Tag Archives: food photography

Homemade Pizza

We love pizza! It’s definitely one of our favourite treats, and there are some great places in Bristol to get amazing pizza (see our review of The Stable for one example). Sometimes though it’s fun to have a go at making it at home – it’s a great one for when friends come round to dinner as everyone can have a go at making their own. We’ve got a foolproof recipe for pizza dough and some great toppings to share with you.

This recipe for pizza dough makes one medium-sized pizza base – we find that it feeds two people, you can double this up if you’re making 2 pizzas and it still works well. You’ll need:

  • 175 g strong white flour
  • 1 level teaspoon salt
  • 1 level teaspoon easy bake/fast action yeast
  • ½ teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

First, measure out the ingredients into a mixing bowl, being careful to keep the salt and the yeast separate. Make sure the oil is mixed in by rubbing it through the flour with your fingertips – the mixture should be breadcrumb-y. Now make a small well in the mixture and add 120 ml water, and prepare to get messy!

This much!
This much!
It's a messy job, but someone's got to do it...
It’s a messy job, but someone’s got to do it…

Mix the water into the flour to form a wet dough. Once everything has come together, knead it/smack it about a bit on a floured surface. The dough is ready when you can press your thumb into it and it springs back. Now put it aside in an oiled bowl (so that it doesn’t stick to the sides), cover it with cling film and leave it to rise. You want it to roughly double or triple in size, and depending on how warm it is this could take anything from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. If you want it to rise a bit slower you can put it in the fridge.

Knead dough

That’s your base done! I’m afraid we didn’t manage any pizza base acrobatics due to height restrictions in our kitchen (we didn’t want to end up with a dough-splattered ceiling), and instead just stretched out the bases to roughly cover our baking trays.

You can be more creative with your shapes, but we wanted maximum size!
You can be more creative with your shapes, but we wanted maximum size!

Now for the tomato sauce topping. This makes enough for 2 medium sized pizzas. Chop up half a white onion and some garlic and fry in a saucepan over a medium-low heat with some dried herbs (basil, rosemary and thyme work well) for about 10 minutes until the onions are translucent. Then add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Blend this up a bit so that there aren’t any chunks of onion and tomato left.

We’ve used this recipe a couple of times now and it works a treat! Here’s some of the toppings we’ve used, but half the fun is making up your own!

  • Tomato and Parmesan on a pesto base
  • Tomato, green peppers and Parmesan on a tomato base
  • Serrano ham, goats cheese, mozzarella, figs, pine nuts, caramelised onion relish and wilted spinach on a tomato base
  • Artichokes, green pepper, pesto and mozzarella on a tomato base
  • Chorizo, spring onions and Parmesan on a tomato and chipotle chili base (to make this base, just add a heaped teaspoon of chipotle chili paste into some of the tomato sauce)

_MG_2614 _MG_2617

Once you’ve loaded up your pizza, heat up your baking trays in the oven (at about 220°C) – putting the pizzas on a hot base means they go much crispier – and then put the pizzas in for about 12 minutes, or until they start to go nice and golden.

_MG_1998 _MG_2620

We loved all of these, but we had our favourites! Fats reckons you can’t beat the chorizo with the chipotle chili base for sheer spicy-smoky awesomeness, but Bird thought the Serrano ham and figs were about the most indulgently delicious thing that’s ever been on a plate.

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Moroccan Lamb Meatballs

Ah Marrakech! Looking back it was definitely one of the best weekends of our lives, but on first arrival it was shit scary! We landed at about 7pm and because it was March it was pretty dark already. Our riad had organised a taxi driver to meet us, but we couldn’t find him for ages, so it was fully dark by the time we had our stuff in the car and were hurtling along. The rules on the roads in Marrakech seem to be “Whoever is biggest has the right of way” which makes for a pretty hairy ride! Suddenly the taxi pulled over on the main ring road outside the Medina walls and tried to make a phone call. Having failed, and stabbing at his phone again he got out of the taxi to try again. We started to get a little shifty at this point, he’d offered no explanation and we had no idea what was going on.

He got back in the taxi and we asked him (in a mix of not brilliant French and sign language) if we were going to the riad, and he said that he was trying to call the owner but couldn’t reach him (at least that’s what we think he said – at this stage there was a lingering suspicion that he might have been trying to get a good price for us…). Not a great sign. We carried on and were soon in the maze of streets that make up the medina, most of which looked far too small to accommodate a car. After a few wrong turns we ended up parked in the middle of what looked like a small market, where once again the taxi driver got out of the car to make a phone call. The people out on the streets were trying to open the car doors – one of them tried to usher us towards his riad (not ours!) – and we were sufficiently freaked out by this point. Then the car door opened and a there stood Thierry, the owner of the riad! We were so relieved and felt pretty stupid for getting so anxious.

