Two years ago, we took Barney to his first puppy class. A rather tightly-wound woman pulled a little bag out of the pocket of her quilted jacket, explaining that she only gave her poodle puppy organic liver treats she made herself. I whispered to Séan ’If I ever start baking for my dog, shoot me.’ Well, I’m still here. He’s a very kind man.
In the interests of full disclosure, I’m going to tell you I first made these for the Dog Christmas Party in our park. I know. While I was making chocolate crackle cookies and chorizo sausage rolls to share with the human revellers, I found myself eyeing the larder – a big bunch of parsley, a dried up end of Cheddar, half a bag of spelt flour. Before I could stop myself, Doggie Breath Bones were born.
One particularly blustery morning last December, a couple of dozen people and even more dogs assembled by the ponds for mince pies and carols. Rachel even brought a camping stove so we could warm up with mulled wine. Food and gossip were shared, bones were handed out.
Suddenly, I understood how the Pied Piper felt. Grateful, often drunk, friends sometimes say my cooking makes them drool. On this occasion, it was true. I was ridiculously, pathetically touched by the dogs’ seal of approval. Ridiculous, as they’re hardly discerning. Between them they have been responsible for the ingestion of many socks, several shoes, bits of vacuum cleaner, cat litter, sofa cushions, ipods, mobile phones, countless remote controls, money (they’re not fussy, they take cheques, cash, credit cards – that’ll do nicely) and enough Lego bricks to provide Battersea Dogs’ Home with a sizeable extension.
I’ve cooked for lots of happy people but Jess the Great Dane, Linus the Beagle, Gomez the Basset, Polly the Labradoodle, Tigger the Toy Terrier, Duffy the black Lab, Elliot the Cocker Spaniel, Malcolm the Schnauzer and the rest of their cheerful, unruly gang are perhaps my least knowledgeable (though that’s debatable) but most enthusiastic audience. They loved them. I hope your dog does too, but let’s not tell anyone about it, shall we?
Doggie Breath Bones
Parsley is very good for digestion and sweetness of breath. Apparently.
Makes about 32 bones
A big bunch of parsley, about 120g, finely minced, stalks and all
1 large carrot, grated
60g Cheddar, or whatever cheese you have left in the fridge, grated
3 tbsps olive oil
300g wholemeal flour- I used wholemeal spelt
2 tsps baking powder
130-200 ml of hot chicken stock or water
Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4 and line a couple of baking sheets with baking parchment.
Stir together the parsley, carrots, cheese. Trickle over the oil – at this point it looks like a rather attractive salad. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Tip the parsley mixture into the flour and mix everything up with your hands until well combined. Gradually add half of the stock or water, mixing until you have a nice dough – you may not use all of the liquid, you don’t want it to be too sticky. Knead it together gently with your hands, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until it’s about 5mm thick. Cut them out with a 4-5cm pastry cutter (ok, so by now I have invested in a bone-shaped cutter. This means that I am officially barking). Knead the offcuts together, roll them out and cut them out too.
Bake for about 25 minutes until the biscuits have browned and hardened a bit. Cool on a wire rack. If you have a tall dog, make sure the rack is on a high shelf. Stored in airtight tin, they’ll keep for quite a while.