For this week's pizza night I decided to try a Stromboli pizza, a filled pizza which is often rolled up. The base was a normal bread/pizza base. For the filling I used vegetable chilli, chicken and cheese.
I started by rolling the base into an oval shape. Closer to rectangular would be better but oval works well enough. I spread the base with the vegetable chilli then sprinkled chopped cooked chicken over the top.
Next I added grated cheese.
The stromboli was rolled up and placed onto a hot pizza stone before being put into the centre of the oven at gas mark 6 for about 20 minutes.
Just before the end of cooking, I took the stromboli out of the oven and laid some sliced chilli cheese on top. I put it back in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese without letting it run all the way down the sides.
The final cooked product. It came out quite well although it had split along part of one side. I may have caused this by over-filling it or rolling it too tightly but that didn't detract from the eating.
This weeks recipe was based on one from the Hairy Bikers European Baking book and was a savoury onion muffin. The originals were topped with poppy seeds but I didn't have any of those so I made a few variations, topping some with onion seeds, some with grated cheese, and others weren't topped but had some chilli cheese mixed into the muffin batter before cooking.
I used red onions and one thing I noticed was that they turned green after cooking. The recipe contained baking soda, which is alkaline, so it is likely that this reacted with the anthocyanins in the onion to turn them green.
We regularly go to the English Heritage Festival of History. It was cancelled last year due to the weather but it was back this year, renamed History Live.
In addition to the battle re-enactments, there were old fashioned side-shows such as the fire eaters and a return of the Victorian Gymkhana.
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This year has been largely dominated by baking and bread, mainly because my newest cookbooks are all baking based, mostly cakes, bread and pies. I regularly make normal 'everyday' loaves using either traditional yeast or sourdough without consulting any recipes, but every now and again I feel the need to try something a bit more adventurous. I had intended to try a brioche for a while and finally got around to doing it today, partly because we had 4 eggs in the kitchen which were getting a bit old and needed using up (they weren't off but the whites had gone a bit runny). The recipe I intended to try (from the River Cottage bread book) needed 4 eggs so that seemed to be a good way of using them up.
This recipe is 'all in one' where the flour, sugar, milk, butter and eggs are all mixed together, instead of more traditional ones where a dough gets made first and the butter is mixed in afterwards. I used our electric mixer with the dough hooks but the mix remained very sticky and refused to form a ball. I had to add a bit more flour and knead by hand before it became more manageable and was ready for the initial proving. After a couple of hours in the fridge, the dough had gone nice and firm and was then ready to be put in the tins for the second rising.
I decided to do a standard loaf and a more adventurous spiral shaped bun. I have been meaning to do more shaped loaves and I thought brioche might be a good one to start with.
I think I slightly over-baked them because the crust was a bit darker than I would have liked. The actual bread had a very good texture and tasted very buttery, possibly a bit too rich even! I can normally eat quite a lot of bread in one sitting but probably won't be able to with this. A very rich brioche like this would work very well with fruit or chocolate, to make a cake. A slightly less rich version would be more suitable to use as a normal bread, albeit a special treat bread.
We only popped in for a couple of hours on the saturday, to wander around the festival and have a look at the various stalls. When I was in the main arena last night I noticed a Nando's outdoor catering trailer and when I mentioned it to Emma, we decided that was where we would get our lunch from. Emma went there for a chicken pitta but I decided to go to he caribbean food stall next door for a tray of Jerk Pork with rice.
The meat was diced belly pork which had been coated in a spicy marinade and was served with more spicy sauce poured on top. It was different to the typical saturday lunch we have at home, which is usually something quick like pasta or a wrap or toastie and made a nice change.
The headline act on the main stage tonight was Echo and the Bunnymen. They were supposed to appear last year but the festival was cancelled due to the wet weather. That was a shame because I wanted to see them since I missed them at the Leeds Festival a few years ago (it was a choice between them and Iron Maiden), so this year after 3 attempts, I finally managed to see them live.
I knew 3 of the songs in their act: Seven Seas, Under a Killing Moon (which McCulloch introduced as the best song ever written) and The Cutter.
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I haven't had much time to do any really adventurous or new cooking but I did a couple of quick desserts this week. The first was a simple scone recipe. This was made by mixing the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor then stirring in the milk. I used a variety of our shaped cutters, including duck and dinosaur.
The second was a custard tart. These were supposed to separate into a pastry style base and a custarty top during cooking but they ended up more like sweet yorkshire puddings. They tasted good but weren't really what I was expecting. This might have been because I used a yorkshire pudding tin, which was fairly shallow, instead of a deeper pie tin.
I had tried to grow Summer Ball Courgettes a couple of years ago but it was a bad year for courgettes for me. None of the plants did well and I didn't get any courgettes. This year has been better and so far I've picked a smallish one.
The only other things I've harvested so far have been herbs, a few wild strawberries, and some chillies from last year's plants.
I was watching the new episode of Top Gear on the BBC iplayer and I noticed something slightly dodgy during one sequence. Co-presenter Richard Hammond was pretending to hide from one of the guests (Mike Rutherford from Genesis) when I noticed the picture had been reversed.
I wouldn't have noticed if it hadn't been for the 'SONY' boxes on the floor and the box of kitchen foil on the table.