Monday, September 26, 2016

Back with a Ham & Olive Bread

Hello lovely readers, it’s been a while, hasn’t it ? Where the heck have I been, you may ask ? There is no short answer to that…

First, quite simply, it’s hard for me to get back into it when I stop for a while. I  start doubting writing this blog is of any use or value. Daily life fills up quickly and somehow time is short. And six months go by in a poof... 

Then, my posts take time : to write (hopefully) meaningful words, to make the food and photograph it well but quickly enough so we can eat it before it gets cold, has been challenging.

Bottom line is, I am a single working mom - with precious help from my mother and flexibility since I work from home - but there are definitely days where I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and just want to shrug it off – typically not a good frame of mind to write ;-)

I have been working on being present in the moment, and sometimes that means just living and doing, and not necessarily writing about it.  In the past year, I have had much fun with making some new foods, such as homemade cheese, crème fraîche, butter and yogurt. I have experimented with wild yeast and sourdough fermented bread, with fermentation and preserves.
Pablo and I have also been traveling, connecting with our international family and friends, discovering new places, new foods, been on many adventures. 

Lastly, I have recently felt a desire to talk about other things than food, as strange as it sounds to myself as I’m writing this, because I do really love to talk about food!! Although a lot of our life, our family life, our community life, our connected life, revolves around the table and the kitchen, 
I have been very interested in mindfulness and mindful parenting, in oral storytelling, in child development, in writing poetry, in cognitive theory and pedagogy...
Certainly food and parenting have been the two main catalysts and areas of practice of all these interests. But I have struggled to find a way to write about these things here, always looking for some sort of link with food or a recipe, thinking what I felt I wanted to say was just hors-sujet. Irrelevant to this particular blog theme.  I am thus working on another blog, perhaps even more personal, a sort of diary, so that those coming here for a recipe don’t have to be subjected (as much!) to my ramblings about life (more on that other blog very soon for those who might be interested.) 

That said, here I am. Pablo is five, he just started Kindergarten, and I feel a renewed inspiration and desire to share our life around food with you in this space. 

I’ll try to post our menus as that seems to have been useful in sparking some ideas for readers. I am also posting Pablo’s lunchboxes on Instagram (@frenchfoodie) if you want to check those out.

I may write shorter posts, have fewer pictures, but my goal is to be back here regularly. I am so grateful for your continued support.

So now, this ham and olive bread (which the French call a ‘cake salé’) has been a staple of our gatherings and picnics for many years, and it happens to be perfect for the lunchbox too.  Nearly impossible to miss, delicious, keeps well, quick to make… I have never tried to modify it, though now I’m thinking I could try it in muffin form, or with a better flour like einkorn.  If you feel adventurous and play with it, let me know how it turns out!



Ham & Olive Bread

From Les Cakes de Sophie by Sophie Dudemaine

Makes 1 loaf, approximately 12 slices. 

Prep time: 15 mn
Cook time: 45-50 mn

3 eggs
1 cup + 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
100 ml* (a little under 1/2 cup) canola or sunflower oil
125 ml* (a little over 1/2 cup) milk
3.5 oz (a handful) grated gruyere or Swiss (can be replaced with mozzarella, though less flavorful)
6-7 oz ham
2.5 oz green pitted olives
1 pinch of salt
2 pinches of pepper

*Tip: I use my old baby bottles as measuring cups, they have both ounces and ml. 

Preheat your oven at 350° F. 

Dice the ham and olives coarsely. 

In a large bowl (or you can use your stand mixer with the whisk on medium speed, which makes it even easier), combine the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper (The mixture will be thick and somewhat uncooperative). 

Add the oil gradually as you whisk it in. Since I use an old baby bottle as measuring cup (see tip above), I pour the milk in and warm it for 20s in the microwave while I whisk in the oil. 

Then add the warm milk gradually and whisk to combine as you go. 

(If you used a stand mixer, remove the bowl and finish by hand from here). 

Add the grated cheese and stir. Add the ham and olives and stir.

Line a 8 x 4 loaf pan with parchment paper (this makes it easy to remove the loaf from the pan unscathed, but you could also just butter the dish), and pour the batter in. 

Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the blade of a knife or a skewer stick comes out clean. 

Keeps about 3 days wrapped in plastic. 

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  1. Welcome back, friend! always so happy to hear from you here.

  2. Helene, we don't know each other but I so enjoy your blog and find it so refreshing to find another parent out there who puts food and health as such as a high priority as you do! My toddler (2 years of age) seems to have the same appetite as Pablo (trying to teach her portion control ha!) and we love your blog. Keep the posts coming along with any other non-food related thoughts you have. Can't imagine being a single, working (and blogging) mom. How impressive! Can't wait to try this recipe. Merci! -Addie

    1. Thank you for those kind words and support, Addie :-) So happy to hear your little one is enjoying her food! Happy cooking and eating to you and your family!

  3. Hi Helene, I have been following you since my baby was born in 2012. I would enjoy any topic you wish to talk about. Thank you for everything!

    1. Thank you so much for that, Erin :-) Very grateful for your support.

  4. Glad you're back. I was only referring to your blog the other day for a little inspiration... Your contribution is so valuable. ☺️

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words, Kristy! I'm so glad the blog's been helpful! :-)

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I'm glad to see you back! I have been using your blog lately for researching solid foods for my baby. It's been so helpful to get that "french" perspective! Thank you!

  7. I'm so glad to see you writing again! I've been checking back for months! Thank you so much for the time and effort your put into writing this blog. It's been a tremendous help to me with my daughter and I sincerely look forward to every post (which is never the case with any other blogs). Thanks so much again!

    1. That is so kind of you to say, thank you so much, Alexandria! :-)

  8. Hi Helene, I am one of the readers that is so very glad to have you back. Your blog is a gift for me, sure for lot others too. You have clarified a lot of my doubts on feeding a baby to build a healthy eating lifestyle. Yes, your values in food and quality of life has improved my thoughts on the same. Personally, I am one of the persons who have gained from your experiences and hence this site is a treasure to me. I can't thank you enough!!!!

  9. So happy you're back! I have missed this blog immensely. xo

  10. I am really enjoyng your blog and loving the focus on fresh proper food.

  11. I am very happy to see you writing. I have been checking back for months! Thank you so much for the time and effort you’re put into writing this blog. It is been a tremendous help to me with my baby and I honestly look onward to all post. Thanks so much again!

  12. Made this for my toddler (and husband) and it was a revelation. I even had to use gluten free flour (Bob's Red Mill) because my husband has Celiac disease, and he was so happy I made something he can take to work for lunch, or to have with a glass of wine when he gets home from work. I love the high-egg, low-flour concept: are there any other "mix-in" combinations you can recommend other than ham and olives? Thanks again!!!

  13. So happy you're back! I have missed this blog immensely. xo


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