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The other night Mr Rigg made us a delicious dinner of asparagus, mint and lemon risotto.  He found this great sounding recipe of Jamie Oliver’s, and although we did deviate from the recipe Jamie is always full of inspiration.

What did we do differently? 

  • Well, we cooked our asparagus in the oven like we did here
  • We cooked the risotto the way we normally do risotto, rather than learning a slightly different way. 
  • We added lemon zest as we were adding stock.
  • We stirred the sliced cooked asparagus and sliced mint into the risotto at the end.
  • And only added a spritz of lemon juice at the end to taste.

However, without Jamie’s recipe as a starting point I’d have never thought to combine asparagus, mint and lemon together in a risotto.  And you should – it’s divine!

Some lovely friends of ours invited us round for tea last night – a scrumptious Jamie Oliver recipe from his Italy book of Sausages and Green Lentils with Tomato Salsa.  It’s one I’ve been meaning to try for a while…and now we’ve tasted it I’ll definitely be making it myself.

It’s always nice to take a little gift when you go out for dinner, so with the sun shining I headed down the garden to gather a small edible bunch of herbs. 

I collected mint, golden marjoram, rosemary, fennel fronds, flat leaf parsley and some jolly purple chive flowers.  All tied up with some purple raffia it was a simple but pretty gift that not only looked nice but could be used in cooking as well. 

We are off this weekend to visit my family and do some more wedding planning – this weekend ‘food’ is on the agenda.  We want a seasonal May wedding next year so the idea is to go to Stroud Farmer’s Market to see what’s available at the moment and dream up delicious dishes for our wedding feast.

welshrarebit

It seems that Friday night for us is often comfort food night.  We crave all things comforting – curry, pizza, cheese – to name a few.  Healthy eating rarely comes into it.

Last Friday we made an old favourite, one of those recipes that takes you back to your childhood, to meals your granny made as a special treat.  This Friday we made Welsh Rarebit loosely following Jamie Oliver’s instructions from his Jamie at Home book.

The below ingredients are what we used, not an exact replica of Jamie’s recipe as we were lacking in some ingredients and had to improvise – but it still tasted delish!

welshrarebit5

Welsh Rarebit

Enough for 4 large slices

4 thick slices of bread
2 egg yolks
a couple of big handfuls of grated Cheddar cheese
a large teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard
a couple of dashes of Tabasco
about a cup of plain yoghurt and single cream combined (should have been créme fraîche but we didn’t have any)
Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

First you need to preheat your grill to the highest setting so it gets nice and hot – essential for golden bubbling rarebit.

Next, in a bowl mix together the egg yolks, yoghurt, cream, and mustard.  Make sure its well mixed together.

Add some salt and pepper to season, a few big handfuls of grated Cheddar cheese, and a couple of dashes of Tabasco sauce for added bite.  Mix well until it’s all combined – it makes a kind of thick cheesey gloop – not too runny.

welshrarebit2

Lightly toast your thick slices of bread on each side, before spooning over the rarebit mixture.  Make sure it’s nice and thick and right up to the edges of the bread so that it oozes over the sides.

Bung them under the grill and watch them as the cheesey mixture bubbles and starts to turn golden.

As it cooks, the top forms a sort of film.  So once the rarebit’s were starting to go golden brown, we gently used a knife to criss-cross the top, then splashed over some Worcestershire sauce and bunged them under the grill for a little longer.

welshrarebit3

Finally, once they are sufficiently golden brown and with cheese oozing down the sides, remove from the grill.  Repeat the criss-cross pattern with a knife and splash over some more Worcestershire sauce – you need that fruity heat to cut through the overpowering cheesiness.

welshrarebit4

They were scrummy, and would have probably made a lovely meal accompanied by a crisp green garden salad…but this was Friday night and we were craving comfort food, so we ate them just as they were in front of the telly.

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It has been months since N baked homemade bread, but last night, prompted by a cube of fresh yeast, he got baking again.  There was a near disaster at first, when the bread didn’t rise.  We think it’s because the recipe we were following (find it here) called for dry yeast and we used fresh.  On searching the internet I found out you need to use a lot more fresh yeast than dried…so while N started a fresh batch, I searched to find out if we could rescue the original batch.  Turns out you can, thanks to those helpful people on the Jamie Oliver forums.

