November 28, 2010

Goat’s Cheese, Honey and Walnut Pizza

Whenever I go to a restaurant/café and I eat something that I really like, I then want to try to make the recipe myself at home. While at the restaurant, I pay careful attention to the menu to know what ingredients were used to make that recipe, and as soon as I get back home, I scribble down notes and ingredients. When I then try to cook the recipe, it sometimes work very well or sometimes it looks and tastes anything but like the dish I had at the restaurant. In any case, I often find that eating out is a great source of inspiration. It gives me ideas for presentation, or to try ingredients I rarely use.

Last summer, we had dinner once in a pizzeria, and I had that wonderful pizza mixing sweet and savoury flavours. I think I’ve already told you that I especially like cheese with something sweet such as jam or honey, like in this recipe.

My pizza tasted slightly different to the one I had at the restaurant but I was nonetheless very happy with the result. For the dough, I followed a recipe given by Jamie Oliver in his book Jamie’s Italy. Until recently, I never had a go at making pizza dough myself, but since I have realised how easy it is, I surely won’t go back to non-homemade pizza dough.

Winter is definitely on its way. We haven’t had snow yet in Exeter (doesn’t happen often), but parts of the country are covered in snow. Here is a last autumn-inspired recipe, before I talk to you more about Christmas and the cold season coming.

Goat’s Cheese, Honey and Walnut Pizza – for 1 pizza

  • • 250g strong white bread flour
  • • ¼ tsp salt
  • • ½ sachet (7g) dried yeast
  • • 1tsp golden caster sugar
  • • 160ml lukewarm water
  • • 150ml crème fraîche
  • • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • • 100g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled
  • • A handful of walnuts
  • • Black pepper
  • • 2tbsp honey
  • • A knob of butter

  • 1. To make the dough, put the flour on to a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water, mix up with a fork and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork and circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix to the water. Continue to mix bringing in all the flour. When the dough comes together, flour your hands and begin to pat it into a ball. Knead the dough for about 10min until you have a smooth springy soft dough. Put in a bowl, cover it with cling film and let it rest at room temperature for at least 15min.
  • 2. Roll the pizza out into a rough circle about 0.5cm thick. Preheat the oven to 250°C. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add your onions and cook until soft and golden.
  • 3. Spread the crème fraîche on the pizza dough. Top up with the onions, goat’s cheese and walnuts. Finish by seasoning with black pepper and by drizzling the honey over the pizza.
  • 4. Cook in the oven for 10-15min until nicely golden.

  • Pizza au Chèvre, Miel et Noix – pour 1 pizza
  • • 250g de farine à pain
  • • ¼ cc de sel
  • • ½ sachet (7g) de levure déshydratée
  • • 1cc de sucre brun
  • • 160ml d’eau tiède
  • • 150ml de crème fraîche
  • • 2 oignons, pelés et hachés
  • • 100g de fromage de chèvre frais, en petit morceaux
  • • 1 poignée de noix
  • • Poivre noir
  • • 2cs de miel
  • • 1 noix de beurre

  • 1. Pour faire la pâte, mettre la farine sur un plan de travail et faire un puits au centre. Mélanger la levure et le sucre avec l’eau tiède à l’aide d’une fourchette, laisser de côté quelques minutes puis verser dans le puits. A l’aide d’une fourchette, faire un mouvement circulaire pour ramener la farine vers le centre et la mélanger à l’eau. Lorsque la farine et le mélange eau-levure sont bien mélangés, fariner ses mains et faire une boule de pâte. Pétrir la pâte pendant environ 10min jusqu’à obtenir une pâte souple et lisse. Mettre dans un bol, recouvrir de film plastique et laisser à température ambiante pendant au moins 15min.
  • 2. Etaler la pâte en un cercle d’une épaisseur de 0,5 cm. Préchauffer le four à 250°C. Faire fondre le beurre dans une casserole, ajouter les oignons et faire cuire jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient dorés.
  • 3. Etaler la crème fraîche sur la pâte à pizza et ajouter les oignons, le fromage de chèvre et les noix. Finir par assaisonner avec du poivre noir et du miel.
  • 4. Enfourner pour 10-15min jusqu’à ce que la pizza soit dorée.
  • November 23, 2010

    London

    Guess where we went to? The pictures speak for themselves!

    We finally decided to explore the capital. Over the past years, I have been through London many times, but had never visited the city. The last time I spent a bit of time exploring it was when I was 12 on a school trip. It was time to go again.

    We spent the day walking around famous tourist sites, soaking the atmosphere of the place. Even for a cold and grey November day, it was very busy. I really enjoyed visiting it, but I don’t think I’d like to live in such a big city. I thought I would share a few pictures of our day.

