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It is so warm at the moment that we are enjoying lots of meals eaten in the garden.  We have a tiny little red metal table and two chairs, providing just enough space to squeeze on dinner for two.

Tonight we ate crusty bread…thin slices of French sausisson…fat pieces of Parma ham…my favourite cheese at the moment Brebirousse

…and a bowl of warm tomatoes with torn chunks of milky buffalo mozzarella and drizzled with lots of extra virgin olive oil and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar.

Simple food is always good food.

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As a child courgettes were one of the vegetables I loathed.  I remember them cut in thick slices and cooked until slightly soft and mushy.  They were gross.

Now I have a much better relationship with courgettes, I have found ways in which to eat and cook them which have made me fall in love with them.  Courgettes are starting to ripen and I picked up a couple from Little Heath Farm that had been grown by a local lady with a large garden.  There was a perfectly formed round yellow courgette which I couldn’t resist, and chose a couple of green ones as well.  With some delicious French chevre cheese in the fridge along with a pack of Parma ham, a simple egg dinner was dreamt up – a frittata (fantastic as a store cupboard meal for those evenings when you can’t think what else to cook) with courgette, goat’s cheese and shreds of salty ham.

I’ve got another lovely courgette dish that I’ll post soon – semi-dried courgette and chilli pasta.

Here’s how to make it…

Soften half an onion in a little butter and oil.  Next, grate up your courgettes and pop them into the pan.

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There’s quite a bit of water in the courgettes, so let it cook out and then continue to saute the courgette until all the liquid has disappeared – a beautiful smell will start to waft up and fill your nostrils.  Then you know it’s ready.

Whisk up a couple of eggs (I used four for two of us) and season well with ground pepper and salt…

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Pour the beaten eggs into the pan with the courgette and onion mixture.  Crumble over the goat’s cheese…

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Finally shred over the Parma ham and bung in the oven for about 15 minutes until cooked.

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I find the frittata is best left for 10-15 minutes before eating, more of the flavours come through than when it’s piping hot.

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Now here’s the recipe for anyone who fancies making it for themselves.

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Courgette, goat’s cheese and Parma ham frittata

Feeds two hungry people

4 eggs
1/2 onion, diced
2 courgettes (1 green, 1 yellow)
1/2 slice of goat’s cheese
a couple of slices of Parma ham, torn into pieces
salt
pepper

*Please note, ideally you need a pan with a metal handle that can go into the oven – if you don’t, you will need to pop it under the grill rather than in the oven.

Preheat the oven to about 200°C.

In a pan, heat a little butter and olive oil and saute the chopped onion until soft.

Grate the courgettes and add to the softened onion.  Cook the courgettes – water will come out of them, so just keep cooking them gently until it all disappears and it starts to smell nice.

Beat the egg and season well with salt and pepper.  Tip the egg into the pan with the courgettes and onion and keep on a medium heat while you crumble over the goat’s cheese and add the torn Parma ham.

Turn off the heat and bung the pan into the oven for about 15 minutes until nicely golden on top and cooked through.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little (about 10-15 minutes).  Cut into wedges and serve on its own or with a garden fresh green salad.

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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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