Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Roast garlic and camembert

There were a lot of alarming things about my husband's house when I first moved in. He lived in it like a little lonely bat shivering in one corner of a huge creaky, dark forest. The front door was chipped and turquoise, the number of the house printed out onto A4 paper and sellotaped to the glass-bit over the door. There was a roll of kitchen paper in the downstairs loo.

He didn't own a cafetiere despite having a moderately serious coffee-drinking habit; the convection hob either boiled everything dry or only heated up to baby-breath temperature, the thin grubby blue carpets left over from the previous owners (who moved out 6 years previously) wouldn't get clean with any amount of vacuuming, the canary yellow paint in the living room made everything look jaundiced, the lino was curling and wan and for some reason almost every picture he owned was hung in just one room.

But the most freaky thing was that there were no clocks. I know I have got a sort of mania for clocks, but even so. There were so many rooms, but no clocks. Not even in the kitchen.The first thing I unpacked was my bedside clock, a large retro silver thing with bells on top and a handle. At first he scoffed at it but I quickly found him in the mornings looming over from his side of the bed to squint at the time. (Just like he scoffed at the idea of a thermal cafetiere, but now declares it his favourite thing in the house.)

Now there are clocks everywhere. Kitchen (1 - huge one) bedroom (2) bathroom (1) living room (1) my room (1), the nursery (1). His study - zero - because he seems to be happy telling the time off his computer. Me? I need a clock.

And I need lists. I need lists like I need air. I don't even do very much with my time but I need lists in order to organise the nothingness, otherwise I will categorically not send my niece a birthday card, or ring the curtain man or write about bottarga or invoice that newspaper for my £95 kill fee.

When something is on a list, the liklihood of it getting done increases by a factor of 10. I used to write lists down on post it notes and stick them to things, or on scraps of paper and balance them in prominent places on my desk. Now I have a clipboard. It is red and it sits to the right of my laptop and serves the dual purpose of list-holder and mousepad.

Clipped to the board is a lined sheet of A4 paper, divided into 2 by a vertical pencil line. One column is for scribbling down things when I am on the phone, or off websites. The other column is The List. When the A4 page is full, another is clipped over the top, so that any vital notes made or things left undone don't get thrown in the bin, they merely move another layer down.

I love my list. But sometimes I fear I may have come to rely on it too heavily. If something isn't on the list, I instantly forget about it, meaning if it occurs to me that I have to do something, I often find myself racing to the list to write it down before I forget about it and the baby arrives home from hospital and there are no nappies.

I think this Lorraine Pascale girl looks to me like a list person, too. In the first episode of Baking Made Easy, she declares a love of online shopping, which I'm also mad for. I always think that making lists and a devotion to online shopping are two sides of the same coin.

She made the other day roast garlic and baked camembert, which struck me as a totally genius dinner idea, so I re-created it at home the other night and it went terribly well.

Lorraine Pascale's roast garlic and camembert
For 2

2 bulbs garlic
1 camembert in a wooden box
3 bay leaves
some thyme
50g butter
a bit of olive oil

1 Lop the tops off the garlic bulbs. Having first smeared butter on the base of whatever tin you're going to roast the garlic in (so it doesn't stick and have to be chipped off) put the garlic bulbs cut-face down on the butter. Chuck on top the rest of the butter, herbs and sprinkle over some sea salt. I also drizzled over a bit of olive oil.

2 Shove this in the oven at 200C for 45-50 mins. 20 mins before time is up, unwrap the camembert and peel off the sticker that'll be on either the upper or lower side. Then slide back into its box, without the lid, make a large cross in the top and put in the oven to cook for the remaining time. Eat with toasted rye or sourdough or whatever you fancy.


  1. http://organizedmommy.blogspot.com/2009/01/organized-mommy-baby-log-free-download.html

    Several friends have sworn by this for baby wrangling. Thought it might be handy as you seem to like lists!

  2. I've done the camembert lots of times after seeing AWT do it a few years ago. He cuts tiny holes in the top & sticks in slivers of garlic, fresh thyme & a glug of white wine before baking it & it is very delicious. But I'm definitely going to try it next time with the roast garlic. The photo looks so good I could easily eat it right now.
    I love making lists too, but I've not quite got the hang of it yet. It drives my husband nuts because I never think to check the list until we are almost home from our 45 minute drive from the supermarket & I then wail about all the things I've forgotten.

  3. BRILLIANT! Feels like the kind of thing hearty French farmers would eat all the time. Obviously they don't, but any excuse for an idealised rural France fantasy. Gonna try this asap.

