Baking, Veggie mains

Clyde’s 14 inch pizzas

pizza

I’ve been meaning to post about pizzas for a while now. As a child I can remember a food highlight in our house was Saturday evenings as it was the only evening we were allowed to have dinner in the living room, watching TV, and we usually had homemade pizza, made by my mum which the whole family loved. Alas my mum doesn’t make her own pizzas anymore, she buys frozen ones and adds some extra toppings. I can’t complain as she did make pizzas for us all those years ago, and virtually every Saturday night! I guess she’s earned her break from pizza making.

Perhaps I’ve taken over her mantel, I am sure my sisters have too. Quite often when we have friends over it’s a pizza night, sometimes I want to make something different but they seem popular, one friend says he dreams about them! I’m not sure they’re that good but what I think is a key in their success is the social nature of making pizzas in an open kitchen whith your friends around and everyone sharing them, it’s kind of kitchen theatre.

I start off with making the sauce. I take about 1kg of ripe tomatoes and blanch them in boiling water so the skin spits when they are cool enough I peel them and discard and hard parts from the centre. then I fry a large red onion (chopped finely) and then add a few cloves of crushed garlic. Once these are part cooked I add the tomatoes, there’s usually quite a bit of juice, and a few bay leaves and some oregano or mixed dried herbs and some salt and pepper. If there are no kids having the pizza I add about 1/2 tsp of chilli powder too. I once had a riot on my hands when I was cooking pizza for my nieces and some friends’ kids and one of the kids said their pizza was spicy, all the kids chimed in and refused to eat anything despite the fact they do eat quite spicy food and the sauce was pretty mild. You never know with children what will set them off. I simmer this coved for about 15 mins so the tomatoes soften and begin to break down then cook with the lid off until most of the liquid has evaporated. I then allow this to cool and remove the bay leaves. This should give you enough sauce for 3 – 4 large pizzas.

P1020709

Next I make the dough. I use the same recipe as I use for my focaccia bread, but sometimes I substitute some of the plain flour for whole meal flour (about 50g). This will make enough dough for 3 large pizzas. If you have some left you can keep it for a pasta sauce, bruschetta or more pizza!

You’ll need to preheat you oven as hot as it will go, about 225-250 degrees C. I have a pizza stone which helps make a crisp base and I put this in the centre / top half of the oven and allow it to heat up, ideally for at least 15 mins after the oven reaches the desired temperature. I usually start by making a garlic bread pizza for people to snack on, this is some people’s favourite, it’s really crispy. For this I crush a couple of cloves of garlic and add some fresh rosemary or some dried herbs and some ground sea salt and some freshly ground pepper and about 3-4 tbs of extra virgin olive oil. I roll out a third of my dough so it’s about 14 inches round (that’s the size of my pizza stone) and then I take the stone out of the oven and put it on a thick chopping board, it’s really hot! I put the dough onto the stone and it should start cooking straight away. I quickly spread over the garlic olive oil mixture and put the pizza in the oven as quickly as possible. It will take about 10 mins to cook to a golden brown. This a great appetizer with drinks.

P1020720

Yesterday I next made a kid’s margarita pizza. My friend’s son Jules is a very fussy eater but he does like margarita pizza. I got him involved in making it too, no free lunch here! One thing to remember is to allow your oven and pizza stone heat up for at least 10 minutes between each pizza, longer if your guest will allow, and put your topping on as quick as you can and get the pizza in the oven. You are not creating a masterpiece, it will be gone in a few minutes! Also roll the dough out thin. I often use whole meal flour on the pin and the surface when rolling out my pizzas.

P1020725

We kept this one really plain, a classic margarita with tomatoes sauce and mozzarella cheese. When I guess I use about 120-150g of cheese per pizza (I’ve never weighed it, but I think a 500g block does 3-4 pizzas). The pizzas will take 10-15 mins to cook depending how hot your oven is.

P1020729 IMG_3102 IMG_3097

Next up was an adults’ pizza. It’s one of may favourites, Pizza Florentina, with spinach and eggs, I added mushrooms with I part cooked on a griddle pan first. The tricks with this are firstly to leave space in the toppings for the eggs and secondly to part cook the pizza (for about 10 mins) without the eggs so that the eggs don’t get over cooked, the yolks should still be runny.

