Pizza – red onion, pepper, chorizo and caper

A couple of weekends ago I had the good fortune to stumble upon the amazing Franco Manca whilst at a street festival in Brixton. I was torn between sampling the Caribbean fare that lined the streets or trying one of Franco Manca’s pizzas which I had heard so many good things about. All things considered I rather guiltily chose the latter, figuring that the unusually small waiting time for a table was too good to dismiss and I could get my jerk chicken fix at Nottinghill Carnival in a few weeks time anyway. To cut a long story short – it was awesome. Cheap too. A week or so later I decided to make my own.

Pizza

Making pizza is so freaking easy:

For the dough: See here.

For the tomato sauce: 
Tin of tomatoes
Tsp sugar
Dried (and/or fresh) oregano and basil
Splash red wine vinegar

Toppings:
Whatever you want! I used mozzarella, red and yellow peppers, red onion, chorizo, capers, and a sprinkling of mature cheddar.

Making pizza is so freaking easy:

– Make your dough – I used Jamie’s recipe and it was really good. My crust rose unexpectedly high in the oven, so if you like your crust thin I’d recommend rolling it out thinner than you’d think…

– Make a tomato sauce (do this whilst the dough is rising). Simmer a tin of tomatoes with a teaspoon of sugar, splash of red wine vinegar, fresh oregano, dried oregano and fresh basil for about 20 mins or until thickened. Season and leave to cool.

– Spoon sauce onto rolled out dough. Scatter with torn mozzarella. Whack on toppings of your choice (don’t be tempted to ‘overtop’ – it will become a homogeneous mush). Grate over some cheddar cheese.

– Cook at 200ºC for about 20 minutes. Serve with salad.

If you have any left over dough (I did even though I halved the dough recipe) make a few smaller, individual size pizzas, whack them in the freezer once cool – you have a easy and delicious go-to lunch!

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Pork tenderloin with braised leeks and beans

I don’t tend to cook with pork (save for bacon of course, I lovvvve bacon). In fact I’d never cooked with pork fillet/tenderloin until today – and it was a surprising success! Not dry at all and the sweetness of the apple together with the pepperiness of the mustard and sage was just yummy. I served the pork on a bed of braised leeks and soya beans, which were equally as delicious. I was a little apprehensive of using soya beans – I wanted to use flageolet or haricot (but alas the Coop could not deliver) and these were the only bean candidate left in the cupboard. However, they were 5 YEARS out of date! Having conversed with my father we decided to live life on the edge, and I used them.

They were bloody lovely.

Serves 2

For the pork:

Medium Pork fillet, cut into medallions
½ onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
White wine, a generous splash
Apple juice, a good glug (or cider)
4 tbsp crème fraiche (or cream)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Fresh sage, shredded
Olive oil, splash
Butter
Salt and Pepper

For the leeks and beans:

2 largish leeks, thinly sliced
400g (can) of a small variety of bean – soya, haricot, flageolet, borlotti, whatever…
½ vegetable stock cube
Sprig of thyme
Olive oil and butter
Salt and Pepper

–          In a heavy based pan sauté the leeks until soft in a small knob of butter and glug of olive oil.

–          When soft add a small amount of stock, about 3 tbsp. Drain and rinse the beans and add to the leeks.  Remove the thyme leaves and add. Cook slowly until the pork is ready.

–          Once the beans are on, start the pork.

–          Season the medallions and fry in a little butter and olive oil on a medium-high heat for a couple of minutes each side. You do not want the medallions to be completely cooked. Remove from the heat and keep warm (tin foil).

–          In the same pan sauté the onions and garlic until soft. Deglaze the pan with about half a glass of wine, drink the rest yourself. Simmer for 2 minutes and add the apple juice, crème fraiche, mustard and sage.

–          Return the pork to the pan and cook in the sauce until cooked but still tender, about 3 minutes. Season. Serve on a bed of the beany goodness, add a few whole sage leaves for decoration and enjoy!

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Asian salmon and slaw

Salmon is not my favourite fish in the sea*. Most of the time I genuinely think I’d choose fish fingers over salmon. This is because it can often be so bland, overcooked and uninspiring. However THIS recipe is awesome. I used up loads of old veg (appetising) but you wouldn’t necessarily need them all / you could substitute for any old (in both senses) vegetables you may have lurking around. This recipe is not only mega easy and tasty it’s also super healthy too. Winner!

*This does not include smoked salmon. Smoked salmon is a whole different kettle of fish (geddit) and king amongst teleosts.

