Thursday, January 16, 2014

pizza and biryani, what a combo

If ever there was a combination sure to surprise and delight, pizza followed by a killer biryani actually works, trust me as I wasn't one bit convinced to begin with either. The pizza needs a decent hit of chilli fire, obviously, and an open mind, definitely. This recipe here is only just a starting point, and there really is no pizza recipe out there that is the definitive article. Toppings are totally at everyone's discretion. This blog post is actually now so messed up that the photo neither reflects a biryani or a puff pastry based mushroom and taleggio pizza. What the photo actually is an incredibly delicious pizza had in Weymouth while watching the Olympic sailing in the Summer of 2012, that was a great combination. 

Mushroom and taleggio pizza

Serves 4

Puff pastry provides an instant base to the pizza, and the crust stays crisp slightly longer than regular pizza dough. A nice salad of wild rocket leaves with Parmesan shavings would be great with it.

25g unsalted butter
3 tblsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
450g mixed mushrooms (such as girolle, portobello, shiitake and chestnut mushrooms), roughly sliced into a similar size
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
375g puff pastry
1 medium egg, beaten
4-5 tblsp grated Parmesan
100g taleggio cheese, torn into small pieces
Handful of oregano, leaves picked and roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Heat a pan with the butter and olive oil. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes until golden brown. (You may need to do this in two batches if your pan is not wide enough.) Season well with salt and pepper. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool.

Roll out the pastry on to a lightly floured board to a large rectangle about 3mm thick. Slide this on to a baking tray. Using a long knife, lightly score a 1cm border around the edge of the rectangle, taking care not to cut through the pastry. Brush all over the pastry with the beaten egg. Layer the sautéed mushrooms around the inner rectangle of the pastry. Sprinkle the parmesan and taleggio over the mushrooms. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry has puffed and browned. 

Scatter the chopped oregano leaves over the pizza and drizzle with a little olive oil before slicing into four and demolishing until the biryani is ready to tackle.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

carpaccio and happiness, at home, where it should be

This is at its very best served really informally at home with the right person, with homemade mayonnaise - which is a traditional carpaccio accompaniment, and properly delicious with chips too. 

The quality of your meat is everything. It needs to come from an animal that has been fed correctly and well hung to ensure it is tender. I prefer the flavour and texture of a pure Angus breed, but there are plenty other good breeds too.

It is pretty much all about the setting and the company. If the food is a bit more than half decent, the full package has pretty much been achieved. That's where something like this comes in. Buy a great piece of meat, do precious little to it, savour the occasion - perfection achieved.

Beef carpaccio/Parmesan/rocket/radishes

Serves just the 2, 4 at a push

500g trimmed fillet of beef
freshly ground black pepper and good quality salt
40g fresh rocket
80g shaved Parmesan
60g fresh very cold red radishes, shaved
40ml extra virgin olive oil
20ml lemon juice

Season the beef well with the pepper and roll up firmly in a large piece of cling film or foil. Roll the film back and forth to make the meat even and nicely rounded. Chill for 30 minutes.

With a very sharp knife, slice the meat as thinly as possible and arrange on a serving platter. Garnish with the rocket, drizzle with the oil and a splash of lemon juice and finally the radishes and Parmesan, and a sprinkle of salt.

Homemade mayonnaise

I more often than not add water or sometimes crème fraîche to my mayonnaise, both to whiten it and to make it lighter on the palate, so that it doesn't overpower the beef.

2 free range egg yolks
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp English or Dijon mustard
150ml groundnut oil
150ml olive oil
2 tblsp cold water

Place the egg yolks, vinegar and mustard in a bowl and whisk together with a balloon whisk. Gradually incorporate the oil, whisking continuously until you have a thick emulsion. Add the water and season. Transfer to a clean jar. The mayonnaise will keep for five days in the fridge.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

a half decent hummous

Is it hummous, hummus, hommos, humos, hommus or hoummos even? It certainly isn't humus, we know that for sure. Weirdly my spellcheck only recognises hummus. It's now actually having a problem with my recognises, but I'm refusing to put a z in there.

Never tire of it, can eat it for ever, and it also does the business in so many other ways other than just jabbing some arabic bread into a pot of the stuff.


Serves a few as just one element of a mezze (or is it mezzeh or meze even?) spread, but make sure it always features

225g tinned chickpeas
6 tblsp tahini paste
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
6 tblsp lemon juice
3 tblsp olive oil
cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil, for drizzling

Whizz up the chickpeas in a food processor or blender with a little of the liquid from the can until they are smooth.

Add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and work in the processor or blender until very smooth. Season with the peppers and salt. Turn into a dish, scraping out all of the hummous from the mixer bowl with a rubber spatula.

Flatten the top slightly, then drizzle over some olive oil and serve with warm pitta bread.