Justin doesn’t normally get involved with the Thursday recipes – well, apart from taking the photos! However, this week, he’s actually done the cooking too. Don’t worry though, you’re in safe hands – as he was a chef for about 15 years before re-inventing himself as Mr H is for Home – and he does most of the savoury dishes in our household anyway.
We mentioned this lovely all-purpose tomato sauce in last week’s pizza post. Most people list tinned tomatoes in their store cupboard essentials, but we always have batches of this home-made tomato sauce in the fridge or freezer.
It’s quick – only taking about an hour – and very straightforward too.
It’s so flexible. The addition of ground black pepper and Parmesan makes for a simple yet delicious pasta sauce. It also provides the base for a myriad of other recipes. You can add all sorts of ingredients to it for some wonderful dishes – meatballs, chicken, fish, olives, roasted aubergines & peppers to name but a few. If you reduce it down and concentrate it a little further it makes the perfect tomato sauce for pizza topping. The recipe can be scaled up to suit requirements. You can also tweek quantities to suit your own taste – more garlicky, more olive oily etc… and add other herbs if you like too.
We make up a batch of home-made tomato sauce every few weeks and put a couple of two-portion containers into the freezer – ready to grab as required.
Click here to pin the recipe for later!
Lidl had a ‘Taste of Italy‘ special this week so I stocked up on a few Mediterranean bits & bobs when I popped in. I bought a couple of tubs of ricotta, not quite knowing what I was going to do with them. Of course… Italian Cheesecake!
I fancied making it with a crunchy base using amaretti biscuits but I couldn’t find any in the shops. No need to panic, I improvised and made my own almond crumb base.
I’ve made a fair few different cheesecakes in the past. I think this is almost up there with the all-time favourite Gordon Ramsey version.
It’s best served cold, straight from the fridge, perhaps with an after-dinner espresso.
Fancy giving it a try? Pin the recipe for later!
It’s Easter week, so we thought that we should make something that’s traditionally eaten at this time of year for this edition of Cakes & Bakes.
We plumped for Crescia – an Italian cheese loaf.
You can use any hard cheese – parmesan, pecorino and so on.
The dough is simple to make and easy to handle.
It’s baked in a tall tin so it has a distinctive shape like panettone – the smell as it cooked was amazing!
A very handsome loaf wouldn’t you agree?
The bread is light and airy with a wonderful flavour. It’s traditionally eaten with cold meats. I’m vegetarian, but Justin volunteered to test this combination and tried it with some of his fennel salami – a perfect match he thought. It also works really well with various cheeses, olives, marinated vegetables, oil & balsamic vinegar etc, etc, etc.
We can highly recommend this loaf – and we certainly won’t be waiting till next Easter to make another one!
You can pin the recipe from here to try later!
It’s pizza for this week’s Cakes & Bakes. We’ve got a great pizzeria here in Todmorden – and we certainly can’t match their huge, wood fired oven… but we like to eat it in the house sometimes too!
A very simple list of ingredients for the dough.
With sub zero temperatures outside, the yeast mixture found the perfect place to come to life beside the fire.
The dough is simple to make and easy to work with.
Size and thickness is a matter of personal choice. In this house, Adelle has deep pan tendencies – Justin is a more thin & crispy kinda guy!
We rustled up a lovely tomato sauce. Olive oil, garlic, tomatoes & basil – cooked through, seasoned, reduced and strained.
This sauce was spread evenly over the pizza dough. Adelle then added roast aubergine, mozzarella and olives. Justin very similar, but he substituted Gruyère cheese for the mozzarella and also added red onion.
Both turned out very well – delicious in fact. We’ll continue experimenting with dough thickness, toppings and oven temperatures ’til we have absolute perfection!
I’m chuffed with my ciabatta! It was my first ever attempt and I think the loaves turned out really well!
I used a recipe from one of my favourite baking books, Bread by Christine Ingram & Jennie Shapter. If you’d like to try making this one yourself, I’ve listed the recipe at the end of this post.
There’s always a little ‘hold your breath’ moment as you cut the first slice and have a look at the crumb. Proper, big ciabatta holes!
I had a few slices, fresh from the oven, with a handful of watercress and East Lee soft cheese made locally by the Pextenement Cheese Company… Justin had his with the slightly less healthy option for his Sunday brunch – fried eggs with pork & chive sausages – but it was all local produce too – and delicious he said.
For the biga starter
7g/¼ oz fresh yeast
175-200ml/6-7fl oz/¾-scant cup lukewarm water
350g/12 oz/3 cups unbleached plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
For the dough
15g/½ oz fresh yeast
400ml/14fl oz/1⅔ cups lukewarm water
60ml/4 tbsp lukewarm milk
500g/1¼ lb/5 cups unbleached white bread flour
10ml/3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Makes 3 loaves
- Cream the yeast for the biga starter with a little of the water. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Gradually mix in the yeast mixture and sufficient of the remaining water to form a firm dough.
- Turn out the biga starter dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 12-15 hours or until the dough has risen and is starting to collapse.
- Sprinkle 3 baking sheets with flour. Mix the yeast for the dough with a little of the water until creamy, then mix in the remainder. Add the yeast mixture to the biga and gradually mix in.
- Mix the milk, beating thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Using your hand, gradually beat in the flour, lifting the dough as you mix. Mixing the dough will take 15 minutes or more and form a very wet mix, impossible to knead on a work surface.
- Beat in the salt and olive oil. Cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1½-2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
- With a spoon, carefully tip one third of the dough at a time on to the baking sheets without knocking back the dough in the process.
- 7 Using floured hands, shape into rough, oblong loaf shapes, about 2.5cm/1” thick. Flatten slightly with splayed fingers. Sprinkle with flour and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas mark 7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and sounding hollow when tapped on the base. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.