We ended up with two delicious loaves rather than one, neither of which were disastrous, and in fact were probably the best loaves we’ve made.  We followed the recipe, misting the oven with water and the loaves before popping them in to bake.  It produced the most fantastic crust, so we’ll definitely be using that technique again.

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So, there you have it – my favourite meal…ever: still warm homemade bread smeared (generously, of course) with lightly salted farmhouse butter.  Mmmmm mm.

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*Note: we used white bread flour and didn’t follow the rye flour coating.

Yesterday two of our closest friends came round for lunch.  They are looking for a new house and had been to a viewing in a village nearby – they loved it, so fingers-crossed for them that it all works out.  I decided to go for a simple ploughman’s style lunch so that there was little preparation needed, but that would look and taste delicious.  There is something incredibly satisfying about meals that take little effort.

The one effort we did make was to whip up some homemade chicken liver pate on Friday night.  I have found a lovely little organic deli in Chorlton called Wild At Heart (http://www.wildatheart.uk.com) which sells very reasonably priced organic chicken livers.  This is a great recipe to make for friends and family because it’s simple to make, but looks great and people always seem to be impressed that you actually made pate.  Plus, it tastes fantastic.

We ate our pate on Kaiser Brot from the Barbakan Deli (www.barbakan-deli.co.uk) in Manchester. Our ploughmans included: chicken liver pate, bread, a hunk of Manchego cheese, gerkins, homemade pickled onions, Branston Pickle, pistachio nuts, and thick cut honey roast ham. This was all served with goat’s butter, and small dishes of Dijon and Wholegrain mustard.

homemade chicken liver pate - into the fridge to set

homemade chicken liver pate – into the fridge to set

Chicken Liver Pate

400g butter, softened
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
455g chicken livers, trimmed
1 small bunch of fresh thyme
1 large wineglass of brandy
olive oil
salt and pepper

*Pre-cooking notes: As I’ve probably mentioned before I work more with approximate amounts rather than exact, unless I feel a recipe would really go wrong without using exact measurements. So if you have a little over or under in weight of chicken livers, just bung it all in. I would, however, recommend using the ‘large’ wineglass of brandy – the first time we did, this time we didn’t, and although it still tasted lovely this time it didn’t have that extra kick and depth of flavour.*

In a small pan on a low heat gently melt 150g of the butter until it has melted. Turn off the heat and let it separate into the yellow clarified buter and the white milky liquid at the bottom – it should do this while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

Gently soften the finely chopped onion and garlic in a glug of olive oil in a large frying pan. Make sure it doesn’t brown. When it’s soften, remove to a plate or bowl and wipe the pan clean.

Turn up the heat, add a small glug of olive oil, the fresh thyme leaves and the livers. Make sure the livers cook on one layer until they are lightly coloured but still pink in the middle. If you overcook them you will end up with a grainy texture not smooth.

Next, pour in the brandy. If you are using a gas hob make sure long hair and eyebrows are well clear as it can flame – we had a serious fire ball the first time we made this pate! Simmer for a minute, then take off the heat.

Bung the livers and their juices into a processor along with the onion and garlic. Blitz until you have a smooth purée. Add the remaining softened butter and blitz again. Season the mixture well with salt and pepper, and then push it through a sieve twice before putting it into serving dishes.

Make sure that you smooth the pate out before carefully spooning over the yellow clarified butter from the pan – make sure you don’t get any of the white milkly liquid. I got a bit fancy and carefully arranged some fresh sprigs of thyme on the pate we were going to serve for lunch. Whilst this isn’t necessary, it’s quite fun and looks nice.

Put the pate in the fridge to set – this will take about an hour. The pate can be eaten straight away, or left a couple of days to let the flavours develop. If you don’t break the butter seal they will keep for up to two weeks.

This recipe is taken and slightly adapted from Jamie’s Kitchen by Jamie Oliver (www.jamieoliver.com).

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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