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I am very proud of my homegrown tomatoes, even if I did buy them as tiny plants rather than grow them from seed.  I decided to pick quite a lot of the red ones before the slugs and rain did too much damage – I was holding out for a couple of green ones to ripen more, but decided this would likely leave me with half munched on tomatoes if I left it much longer.

I’m pretty impressed with this haul of tomatoes, and there are still plenty of greens ones on the plant, so we’ll see what happens with them.

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I’m not doing very well at keeping up with … well … updating!  There’s so much I want to share and yet I must find more time!  And so many promised posts and recipes … I haven’t even finished off my food memories of Italy (part 1 and 2), and that was last September!

Note to self: must try harder.

On a jollier note, we had a scrumptious and so SO simple tea of roasted summer vegetables.  This is my idea of cooking, of eating, of tasting.  And what a Nigel Slater way to eat dinner – just a plate of roasted vegetables and some hunks of good bread to mop up the juices.

In my pan of delicious roasted vegetables were the following: baby orange peppers, red pepper, yellow cherry tomatoes, red baby plum tomatoes and homegrown yellow courgette.  All cut into similar sized chunks, drizzled with good olive oil and roasted. 

The added extra that make this dish really simple were liberal dollops of sundried tomato paste, hunks of buffalo mozzarella, finely chopped garlic, a sprinkling of dried herbs, and some good old fashioned seasoning (salt and pepper). 

I also whizzed up lots of fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and a good handful of grated Parmesan which was drizzled over everything towards the end of the cooking, and extra served fresh.

All this was munched up with gorgeous foccacia bread from Jane’s Handmade Bread – bought that morning at Abbey Leys Farmer’s Market.

You can’t get better than that!

brunch

This is my perfect lazy Saturday (or Sunday!) brunch. 

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Lightly toasted bread smeared with butter.  Crisp salty bacon.  Sweet cherry tomatoes.  Deep earthy mushrooms.  And golden yolked eggs.  Oh, and a big mug of hot chocolate.

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How to create my perfect brunch

For me, creating the perfect brunch is about excellent ingredients and careful planning of how and when you cook each item.

Firstly, turn you oven onto a low heat and pop in two plates to warm.

In one, large cast iron frying pan I start off the bacon first.  Meanwhile, I chopped my mushrooms and cut the cherry tomatoes in half. 

Once the bacon starts to crisp, I add the mushrooms and let them start to cook.  When the bacon is to cooked to your taste, remove and place in the oven.

Move the mushrooms to one side of the pan, drizzle a little olive oil onto the other side of the pan and add the cherry tomatoes – they should sizzle and spit.  Season both the mushrooms and cherry tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Heat another smaller frying pan and add some oil – this will be your egg pan.  As you crack in your eggs and start to fry them, instruct your boyfriend to pop some bread into the toast.

Just before your eggs are ready, remove the warmed plates and bacon from the oven.  Butter your toast, divide the bacon between your plates, slide the fried eggs onto the toast, and spoon over some mushrooms and tomatoes.

Eat!

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My ingredients:

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I’m going to start my weekend posts with a fresh, vibrant salad that will help you spring into summer.  This salad was dreamt up from standing in the aisles at my favourite grocery – it uses the produce that was freshest and just said ‘eat me!’

It is so simple – just peas, radishes, cherry tomatoes and spring onions.  Now I know that my cherry tomatoes are way off even flowers forming, but these cherry tom’s were from Sicily, which I appreciate isn’t very local, but they were ruby red and calling to me.  So anyway, less rambling, more recipes and I hope you try this one out – especially if your radishes are bulging out of the soil like mine.

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Pea and Radish Salad

Feeds about four hungry mouths

Couple of handfuls of fresh peas
Bunch of radishes (about 10)
200-250g cherry tomatoes
3 large or 5 small spring onions
Cider or white wine vinegar
Salt

Finely slice and chop the spring onions and place them into a pretty serving bowl.

