Toss It Like a Pizzariolo

When I first read this month Daring Bakers' challenge my heart sunk, we had to make a pizza from scratch? I have got to come out with it straight away: I DO NOT like pizzas, it is not that I don't eat them, I just don't see the point. He, on the other hand, makes the best pizza this side of Italy, friends turn to foes when they admit that one of the most memorable thing on the menu are his pizzas.

There was only one thing for it, follow Rosa's-this month perfect hostess- instructions. The recipe is from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. the recipe uses cold fermentation for the pizza dough, which means that it has to be done over 2 days and a tossy-tossy in the air method to shape the lot. The topping is a free for all.
Over 1,000 Daring Bakers were participating, I intended to do my best but I am afraid to say that I have to hang my head in shame on this one, I made a right pig's ear of it:
a) I manage to delete the video of the "tossy-tossy" moment.
b) I forgot all about the topping so no preparation = plonking all what is suitable from the cupboard and the fridge on the top.
c) I did not use a pizza stone.
And you know what despite all this bashing the recipe, the result was pleasant to the palate and it was rather fun to do, so have a go if you have not yet, as for me I look forward to the next challenge.

Pumpkin Bread

If you don't go pumpkin mad now then there is a chance "the crazy wind" won't get you. As for me I have been blown away by a pumpkin craze. I even make my pumpkin bread shaped like one.

Pay attention this is the scientific bit: the pumpkin puree replaces most of the liquid in this recipe. This results in a flavoursome, moist loaf
350g Pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and chopped
25g butter
1 small onion finely chopped
15g Fresh yeast (or dried yeast according to the packet instruction)
1 tsp Unrefined brown sugar
450g wholemeal flour
1 tsp salt
Egg for glaze
Steam the pumpkin for 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain and reserve 50ml of the cooking liquid. Puree in a liquidizer.
Melt the butter and saute the onion until transparent.
Mix the yeast, reserved cooking liquid and sugar together and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes until frothy.
Combine the flour and salt. Add the yeast liquid, pumpkin puree and onion and mix to a soft dough. Knead for 8-10 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Cut off a small piece of dough (about 25g)
Shape the remaining dough into a neat round and place on an oiled baking tray. Shape the mall portion of dough into a 5 cm squashed ball and press on to the center of the round.
Cover with oiled polythene and leave in a warm place until double in size- about 45 minutes
With a sharp knife, make cuts in the dough all the way round to resemble a pumpkin.
Brush the dough with egg glaze and bake at 220C/gas mark 7 for 35-40 minutes. Cool on a wire tray.
Serve with a lovely Pumpkin soup and shrimps
Make one loaf- recipe from Cranks Breads & Teacakes

Soup of the Week: Cream of Pumpkin and Shrimps

My best friends are visiting this week end and of course I wanted to have something nice, ready for when they arrive after a long drive all the way from France, Galvanised into action by a Reader's comment, I decided to keep up with Soup of the Week and what a better time then Serge and Pat's arrival.
this soup is from "French Provincial Cooking" by Elizabeth David, so easy to do:

Serves 6
  • 900g of sliced pumpkin
  • 1 stick of celery chopped (I omitted that : a matter of taste)
  • 900ml milk, boile
  • 570ml (1 pint) mild stock or water
  • salt and pepper
  • 100g peeled prawns or shrimps
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
    50g butter

Put the pumpkin and celery in a heavy-bottomed pan with the milk and stock, and season with salt and pepper. Leave to simmer for about 30 minutes until the pumpkin is tender. Puree and sieve into a clean pan.
Meanwhile pound the prawns or shrimps with the lemon juice. dilute with a little of the pumpkin puree, an add this back in the soup. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, sieve again, adjust the seasoning.
This soup will spoil if it is not eaten within 24 hours of making.

