(Cross-posted from the Pizza Blog)
We received a pizza stone for Christmas - one of several kitchen related presents from my parents. We were going to use it for our first post-Christmas pizza but it needed a couple of washes and a while in the oven to drive off the fumes (presumably from manufacturing), so it wasn't ready at the time of our previous post.
The pizza shown here had the rest of the home-made spicy tomato sauce, mixed with red pesto because there wasn't enough left for 2 pizzas. The toppings were sliced courgette, anchovies, capers, grated cheddar and parmesan, and mozzarella. For the meat I had a selection from a Marks & Spencers Christmas pack which contained sausage, stuffing flavoured meatballs and rolled bacon. Emma had a selection of M&S 'party food' chicken pieces.
The stone needed heating up first - we placed it in a cold oven and slowly let it come to temperature, giving it at least half an hour before we used it. We had to make our pizzas one at a time, taking the stone out of the oven, quickly assembling the pizza, then putting it in the oven to cook.
Heston Blumenthal, the chef, tested different ways of cooking pizza on his TV programme. He didn't like the pizza stone, preferring to use an upside down red hot cast iron pan, putting the pizza under the grill to finish cooking.
I really can't see why he didn't like the pizza stone. He wanted to cook his pizza in 90 seconds whereas we give ours 15 minutes at gas mark 7. We like thin bases but we also like a lot of toppings so a very hot fast cooking doesn't suit our style of pizza. Sometimes the pizza base would go a bit soft but the hot pizza stone starts cooking the base while the toppings are being applied so the base stays nice and crispy. It's a bit more fiddly than using our normal pizza trays but the improved crispy base makes it all worth while.
I am currently watching the new BBC adaptation of The Day of the Triffids. It's ok but they have made rather too many changes. It's ages since I read the book so I can't remember all the details but the original Triffids couldn't move very quickly, unlike the ones here. The original ones would kill a victim then patiently wait for it to decompose. They also couldn't reach out and pull people towards them. I never imagined them to look like angry Aloe Vera plants.
The book had slower pacing, which gave time for the characters to develop. They obviously decided to speed things up to make the adaptation more dramatic. The narration in the book helped create the atmosphere, making the events seem scarily plausible. Unfortunately this is lost in the tv version.
I can't remember the exact details of the original ending, so it doesn't matter that I'm posting this before the programme finishes.
Occasionally the programme felt like Aliens: The Vegetable Edition.
The ingredients for the pizza sauce:
- Tomatoes from our garden (via the freezer)
- ½ a dried chilli (home grown cayenne pepper)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tsp dried herbs
- a pinch of salt.
The tomatoes were defrosted and peeled. All the ingredients were put in a liquidizer. The resulting sauce was very runny so I simmered it to thicken it. The chilli was very hot so I ended up thickening it with cornflour to avoid concentrating the heat too much.
The finished pizza, with quorn sausage, courgette, onion, mushrooms and cheese. I put a small sprinkling of cheese on before the mushrooms to help stick everything together, before topping with more cheese.
We were on our way Up North to visit visit family when we needed to nip into Boots to buy a few things. We stopped at Central 6 and struggled to find a parking space. I was lucky enough to find a space at the far end of the car park.
I noticed a huge queue of people on the pavement outside one of the shops. When I got closer it turned out to be people waiting to be allowed into Next. There were bouncers on the door only letting people in when somebody left. I found it rather pathetic that people were so desperate for a 'bargain'. We went to the shops because we needed to buy something, rather than because we felt the need to satisfy some shopaholic craving.
We have had a few days of freezing cold weather, but luckily very little snow. I went into the garden this morning to check on the quail, to make sure they have plenty of food and to make sure their water hasn't frozen.
Moving on to the veg - all of the remaining plants are looking a bit droopy and possibly dead. The parsley is very limp - we will be lucky if it recovers. The leeks have frozen solid. I was examining one pot and a leek snapped off. I have no idea what the garlic is like - all of the pots are frozen solid. I think I will have to harvest everything when the soil starts to thaw.
I planted some broad beans last month but nothing has happened. I expect it is the same story as last year when the beans rotted in the soil. I will try again in the spring.
I checked the compost heap and was surprised to observe that it hadn't frozen. In fact it was slightly warm to the touch. That is obviously a good sign, showing that everything is breaking down well. I gave it a good mix, to let extra oxygen get in and help it along.
I passed the Museum of the History of Science while I was in Oxford. They were advertising a Steampunk exhibition, which looked interesting, so I decided to pop in and have a look.
Rather than being strictly history or science, the exhibition was of sculptures and models made by different artists. Some of the pieces looked like they could have come straight from an anime film. It was a fascinating collection. A lot of the objects were simply amazing to look at.
It's the end of an era. Things won't be the same again. Terry Wogan is leaving the Breakfast Show on Radio 2. Chris Evans takes over in the new year and I really hope he has matured, or at least stopped being such an annoying tosser, otherwise I'll have to avoid Radio 2 in the mornings.
I decided to try my tomato chutney tonight. I think it was a success. It tasted like a 'proper' bought chutney. I hadn't followed the recipe exactly - I didn't measure out the sugar and vinegar but poured some in until it looked about right. The balance of sweetness and sharpness seemed about right. Since I used less vinegar than the recipe, it probably won't keep as long as normal chutney so I should make sure I eat it fairly quickly. Since I have two fairly large tubs of it, that's a lot of chutney to eat over Christmas.
We made turkey burgers for tonight's tea so I thought the chutney would go well on the side.
If I made the chutney again, I think the only change would be to chop the tomatoes smaller. Some of the pieces are quite big but since it was my first go at making it, I wasn't sure of the best way to do it.
At last, over a month after it was delivered, it was time for our recycling bin to be emptied. We filled it a couple of weeks ago and we've got enough new recycling to fill it all over again.
There had been a heavy frost overnight. It took a while to defrost the car this morning.
On my way to the office this morning, I overheard some women talking. I missed the start of the conversation but I think they were talking about the cold weather. I heard one of them say "But it's not even December yet!".
I had lots of spare unripe tomatoes in the fridge so I decided to make some Green Tomato Chutney. I followed one of Keith Floyd's recipes from the BBC website. Chutneys are supposed to improve after a few weeks so I won't sample it yet and give it a chance to mature.