Pizza!

Italian, Specials, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

010 (2)Makes: Enough pizza dough for eight 30cm pizzas.
Preparation & cooking time: 1hr 1/2 (including time to let the dough rise)

Pizza is one of the most enjoyed foods everywhere in the world and it is one of the most common food that is ordered as a take-away. Personally, I just don’t understand the fuss about a take away pizza as more often than not it will arrive covered in grease, with a horrible doughy crust and with layer of cheese literally an inch thick on the top! Another reason why I don’t understand the whole pizza take-away fad is that it is so easy to make your own pizza at home; you will get a perfectly thin & crisp crust, no grease, fresh toppings and you will also save quite a few pennies in the process! Trust me, once you have tasted how good a homemade pizza is and how easy it is to make, you will never want to order another take-away pizza again! I always split the dough into eight portions, wrap them into cling film and freeze them until I want to use them. The dough defrosts really quickly and from that point it takes about 10 minutes to make a delicious pizza!

Ingredients:

Basic Pizza Dough

  •  1kg tipo ’00’ flour (or strong white bread flour)
  • A good pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons extra vrgin olive oil
  • 650ml tepid water
  • 14g dry yeast (if you can, use two 7g sachets)

Toppings

There are so many options when it comes to pizza toppings that I don’t really know where to begin! The recipes that I am posting use garlic oil as the base instead of the traditional tomato sauce, but you could use a muschroom sauce, a roasted vegetable sauce etc. I have used only vegetables to top my pizza but you can use your favourite pizza toppings!

  • Garlic oil (or tomato passata)
  • A handful of green beans, sliced in half
  • A few cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • A few mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • A few asparagus, sliced diagonally
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Dried chilli flakes
  • A few parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • Avocado pesto

Method:

1.   Sieve the flour and the salt onto a large clean work surface and make a large well in the middle of the flour. In a jug, mix together the water, olive oil, sugar and yeast and then leave to rest for a few minutes. After a few minutes resting, pour the mixture into the well of flour. With a fork, gradually bring the flour in from the sides and swirl it into liquid. Make sure you do this gently because you could break the walls of flour leaving you with a right mess (I have had first hand experience of this!). Keep swirling and bringing in larger amounts of flour until all of the mixture starts coming together, then work the rest with your flour dusted hands until you have a nice springy, smooth ball of dough. Place the ball of dough into a large flour dusted bowl and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Put the bowl in a warm room (the airing cuoboard is always a good place, or next to the cooker) and leave to rise for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

2.   Once the dough has doubled in size, pour it onto a flour dusted surface and knead the dough to push out all of the air in it, in baking terms this is called ‘knocking back the dough’. Slice the dough into 8 portions and keep out as many as you need and with the rest, wrap them in cling film and put them into the freezer. The dough keeps really well, so just take a portion out as and when you need it. 

3.   Preheat your oven to the hottest temperature that it goes to (my oven goes to 270 C and this will cook the pizza in 5 minutes). On a flour dusted surface place a portion of the dough and roll it out with a flour dusted rolling pin (I use an empty bottle of wine and this works perfectly) until you have the size and thickness that you want. I like my pizzas to be very thin and crispy so I tend to roll the dough out until it is around 30cm across. Once the dough has been rolled out, put it onto a pizza tray (basically a round tray with holes in it; these work brilliantly and they are also very cheap to buy) so that it is ready for the toppings to be put onto it.

4.   Firstly, drizzle over a good amount of garlic oil onto the pizza base and then arrange the vegetables onto the base. Secondly, sprinkle over a good pinch of sea salt and pepper along with a pinch of the dried chilli flakes. The pizza is now ready to go into the oven; place it in the oven and depending on how hot your oven goes to, it should be ready in 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on it as you do not want it to burn. After 5 minutes the pizza will have a lovely colour and the base will have bubbled up a bit. I like to leave the pizza in the oven until the vegetables char a little as I think it tastes amazing! Take the pizza out of the oven when it is ready and sprinkle over the parsley and spoon over some avocado pesto. Place the pizza onto a nice chopping board and slice into 8 slices and enjoy it 🙂

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Here is another pizza that I made. It is so easy to make, just drizzle the garlic oil over the base, place some chopped sun dried tomatoes all over the pizza, add the sea salt & pepper and some chilli flakes. Cook it in exactly the same way as the pizza above. There are so many toppings for pizza, let me know what you love to have on your pizzas. I hope you like this recipe 🙂

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Bruschetta, 3 ways!