Stepping into the riad we were blown away. After entering through an ancient but unassuming door off a side street suddenly we were in a candlelit courtyard with trees, rooms off each side, a mezzanine level… it was amazing. We were shown around our suite (first time in a suite!) and then taken through to have dinner which was waiting for us.

Bird's eye view of our beautiful riad - can you spot the tortoise?
Bird’s eye view of our beautiful riad – can you spot the tortoise?

After a starter of red pepper and olive salad a beautiful tagine pot came out, containing what we have tried to recreate (fairly successfully!) in this recipe. Juicy little spiced lamb meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce topped with baked egg and served with cous cous.

Ingredients (for 2 hungry people):

  • 250g lamb mince
  • Baharat or Ras el Hanout spice mix
  • 1 small white onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 500g passata
  • 1-3 tsp of harissa – different brands have very different spice levels
  • 2 eggs
  • Cous cous
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Add the sliced onion and pepper to a saucepan over a low heat with a dash of olive oil and leave to soften and sweat down, stirring occasionally. Mix the lamb mince with around 1 heaped tsp of whichever spice mix you are using and about 1/2 tsp of salt, using your hands to really squish it together and distribute the spices around. Then roll into small meatballs, using around 1 tsp of mixture per meatball.

Rotational symmetry optional.
Rotational symmetry optional.

Turn your attention back to the onion and pepper which should be softened by now and add in 1 tsp of the spice mix, the harissa and the passata. Let this heat up and then spread 1 spoonful of it over the base of an ovenproof dish, not much at all, just enough to cover the base. Then add in your meatballs and cover them with the rest of the sauce. Pop this in the oven. Very lightly whisk two eggs with a little salt and pepper, and then once the meatballs have been in the oven for 15 minutes pour this gently over the top. Try to be extremely careful with this or it will fall out in one big blob and won’t cook properly!

Meatball2

Put it back in the oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking and then serve with some lemon cous cous and salad.

Baked meatballs

We made this recipe up after having it that first night in the riad, and we think it’s a pretty successful recreation!

The view from the roof terrace of our riad, one of the best views in Marrakech!
The view from the roof terrace of our riad, one of the best views in Marrakech!

Linguine Amatriciana (Pasta with Bacon and Tomato Sauce)

This recipe is another one of our regulars, it’s very quick and easy – it’s ready in the time it takes for the water to boil and the pasta to cook – and it tastes really fresh. This is our take on an Amatriciana sauce, but using fresh tomatoes instead of tinned.

Ingredients

  • Dried linguine or any other pasta you fancy
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 2 rashers of streaky bacon, cut into small strips
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 300g cherry tomatoes, halved/quartered
  • Dried chilli flakes
  • Fresh basil
Italian essentials - magical ingredients, and so fresh!
Italian essentials – magical ingredients, and so fresh!

Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil. While this is happening sliced the onion and bacon and fry in a large saucepan over a low-medium heat with a tiny bit of olive oil. Once the water is at a rolling boil put in a pinch of salt and add the pasta. Add about 200g of the halved cherry tomatoes to the pan with the garlic and however much chilli you fancy – we used around 1 tsp. The remainder of the tomatoes will go in right at the end to give a lovely fresh burst of flavour. Take a spoonful of the pasta water and add it to the sauce to help the tomatoes squash down and get all saucy and delicious!

Bacon in Pan

Amatriciana sauce

Once the pasta is almost cooked chuck in the rest of the cherry tomatoes and most of the basil leaves finely chopped, and then add the drained pasta to the sauce so that it really coats it. Serve this with the rest of the basil leaves on top and then add parmesan if you wish (we do, of there is ever an option to add parmesan to something we’ll take it!).

Mix it up proper - the pasta water will help the sauce go silky smooth
Mix it up proper – the pasta water will help the sauce go silky smooth

This recipe is perfect for a work night, as it’s so quick and simple, and tastes so fresh.  For added refreshment, serve with a cold glass of white wine if you have some lying around.

Stop the clock! About 12 minutes?
Stop the clock! About 12 minutes?