    P.S. So glad your camera's working now! Lovely pics xx

  4. I love that you have your own room. It was one of the things I insisted on when I moved in with my bf - that I should have a space that is mine and I can put all my stuff in. Made moving into his house so much easier :)

  5. It's a massive luxury in London to have your own room, especially if you've got children, but it's a lifesaver to be able to go somewhere with all YOUR stuff in it, close the door and make lists.

  6. But surely a true list person rewrites the list when it gets too messy/full?? No - just me then??

    Saw this the other night and thought it looked fab, but sadly doesn't fit in with healthy eating focus at mo - boo....

  7. I've done this with baked brie and it's lovely too. The brie gets pretty oozy and is best eaten in small bits, so maybe that one's better as a party hors d'oeuvre than actual dinner.

  8. Helen B - it's not unhealthy!! No sugar, no transfats, not too much salt, nothing processed... what's the problem? Quite a lot of fat in the cheese/butter but not the kind of fat you need to be scared of.

  9. OK - you might just be my new "guru".....Are you seriously telling me this is not that bad!! If I were able to maintain an Atkins diet I would have it without the bread but can't cope without any carbs. Plus I live alone, so would end up eating it over the whole week.

    Def one for when it's more than just me though. I am enjoying Lorraine too - but the sheer amount of carb and cheese does scare me.

    You might know the answer to this actually - apparently too much cheese can mess up your blood sugar/cause diabetes?? I thought that can't be true as it's not carb??

  10. I really, really don't think this is bad for you at all. I don't think you ought to eat it every day, but neither do I think you ought to eat fish and steamed vegetables every day.

    For me, just personally, the real baddies are sugar and trans fats. Everything else is fine as long as you're not eating any one thing to the exclusion of other things.

    I'm sure too much cheese does make you ill - but I think they're probably talking more cheese than anyone would ever sensibly eat.

    If you'd like to have this, but don't want to do the carbs, yet can't face a no-bread thing, have it with rye bread. Yes, it's still bread, but it is lower GI and you'll find you eat less of it than a normal loaf and it's perfectly tasty. Also makes great, crunchy toast.

  11. I do agree with you overall - esp re processed food and sugar, but I can put on weight just looking at a bit of bread and cheese, mores the pity. But don't think I'm eating steamed fish and veg every day because that definitely isn't happening!

    Anyway, let's not fight....... ;-)

    I am a big rye bread fan - was thinking this would be good with that so we are on the same page.

    Glad you haven't heard of the cheese causes diabetes line, sounded like bollocks to me.


  12. couldn't agree with you more Esther... nothing un-heathly about it at all... just not every day... very funny because we were watching the show too but all screamed when she said the garlic would be cooked in 30minutes... I see you've upped your garlic roasting time quite considerably!... not sure i'm mad about Lorraine... she's too pretty by far and it makes me doubt she has more than a teeny forkful of her own baking... but then I am hyper cynical, as you know ... I too have to have clocks around me, time is a very important part of living mentally well... x

  13. Yes! So much! Everyone else thinks I'm strange but I love having my own room, and when it's just me in the house I practically live in it. Like a nest. But a clean one, with lists :) Fortunately I'm not in London, but sadly I don't envisage keeping my room should I have children. Speaking of which, yours will be arriving soon! Good luck! x

  14. I saw Lorraine doing the baked Camembert and Garlic thing, but it struck me as extremely greasy, with 80ml oil AND butter AND Camembert. I can be quite extreme in worrying about fat intake, but doesn't it ruin the dish (?) - it sounds more like an oil slick to me, and looked the part in the BBC version. Did you reduce the fat amount in any way, or does it just not look that drenched?

    - Ask about oil in Camembert thing, I can tick that off my list now.

  15. I didn't pay attention to her recommended amounts - just stuck a knob of butter on top of each bulb and drizzled over about 2 tsps of olive oil. It wasn't notably greasy xx

  16. With respect to whether or not this is healthy, I've heard that the field of nutritional science is in its infancy, sort of like the field of surgery was in the 17th century. In other words, we know pretty much nothing about nutritional science, and what we do know is probably wrong. With that in mind, I am pretty sure the only thing to do is to eat what you like since you can't know what's good for you.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  17. I love lists and I think the only thing I love more is hearing about other people who love lists as much as me - reaffirms my belief that I am normal and actually possibly superior with my excellent self-organisation system.... Actually baked camembert closely follows these loves so I enjoyed this post VERY much!!

  18. I made this once at uni with aspirations for a Frenchish romantic dinner. At the last minute it turned out that my boyfriend couldn't make it so I ended up eating the whole thing - yes, all of it - in a wonderful cheesy wallowing mess of self pity, wine & episodes of Glee.

    Ahhh, l'amour.

  19. I made this for my French hubby and he loved it. Said it was just like the classic French cooking he got when at home. Thanks Esther. x