Saturday, 31 August 2013

Two Pepper Pizza

As I am on placement for my university course at the moment, I have hardly any time to cook in the evenings, so I welcome days when I do. Today was one of those days, and I decided to make pizza and wedges. Everything was homemade, the base and sauce included. I would have grown the toppings if I'd had time...

I had sort of planned to do a Margherita pizza with basil leaves, but I noticed one of the topping recipes in my book had red pepper in, and I had some red pepper in the fridge. Fate. The other toppings were green pepper, mushrooms, mozzarella and spring onions. I actually used chestnut mushrooms as I was already buying some, but I doubt that it made a blind bit of difference. The only thing I would say about the recipe is that it said to grate the mozzarella. I was a bit dubious about this as I didn't think mozzarella would grate that well. I was right. It doesn't. I ended up with little lumps rather than grated pieces, but it made it easy to spread evenly over the pizza, so I can't complain too much.

I also made potato wedges. I was going to use a normal baking potato, but picked up a sweet potato on a whim. I didn't use a recipe per se, I just used the method that my mum always uses. Hers always turn out very, very well, so I thought I'd give the method a go myself. I did use sweet potato where she usually uses a white potato, but it still worked. The spice I used to toss them in before cooking was cumin. I'd use more next time, as although it seemed a lot, the taste wasn't that strong once they came out of the oven.

The wedges before they went in the oven. That little bit in the corner is the cook's treat ;-)

Toppings on, 12-15 minutes until pizza tiiiiime!
The top was also seasoned with black pepper and chilli flakes before cooking.

The wedges were perfectly soft with a slightly crisper skin (I didn't peel them as a I like wedges with skin on!), and the pizza base was crispy without being hard. The best part? The leftovers that I have to look forward to.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Freestyle Friday #15

All I knew about tonight's meal was that I wanted to use my mini frying pan from Ikea. My ingredients were eggs, ham, cherry tomatoes and cucumber. Hmmm. Omlette? Much as I love omlettes, I didn't think it was very inventive for Freestyle Friday. Mini omlette egg wrap type things? Now we're talking. I've never had cooked cucumber, but nonetheless I chopped it and added it to a pan along with quartered cherry tomatoes and a smoked ham slice cut into squares.

I left it on the lowest heat while I made the mini egg wraps. I simply whisked the eggs with some black pepper and mixed herbs. And about half a teaspoon of sesame seeds, because I had some. Just because! When I tasted the tomato mix, I noticed it tasted a bit 'pizza sauce like', so I decided not to do wraps but leave the, flat as little egg pizza bases. Admittedly, it doesn't look much like pizza but it did taste a little like it.

Whilst I was eating it, it occurred to me that it would have been more pizza like if I had cooked the tomatoes separately and smooshed them on the bases to make a sauce. But I'd planned it, it wouldn't be freestyle, right?

P.s. I do have pictures, but technology has turned against me, so I'll get them to you asap!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Challenging Chopping for Chicken Chow Mein

This should actually have been yesterday's post (I was going to have it yesterday and today for tea), but due to my new shifts and travelling times, I had a quick meal yesterday, and cooked the chicken chow mein today as I was off. Not that yesterday's tea was any less tasty because it was quick- blue cheese and spring onions on toast. Ideal if you like cheese and onion crisps!

So the chow mein had to wait until tonight. It is actually quite quick in the grand scheme of things, but I wanted to do it properly tonight when I had more time. Just a bit of chopping, and I cooked some dried noodles as well as the recipe contpre cooked ones. Dried noodles are cheaper for more weight, which I think is worth it for the four extra minutes it took to cook them. Before I started to cook, I chopped everything, as I always do with stir fry type meals. Pepper, done. Garlic, ok. Ginger, done. Chicken, fine. Spring onions... ah. I have very sensitive eyes when it comes to onions, yes, even spring onions! This is why the chopping was challenging. Handling a sharp kitchen knife whilst your eyes are watering like mad isn't the safest thing to do... Luckily, I only had the chicken to chop afterwards.

Look how big the spring onions were. All my chopped veggies ready and raring to go.