Baked Plums with Vanilla Cream

We’ve been pretty crazy for desserts recently, and in celebration of the return to our televisions of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry (yes, we’re Bake Off nerds – are you surprised?) we thought we’d post another sweet recipe. This recipe for baked plums is criminally easy, quick and absolutely delicious.

Start off by preheating the oven to 170°C.  Halve your plums and take out the stones then place them on a baking sheet, flat side up.  Pile them up with a small knob of butter and heaped teaspoon of brown sugar.  Once the oven has heated up, put them in – they should take about 10 minutes.

Pile it up! It's still a portion of fruit, right?
Pile it up! It’s still a portion of fruit, right?

You’ll just have time to softly whip some double cream (about 100 ml for two people) to serve it with.  Once whipped, fold in 1 tsp icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Not exactly a healthy lunchbox snack anymore!
Not exactly a healthy lunchbox snack anymore!

Serve the warm plums with the cream on top – it will start to melt straight away so eat it quickly!  We had some meringues lying around which we crushed over the top, but a great alternative would be ginger biscuits.

We hope you enjoy this one! Hopefully it will get you through the long week’s wait before the next installment of the Great British Bake Off. Do you have a favourite yet?

Quinoa Stuffed Vegetables

Quinoa. Not particularly new but new to us. We bought a bag recently as we hadn’t cooked with it before and wanted to experiment so we thought we would share one of those experiments with you! This recipe is great because it’s really flexible, you can use whatever you have lying around and give it a completely different spin with different herbs and spices and it can easily be turned into a vegetarian or vegan meal.  Here, we’re going for an Italian style with copious parmesan and a delicious and very pine nutty pesto.

Ingredients (for 2 people):

  • 100g quinoa
  • 500ml of stock – chicken or vegetable
  • 1/2 a white onion – finely diced
  • 1 small courgette – finely diced
  • 1 rasher of smoked bacon – diced
  • Fresh thyme (but dried would be fine too)
  • A selection of stuffable vegetables – we used red and green peppers and Portobello mushrooms
  • Parmesan
  • 30g pine nuts
  • A large handful of fresh basil leaves – finely chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salad to serve

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Put the onion and courgette in a small saucepan with a lug of olive oil and leave over a low heat to soften, stirring occasionally. After around 5 minutes when they have begun to soften and become translucent add the diced bacon, and continue to gently cook for another 5-10 minutes. Rinse the quinoa and then add to the pan along with the stock, stir and put a lid on the pan. This needs to cook for about 20 minutes – remove the lid after 10 minutes so that all the stock is absorbed/evaporates and the grains of quinoa are slightly separated.

While the quinoa is cooking toast the pine nuts until lightly coloured and then crush half of them in a pestle and mortar to a rough powder. Add the basil to this, along with freshly grated parmesan (about 1 tbsp), the juice of half a lemon and a good lug of olive oil. Mix this together to form a thick pesto-like paste.

Not as attractive as the stuff from a jar but a damn sight tastier!
Not as attractive as the stuff from a jar but a damn sight tastier!

Once the quinoa is nearly cooked prepare your vegetables by removing the stalks from the mushrooms, cutting the peppers in half and pulling out the seeds. Place these on a baking tray. Mix the remaining pine nuts into the quinoa with the pesto mixture, reserving a few pine nuts to scatter on top.

We're suckers for heavy parmesan use.
We’re suckers for heavy parmesan use.

Stuff this mixture into the vegetables, top with the remaining pine nuts and a liberal dusting of grated parmesan. Put into the oven for about 30 minutes and serve with salad.

Finished Quinoa Veg
We can’t wait to try this recipe a few different ways, perhaps with a Greek twist (feta and olives) or a Moroccan one (harissa and lamb mince).

Glazed Mango and Coconut

It’s been a long week. It’s been raining, windy and we had the Thursday blues… we needed dessert! Time for an indulgent, exotic treat. We had Thai food last night (as our Instagram followers will know) so wanted a dessert which fitted in with this, and after some conspiring over the phone on our walks home from work we came up with a mango-y, yoghurt-y, coconut-y kinda thing. We didn’t really have a clue how it would turn out but we have a rule – if all nice things go in then you’ll end up with something nice!

Preheat the oven to around 150°C and once it’s heated up put some flaked coconut (not desiccated!) in a small roasting dish and whack it in the oven. You want it to be lightly golden in places by the end so keep an eye on it and mix it around every few minutes as it toasts quickly.