Serves 2

For the salmon:

2 salmon fillets
Fresh ginger, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 spring onions
2 tbsp soy sauce
Sesame oil, a splash
Sweet chili sauce, a splash
Juice of ½ lime

For the slaw:

¼ white cabbage, finely shredded
1 courgette, finely sliced (use a potato peeler)
½ red onion, finely sliced
1 carrot, grated
½ orange pepper (whatever colour you fancy)
Fresh chilli, finely chopped (optional – I regretted it)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Fresh ginger, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce
Sesame oil
Olive oil
1 tsp muscovado sugar
Juice of ½ lime
Handful crushed salted peanuts

–      Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F

–      In a bowl mix the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, sweet chili sauce and lime juice with the salmon, add black pepper and ensure salmon is nicely covered in juices. Leave to marinate, or don’t in my case.

–      Place salmon on tin foil, pout over marinade, pop on a spring onion or two and make a tent! (i.e. leave some air in the parcel to allow the salmon to steam). Place in oven for 15-20 minutes.

–      Meanwhile for the slaw, fry garlic and ginger in olive oil. When done remove from heat and add the soy, vinegar, fish sauce, a generous glug of sesame oil and sugar.

–      Pour onto mixed vegetables, squeeze on lime and crushed peanuts. Combine.

Serve with white rice. Sprinkle with nuts if desired. I didn’t have any coriander but if you do, use it!

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Carbonara with courgette, mint and bacon

Carbonara is a regular in my cooking repertoire. Being so simple to cook I think that, in order to deliver on flavour, only the best ingredients will do: fresh, free-range eggs; cracked black pepper; good quality pancetta (OK, I cheated and used bacon – only the best I can assure you!) Anyway, you get my drift. I’ve given the classic carbonara a bit of a makeover ensuring that it isn’t too heavy (I never use cream in carbonara) and delivers even more on flavour, perfect for a summers evening. Oh and your average carbonara doesn’t use garlic… but I like garlic, so there.

IMG_4543

Serves 2

200g linguini (or spaghetti)
2 courgettes
½ large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Pancetta (or good quality bacon, preferably streaky)
Dollop (technical term) of crème fraiche
40g parmesan, finely grated (or use pecorino/both if you’re crazy)
Handful mint, torn
Salt, pepper and olive oil

–          Bring some salted water to the boil, add a splosh (another technical term for y’all) of olive oil and add pasta. Cook according to packet.

–          Meanwhile, fry the onion in olive oil and when soft add the pancetta/bacon and garlic. Fry until the pancetta begins to crispen.

–          Add the finely sliced courgette (I find this is easiest done with a potato peeler) and cook for another couple of minutes until the courgette is just cooked, retaining some bite.

–          Remove from the heat. In a separate bowl combine the egg, parmesan, half the mint and a generous amount of black pepper.

–          Drain the pasta making sure you retain some of the water and tip into the frying pan full of goodies. Add the egg mixture and toss well until the pasta is covered evenly Add some of the cooking water to loosen as desired.

–          Sprinkle with mint, parmesan and black pepper, and serve!

I think this is a worthy stand-alone dish, but a nice tomato salad wouldn’t go amiss. Also, add some toasted pinenuts! I wish I had, just to give a little texture to the dish although it was perfectly delicious as it was. Either combine with the pasta or sprinkle on top to give the dish more ‘table-appeal’.

Enjoy!

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Chicken, Chorizo, Olive & Borlotti bean Bake

I love the taste of the Mediterranean. This bake/casserole (I’m not entirely sure what to call it – I’ve gone for ‘bake’ as it’s not too saucy) is packed full of flavour and, whilst the ingredient list may look rather extensive, most things you should be able to find in your cupboards or in the depths of the fridge.

Serves 4

4 chicken breasts
A few chunks of chorizo
1 can borlotti beans (400g)
1 red onion, roughly chopped – keep some bite
½ white onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
Handful olives (I used a mix but kalamata are the best)
Handful cherry tomatoes
4 tbsp good quality tomato pasta sauce (…found at the back of the fridge – mine was                              sundried tomato, garlic and basil. Puttanesca would be nice)
1 tbsp red pesto
Chicken stock
Salt, pepper and olive oil.
Basil to serve

–         Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

–         In a heavy-based pan brown the chicken breasts in olive oil and set to one side. In the same pan sweat the onions together with the chorizo for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper and sweat for a further 5 minutes (the peppers need not be entirely soft – they’re going in the oven).

–         Place the chicken breasts in a large oven-proof dish. Smother with the pasta sauce and pesto. Scatter the onion, chorizo, pepper, and cherry tomatoes around.

–          Pour on a little stock, just enough (about 200ml?) to keep the dish moist. Season, cover with tin foil and whack in the oven.

–         After 20 minutes add the beans and olives, combine as best you can and return to the oven uncovered.

–         Cook for a further 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Remove and sprinkle with fresh basil.

I served mine with sweet potato chips (simply chop, drizzle in olive oil, sprinkle with smoked paprika, season and whack in the oven for about 20 minutes) and a watercress salad – comme ça:

 Enjoy!

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