P1020731P1020735

Cook for another 5 minutes until the egg whites are cooked. I finished this off with some truffle oil and black pepper.

pizza2

By the time this was cooked the kids were eating dessert so I had two pieces of pizza left which I had for my breakfast and lunch today. Three meals in one pizza!

IMG_3110   pizza lunch

I often make coleslaw when I make pizza, mum did too when we were kids. I just chop up white cabbage and some onion finely and grate in some carrot and mix with half mayo and half yoghurt. I usually also have chilli oil to serve with pizzas. I have a bottle with some olive oil and a few dried chillies marinating in it, make it as spicy as you like. The longer you leave it the spicier it gets so make it a few days before your pizza night. Here are a few more pizza ideas from previous pizza nights.

IMG_3501IMG_3502

White pizza with spinach, asparagus & ricotta.

IMG_1519

White pizza with asparagus and blue cheese.

IMG_0220

IMG_0221White pizza with spinach and blue cheese.

‘Copy’ pizza prep by my sister Lucy!

Lucy pizza

Standard
Baking, Something fruity, Something sweet

Mulberry & apple muffins

muffin

Mulberries are in season here and they’re great in cakes. These muffins are really moist and delicious. If you don’t have mulberries then use raspberries or blackberries. This will make about 20 medium-sized muffins or a dozen large muffins. You can substitute other fruits or your favourite additions into this muffin mixture.

So what do you need?

  • 125 ml vegetable oil
  • 50ml yoghurt
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 150g sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 1tsp salt
  • 400g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 150g mulberries
  • 1 apple
  • a handful of flaked almonds for topping

So what do you do?

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees C / 350 F. Then in a food processor (or a bowl) beat the eggs and add the yoghurt, milk, oil, vanilla essence and sugar and mix together. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and add these to the batter and mix. Grate the apple into the mixture and stir in the mulberries. Line your muffin tin with paper cases and fill them 2/3 full of mixture. My  tin makes a dozen medium- sized muffins so I had extra mixture so put this in a small cake tin. Sprinkle flaked almonds on top and put in the oven for 25-30 mins until golden brown. Enjoy with a glass of milk or a cup of tea. They are also very good served as a dessert with vanilla ice-cream!

They’re also good if you substitute the mulberries for small cubes of fresh mango and the grated apple for grated coconut.

P1020819

Mango & coconut muffins

Standard
Soups

Minestrone soup

Ministrone1

I love minestrone soup it’s a hearty soup without being too heavy and is flexible in terms of what seasonal vegetables you put in it. This is what I used in my latest minestrone along with garlic and herbs, you’ll see some frozen tomatoes which I blanched, skinned and froze when we had a glut a few months ago. Other good ingredients are green beans, lentils and celery.

IMG_2995

In a large thick bottomed saucepan I heated some olive oil and fried a couple of onions (one onion and a couple of sticks of celery would be a good option too) then I added a chopped pepper, some large red chillies (you can use a red pepper) a chopped carrot, two chopped courgettes, and the mushrooms and about 4 cloves of crushed garlic and some celery salt (regular salt would be fine). I fried these for a while until they began to soften and then added the tomatoes (a tin of tomatoes is fine) covered them with boiling water (you can use stock) to which I added a tsp of marmite and some mushroom soy sauce, some herbs de Provence and 1/2 tsp of chilli powder (optional – you can use paprika instead). I covered the pan and boiled for a few minutes before adding the chopped up cabbage and then added it. Finally I added a can of butter beans (you can use lentils if they are dried use about half a cup and add them when you add the water) and about 100g of spaghetti which I snapped into smaller pieces about 4 cms long. I covered the pan and simmered the soup of about 15 minutes and then added some fresh dill. It’s good if you cook it in advance and the let it stand a while and reheat it as this allows all the flavours to combine. I grated some parmesan cheese on the top before serving and served it with some bread smeared with garlic and olive oil and toasted on a griddle. It’s meal in itself and will feed a crowd or keep in the fridge for several days. My partner Tom, who isn’t vegetarian, likes it with the addition of some Thai chilli shrimp paste spice it up more.

Minsistrone 3

 

‘Copy’ by my sister Lucy….