While it’s toasting take the cheeks off the mango. A mango stone is pretty flat which means either side there are lovely big hunks of mango which come off neatly like so:

Mango slice

Then go to town hacking up as much of the rest of the mango as you can, making sure you remove the skin on these pieces too. Once you’ve done this put all of the little pieces (not the cheeks) in a blender and whizz up with a bit of water until you have a rough puree. Then heat a griddle pan, and after lightly dusting the cheeks with icing sugar to help with the caramelisation, put the cheeks cut side down into the pan. This should take around 5 minutes on a medium to high heat, try not to check them too often as you want beautiful lines, but do keep an eye. Once it’s cooked put it on a clean surface to cool down for a few minutes and do the same with the toasted coconut.

Dust mango

Mango cook

Cooked mango

Then it’s time to put it all together! Grab a few spoonfuls of natural or greek yoghurt in a bowl and lightly ripple about half of the mango puree through it. Place the caramelised mango on the yoghurt, spoon over the rest of the puree and top with the crunchy toasted coconut.

Mango and coconut dessert
Just what we needed to brighten up a wet Thursday!

Moroccan Lamb Steaks

Earlier this year Bird and I took a trip to Morocco and were absolutely blown away by the food!  This lamb dish uses harissa and ras el-hanout to evoke the flavours of Marrakech.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 lamb steaks (we used boneless leg steaks)
  • About 200g couscous
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 pepper
  • ½ red onion
  • ½ lemon
  • ~2 tsp harissa paste (to taste – different brands have different intensities)
  • 2 tsp ras el hanout
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Firstly, mix together the harissa paste, 1 tsp of the ras el hanout, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper, and just enough olive oil to make a sauce, and use this to marinate the lamb.  We left our lamb steaks to marinate for about 2 hours.  While the lamb is marinating, chop up the veg and put it in an oven dish along with a good drizzle of olive oil, the rest of the ras el hanout and some seasoning.  Put this in the oven to roast for about 45 minutes.

Fats Possibly my favourite piece of cookware!
Fats Possibly my favourite piece of cookware!

When the veg has about 15 minutes left to roast, put a griddle pan onto a high heat.  Once it has heated up, put the lamb steaks in.  Be careful not to move them around too much while they’re cooking, as you want nice char-grilled lines on your steak from the griddle pan – they don’t just look good!  Depending on the thickness of your meat a nicely blushing steak will take between 3 and 5 minutes per side, adding on a couple of minutes per side for a well done steak. Leave the steaks to rest for a couple of minutes once they’re done.

It's such a shame the smell of the ras el hanout doesn't make it across the interweb
It’s such a shame the smell of the ras el hanout doesn’t make it across the interweb

Lastly, cook the couscous – about the same volume of water to couscous, and squeeze half the lemon in for a bit of flavour.  Cover it to keep the steam in once the water has been added, and when it is done run a fork through it to lighten it up a bit.

Moroccan Lamb Done

That’s pretty much all there is to it!  We fell in love with the smells and tastes of Marrakech, and this takes us right back there.  We have a few more Moroccan dishes up our sleeves, and can’t wait to share them with everyone.

Nothing can prepare you for the streets of Marrakech.  We'll be back!
Nothing can prepare you for the streets of Marrakech. We’ll be back!

Salmon and Asparagus Traybake

Fish again! This recipe is taken from an old Jamie Oliver book (we think) which has been adapted over time. Bird first had it at her step-grandmothers which was great, but there was definite room for improvement. It’s nearly a one-pan wonder, it’s really good for you and pretty quick too.

Ingredients:

  • New potatoes – we use about 400-500g for 2 people
  • Salmon fillets
  • Asparagus or fine beans – about 200g
  • Cherry/baby plum tomatoes – a large handful
  • Olives (we like kalamata best) – a handful
  • 1 lemon
  • A small handful of basil leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Start off by parboiling some new potatoes by putting them in cold water, bringing them to the boil and then letting them cook for just a few minutes. You should never parboil by putting potatoes into already boiling water – this makes the outside go mushy while the inside stays completely raw – you want them to heat up with the water. While they are coming to the boil preheat the oven to 200°C. Drain the potatoes and then let them sit for a minute in the sieve/colander so that as much water as possible evaporates ensuring you end up with crispy skins. While this is happening pop a large roasting dish with a glug of olive oil and some seasoning into the oven. After a few minutes take the dish out of the oven, throw the potatoes in (be careful of the hot oil), mix them around so they are coated in the seasoned oil and put the tray back in the oven. If you want to you can add herbs at this stage – rosemary or thyme would be particularly nice – but you don’t need them, there are enough flavours in the rest of the dish.

