Today I become a doctor.
After 4 years of medical school, 6 years working within maxillofacial surgery also mostly during this time, 5 years at dental school followed by a brief year as a dentist and no less than 3 separate degrees, I am finally being let lose with my “MBChB” or Bachelors of Medicine and Bachelors of Surgery degree. It’s terrifying. Only by the virtue that I have, in a lesser way, been here before – by being the junior “doctor” looking after head and neck trauma and cancer patients whilst “just” a dentist (fear not – this is perfectly legal!) plus I’ve had years to think about and prepare for this day am I not paralysed with the pressure of this huge responsibility. I drew the short straw and have been assigned medical nights on call as my first shift hence why I am here prattling on to you guys! My baptism of fire commences at 9pm this evening. So I best get this blog post written so I can get back to sleep ;)…
Right ho, after that bombshell I feel a recap is needed. I’m painfully aware of how long it’s been since I last blogged and I have missed it terribly. But, sometimes you just have to sit back and allow life to take you where you need to go. The last 7 weeks between finishing my medical degree and starting work as a real doctor (OMG) have been a period of great reflection for me. About who I am, where I am now and where I want my future to take me. I’ll not bore you with a soul-wrenching monologue on “me” but I will give you the highlights of the what I’ve been upto.
There firstly was leaving med school – a period of great tension release, much sleep and the start of much jubilation and celebration for me, my friends and extended family. The weather picked up, I started cycling outdoors lots and lost more weight yippee! However, me and Hungry Hubby took a very last minute trip to Lanzarote to get away from the madness of everyday life and relax in the sun and we both came back with much extra baggage and I don’t mean from souvenirs either lol! This trip was sponsored by my Daddums who made the trip possible by the way of an extraordinarily generous graduation gift. Thank you Daddums – it was exactly what I needed and I know just how hard it would have been for you to give me such a generous gift.
Whilst we were away, me and Hubs celebrated our 12th year of being a couple – we haven’t even been married two years yet but we’ve been together since I certainly was a teenager and we celebrated with a fabulous meal in a sea-adjacent restaurant on a balmy evening in the beautiful Playa Blanca in Lanzarote on 14th July. Bliss! It did my soul good to be away from social media, mobile phones and constant emails I can tell you that for free! On our return, the following day was my graduation – a wonderful happy day filled with smiles, laughs, great food, a bottle or two of fabulous wine and champagne and to top it off, even the extremely clumsy me managed to teeter across the stage to collect my degree certificate in my 5 inch nude pink patent leather peep toe heels without falling off them – a miracle people, I kid you not! I’m so glad I went to my ceremony as it cemented for me the idea that I *can* do this. I *am* qualified and so to date, the 13 years since I left school have been propelling me ever forward towards this day and whilst I might be understandably anxious, I’m finally ready for the next challenge. Hello vertical learning curve old friend, we meet again!
One blog-relevant occasion which occurred whilst I was sunning myself in 35 degree heat next to the hotel pool, reading an actual book (no Kindle for me!) was that my wee blog celebrated (all by its lonely self) it’s first birthday! 11th July marks the day I created my blog. Whilst I did not have the time to bake a cake to mark this wee momentous occasion (to me at least 😉 ) nor was I here to post a “Happy Blogday” post, I was reflecting on the year gone by and just how much I have loved every minute of food blogging. It is this which I feel most guilty for missing by my unintentional blog-sabbatical.
The last thing to mention is also the source of the recipe for which I am leading up to giving you. Just before I went on holiday, a few of my local-ish foodie friends (pictured above) paid me and my hometown a visit to spend a day together, eating cake and pastries at my place then toddling into town for some shopping then an early dinner to celebrate my imminent graduation. It was the most wonderful day, the sort after which you collapse into bed to tired to speak but with a happy smile on your face as you drift off for a big sleep. Here’s a selection of the yummies I made for the occasion. You can make the large sweet Danish plait and the sausage ones from the incredible (if magnificently over-indulgent) pastry recipe I’m about to share with y’all.