Healthy, Sandwich, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vini's Sandwiches

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Plain and simple, bruschetta is great! It is so convenient and easy to make that you can rustle it up so quickly with practically anything that you have lying around in your fridge and cupboards (you can even use stale bread!). You can be as creative or as simple as you would like, which is why for this post I have created three of my favourite recipes to show you some different ideas that you can use and hopefully give you some ideas so that you can make your own bruschetta!

 Tomato, Basil & Avocado Pesto Bruschetta

026

Makes: 3 Bruschetta (with plenty of avocado pesto left over!)
Preparation & cooking time: 5-10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 2cm slices of ciabatta (or whatever bread you prefer)
  • A handful (6-10 depending the size) of ripe cherry tomatoes
  • A drizzle of garlic oil (or extra virdin olive oil)
  • A drizzle of lemon juice
  • A large bunch of basil (reserve a few leaves for garnish)
  • 2 avocados (peeled and pitted)
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Method:

1.   Place the slices of bread under a really hot grill to get nice and crunchy. When the bread starts to colour rub it with a peeled clove of garlic and then flip it over for the other side to get toasted and when this side has colour rub it with the clove of garlic. Rubbing the garlic on the bread will give it such an amazing flavour! Once toasted take the bread out and leave to the side whilst you prepare the topping.

2.   Half the cherry tomatoes and then slice the halves roughly and put them into a bowl. Slice a few leaves of basil and put into the bowl with the tomatoes. Dress the tomatoes with a good drizzle of garlic oil (this is really easy to make, just peel and slice 6 garlic cloves in half and put them into a jam jar and then top this up with extra virgin olive oil. After a day or so this will start to have an amazing garlic flavour and is great to use in dressings!) or extra virgin olive oil will be great, followed by a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper.

3.   To make the avocado pesto, place the remaining basil leaves (leave 2 for garnish) , avocados , pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic and extra virgin olive oil into a food processor and blend until it is really smooth. Once the pesto is creamy and smooth season it generously.

4.   To prepare the bruschetta, place a spoonful of the tomato mixture onto a slice of the toasted bread and top this with a few large drops of the avocado pesto. To make it look pretty, slice the left over basil leaves finely and sprinkle over the top and voila, you have a delicious bruschetta made really quickly! You can use the leftover pesto as a topping for pasta!

Balsamic dressed beetroot with herby bean cream

025Makes: 3 Bruschetta (with plenty of herby bean cream left over!)
Preparation & cooking time: 5-10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 2cm slices of ciabatta (or whatever bread you prefer)
  • 1 large beetroot, boiled, peeled and sliced into cubes
  • A drizzle of good balsamic vinegar
  • A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can of cannelini beans, drained (or any other white beans that you can get)
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • A bunch of dill (or the herb of your choice)
  • Sea salt & frshly ground black pepper

 Method:

1.   Place the slices of bread under a really hot grill to get nice and crunchy. When the bread starts to colour rub it with a peeled clove of garlic and then flip it over for the other side to get toasted and when this side has colour rub it with the clove of garlic. Rubbing the garlic on the bread will give it such an amazing flavour! Once toasted take the bread out and leave to the side whilst you prepare the topping.

2.   In a bowl, dress the diced beetroot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar along with a pinch of salt and pepper.

3.   To make the herby bean cream, blend the can of beans, oil, water, lemon juice, garlic cloves, dill and salt & pepper in a food processor until you have a silky smooth mixture.

4.   To make the bruschetta, place a big spoonful of the beetroot mixture on top of a piece of the toasted bread followed by a nice dollop of the bean cream. Slice some parsley or dill to sprinkle over the top of the bruschetta. There you have a delicious bruschetta ready. You can use the remaining bean cream as a dip with some warmed pitta breads or some steam veg and it is excellent!

