Tag Archives: Olives

Roasted Tomato and Feta Risotto

Roasted Tomato Risotto

This was actually a fabulously tasty dinner borne out a random fridge emptying operation!. You know those times when there doesn’t appear to be anything too interesting and you rustle up what there is anyway, and hope for the best. And actually it was really rather good and has since been made a couple of times, and not just when I’m in fridge clearing mode! What’s more the kids ate it, Jacques in the main because it contained an ample amount of his beloved olives (especially taking into account his sister’s discarded ones), and Francesca who claims to not like tomatoes happily ate these sweet roasted ones. Result. And us big people loved it too, so a perfect family dinner all in all.

Jacques eating Roasted Tomato Risotto

One happy Jacques with his olivey risotto!

To be fair I probably wouldn’t be feeding this risotto to an Italian or Risotto Aficionado. I mean feta in a risotto?. It’s all a bit wrong really. But hey this Greek/Italian fusion worked for my lot and interestingly, while I was stirring away, as you do with a risotto, I couldn’t help but think it all looked a bit like a hot greek salad. And besides, since it has no cow’s dairy but sheep’s milk Feta it’s something I can happily give to Jacques who appears to be dairy intolerant.  It’s certainly one of my healthier risottos and a fab way of getting lots of the good stuff into little (and big) tums!

Even Francesca enjoyed it, tommies and all!

Even Francesca enjoyed it, tommies and all!

Simply oven roasted cherry tomatoes (with fresh thyme if you have any), roasting while you make the risotto. Then stirred into a super-healthy risotto of  red pepper, courgette, olives (black or green) and blasphemous Feta cheese. De. Lish. Ous.

Since there’s fresh thyme involved I’m entering this post

Cooking-with-Herbsto Karen of Lavender & Lovage Cooking with Herbs challenge. Also as it was a genuine fridge-clearing concoction to Credit Crunch Munch, hosted by Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours and this month by Sian at Fishfingers for Tea. To to Javelin Warriors Made with Love Monday’s event, as this is a made from scratch meal. And finally as tommies are now in season to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season challenge. Phew that’s quite a few entries!Simple and in Season

Made with Love Mondays

Credit-Crunch-Munch

Roasted Tomato & Feta Risotto

Roasted Tomato & Feta Risotto

Great for: Toddlers & Pre-schoolers, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Risotto Fans, Vegetarians. Not for Risotto Aficionados

Serves: A Family of 4

Total Cook Time: 45 minutes

450g cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt & pepper

a few sprigs fresh thyme. leaves removed

small onion, finely diced

1 small red pepper, cut into fine strips

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

220g arborio risotto rice

large glass white wine

700ml hot vegetable stock, I use Marigold

1 small courgette, diced

60g green or black pitted olives, halved, optional

120g Feta cheese, crumbled

1. Preheat your oven to 200ºC

2. Place the halved cherry tomatoes cut side up on a large roasted tin. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt, black pepper and the thyme leaves. Finally drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the hot oven for 25 minutes.

3. Whilst the tomatoes are roasting, prep the risotto. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Sweat the onion and red pepper strips for 10 minutes with the lid on, stirring every now and again and adding a splash of water if the veggies look a little dry and are sticking.

4. Stir in the garlic and allow to cook for a moment or two before stirring in the risotto rice, ensuring the grains get a good coating of the oil. Poor in the wine and stir.

5. Allow to simmer (uncovered) on a gentle heat until most of the wine has evaporated/absorbed then stir in a ladleful of the hot stock together with the diced courgette and olives (if using). Continue to stir at regular intervals adding further ladlefuls of stock every time the last one’s almost absorbed.

6. When the rice is tender stir in the roasted tomatoes, together with any juices from the tray, and the crumbled feta. Place the lid back on the pan and allow the flavours to rest and mingle for a couple of minutes.

7. Taste and season to suit. No added salt for littlies. Serve as is or with a sprinkling of grated fresh Parmesan.

You might also like:

Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto

Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto

Roasted Mushroom Pearl Barley Risotto

Roasted Mushroom Pearl Barley Risotto

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Chicken, Asparagus and New Potato Traybake

Chicken Traybake

Why oh why it’s taken me so long to discover the wonderous simplicity of savory traybakes is a mystery?. An impressively tasty meal with minimum prep, mess or fuss that the whole family can enjoy. And great to place on the dinner table for everyone to hungrily dig in to and help themselves, which is always fun and sociable. They’re definitely the way forward to perfect family fodder in my book. Since my ‘discovery’ I have to confess to their over-zealous appearance on the Chez Foti table, but when the kids are eagerly tucking in, as without fail they do to a traybake, how can I not?!.

Jacques ChickenAnd this particular one’s most definitely my Traybake du Jour, with asparagus suddenly appearing at more reasonable end of season prices. Simply chicken pieces, new potatoes and asparagus all roasted together in a yumminess of lemon, garlic, fresh thyme and green olives. Since Jacques has recently acquired a taste for olives (bordering screaming obsession!) I seem to be adding them to everything these days; luckily his olive adverse big sister’s quite happy to pick them out and pass them over his way. And if you’ve never tried asparagus roasted with such heady flavours believe me you’re missing out. Divine. And always a bit of fight as to who gets the last spear….

Admittedly this is hardly a recipe, rather a throwing together of a few select ingredients. Traybakes are obviously open to a good deal of seasonal variation…and a handy way of clearing out your fridge! Carrots, parsnips, squash, peppers, courgettes, sweet potato and onions all roast handsomely and you could also vary your meat to pork or sausages (or leave out altogether), and of course opt for ‘old’ tatters when the newbies aren’t around. And as for the herbs, throw in whatever you have! Orange segments are also a tasty variation to the lemon, particularly with chicken, red pepper and black olives.

