Pizza

On Friday night I fancied pizza for dinner in the evening. Alberto was going out (and, in the end I influenced his decision and he ended up going out for dinner to a pizza place!) so I was only cooking for myself. There’s not really much of a recipe to detail here as you can top the base with whatever you like. I opted for 3 generous teaspoons of green pesto as a base topping instead of tomato, and topped that with a handful of rocket, some thin slices of red pepper, some slender asparagus stems, snapped in half, half a sliced red onion rings, some sliced chorizo, some torn up strips of Serrano ham, some halved cherry tomatoes, a generous helping of mozzarella chunks and finally a sprinkling of finely grated Parmiggiano Reggiano.

The dough can be made as little as 10 minutes before the start of cooking, although I prefer to let it rest for about half an hour before cooking. This also allows time for my pizza stone to warm up. If you’ve not got one I’d thoroughly recommend them, they really help to make the base of the pizza lovely and crispy.

125g of strong white bread flour
½ a teaspoon of salt
½ a teaspoon of dried yeast
1 tablespoon of olive oil
100-125ml of warm water (basically use enough to mix the dough together – add it a bit at a time and judge it as it goes.)

Pre-heat the oven to 200 and pop the pizza stone in to warm through for about half an hour.

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl, add the oil and then stir in the warm water to made a soft dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes or so until the ingredients come together and form a soft dough.

Leave to one side, cover the bowl with a tea towel and rest the dough until the pizza stone is is warmed through.

When the stone is ready, roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a roughly oval shape.

Place on the pizza stone and top as you like.

Cook in the oven for 12 minutes or so until the toppings are cooked and the base is crispy.

Delicious!

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Chicken saltimbocca with new potatoes, roasted asparagua and a munchkin

Yesterday, because Alberto had been at work since 5am, I offered to cook dinner and this Gino D’Acampo recipe caught my eye. It’s really tasty and quite quick and easy to do. I accompanied it with roasted asparagus and a munchkin. Don’t worry – we weren’t eating one of the inhabitants of The Land of Oz – a munchkin is a cute, tiny pumpkin which I boiled for just over 20 minutes, cut in half, de-seeded and popped a knob of butter on. Very tasty.

Serves 2

1 chicken breast per person, flattened
1 slice of Parma ham, per chicken breast
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 slices mozzarella per chicken breast
15g of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
160g of new potatoes, sliced, boiled until tender and drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 200.

Before starting the chicken, boil the sliced potatoes until tender, drain and set aside.

Place the chicken breast between two sheets of cling film, then flatten with a rolling pin until half as thick. (This is astonishingly therapeutic if you’ve had a frustrating day!)

Remove the cling film and lay the Parma ham on top of the chicken.

Heat the oil in an large frying pan and fry the chicken, chicken-side down, for 3-4 minutes.

Remove frmo the pan, place in a foil-lined roasting dish and lay the mozzarella slices on top of the ham.

Place in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes until the chicken is cooked though and the cheese has melted

Meanwhile heat the butter in a frying pan until foaming, add the potato slices and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Fry, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden-brown and crisp.

To serve, spoon the new potatoes onto a plate and top with the chicken.

Delicious!! Good old Gino!

 

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Teriyaki steak with asparagus and spring onions

I realised today that I hadn’t updated this blog for a week. I’ve been doing lots of cooking, but it has all been recipes I’ve already blogged about. So today I texted Alberto and told him that I was cooking him dinner. It turned out that he’s got to be up at 5am tomorrow morning so he was quite glad for me to cook. I flicked through several cook books and eventually decided upon this one from the Giraffe cook book. It’s a tasty one. The recipe recommends marinating the steaks for several hours – I could only manage about an hour and a half but the meat was still wonderfully flavoured so I can only imagine how good it would’ve tasted if I’d managed the full time.

I served this with wasabi mash and steamed bok choi.

2 sirloin steaks
3 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced and lightly mashed with a little salt
12 asparagus spears – chop of the last, woody inch or two
8 spring onions, trimmed but left whole, with the green parts attached

Combine the teriyaki sauce with the ginger and garlic. Toss the steaks in the marinade so that they are well coated and refrigerate for as long as possible.

Drain the steaks, lightly oil a ridged frying pan and heat over a medium heat. Cook the steaks for 2-3 minutes each side, until done to your taste.

Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Blanch the asparagus and spring onions in boiling salted water for 3 minutes, drain and refresh with cold water.

Lightly oil the ridged pan, heat over a medium heat and sear the onions and asparagus for 3-4 minutes, or until cooked.

Slice the steaks thinly on the diagonal.