Pumpkin Recipe

We never have enough Pumpkin recipes, here is one that is very quick and tastes really lovely
"Honey-glazed pumpkin with spices"

700g pumpkin flesh, with skin and seeds removed
50g butter
2-3 tablespoons runny honey
3-4 cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne
a small bunch f fresh coriander finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

an ovenproof baking dish
Preheat the over 180C/gas 4. Put the pumpkin in a steamer and cook for about 10 minutes, until the flesh is tender but still firm. Tip the steamed flesh into an ovenproof dish.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the honey. Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves, ground ginger and cayenne and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the pumpkin then bake in the preheated over for 15-20 minutes.
Tip the glazed pumpkin onto a serving plate, remove the cinnamon and cloves, then sprinkle with the coriander. Serve warm as a side dis to roasted and grilled chicken or meat.

top picture from kwickEcards

Mushrooms Foray

A couple of years back as I was despairing at my lack of knowledge regarding mushrooms, I contacted "Friends of the park", and ask them if they could organise some kind of walk, then you know what....I forgot all about it. So a few month back, when I was grumping again about my lack of fungi appreciation, he reminded me of my request, not only that but apparently, the walks were very popular.
So I had started something which had grown without me, it was about time to check it out. I trotted up the hill and met up with a good size group, off we went and to my amazement the park is full of mushrooms, if you know where to look, even more amazing you are not suppose to pick them up in order to throw them in your frying pan, we were told that anyway it was not worth it and supermarket provided perfectly adequate crops. I was not going to argue as the guide though friendly looked rather fierce and overwhelmed by the strangest of all these mushrooms, I could not really remember which ones were edible and which ones were not....I had already forgotten. I wrote some down to share with you though, here is my virtual crop.

a young fungus and then the same a few days older, would have been nice to have taken correct notes, I thought this was an artist fungus and checked for accuracy but it does not look like it is at all. A guess anyone?

Honey Mushroom, These lives in colony and can spread over 8 kilometers or thereabout making it the largest living organism in the world, can you imagine?

and for my favorite:
Beefsteak mushroom

It remains to give you a recipe but today I will let you roam a site I came by some months back which I really need to share with you because it is a mine of cooking info: The Mushroom Bureau

Chicken, Mango and Helicopter

It is very good to be seating back, nattering away, I have been a bit tied up with deadlines lately. I got my first "properly" paid commission, it IS fantastic to be paid for writing, long may it continue. In the meantime what is the connection between

a chicken and a mango.

None is the answer,

except that somehow they all entered my life on the same day and what a day. He offered me an helicopter ride, Bestest present. Helicopters fly very low, it is a little scary to start with, but so much fun and from a view point, it is amazing, all the familiar landmarks as never seen before,

I even saw home:

With all the excitement, planning what to cook had gone out of the window; so when my head landed which was long after my body had done so, I was contemplating some chicken and a mango.

I asked Google for help, and help I got. There are over 80 pages of recipes. I plonked for the very first Chicken/Mango recipe with great results. Unfortunately my brain was still floating in the sky and plates were in the dishwasher when I remembered you, lovely readers, but it was by then far too late for the traditional "photo-plate".

Soup of the week : Lamb and Fusilli soup

Soups and Breads by Jane Price contains a classic collection of recipes from around the globe. When I first saw this book, I turned green with envy; this is the book I'd promised myself to write . . . one day. This is a stylish, beautiful book, a perfect present.
As soon as you open it, you want to flick through to take in all the photographs. The photography is faultless, inspiring, the kind of pictures that make you think: “Hmmm, I am going to make this.” Soups are often thought as a compulsory winter starter, here to fill you up and that’s it.
Jane Price throw a very different light on the subject, her collection of soups covers an array of occasions from meals in a bowl to snazzy dinner-party dishes. The variety goes further, with recipes from around the world, all the classics under one roof - from Won Ton Soup to Harira via New England Clam Chowder, 250 pages of delicious ideas that can’t fail. There is little or no blurb, the focus is recipes and what they look like when made. A bread section adds to the pleasure. If the other titles in the series are as good a this, we indeed have “Kitchen Classics.”
Lamb and Fusilli Soup
2 tbs oil
500g lean lamb meat, cubed
2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots dice
4 celery stalks, diced
425g tinned crushed tomatoes
2 litres beef stock
500g fusilli
chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the cubed lamb, in batches until golden brown. Remove each batch as it is done and drain on paper towel. Set aside.
Add the onion to the pan an cook for 2 minutes or until softened.
Return the meat to the pan, add the carrot, celery, tomato and beef stock. Stir to combine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add the fusilli and stir to prevent the pasta from sticking to the pan. Simmer, uncovered, for a further 10 minutes, or until the lamb and pasta are tender. Sprinkle with parsley before serving
serves 6-8 cooking time 40 minutes


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