    Before going, I had in mind a few places I wanted to go to for food. We went for lunch to ‘Le Pain Quotidien’, a French restaurant chain where you sit on communal tables. My friend Katie had told me that they served the best almond croissants: it’s true that they were pretty moreish. In the afternoon we stoped at the Hummingbird Bakery. I had recently taken at the library a book that they have just released: ‘The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook’, and after I had flicked through the book, I had made my decision: we had to go there. When entering the bakery, it is quite hard to make your choice between all sorts of cupcakes, cookies and cakes. We both opted for frosted chocolate brownies. This was very rich, but mmmh...so yummy. Luke said he’d like that as his birthday cake next year!

  • Le Pain Quotidien
  • 48-49 The Market
  • London
  • WC2E 8RF

  • The Hummingbird Bakery
  • 155a Wardour Street
  • Soho
  • London
  • W1F 8WG
  • November 19, 2010

    Honeydew, Grapes and Fig Smoothie

    Sometimes life is just a bit too full. This is when you don’t have the time to stop for a while that you actually need it the most. To me, it is important to still take time for that. I cherish these precious moments spent chilling out, doing some yoga or going for a walk.

    I like the words smooth and smoothie. They sound nice to my ears. This autumn, we’ve made lots of seasonal inspired smoothies. They gave us a healthy energy boost. I wish sometimes, that life could be as smooth as a smoothie ;)

    Look at who we met when we went for a walk last weekend.

    Honeydew, Grapes and Fig Smoothie – serves 2

  • • ¼ honeydew, peeled and cut into cubes
  • • 2 figs, peeled
  • • 25cl purple grape juice

  • 1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour in 2 glasses and serve straightaway.

    Smoothie au Melon d’Espagne, Raisins et Figues – pour 2 personnes
  • • ¼ de melon, pelé et coupé en cubes
  • • 2 figues, pelées
  • • 25cl de jus de raisins noir

  • 1. Mettre tous les ingrédients dans le bol d’un mixeur et mixer jusqu’à l’obtention d’une consistance lisse. Verser dans 2 verres et servir immédiatement.
  • November 13, 2010

    Comté and Pepper Pasties and a Competition

    I’ve often been lucky when entering competitions. Over the past few years, I have won all sorts of things from items of clothing to sun cream or bags. Why am I so lucky? Maybe because I enter quite a lot of competitions. What I love is when I have completely forgotten that I had entered one and that I receive something in the post, totally unexpectedly. I recently entered a food blogging competition: the first one I ever gave a try at. And guess what? My recipe has been selected! How glad I was when I found out! :) I haven’t won the big prize (yet), but you might be able to help me with that. Let me tell you a bit more about it.

    The competition was organised by the Facebook page ‘I Love Comté’. Do you know Comte? I’m sure that if you’re French, you do, but if not, this is a French cheese. Comté is part of the gruyere family and is mainly produced in the East of France in Franche-Comté. 10 bloggers took part in the selection of recipes for this competition. You could submit your recipe, that had to include some Comté cheese in it, to one of this 10 blogs. The 10 bloggers have then each selected 5 recipes (this is when mine has been selected). The result is 50 recipes that you can see on the Facebook page ‘I Love Comté’.

    Now, you have until 24 November to vote for the recipe you like. The more votes a recipe gets, the bigger the prize. Every person whose recipe is part of this selection of 50 recipes will get a prize anyway :) (lots of cheese, yummy!).

    If you would like to vote for my recipe, here is how to do it. It is not very straightforward, but if you follow these steps, it should be easy:
  • • Go to the Facebook page I Love Comté by clicking here;
  • • ‘Like’ the Facebook page by clicking on the ‘Like’ button next to the title;
  • • Scroll down on the page, and on the left inside, under the Photo section, click on the album ‘Les recettes du concours’ ;
  • • My recipe is on the 2nd row of the album, 4th picture, called ‘Chaussons Comte-Poivron’;
  • • Click on my recipe;
  • • Scroll down the page, and at the bottom, you can click on the ‘Like’ button;
  • • Your vote is complete! Thank you!!!

    I got my inspiration for the recipe from a traditional dish from Cornwall: the Cornish Pasty. Traditional pasties are stuffed with beef, potatoes and carrots, but why not try it with Comté and peppers after all?
  • I hope you’ll like it.

    Comté Cheese and Pepper Pasties – makes 4 pasties

  • • 250g puff pastry
  • • 175g Comté cheese, cut in thin slices
  • • 1 red pepper, cut in thin strips
  • • 1 yellow pepper, cut in thin strips
  • • A few drops of Tabasco
  • • Salt, pepper
  • • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1. Preheat the oven on 180°C.
  • 2. Make 4 balls with the pastry and roll them out in 20cm-wide circles.
  • 3. Spread the Comté slices and pepper strips on one side of the pastry circles. Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Fold the other pastry half on top of the filling and turn the edges over so that the pasties are well sealed.
  • 4. Brush the pasties with the beaten egg. Put them on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 35-40min until golden. Serve with a green salad.