Serve with the onions and asparagus and with a small bowl of soy sauce for dipping.

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Chicken chasseur

Last night I had the lovely Fig over for dinner and Sarah-Jane Adventures (Mark of The Berserker and The Temptation of Sarah-Jane Smith. And, sneaked in, because it had The Brigadier in, episode one of Enemy of the Bane.) and I was in the mood for a bit of chicken so I decided to cook chicken chasseur. I’ve only ever cooked it before from a packet mix so this was the first time I’ve cooked it from scratch – the recipe comes from the The Food of France cook book that Alberto bought me the other year.

Serves 3

1 medium chicken, jointed. (I just used 2 chicken thighs each, 6 in total, for the three of us.)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
60g of butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 red pepper, de-seeded and diced (the original recipe uses mushrooms, but, as neither Alberto and I like them, I substituted some red pepper instead.)
½ a leek, thickly sliced
1 tablespoon of plain flour
125ml of white wine
250ml of chicken stock
2 tablespoons of brandy
2 teaspoons of tomato purée
2 teaspoons of chopped tarragon
1 teaspoon of chopped parsley

 

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add half of the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the chicken pieces, skin side down and cook for five minutes, until the skin is crispy.

Turn the chicken pieces over and cook for a further 5-8 minutes, until nicely browned.

Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and keep warm.

Pour off the excess fat from the pan and return to the heat. Melt the remaining butter, add the chopped shallots and gently fry until soft and starting to brown. Add the diced red pepper and leek and cook, covered, for 3 minutes.

Add the flour and cook for one minute, stirring continuously.

Stir in the white wine, brandy, tomato purée and stock. Bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Reduce the heat and stir in the tarragon.

Return the chicken to the pan, cover and simmer over a gentle heat for 30 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

Sprinkle with the cooked parsley and serve.

I served it with new potatoes, roasted asparagus and steamed spring greens.

Lovely and the sauce is rich and tasty.

 

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Beef with Thai sweet basil leaves

And this was the main course, the culmination, for Saturday’s Thai extravaganza! There were a couple of issues with it though – first, it was a bit too spicy. It was just about ok for me but too spicy for Alberto. Definitely fewer chillies next time.

The other issue is the slight accident I has whilst slicing the beef in which I sliced a good ¼ of my index finger fingernail off! I thought, for a horrible second, that I’d accidentally cut the tip of my finger off but mercifully I hadn’t – luckily I’d only sliced off part of the nail! (Very lucky indeed!) Massively painful though and now that the skin underneath is exposed it’s pretty much constantly painful. (It’s certainly making typing this more tricky!) Still, it could’ve been a lot worse!

I served this with jasmine rice which I also got from M&S along with the fishcakes.

The recipe is delicious but I’d certainly make it a bit less spicy next time.

Serves 4

500g of rump or fillet steak, finely sliced

3 bird’s eye chillies, lightly crushed with the side of a cleaver (I’d definitely only use 1 next time.)

1 tablespoon of fish sauce

3 tablespoons of oyster sauce

4 tablespoons of vegetable or chicken stock

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (I used just two as I was only cooking for 2, not 4)

½ a teaspoon of sugar

1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges

2 handfuls of Thai sweet basil leaves

Mix the fish sauce, oyster sauce, stock and sugar in a small bowl

Heat the oil in a wok and stir fry the garlic over a medium heat until light brown.

Add the crushed chillies and meat and stir-fry, over a high heat for 3-4 minutes until the meat is cooked.

Add the onion wedges, and the oyster sauce mixture and stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes, whilst the sauce thickens.

Add the basil leaves and stir-fry for a minute or so until the basil wilts.

Serve with rice. Lovely!

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Tempura vegetables

On Saturday evening I decided I fancied a Thai extravaganza so I planned a four-course Thai meal for Alberto and I. I cheated slightly and bought some spicy Thai crackers from Sainsbury’s as the first ‘course’. The second course was a bit more substantial and consisted of some delicious Thai fishcakes from M&S. Again, slightly cheaty as I didn’t actually make them – hence no recipe or photo here – it wouldn’t be right., They are delicious though so I’d thoroughly recommend them.

The second two courses I did make – the tempura vegetables here and then a beef stir-fry which I shall detail next.

You can tempura whatever vegetables you like, pretty much. I opted for some thick slices of red pepper, some heads of tenderstem broccoli, some sugarsnap peas, and a couple of bits of asparagus. Make as much or as little as you like, depending upon how hungry you are!

