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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Peach Rocket and Corn Wholewheat Pizza

It is no secret that my other half and I enjoy a good pizza. There has been many a night out, hungover Sunday or random Thursday that has ended with two red boxes filled with dough and cheese. I like my pizzas groaning with veggies and chicken, whereas Luke goes for the choice with the most amount of meat piled on top. I think he does this on purpose so I don’t sneak a slice of his. Grr.

Which is why, for the past month, I have teased him with texts, Facebook messages and calls, begging him to let me have a cheat day and order pizza. Yes, that’s right folks. This pudding is most definitely spongy and sadly, on a diet.

After a fabulous birthday weekend in which we ate our way around not one but two cities, we decided to go on the straight and narrow until our holiday in October. After a questionable foray into paleo (what, I can’t eat anything?!) I decided to cut the crap (and the carbs), reduce the dairy intake and hike up the vegetable count. Throw a running challenge into the mix (31 miles this month!) and I think we’re onto a lifestyle winner.

My ad-hoc diet has allowed the odd treat though, and aside from my very restrained way of eating a Crispello (seriously,I still have two pieces in the fridge from like three days ago!) I’ve decided that pizza can occasionally creep onto the menu. Pitching a fruit based pizza to a boy who shudders at the mere thought of a Hawaiian was always going to be tricky, but after two round of this peach-a (boom boom) I think I’m onto a winner.

I added a little wholemeal flour to my favourite pizza dough to make it a tad healthier and I love the result – the earthiness combines so well with piles of peppery rocket and balsamic onions. Fresh corn is always a treat on a pizza and the char-grilled peaches bring a smoky taste to the table. Finished with a dash of spicy chilli flakes, this pizza is worth shelving the diet for – even if it’s just for one cheat day.

Adapted from Shutterbean

You Will Need

For the dough

160g wholewheat bread flour

440g strong white bread flour

¾ tsp salt

¾ tsp sugar

7g sachet of fast-action yeast

335ml tepid water

 

For the toppings

½ red onion, sliced

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1 corn on the cob, kernels removed

1 ripe peach, sliced fairly thinly

1 ½ balls of fresh mozzarella, torn

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

Salt and pepper

Large handful of fresh rocket


In a large bowl, mix together the two flours, salt, sugar and yeast. Pour in all the water and bring together with your hands or a wooden spoon. Turn out onto a clean work surface and quickly knead until the dough is combined. Place dough back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm place for two hours until doubled in size.

After two hours, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two. Leave to rest for a further 30 minutes.

If you want to use the other dough a different day, wrap tightly in clingfilm twice then refrigerate for a day or freeze for up to a month. Remember to rest again before using as freezing can make the dough slightly sticky.

Peach Pizza Ingredients

Preheat an oven to 240oc/220oc fan/ Gas Mark 7. Place the onion slices in a bowl and cover with the balsamic and a drizzle of olive oil and leave to macerate. Place a grill pan over a medium heat and lightly char the peach slices. This step is great for softening under ripe peaches.

Peach Pizza put together

Oil a medium sized baking sheet with the remaining oil and carefully stretch the dough to fill the tray. This will give a deep dish effect, but for a more Italian style, stretch further on a larger pan for a thinner base.On top of the dough, evenly distribute the balsamic onions, torn mozzarella and corn. Arrange the peach slices on top of the pizza and sprinkle over the chilli flakes.

Griddled Peaches and Balsamic Onions

Season and place in the oven for 15-18 minutes until the crust has risen slightly and the cheese is golden. Toss the rocket leaves in the remaining balsamic mixture and place on top of the pizza before serving.

Pumpkin Pie Granola

I am a summer baby. I was born in the midst of a heatwave in July 1990 and despite the sunshine, my mother apparently insisted I was brought home swaddled in a blanket. Ever since then I have craved the sunshine months, of which there are far and few between in Scotland, especially up north in windy Aberdeen. The weather here often teases you – today I went for a run in between bursts of showers, howling wind and blasts of heat from the sun. Yet I wouldn’t change it. I like how summer keeps us on our toes – as long as my beloved T in the Park is drenched in sunshine I will be happy with the longer days, clear skies and a mild temperature.

So it should seem surprising that I am bringing you an autumn inspired post today when I should be grasping the last of summer with my finger tips. But the idea of cranberries, toasty pecans and the warming notes from a smash of spices were too much for this summer baby to resist. I think I may have fallen in love with the amber tones of autumn.

pumpkin pie spice mix

Aberdeen is such a winter city it almost hurts. Because of its proximity to the sea we are often battered with winds, chills and the dreaded May snow. But after a few months of enduring its harshness, I have come to find it slightly endearing. I am starting to find myself looking forward to pumpkin spice lattes, my leather studded boots and my cosy winter coat. So perhaps it isn’t at all strange I want my breakfast to remind me of the weather to come.

It may seem a lot of faff to make your own granola but I promise this recipe will absolutely change your mind. Although the supermarket bags are cheap, a quick scan of the ingredients almost always lists sugar and even worse, palm sugar, near the top. This version omits the need for any sweetener other than the natural taste of honey and the spices and cranberries more than make up for a processed sugary taste. Olive oil may seem a strange replacement for butter, but as Sara adds in her book, the flavour disappears as the granola cooks, leaving the warming scent of pumpkin pie to permeate your kitchen. It may not be autumn yet, but this summer baby is enjoying bowls of this granola in the last of the sunshine.