Potatoes!
Potatoes!

It will take around 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are nice and crispy and the rest of the dish cooks in the last 10 minutes so now you can go and chill out for a bit/crack open the white wine.

Suitably refreshed, saunter back to the kitchen and snap the woody ends off a pack of asparagus and add to a bowl along with a large handful of cherry or baby plum tomatoes, as many olives as you like, about 6-10 roughly shredded fresh basil leaves, the juice of half a lemon, a glug of olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix this all around and then you’re ready to go!

Watch as Bird magically heals an asparagus stem!
Watch as Bird magically heals an asparagus stem!
So fresh and appetising
So fresh and appetising

Take the roasting dish out of the oven and move the potatoes over to one side. Lay the salmon fillets skin side down on the roasting tin and then pour the asparagus mixture over the top of the salmon as shown below.

Salmon and potatoes

Chuck the veg all over!
Chuck the veg all over!

Roast with the potatoes for 10 minutes and this is what you end up with:

The finished article! Especially good earlier in the year in asparagus season
The finished article! Especially good earlier in the year in asparagus season

If you can’t find asparagus (or you just don’t like it) the original recipe used fine beans so feel free to use these. Remember they will need parboiling first so they’re not undercooked and crunchy (how Bird first experienced them!).

Our Sweet Weekend

It’s been a busy weekend for us, but most of our activities seemed to involve eating and drinking! We just thought we’d post a few photos of our creations and discoveries.

In a fit of excitement over the return of The Great British Bake Off (10 more sleeps!), we baked some delicious blueberry muffins from a classic Mary Berry recipe.  Bezza never disappoints, and these muffins were a doddle to knock up and absolutely delicious.  Traditionally served for breakfast but perfect any time with a good cup of tea (we made Irish Breakfast – a bit stronger than English Breakfast.  Thanks Ireland!).

More muffins

Blueberry Muffins

Bristol has some amazing green spaces, and it’s great to see some covered in wild flowers – perfect for bees and butterflies!  This photo was taken in Castle Park in central Bristol.

shot_1376130507848

I went for a bike ride down to Chew Valley reservoir on Sunday morning and when I got back this delicious macaron was waiting for me!  Bird had picked it up after ballet from Crumpet Cakes at the Tobacco Factory Market.  This one was espresso flavoured, we also had lemon and a stunning raspberry and white chocolate.

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Finally it would be a crime to forget about the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.  It’s been on since Thursday and twice a day we have had a multitude of balloons flying over our house.  Here’s a snap of our favourite!

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Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Mini Apple Crumbles

We love dessert, but then who doesn’t? Sometimes when you get home from work though cooking dinner feels like enough effort, and dessert seems like just too much bother for a weeknight. It doesn’t have to be! This apple crumble is so easy to put together and then gives you about thirty minutes to relax with a coffee or a glass of wine while it cooks and you end up with a simple, comforting pudding to round off your meal.

All you need for this is 1 apple (cooking apples work best but we’ve used different varieties before and they’re all fine), flour, butter and sugar. Everything else is optional, we added some oats and a little cinnamon to our crumble topping but you can make it as simple or complex as you like. You could use almost any fruit for this, or even a mix – apple and blackberry, raspberries, pears, peaches – you name it, you can crumble it!

Preheat the oven to 170°C. To make the crumble topping simply rub plain white flour into around 2 tbsp of butter until you have a large breadcrumb consistency. You don’t want to add too much flour, this is a more buttery mixture so some larger lumps are normal. To this add a couple of tbsp of sugar, we wanted ours quite sweet to contrast with the tart apples but if you were using a sweeter fruit then maybe tone down the sugar a bit. We then added a handful of oats and around 1/2 tsp of cinnamon because it works beautifully with apples. That’s the topping done!

Don't worry about those lumps... it's buttery goodness!
Don’t worry about those lumps… it’s buttery goodness!

So just chop the fruit into a medium dice, coat with a little sugar if it’s a tart fruit and place in ramekins – you want it to be at least 2/3 of the way up, it will shrink down a lot when cooked. Sprinkle your crumble topping on top, we pile ours high! Put it on a baking tray and in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the top is golden-brown. Let it cool for a moment and then tuck in.

Crumbly mountains
Crumbly mountains

This would have been even better with some cream or ice cream but it was a pretty spontaneous dessert so we didn’t have any in. Give it a try for an indulgent moment with minimal effort.

We had ours after bangers and mash... what will you have yours after?
We had ours after bangers and mash… what will you have yours after?