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pizza monday’s

Mondays are horrible. I’m not a morning person at the best of times, but after having two consecutive lie-in’s, then having to get up at 7am, no. thank. you. My mood could not be any worse on a Monday morning. It’s like waking a monster. Really it’s that bad. We decided to come up with ideas for a feel good evening especially for Mondays, almost as a reward for getting through the day or “making it” as we like to say.

Homemade pizza’s really seemed the only option. Fun and easy to make, naughty and relatively healthy all at the same time. Breaking the rules sometimes is bad ass.

Warning, pizza heavy post. I know you won’t be able to resist…

Before any pizza making can take place, you need to give each other authentic Italian pizza-maker names. We kept ours original, Scott was Mario and I was Luigi (sound effects included).

We made the dough, tomato sauce and pesto from scratch. Do it. It’s worth it, a million times over. For the dough, I halved Jamie’s recipe to make 4 medium sized pizza bases. The tomato sauce is easy peasy. Take the tomatoes out of a tin of plum tomatoes (bin the juices) and blend in a mini processor with some garlic, mixed herbs, salt and if you like it spicy, some chilli sauce.

The pesto is the best pesto you’ll ever taste (apart from maybe the real authentic stuff you’ll be dipping your mozzarella into sailing along the Tuscan coast). Take a large bunch of Basil, a handful of pine nuts, more garlic, a large sludge of olive oil and a rather large handful of grated Parmesan and whiz it up in a processor. Perfecto.

I would say it started off well, but I’d be lying. We couldn’t resist piling on the toppings (especially the cheese).

Did I mention you need to do this in your pyjamas? Yeah, it’s way more fun that way.

We made 4 pizzas with various delicious toppings. In fact, we made 2 pizza’s each and had our own pizza off. I won. Hands down.

Pizza 1 kept it pretty tame. Just a few tablespoons of pesto, tomato sauce, mozzarella and parma ham.

Pizza 2 is when the competition really heated up. Pepperoni, chorizo, sundried tomatoes, mozzorella, parmesan and red onion. We both agreed this was the winning pizza. It was rather a masterpiece, but that didn’t stop us from devouring the whole lot!

Monday’s just got a whole lot better. Especially when it coincides with the release of Skyfall (which we still hadn’t gotten around to seeing!). We grabbed a blanket, and snuggled up eating pizza watching Bond doing his thang’. I may just be looking forward to next Monday already…

 

what I cooked, christmas

It was my first year of cooking Christmas dinner for the family and after much deliberation and countless evenings spent trailing through Christmas food magazines, we finally decided on our meats. Now, don’t worry. I’m not going to spend a whole blog post in telling you about what I ate for Christmas which feels like so far gone now. These recipes I feel are perfect all year round and give the WOW factor.

Both of us felt that Turkey is slightly overrated and that we were up for a bit of a recipe challenge.So off to the local butchers we went in the search of the perfect joint of gammon and cut of beef.

First up, Gordon’s Honey Glazed Ham

From when we started reading this recipe, it sounded just delicious. A slowly boiled ham joint in leeks, carrots and spices then roasted gently in honey, sherry vinegar and Madeira wine.

I loved this recipe, although it took almost 5 hours to cook, and the house smelt amazing.

You can find the recipe on the Good Food website here

And, Spiced Roast Beef with Red Wine Gravy 

Armed with our larger than life cut of beef, we left it in the fridge to marinate for 2 days prior to cooking. The mixed peppercorns and delicious red wine gravy was the perfect addition to our menu.

Cooked rare by popular demand, you can find the full recipe on the Good Food website here.

Both meats will wow your guests for any occasion.

apple and grape autumn chutney

I love autumn.
The air is crisp, the sun is low and Christmas is on the horizon.

Autumn is my favourite season in the kitchen. There is an abundance of free foods available, as well as British fruit and vegetables in the supermarkets (which is a lot closer to home if you’re not, like me, living in the country – sigh).

This recipe is a delicious all-year-round chutney that will keep for up to a year. British Cox apples, Grapes, delicious herbs and spices, onions and chillies packed into a jar. This recipe will make around 1.5kg of chutney, I filled 3 large jars.

You will need:

1kg apples (I used British Cox)
300g white seedless grapes
3 white onions, finely chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp corriander seeds
2 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp mustard seeds
400ml cider vinegar
450g granulated sugar

 

First of all, prepare the onions, chillies and fruit. I know this takes time, but bear with it. The results are worth it and this is the hardest part, trust me.

Next, heat a deep frying pan to medium heat. Fry the cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant. This will take a few minutes. Then coarsely grind in a pestle and mortar. Repeat with the mustard seeds in the same pan until they begin to pop and add to the other spices.

The smell will be blowing you away already.  

Now all the preparation is complete, heat a large, heavy basted deep saucepan.

Add the onions, chillies, powdered ginger and spices and give them a good stir until thoroughly mixed.

Doesn’t this look good enough to eat already?

Once combined, add 400ml of cider vinegar. This will give the chutney that sweet taste which complements the apples and spices.

Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 10 minutes until the onions are soft.

Next, stir in the fruit with a good pinch of salt and finally add in the sugar.

Increase the heat and hard boil, stirring occasionally so the chutney doesn’t start sticking to the base of the pan. You want to get the mixture thick and gluppy which takes anything between 15-30 minutes. I left mine for a good 30 minutes before I removed from the heat.

While your chutney is deliciously bubbling away, you will need to sterilise your jars. To do this heat the oven to 150c and wash the jars in soapy hot water. Leave to drip dry for a few minutes on a drying rack upside down. Then pop the jars in the oven until the chutney is ready.

Carefully scoop the hot chutney into the sterilised jars, date and decorate! Don’t forget to keep a jar for yourself too, this chutney is a cheeses best friend!