 

Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook

 

You Will Need

90g pumpkin or butternut squash puree (see tip)

85ml honey

2 ½ tbsp olive oil

¾ tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used Joy the Baker’s recipe)

210g porridge oats

55g pecans, chopped

3 tbsp sesame seeds

Pinch of salt

65g dried cranberries

Making homemade pumpkin puree

Tip: In the UK, canned pumpkin puree can be difficult to find but it is much nicer to skip the preservatives and make your own. Culinary pumpkins aren’t in season yet but butternut squash works just as well. Peel and cut into 1cm cubes, place on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil before placing in a preheated oven at 200oc/180oc/Gas Mark 4. Keep your eye on the pieces and turn as they begin to brown. Once soft, remove from the oven. Measure out 90g and blend in a food processor or using a stick blender then use as required. The remaining pieces are great cold in salads or could be used to make this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.

pumpkin pie granola ingredients

Preheat the oven to 170oc/ 150oc fan/ Gas Mark 3. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, honey, olive oil and pumpkin pie spice.

Mixing Pumpkin Pie Granola

Once combined, add the porridge oats, pecans, sesame seeds and a pinch of salt. Stir until combined and the mixture is wet.

Baking Pumpkin Pie Granola

Spread the mixture on the largest baking sheet you can find and place in the preheated oven. Keep checking every 10 minutes and break up the granola with two forks to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick together. Continue until the granola has been in the oven for around 35 to 45 minutes and feels dry.

Pumpkin Pie Granola Close Up

Remove from the oven and rest for a few minutes before stirring in the cranberry pieces. This will make the berries juicer when served as they soak up the heat from the granola. Once completely cooled, carefully scoop into a 1.5 litre kilner jar and store for 2 -3 weeks.

Pumpkin Pie Granola with Peach Jam and Greek Yoghurt

I am currently enjoying this granola with some low fat Greek yoghurt let down with a little almond milk and a spoonful of my Quick Vanilla Peach Jam. How do you eat yours?

Quick Peach Vanilla Jam with Scone

When I think of making jam, there is just one essential that springs to my mind – the iconic and ridiculously sized berry pan. I have two in my family; one at my Granny’s which used to reside at the top of her kitchen cabinets next to vintage scales and a ‘pig’ hot water bottle before her recent kitchen refit. My Grammy’s pan (her mother’s I believe) now lives at my Mam and Dad’s underneath the hob as a sort of large container for kitchen odds and ends – last time I checked it housed ice lolly moulds and a game for table-top curling. Yet despite their decorative and storage uses, they have helped to make jar after jar of luscious fresh fruit jams, lemonades, a batch of ginger ale and one ingenious use that involved cooking a very large lobster.

I remember a good few summers of jam making with my sister and Granny, lugging plastic punnets up row upon row of strawberry and raspberry plants at Pick Your Own’s in the north-east, sneaking handfuls of Scottish ripened soft fruits into my mouth. The sweetness that comes with the varied seasons – all sun and rain of it – ensure those fat Scottish strawberries will always trounce their sun-soaked sisters in Spain. It almost seems criminal to pour bag upon bag of sugar over the hulled fruit, but as it breaks down and becomes so deliciously jammy, you understand the reasoning behind it. Blipping contentedly as you stir…and stir…and stir some more. But a word of warning – wearing a white t-shirt during this process is ill advised. There is a suitably goofy looking picture of me aged 14 with an even goofier fringe with a big raspberry splatter up my GAP t-shirt. Aprons are advised.

Fresh peaches in a bowl on white background

After all those fond memories of ‘proper jam making’, it seems criminal to throw away the ratios, do away with properly sterilised jars and saucers stacked in the freezer for setting points. To not have jar upon jar stacked in the cupboards like preserved fruit jenga, just waiting to cascade on the floor as you search for the lasagne tin. And to not use those beautiful berry pans that bring back so many memories. But time and space are an issue in this baby sized kitchen I share and so one deeply delicious, seriously satisfying jar of fresh peach jam is just enough to curb the cravings of well set raspberry preserve.

The original recipe I adapted from called for a jam thermometer and a temperature of 190oc to 200oc before taking off the heat, but my digital one refused to go past 90oc. I admit I discarded the thing and played it by ear, added a touch of boiling water when it looked a little dry towards the end. But the end result is still a lusciously thick jam that will fill your kitchen with the summery fragrance of peaches and vanilla. Try smothering on toast, scones or dollop on rice pudding.  With only a shelf life of around two weeks, it doesn’t last long but when jam tastes this good, I promise you will be eating it straight from the jar in no time.

Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen and Shutterbean

You Will Need

600g ripe peaches (around 5-6 will do)

80g granulated sugar

2-3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

½ tsp vanilla paste

Quick Peach Vanilla Jam Ingridents

Remove the stones from the peaches and cut into quarters. Place in a large heavy bottomed pan and add the sugar, 2 tbsp of the orange juice and the vanilla paste. Place over a low to medium heat and stir to combine the ingredients.

Peach Vanilla Jam

Once the juices begin to release, turn up the heat to medium and cook for around 15 minutes. Keep stirring to avoid the sugars catching. The jam should go a deep sunset colour and resemble a puree. If it looks a little dry, add a splash or two of water from a kettle to loosen a little.

Cooling Peach Jam

Towards the end, taste for sweetness – add a little more sugar and the remaining orange juice if you like your jam a little sweeter. You can use a thermometer to check if the jam is ready, which is around 190oc to 200oc. However I took a teaspoonful out and left to rest for around 15 seconds. If it feels jammy to the touch and is holding its shape, it should be ready.

IMG_4593

Remove the pan from the heat and spoon into a clean bowl to cool completely, stirring occasionally to release the steam. Prepare a jam jar by washing then covering in boiling water (this is the quickest way of sterilizing I find). Once the jam is cold, spoon into the clean dried jar and keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Peach Vanilla Jam Close Up