I even took the time to 'finely' slice my chicken, as per the recipe!
All that remained after everything was prepped was to cook the chicken for a few minutes, add the peppers and garlic and cook for a few more, then add the noodles to reheat along with the spring onions and some soy sauce and chinese five spice powder. All over in about 10 minutes. And the portion size was huge! Perfect ;-)
These are the noodles for just one person!

As the chicken was so finely sliced, it broke up into small pieces whilst it was cooking; but I think this made it more 'chow mein like'. I don't really think this a traditional chow mein, but it certainly tasted good enough for me to overlook this!

My mountain of chow mein. Can't say it lasted long.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Amazing Avocado

I have always liked avocado, but recently, I started to LOVE it. I used it today in a salad, but I just have to mention a very good avocado recipe; Nigella Lawson's Rockamole. It's guacamole, but with blue cheese in it. Quite possibly one of the best dips I have ever had. Or just as good eaten with a spoon. Not that I have ever done that..
My amazing avocado!
Like I said, this evening I used my avocado in a salad. The two ingredients of the main salad were avocado and a whole lettuce head. It might not sound like a lot, but I can asure you it was very filling. The recipe said to serve it in a bowl, but...

This is my bowl with only the lettuce in. No avocado or dressing! So I served it on a plate. 

In hindsight, the bowl probably would have been okay, as the avocado was very ripe so I could cut it easily with my fork. Never mind, I'll know for next time!

With the slices of avocado. As the avocado was quite ripe, it cut very easily, but made the slices quite fragile. Most of them stayed intact though, as you can see.

The dressing- it tastes better than it looks, honestly! It's tomato ketchup, soy sauce and minced chilli. I used chillie paste, like I do 99% of the time a recipe says minced chilli. Of course I tried some before I put it on the salad, and it was spicy, and a little bit sweet, but not overly so because of the soy sauce. I know it was neeeaaarly the right amount of chilli to add, because my nose had just started to run when I had nearly finished eating the salad... strange I know, but I like my spicy food to make my nose run. Next time I would add a little bit more. Just a tiny squeeze.

The spicy dressing was a very nice contrast with the creamy avocado, and the lettuce was a contrast in texture; crunchy to soft. Everything just went so well together! And it looks pretty doesn't it? Although in true 'me' style, I messed it up before I ate it. What can I say? Old habits are hard to break.

It has just occured to me that I have blue cheese in the fridge. It makes me a tiny bit sad that I used the whole avocado, as I could have made a mini portion of rockamole. Oh well, when I next go shopping I'll just have to buy another avocado... shame!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Sandwich in Stages

So, from the lack of posts for the past few weeks, you can probably guess that I've been at home. I don't know why I don't blog as much when I'm at home. I still cook! For ten days of it I was away though, so at least I have an excuse for some of it. First I was at a bike rally (where I got an unexpected barbecue!), and then I went to Germany on the back of my dad's motorbike with his friend as well so I wasn't cooking. Lots of fabulous food though!

I did change one thing slightly in the recipe. Well, modified really. My mum and dad went to Italy recently, but stopped at various other points on the way and on the way back, one of them being Dijon. And my mum got me some blackcurrant Dijon mustard! I used it in place of regular Dijon mustard. I didn't use much, so thought the flavour may get lost, but it didn't it; you could still taste it even with all the other layers!

 Anyway. The staged sandwich. It was a club sandwich with quote a few layers, hence the stages. Here we go:
Blackcurrant Dijon mustard on granary bread.

Roast beef slices.


On the second piece of bread, tomato pickle. Next time, I would add more as I think the taste could have been a little stronger throughout the sandwich.

Blue cheese, and then a sliced tomato on top of that.

The finished man-wich.
It was stacked quite high, but once I started eating it it sort of squished together so it was easy to get a bit of everything in every bite. The key to a good club sandwich (well, any sandwich with multiple fillings), is to make sure everything is spread evenly over the bread so you do get a little bit of everything in every mouthful. It was hard with the rocket leaves, but like I said, they did 'squash out'!