Sprinkle over the onions a good scattering of salt and a couple of glugs of vinegar – mix well (the vinegar and salt pickles the onion slightly, which takes the edge off that strong onion taste).

Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and add them to the onion – you can also sprinkle a touch more salt over the tomatoes (it intensifies their taste).

Set the onion and tomatoes aside, grab a bowl, find a comfy seat and take your time to pod those peas. This is a job, which is not really a job, it is a moment to yourself, a chance to slow down and dream. Sat on my granny’s terrace, podding peas and preparing string beans are some of my best childhood memories.

Cut the radishes into quarters, and add them and the peas to the salad. Give the whole thing a good stir and serve. You could add a grinding of fresh pepper, a glug of extra virgin olive oil, but it really doesn’t need adulterating. If you use fresh, quality ingredients then this salad will sing without any extras.

homemade pizza

homemade pizza

This morning started like any other Saturday, but my plans were quickly cut short.  Whilst carrying out the dangerous job of…drying my hair…I experienced an excruciating spasm in my back, and was rendered unable to move and stuck lying on the floor for about an hour while N called NHS Direct.  It was just common back pain, nothing more serious, but damn painful.  I am now dosed up on painkillers and with strict instructions not to spend more than 4 hours in bed at a time…tonight I am psyching myself up for a night of DVD’s and late night TV.

Anyway, back to what I really wanted to talk about – THE best pizza ever.  Sadly, I can’t take any of the credit for it, that goes 100% to N.  N has been doing a lot recently, including DIY and studying for his masters.  I decided that as the weekend was starting to stack up with DIY chores, that he needed some treats to get him through.  I already knew what would be top of his list – beef and pizza.  He’s been going on about making pizza since before Christmas, so I stocked up on some buffalo mozzarella, tinned cherry tomatoes,  semolina flour and Parma ham. 

summer tomatoes

summer tomatoes

Our favourite pizza recipe is from Jamie Olive’s Jamie’s Italy book.  We especially enjoy the ‘fried pizzas’ which involves frying the pizza bases prior to baking in the oven.  N finished early on a Friday so by the time I arrived home at 6pm he was already underway with the dough.  Within the hour four beautiful silky pizza bases were resting on the worktop. 

I whipped up some tomato sauce using a tin of cherry tomatoes, a couple of cloves of garlic and a teaspoon of honey.  The sauce was spread over the bases, and topped with a mixture of that dreaded squeaky version of mozzarella (left over from a lasagne) grated, a couple of torn pieces of buffalo mozzarella, and some dried herbs.  They were popped in a hot oven and when cooked topped of with some slivers of Parma ham.  Of course, I am biased, but to me, these pizzas, made by the man I love are THE best pizzas.

a thing of beauty

a thing of beauty

Homemade Pizza

Makes 4 medium-sized pizzas

400g strong white bread flour
100g semolina flour
1/2 tbsp salt
7g dried yeast
1/2 tbsp golden caster sugar
approx. 325ml lukewarm water

In a large bowl mix the flours and salt, and make a well in the centre. To your warm water add the yeast and sugar and mix with a fork – leave for a few minutes.

Pour the yeast liquid into the well in the flour and using a fork slowly mix the flour into the liquid. It will start to look a bit like thick porridge. When the dough comes together and is too hard mix with the fork, use your hand and begin to form it into a ball.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth springy soft dough. Lightly flour the dough and wrap in clingfilm or cover with a bowl and leave for about 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into four pieces and roll them out on a floured surface. Once rolled out, leave them for up to half an hour before you want to cook them. If you’re going to stack them on top of each, to ensure they don’t stick together make sure you flour between them or lay a piece of foil or greaseproof paper between each base.

Preheat your oven to 250°C / gas mark 9. Place your bases on a baking tray and spread over your tomato sauce and add your cheese – we used a mixture of grated ‘plastic’ mozzarella and torn buffalo mozzarella. Bung in the super hot oven for about 10 minutes or until golden.  Top with shreds of Parma ham, slice and eat.

This recipe is taken and slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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