much more suitable as a Sunday evening show, and would almost certainly have higher audiences. At least there is the iPlayer on-line catch-up which let us watch it without having to bother setting the video.

The series features Sanjeev Bhaskar as the eponymous doctor, working in a Welsh mining village. The second series covered a smallpox outbreak in the village and features a lying hypocritical preacher, fresh from work in Africa, who tried to hinder the doctor at every step. I can almost imagine the Daily Mail newspaper working itself up to a fury over the storyline with its pro-vaccine and anti-christian sentiments.

The Daily Mail seems to be the UK representative of the American right wing, being very pro-christian and anti-science. The paper regularly contains stories dismissing global warning and sneering at any scientists who believe in it. It is also very favourable towards alternative medicine even when there is no evidence to support it, and regularly espouses the benefits of 'detox', even though the latter is based on myth and lies and is no better than simply eating healthily for a while.

At least the paper doesn't appear to have joined the anti-vaccine movement though. A quick search of vaccine related stories on the website all seem to be in favour of vaccines to prevent disease. For that we should at least be grateful.

Heston's Cheese Sauce

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We were watching the latest episode of How to cook like Heston on Channel 4 and he was demonstrating his method of making a cheese sauce and then using that to make a macaroni cheese. I was in the middle of cooking a chicken, sweet potato and butternut squash curry but I thought "I'd rather be eating that instead".

Starling Number Six

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I was watching the third episode of the BBC series The Code and the presenter, Marcus du Sautoy, was watching the movement of a flock of starlings. All of a sudden the birds formed the shape of a number 6. The event went completely unnoticed by the presenter but from the screen grab below it looks like he had his eyes closed at the time.

Starlings making a number 6

The event occurred at 12m23s into the programme.

Britains Best Dish

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Last week I received an email from someone at ITV - they had seen my blog and thought I'd be interested in entering the Britain's Best Dish competition. I'm not sure whether I should enter - you need to cook a starter, main & dessert but I usually just cook main courses.

I don't really have a 'signature dish' which I could use to show off. Also since I don't make desserts, I would have to choose one I really liked and learn how to cook it.

If anyone does want to take part their email address is bestdish@itv.com or phone them on 0871 62 66 222.

Day of the Aloe Vera

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I am currently watching the new BBC adaptation of The Day of the Triffids. It's ok but they have made rather too many changes. It's ages since I read the book so I can't remember all the details but the original Triffids couldn't move very quickly, unlike the ones here. The original ones would kill a victim then patiently wait for it to decompose. They also couldn't reach out and pull people towards them. I never imagined them to look like angry Aloe Vera plants.

The book had slower pacing, which gave time for the characters to develop. They obviously decided to speed things up to make the adaptation more dramatic. The narration in the book helped create the atmosphere, making the events seem scarily plausible. Unfortunately this is lost in the tv version.

I can't remember the exact details of the original ending, so it doesn't matter that I'm posting this before the programme finishes.

Occasionally the programme felt like Aliens: The Vegetable Edition.

Ghost Rider

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We videoed the film Ghost Rider when it was on Channel 5 a few weeks ago. We watched it tonight. I really hope it was supposed to be some kind of comedy. It didn't take itself too seriously but it looked and sounded a bit stupid, as if it didn't know it was so ridiculous. The acting was fairly bad but a lot of that might have been due to the awful script.

The Nicholas Cage character seems to have the same taste in music as The Stig from Top Gear. In the early parts of the film he regularly listens to a lot of easy listening stuff such as The Carpenters.


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Paradox is a new tv series on BBC1. The first episode looked interesting - images from the future which hint at a disaster are picked up from space. Tonight's disaster included a dead body and a mangled bridge. It looks like other episodes are going to follow a similar pattern of: see photos/try to work out where/try to avert disaster. We'll have to wait and see if it can maintain interest.

The episode claimed to be set in or near Manchester. The city centre featured in a few scenes, and there was a mention of a character taking a train from 'Manchester Station'. No actual station name was given at the time. Amazingly though when this information was relayed by the main character, she had miraculously deduced that he meant Victoria Station.

For some reason the show decided to use fictional place names: Hazel Hills and Marlingham. There is a Hazel Grove near Manchester - perhaps the writers heard the name but didn't like it so they changed it.

The bridge where the 'incident' took place was over the B204. This immediately sounded fishy because I knew that '2' roads were mainly around London, Kent and parts of the south coast. It turns out that there is a real B204 but it's in London, near the Old Kent Road, and not a few minutes train ride from Manchester.

I don't know why there were so many sloppy mistakes in the programme, nor why nobody noticed or bothered fixing them while the programme was being made. It was as if some southern writers decided to set something 'up north' but couldn't be arsed doing any actual research and just made things up.

Torchwood Returns

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Torchwood made a welcome return to tv last night. It is maturing into a very good series. I was surprised to read that the move from BBC2 to BBC1 has led to an increase in viewing figures. It is as if people are incapable of finding a programme if it is on BBC2. The same thing happened with 'Have I got news for you'. The viewing figures more or less doubled after it moved to BBC1.

It's not like BBC2 is a new channel and people aren't used to it. It started broadcasting in 1964 so everyone should know about it by now. Do people just not trust it? Or are people just too stupid to stray from BBC1/ITV1?