Pea & Mint Bruschetta

032Makes: 3 Bruschetta
Preparation & cooking time: 5-10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 2cm slices of ciabatta (or whatever bread that you prefer)
  • 280g frozen peas (thawed)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (a little reserved for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1.   Place the slices of bread under a really hot grill to get nice and crunchy. When the bread starts to colour rub it with a peeled clove of garlic and then flip it over for the other side to get toasted and when this side has colour rub it with the clove of garlic. Rubbing the garlic on the bread will give it such an amazing flavour! Once toasted take the bread out and leave to the side whilst you prepare the topping.

2.   To prepare the pea and mint topping, blend the peas in a food processor until they are roughly chopped. Stir in the mint, oil, salt & pepper. Place a spoonful of the pea and mint mixture on top of the bread and top with a sprinkling of the chopped mint. With the leftover pea and mint mixture you can make a delicious risotto!

I hope you like the different bruschettas; let me know what your favourite types of bruschetta are! 🙂

Asparagus, pea & mint risotto!

Italian, Specials, Vegan, Vegetarian

187

Makes: 2 generous portions
Preparation & cooking time: 45 minutes

For me, risotto is one of the most comforting foods going! A good risotto is so easy to make and with a little love and attention you will have a base risotto recipe with endless options (it is a great meal to impress people with as well!)! A risotto should be smooth, creamy and oozy! When you shake the pan the risiotto should move like the waves, or ‘onde‘ as the Italians say, and should never be thick and stodgy like the ones I have been served so many times in numerous restaurants! Peas and asparagus are in season at the moment so it makes this recipe even better! You can use the base risotto recipe and you can add whatever ingredients you like, but seasonal vegetable (see what else is in season here) risottos really stand out in my opinion. I made this recipe for my girlfriend and myself so (as she is vegan) I have left out the butter and the parmesan cheese (which are used in traditional risotto recipes), but I will tell you when you will need to add it in if you would like to use these ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • I litre organic vegetable stock (homemade is the best!)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 a carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 1 small glass of dry white wine/vermouth
  • 4 – 6 sticks of asparagus, sliced diagonally
  • 75g peas (fresh if possibl;e but frozen are excellent as well)
  • 4 – 5 mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1.   In one pan heat the stock; you need to make sure that it is hot when you add it to the rice so that it doesn’t slow down the cooking process, and in another large, thick based pan heat the olive and add the onions, celery and carrots and fry slow for around 10 minutes until all ot the vegetables have softened. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice to the pan and turn it up to a high heat. The toasting of the rice is a really important part of making a good risotto as the heat cracks open the rice and allows it to absorb lots of the awesome stock.

2.   The rice will carry on frying so keep stirring it and after a minute the rice will have turned slightly translucent. At this point add the in the wine/vermouth to the pan and continue to stir. The aroma you will get will be amazing and the harshness of the alcohol will all be cooked away and you will be left with the most amazing flavour!

3.   Once the wine/vermouth has been absorbed by the rice it is time to add in the first ladleful of stock. Turn the heat down a little now so that the rice doesn’t cook too quickly and add a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Now that you have added your first ladleful of stock, it is very important to keep stirring the risotto and massage all of the starch out of the rice to give the risotto its amazing texture. After the first ladleful is absorbed by the rice, keep adding ladlefuls of stock to keep it moist and keep stirring! Allow each ladleful to be absorbed before you add the next. This process should take around 15 – 18 minutes.

4.   After 8 minutes, add the peas and the asparagus to the stock pan and ladle in with the stock as you have been doing.  After 15 minutes taste the rice to see if it is cooked. The rice should be soft with a little bite. If it is not cooked then keep adding stock and stirring unitil it is cooked through.

5.   Once the rice has cooked, take the pan off of the heat, check the seasoning and add the mint. If you want to use butter and parmesan, add a knob of butter and a small handful of parmesan now and stir it in. Cover the pan with a lid and leave to rest for 3 minutes. This is a really important stage as it will allow of the ingredients to relax and allow all of the flavours to incorporate together! Serve and eat as soon as possible whilst the risotto has its amazing texture.

I hope you like this recipe everyone. Let me know what you think of it. 🙂

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