Red pepper, deseeded and thickly sliced

A handful of sugarsnap peas

A handful of tenderstem broccoli heads

Some asparagus spears, with the woody bits snapped off

85g of plain flour

1 tablespoon of cornflour

½ a teaspoon of sea salt

200ml of ice cold sparkling mineral water or soda water

500ml of vegetable oil

Mix the sea salt, flour and cornflour together in a large bowl and whisk in the sparkling water, until you have a thickish, smooth batter which will coat your finger when dipped in.

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium sized saucepan until a drop of batter dropped in the hot oil puffs up and starts to turn golden.

Dip each piece of veg in the batter and then pop it in the hot oil until the batter turns golden and the veg is cooked but still crisp. The dipping of the veg is a messy business and the batter will get everywhere so make sure that you have kitchen roll to hand. You’ll probably need to cook the veg in batches until it is all done. You may need to use a slotted metal spoon to make sure that the pieces don’t stick together or to the bottom of the pan.

Once the veg is all cooked, drain on kitchen paper and serve with a sweet chilli dipping sauce

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Beef tagine with butternut squash

On Wednesday I had a real urge for a tagine. It was just Alberto and I at home in the evening – no guests or friends over for dinner, so I hunted around for inspiration. I partly used a Jamie Oliver recipe, partly a bit from one of my Moroccan cook books and partly just chucked in a few ideas of my own. It came out rather well, although there was quite a bit of it – I had enough for dinner for two, plus a generous lunch for the following day!

Serves 3(ish)

600g of braising steak, diced
1 x 440g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 440g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks separated and chopped
Leaves from a small bunch of parsley, chopped
500ml of beef stock
½ a small squash, approximately 300g, peeled, deseeded and cut into 5cm chunks
40g of stoned prunes, roughly torn
100g of petit pois

For the spice rub

Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons of ras el hanout spice mix
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika

 

Mix together the ingredients for the spice rub and dredge the pieces of diced beef in the rub. (At least one recipe I used for inspiration said to marinate the meat for two hours, however given that the cooking time for the dish is in excess of two hours, this might not be practical for you.)

Pre-heat the oven to 200

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and fry the meat over a medium heat for 5 minutes, until browned all over.

Add the chopped onion and coriander stalks and fry for another 5 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and tomatoes and stir well to combine. You may wish to sprinkle over a little more of the spice mix too at this point.

Then pour in 400ml of the stock and stir. Bring to the boil. Once boiled transfer the whole dish to a tagine, cover with the lid and place in the pre-heated oven for an hour.

I stirred it occasionally during the hour, just to check on it.

After an hour, remove from the oven and add the diced butternut squash and the remaining 100ml of stock to the dish.

Stir, taste, season more if necessary and then return to the oven for a further 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes remove from the oven again, stir and add the peas and prunes and stir through. Cook in the oven, without the lid, for a further 15 minutes. (You may need to add a little water if it looks like drying out.)

At the end of the cooking time the meat should be tender, the squash cooked through and the sauce thickened.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and coriander leaves and serve with buttery cous-cous and garlic flatbread.

 

 

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Pollo ‘al tegame’

Wednesday was Alberto’s first day back at work after his holiday, and I suspected that it was going to be a long one, so I decided to cook dinner for the two of us in the evening. I fancied something chickeny and so I leafed through my new John Leeson cookbook, Dog’s Dinners and came across this lovely little recipe. It looked nice and straightforward but tasty so I decided to give it a whirl. The recipe is to serve 4 and uses a whole chicken which it instructs you to cut into convenient pieces. As I was only cooking for the two of us I decided to simply buy the convenient pieces and bought us two chicken thighs and one chicken drumstick each. That was just about the right amount. Other than that I kept the amounts and volumes of the ingredients the same as for four.

The resultant dish is delicious, the wine and the butter give the sauce a lovely, rich flavour with hints of the garlic and rosemary used for the cooking. I served it with wasabi mash, steamed green beans and broccoli and roasted asparagus and cherry tomatoes. Possibly slightly too much veg but hey – just think of all the vit’mins!

I can heartily recommend this book, even if you’re not a Doctor Who fan, as the recipes are tasty and John’s writing style makes it friendly and easy to follow. You can pick a copy up here: http://www.fantomfilms.co.uk/books/dogsdinners.htm

1 medium sized roasting chicken (or, as I say, chicken pieces if you prefer.)

1oz of butter

1 medium glass of dry white wine

2 tablespoons of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise

2 finger-length sprigs of rosemary

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

If you are using a whole chicken then joint it into convenient pieces.

Heat the butter and oil in a large, deep frying pan, heavy based saucepan or flameproof casserole dish.