    Chaussons Comté-Poivron – pour 4 chaussons

    • 250g de pâte feuilletée
  • • 175g de comté, coupé en fine lamelles
  • • 1 poivron rouge, coupé en fines lanières
  • • 1 poivron jaune, coupé en fines lanières
  • • Quelques gouttes de Tabasco
  • • Sel, poivre
  • • 1 œuf, battu

  • 1. Préchauffer le four à 180°C.
  • 2. Faire 4 boules avec la pâte feuilletée, et les étaler au rouleau à pâtisserie pour obtenir 4 ronds d’environ 20cm de diamètre.
  • 3. Répartir les lamelles de Comté et de poivrons, sur chaque moitié de cercle. Assaisonner avec un peu de sel, poivre et Tabasco. Replier l’autre moitié sur la garniture et faire un petit bourrelet en pinçant la pâte de façon à bien sceller les chaussons.
  • 4. Dorer les chaussons à l’œuf battu avec un pinceau. Enfourner pour 35-40min, jusqu’à ce que les chaussons soient bien dorés. Servir avec une salade verte.
  • November 08, 2010

    Baked Apples

    My yoga teacher is a funny smiley person. She always has a witty story to tell. At the last class, she was telling us that she went to PC World to get advice about her broken laptop. After an hour spent looking at computers, she stepped out of the shop and stopped for a second – amazed. She noticed how beautiful nature was around her. Trees were all red and yellow and leaves were flying around in the afternoon sunshine. And what a contrast after computers this was! She told us: ‘that was good karma’. She said that if you are able to notice this beauty around you, it is a good sign. I have been fascinated by nature recently, and how each day is different: leaves changing colours and falling from the trees, the sky one second bright blue and the next filled with dark clouds... I hope I have good karma with me :D
    Here is another way of using apples. I made lots of jam throughout the summer and enjoyed so much opening a pot of apricot and ginger conserve to eat with these bright red apples.
    Baked Apples – serves 2
  • • 2 red apples
  • • 2tbsp jam (apricot, raspberry or whichever you like)
  • • 2 knobs of butter
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • 2. Core the apples and put them in a small oven-proof dish. In the centre of each apple, drop a tablespoon of jam and add a knob of butter on top.
  • 3. Cook in the oven for about 20min until the apples are soft. Leave to cool down for a few minutes before eating.
    Pommes au Four – pour 2 personnes
  • • 2 pommes rouges
  • • 2cs de confiture (abricot, framboise ou celle que vous préférez)
  • • 2 petites noix de beurre
  • 1. Préchauffer le four à 180°C.
  • 2. Evider les pommes et les mettre dans un petit plat à four. Ajouter au cœur de chaque pomme une cuillérée de confiture et une noix de beurre sur le dessus.
  • 3. Enfourner pour environ 20min, jusqu’à ce que les pommes soient tendres. Laisser refroidir quelques minutes avant de déguster.
  • November 02, 2010

    Apple, Yogurt and Olive Oil Cake

    It all started with that yogurt cake. As far as I can remember, this was what got me into cooking. My first experiences in the kitchen. When I was little, I had that book I loved reading, and at the end of it, they gave the recipe for this yogurt cake. I made it tons of times, for birthday parties or simply when my brothers and I fancied eating a cake. I liked adding small variations to the original recipe, like chocolate chunks or apples. It was so easy to make as a child because you use a yogurt pot to measure all the ingredients.

    This time, I decided to use olive oil instead of sunflower oil and it gave the cake a lovely flavour. Here, trees are still covered with apples, and when you live in a county like Devon, this is a fruit you find plenty of.

    Apple, Yogurt and Olive Oil Cake – serves 8

  • • 1 yogurt pot (125g)
  • • 2 eggs
  • • ½ yogurt pot of olive oil
  • • 3 yogurt pots of flour
  • • 2 yogurt pots of sugar
  • • 2tsp baking powder
  • • 2 cooking apples, chopped

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • 2. Pour the yogurt into a bowl. Add the flour and sugar and mix well. Add the eggs and mix well.
  • 3. Add the baking powder and olive oil and mix until you get a smooth batter. Finally add the apple chunks.
  • 4. Pour into a round cake dish and pop in the oven for 40-45min until cooked through and golden.
  • Gâteau au Yaourt, Pomme et Huile d’Olive – pour 8 personnes

  • • 1 pot de yaourt (125g)
  • • 2 œufs
  • • ½ pot de yaourt d’huile d’olive
  • • 3 pots de yaourt de farine
  • • 2 pots de yaourt de sucre
  • • 2cc de levure
  • • 2 pommes à cuire, coupées en morceaux

  • 1. Préchauffer le four à 180°C.
  • 2. Verser le yaourt dans un bol. Ajouter la farine et le sucre et mélanger. Ajouter les œufs et bien mélanger.
  • 3. Ajouter la levure et l’huile d’olive et mélanger jusqu’à l’obtention d’une consistance lisse. Enfin, ajouter les morceaux de pomme.
  • 4. Verser dans un moule rond et mettre au four pendant 40-45min, jusqu’à ce que le gâteau soit cuit au centre et bien doré.