As one of said foodie friends has just gone vegetarian, I decided to make a veggie version of a recipe I’d been eyeing up in Jo Wheatley’s A Passion For Baking – her sausage and bacon savoury danishes. Having never made laminated pastry before (essentially a yeasted dough puff pastry) as it’s rather naughty due to the mahoosive butter content I jumped at the chance at finally having enough “taste testers” to make it and not have to worry about eating the evidence all by myself lol! Sooo, for Em, said veggie friend, I created a mushroom and caramelised Marsala mushroom danish, just praying it turned out edible! To my surprise and delight, they proved so popular that I only had the meaty ones left at the end of the day – even the confirmed carnivores wolfed them down with abandon! There’s nothing that makes a cook feel more warm and fuzzy then hearing yummy noises followed by empty plates with crumbs and the occasional smear of chutney on the plates. Awesomeness itself.
So here I give you my mushroom danishes, and the recipe for the danish pastry separately. You do need a day beforehand to make the pastry but the assembly is beyond easy and the I warn you, eating only one is not an option 😉
Wish me luck for tonight – I’ll see y’all on t’other side with lots of exciting new recipes to share with you plus a very exciting secret collaboration soon to be aired on a blog near you. Details will be forthcoming, mwuahahahaha! 😉
- 650g strong white bread flour
- 1 heaped tsp salt
- 7g dried instant yeast
- 85g caster sugar
- Approx 425ml warm water
- 500g soft butter
- ￼￼Mix all but the butter together in a large bowl using enough water to bring the dough together to a soft texture, not sticky.
- Knead for 10 mins by hand or 5 mins on a stand mixer.
- Cover and rest in a warm place until dough doubles in size.
- Now, either bash out the butter with a rolling pin or cut thick slices with a knife and lay close together on a piece of baking parchment with a rectangle 20x40cm large drawn on it (I draw it with a marker pen then flip it over so the pen doesn’t touch the butter).
- Smooth out the butter to fill the rectangle, aiming to have it about 1cm thick all over – cover with a second piece of parchment and chill on a baking tin in the fridge (or empty shelf if you can).
- Now knock back the dough and tip onto a well floured surface and pat out to a rectangle 20x60cm long (have the long edge next to you on the worktop).
- Peel off the top piece of parchment then pop your butter on top of the dough towards one end leaving 20cm of pastry at one end not covered with butter – remove the second sheet of parchment.
- Fold this naked pastry over the butter then fold the remaining edge with exposed butter over the top of this – do refer to the photos on my blog post for help with this! You want a “folded letter” of pastry and butter, leaving no exposed butter when you’re finished.
- Turn your dough by 90 degrees so the narrow end is next to you and roll it out, taking care not to squirt the butter out by forceful rolling until 1cm thick.
- Fold again like a “folded letter” and pop in the bowl and covered again before popping in the fridge for another hour.
- Repeat this process (two lots of rolling and folding each hour) every hour another four times and when finished, return covered to the fridge to rest over night – it will puff up a reasonable amount during this rest period so do use a large bowl.
- Half the quantity of the dough as made above
- 2 large portobello mushrooms, sliced 1cm thick
- 1 large onion, sliced into thin half moons
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 tsp oil
- 1-2 tbsp Marsala wine (or balsamic vinegar)
- 1 dsp dark or light brown sugar
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Sprinkling of dried oregano
- Approx 1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
- A small egg beaten with a little milk
- Oil spray (optional)
- First make your onions – melt the oil and butter over a medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan with a lid.
- Stir your onions into the melted fat, seasoning well with the salt and pepper.
- Turn the heat down as low as it will go, cover and cook for 40-60 minutes until browned, not burnt and caramelised around the edges – you’ll need to stir them about every 10 minutes to ensure they don’t stick.
- When well browned, pour in the Marsala (or balsamic) and reduce following with the sugar, stirring until dissolved and sticky – pop on a plate to cool and leave to one side.
- Take half your dough and roll out into a large square on a well floured surface to just less than 1 cm thick.
- Trim the edges of your pastry then cut into squares about 10-12cm big if using Portobello mushrooms but you could make bite sized versions using halved button or chestnut mushrooms.
- Transfer to two baking sheets lined with parchment or reusable silicone paper then bring two opposing edges up to meet in the middle – cover with oiled cling and prove for one hour.
- Uncover the pastries and brush with egg wash.
- Pop a spoonful of the onions on top of the fold, sit a slice of mushroom on top then spritz with your oil spray if using – sprinkle with oregano and bake at 200°C until puffed and the pastry golden (20-25 minutes).
- As soon as they come out of the oven, grate a fresh sprinkle of Parmesan over each pastry – a light scattering is all you are looking for.
- Cool slightly on a baking rack and eat warm.