Once the butter is foaming and the garlic and chicken pieces, skin-side down, an cook for 5 minutes or so until the skin is nicely brown and crispy.

Once the chicken is browned on top turn it over to brown the other side and add the sprigs of rosemary.

Once the chicken is browned all over season with salt and pepper and add the wine.

Bubble over a high heat for a couple of minutes and then turn the heat down to a low simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

Transfer the chicken to serving plates, discard the garlic and skim off some of the fat from the liquid left in the pan. Add a generous glug of wine to the pan, increase the heat and stir well to deglaze the pan. Pour this sauce over the chicken.

A tasty, simple recipe. Very tasty and enjoyable. Buy the book – it’s good! :)

 

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Medallions de porc à la Dijonnaise

As it’s Tuesday I had the lovely Fig over this evening for our regular dinner and Doctor Who session. (Technically we’re making our way through all of Sarah-Jane Adventures at the moment so it was the last story of season 1, The Lost Boy and the first story of season 2, The Last Sontaran.) Dinner was also Doctor Who related as, on Sunday, Fig and I both attended a Brighton-based Doctor Who convention, Timey Wimey 2, myself as a helper and Fig as an attendee, where the guest of honour was Janet ‘Tegan’ Fielding. There was a quiz in the afternoon and Fig and I were on the team that came second, (We lost by 1 point!!) and my share of the prize was a cookbook by ‘Voice of K-9′ John Leeson, called Dog’s Dinners. It’s an entertaining little book full of interesting looking recipes and written in a relaxed, chatty style. The recipes are easy to follow and, if tonight’s dinner is anything to go by, tasty. Worth giving the book a go, even if you’re not a fan of Doctor Who, or his favourite tin dog. It’s published by Fantom Films.

This recipe serves 4 but I scaled it down for just Fig and I.

1 pork tenderloin, sliced into ½ inch rounds. (The tenderloin joints I could find in Sainsbury’s weren’t very thick and so I bought some pork escallopes of appropriate thickness and used them instead, Two per person seemed fine.)

25g of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

For the sauce:

500ml of double cream (I used 300ml for the two of us and that was more than enough.)

4 pickled gherkins, sliced

1 tablespoon of shallots, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

A dash of white wine vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 

Mix the sauce ingredients, cream, gherkins, shallots, mustard, vinegar and seasoning together in a small bowl, stir well to combine and set aside.

In a large frying pan heat the butter and oil and gently fry the pork escallopes until brown on both sides.

Add the sauce and bubble for a couple of minutes on a high heat before turning the heat down and simmering for a further 5 minutes, until the pork is cooked through and the sauce has slightly thickened. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Delicious, although there was way too much sauce! I served it with a creamy olive oil and Parmiggiano mash and steamed kale and beans.

Well done K-9!!

 

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Burmese pork curry

I made this for myself for dinner on Thursday. (Sorry, I seem to be very slow in updating this again!) It’s another recipe from the lovely little book Spice Up Your Life and, as I was only cooking for myself, I thought that it worth experimenting with. One word of advice – always read the recipe all the way through first, I started preparing to cook this at 8:15pm thinking that this was just a quick stir-fry only to find that it had a cooking time for an hour and ten minutes! Ooops! I was able to bring it down to about 50 minutes due to using a leaner cut of pork and reducing the ingredients as I was only cooking for one. The recipe as listed here serves 4 but I scaled it down for just me.

 

700g boneless leg of pork, trimmed and diced

2 tablespoons of white wine

1 teaspoon of salt

8 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped

5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

2 fresh red chillies, de-seeded and roughly chopped

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon of ground turmeric

½-1 teaspoon of medium chilli powder

3 tablespoons of groundnut oil

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

200ml of warm water

1 fresh green chilli, de-seeded and julienned for garnish

 

The meat needs to marinate for at least an hour before cooking so you need to prepare a bit in advance.

Mix the meat, wine and salt in a bowl and allow to marinate for an hour.

Place the garlic, ginger, chillies and onion in a food processor or hand blender and blend until the ingredients are ‘mushy’.

Heat the oils together in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and cook for 5-6 minutes. Reduce the heat and cook gently for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking. (sprinkling with warm water also helps to avoid sticking.)

Add the marinated pork (the recipe doesn’t say whether to add the marinade to the spices along with the pork or not – I added half as a compromise!) and increase the heat to medium-high and stir until the meat is coloured.

Pour in the warm water, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for and hour and ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

The sauce thickens nicely and is flavoursome, but not too spicy, and salty.

I served it with boiled rice and steamed broccoli.

Definitely one to cook again.

 

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