Standard
Eggs, Veggie mains

Spanish omelette / tortilla

P1020581

I know that this is a dish that is sacred to many Spaniards and I’m sure I don’t do it justice but I do love it and as I don’t live in Spain I do make it myself occasionally and have served it to a Spanish friend before (and he ate it). This is a 10 egg omelette and will serve about 8 people.

I start by peeling and slicing about 300g of red onions which I fry on a low/medium heat in olive oil until they begin to caramelize.

P1020564

While these are cooking I peel about 600g of potatoes which I slice quite thinly and then parboil in salted water for about 5-7 minutes. I then drain and cover these, to stop them discoloring. Once the onions begin to caramelize I add the potatoes and fry for a while so they are coved in oil and absorb some of the onion flavours. You may need to add some more olive oil at this stage.

P1020568

While they are cooking I crack and beat 10 free range eggs and season them with salt and pepper. I level out the potatoes and onions in my frying pan, which is about 24cms across, and then pour over the eggs and agitate the pan a bit to make sure the egg seeps through to the bottom of the pan. I then turn down the heat to low and allow the omelette to cook slowly. For smaller omelettes I turn them over by turning the omelette out onto a plate then flipping it on to another plate and putting it back in the pan for the other side to cook. For large omelettes like this one I finish the top of under the grill then turn it out onto a serving plate once it is cooked through. You will need to run a knife round the side of the pan before turning it out. I served this with aioli (mayonnaise with crushed garlic) to which I added fresh dill. It’s great with some fresh bread and a good salad, I served it with a vegetable and lentil salad, and white sangria.

P1020608P1020600

chopped salad P1020592

Standard
Salads

Chopped veggie and lentil salad

chopped salad

Photo Marisa Marchitelli

I made this salad to serve with a Spanish omelette. It’s my own creation but I know that in Spain they use quite a lot of lentils in their cooking so I thought it would go well.

I started by blanching some baby broccoli spears which I then left to cool. In a mixing bowl I added a finely chopped medium-sized red onion, half a grated carrot, some chopped celery and the celery leaves (I used small Chinese celery as that’s what we get here in Thailand) a few chopped tomatoes and some chopped cucumber and some dill. I added some extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar and seasoned it with salt and pepper and mixed it all together.

I washed some lettuce and put this as a bed on a large, shallow serving bowl and then arranged the broccoli around the edges and then piled the salad mixture up in the middle. This salad is pretty substantial and could easily be a meal in itself, perhaps you could add some feta cheese, or hard-boiled eggs…

P1020596

I served this with a Spanish omelette, multigrain sourdough bread and some cheeses and chutney all washed down with white wine sangria.

P1020584 P1020604

Standard
Drinks

White wine sangria

P1020592

It’s been so bloody hot here for ages and I was having people over for a Spanish inspired meal and wanted a refreshing drink to start the evening. I’m no sangria expert but made this and it was really refreshing and got the party going…

I chopped up some fruit an orange, an apple and some watermelon (peaches, fresh lychees or cucumber would be good too) then I put these in a large ice bucket and added about a cup of Martini Rosso and a cup of vodka (I used raspberry Absolute). I left these for an hour or so then added 2 liters of chilled white wine (or 3 bottles) and a liter of sprite, you could use a cloudy traditional lemonade if you prefer. I then served it with lots of ice. You could also add some mint leaves if you have them…

P1020584

Standard
Salads

Halloumi salad with lychees & watermelon

P1020632

I fancied a really refreshing salad and wanted to use some ingredients I already had at home, lettuce, tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber and I’d just bought some lychees which have just come into season here planning just to snack on them but then decided to add them to my salad too and they brought a lovely sweet juiciness to the salad. I just made a single serving of this salad for my dinner last night.

P1020633

I washed some lettuce and put it in a bowl then made peeled ribbons from a cucumber with a potato peeler. Then I added a copped tomato, some chunks of watermelon and about 6 lychees which I deseeded and tor in half. I then cooked 5 strips of halloumi cheese on in a non-stick pan until golden. I added these to the salad and then added some chopped dill and minty and drizzled it with olive oil and pomegranate sauce and seasoned with salt and pepper. It was really refreshing. It would go really well with white wine sangria.

P1020621

I’ve made it again with feta cheese which is also very good.P1020775A beautiful ‘copy’ made by Lucy Quinnell in Leatherhead.

Standard