Archive for September, 2009

Courgette and almond flatbread pizza

September 28, 2009

Friday night in with a DVD and persistent colds. Inspired by a courgette that had grown amok, its monstrous bulk menacing the fridge, I thought about making one of my favourite courgette dishes into a pizza topping (don’t you love how you can make anything into a pizza topping? OK… almost anything). The original recipe is from Moro East, and with the Moorish vibe in mind I went with a flatbread base, though obviously you could use a traditional pizza base – or just buy your favourite kind of flatbread for a quick version. I used the traditional mozzarella because I had most of a ball needing to be eaten, but really I think this would be delicious with feta. We made some garlic bread while we were waiting for the dough to rise and ate it with a salad of roasted beetroot and tomatoes (remember from the sweetcorn fritters?), spinach and dukkah. I wish I could tell you it cured the cold, but seriously, I’ve had this thing for well over a week. It’s an uber-cold. It pays no attention to the intake of vitamins, adequate rest, orange juice by the gallon, or max strength lemsip. Ah well: at least I still have an appetite.

A couple of other things: I upped the amount of tomatoes used because our toppings were a little on the sparse side. There is a picture but it would seriously put you off and I’m not sure you’d believe that it tasted better than it looked.

Courgette and almond flatbread pizza Serves 2-4 (2 if you’re poorly and need to keep your strength up)

For the flatbread:
225g wholemeal bread flour (or use strong white)
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. dried yeast
150ml tepid water
1 tbsp olive oil

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water for 5-10 mins – it should start to froth. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. When the yeast is ready, add the olive oil to the water, make a well in the flour and salt and pour the yeasty liquid gradually into the middle, mixing with your hands until it comes together into a kneadable ball. Add more water/flour as necessary.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for at least 5 minutes until it’s smooth and pliable. Put it back in the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours. It should double in size.

Meanwhile, make the topping:

For the courgette and tomato sauce:
500g courgettes
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
500g cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
salt + pepper

+ 30g whole almonds and 150g mozzarella or feta (depending on how cheesy you like your pizza) for the top

Slice the courgettes thinly and heat the olive oil in a big saucepan. Fry the courgettes for around 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, tomatoes and most of the thyme and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until breaking down and sauce-like (you can stir and squish the tomatoes with a wooden spoon to help it along). Season well.

Preheat your oven to its highest setting and put a couple of baking trays in to heat up.

When the dough is ready, take it out and divide it into 2-4 balls. On a well floured surface, roll the balls into long oblong shapes. Top with the courgette and tomato sauce, then scatter with almonds, cheese and a few extra sprigs of thyme.

Take out your baking trays, flour them and arrange the pizzas on top. Put in the very hot oven 5-10 minutes until the edges are crisp and the topping looks nice and browned and pizza-like.


Sweetcorn fritters with spinach, bacon and roasted tomatoes

September 24, 2009

All that talk of autumn and something pretty summery, albeit the tail end of summer. Well, corn cobs were reduced in Waitrose (the sweetcorn on the allotment is looking pretty hopeless). This is actually taken from a Bill Granger breakfast dish but works well scaled up for supper – you create a substantial batter with chunky sweetcorn cut from the cob, a mass of chopped herbs (coriander and parsley, though you could stick with one), spring onions and half a red pepper, fry dollops the size of saucers until browned and crisp on the outside, and serve with grilled bacon rashers, some tomatoes roasted in a medium hot oven, and baby spinach leaves. Tom (lovely live-in cooking partner) had his with maple syrup. I had a hunch sweet chilli sauce might be good too, but resisted for the control test.

We used the corn from 2 cobs for a 2-egg batter and had plenty of fritters with leftovers to stuff into toasted pitta for lunch tomorrow.

Sweetcorn fritters 053

I gather you have to have photos on these blog thingys, so bear with me – my camera skills are not so hot. Tomatoes!

Sweetcorn fritters 049

Hello world!

September 23, 2009

So, September. And it really is autumn now, like a switch has been flicked: last week, we went out for dinner and it was dark. I’ve been wearing knitwear. I’m having to swipe the overnight dew from my bike saddle before I set off in the mornings. I know it’s kind of depressing to some people, but I like it. It makes me think of stew with dumplings, of baking while it rains outside, of roasting squashes and chickens and an utterly fragrant autumn nut pesto I made this time last year. It’s not quite fireplaces and thick socks and ‘what-happened-to-the-year?’ but it’s a cosy kind of settling in that I’m pretty comfortable with.

Anyway, since September is the traditional month of back-to-school and changes afoot, a tentative new project for me: a place where I can keep up my writing, which is mainly going to be about food since that’s what I spend so much of my time thinking and reading and wittering about to bemused friends and family. Why not write about it as well? No-one has to know I’m here…