Made with Love MondaysNow for the challenges, as there’s plenty of thyme involved to Cooking-with-HerbsLavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday event. To Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays as it’s a made from scratch meal. And finally to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season as asparagus is unquestionably still in season!. Simple and in Season

Chicken, Asparagus & New Potato Traybake

Chicken, Asparagus & New Potato Traybake

Great for: Toddlers & Pre-Schoolers, Big Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Week-end Slowies, Mid-week Suppers

Serve with: plenty of steamed veggies

Serves: a family of four, just throw in as much as you think you’ll all eat (I always add a few extra potatoes for tasty leftovers):

600g new potatoes, scrubbed but skin left on

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 – 6 chicken pieces, I usually opt for thighs or legs, free range

1 dessertspoon fresh thyme leaves

4 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole

1 lemon, one half juiced the other half cut into 6 segments

salt and pepper (no salt for toddlers)

1 bunch of asparagus, washed

a handful or two of green olives, optional (feel free to omit if you’re not olive lovers)

Special Equipment: a large hob-proof roasting tin

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas 6.

2. Cut any of the larger potatoes in 2 or 3 and leave smaller ones whole. Par-cook them for 8 minutes in boiling water. Drain and set aside.

3. While the potatoes are boiling heat the oil in a large hob-proof roasting tin. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides and take off the heat.

4. Once the chicken’s browned throw the potatoes into the tin along with the thyme, garlic cloves, juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of salt and pepper (no salt if you’re making for toddlers). Give everything a good stir around and place in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes.

5. Prepare the asparagus by bending each spear and snapping off the woody ends, discard the ends.

5. Remove the roasting tin from the oven and throw in the asparagus spears, lemon segments and the olives if using. Give everything a good stir and place back in the oven for a further 20 to 25 minutes. Take out of the oven and stir everything around a little a couple of times during this period.

6. It’s ready when the chicken and potatoes are fully cooked through and golden.

7. Place on the dinner table and let everyone help themselves. Perfect family fun fodder!

You might also like:

A Summery Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

A Summery Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

Beef in Daube recipe

Boeuf en Daube


Spanish Stylie Baked Chicken and Rice

Spanish Style Baked Chicken & Rice

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for nearly a year and a half and this firm family favourite of weekend dinners has thus far failed to make an appearance. It’s a recipe I originally stole from my Mum, who stole from Delia, that’s chopped and changed dramatically over the years and probably bares little resemblance to it’s original form. Changed to make it quicker, easier and more suitable family fodder, and it never disappoints my lot. It’s a cheap and frugal dish (the one pot usually stretching to at least two dinners), flavoursome (think smoked paprika, chorizo, orange, olives), wholesome (brown rice and a barrage of veggies), hearty and substantial. And can handily be partly or wholly made in advance. Perfect for a weekend lunch or dinner and the tasty leftovers re-heated for a quickie dinner in the week, or even eaten cold for lunch. And my kids LOVE it, Jacques devours it. But then they are fiends for anything rice these days. If your monsters are veggie adverse like mine it’s a handy dish to hide a multitude of the good stuff, just chop them unidentifiably small!.

Spanish Chicken and Rice

Chop and change your veggies as to what’s in season. In this particular recipe I used red pepper (the only veggie I would highly recommend you always add) chopped pumpkin (as we still have an inordinate amount to get through!), celery, carrots and french green beans from the freezer. Courgettes, peas, squash, sweet potato, broccoli or mushrooms all work equally as well, just mix and match as to what’s seasonal and you have in.

Since I’m using seasonal veggies aplenty I’m entering this post to Simple and In Season, a monthly challenge that showcases seasonal produce and is the baby of Ren of Fabulicious Food.  This month I so happen to be hosting the event!. I’m also entering Javelin Warrior‘s Made with Love Mondays, as it’s a dish made from scratch, and finally to Credit Crunch Munch as it’s a pretty frugal dish that stretches a long way. Credit Crunch Munch is held jointly by Camilla of Fab Food 4 All and this month by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours. Now on with the recipe….

Credit-Crunch-Munch

Simple and In Season

Made with Love Mondays

Jacques tucking into to his chicken and rice. He's still not a pretty eater.

Jacques chowing down on his beloved chicken and rice. He’s not a pretty eater!

Spanish Stylie Baked Chicken & Rice

Great for Toddlers & Young Children, Hiding Veggies, Bigger Kids, Family or Grown up Dinners, Mains, One Pot Wonders, Week-end Slowies

Serves 6 or a family of 4 twice

a tablespoon of Olive Oil

6 free range Chicken pieces – legs or thighs or a mixture of the two, skin removed

a large Onion, large dice

3 cloves of Garlic, finely sliced

a stick of Celery, finely sliced*

2 Carrots, fine dice*

300g of Pumpkin or Butternut, large dice*

2 Red Peppers, large dice

150g of French Green Beans, cut into inch long lengths*

120g of Chorizo, sliced into 0.5cm thick slices

a heaped teaspoon of Hot Smoked Paprika

300g of Brown Rice

200ml of White Wine

500ml of Chicken Stock

a 400g can of Chopped Tomatoes

2 Bay Leaves

a small bunch of fresh Thyme sprigs, tied together

Black Pepper

½ an Orange, cut into 6 segments

60g of de-stoned Black or Green Olives

Special Equipment: A large lidded ovenproof casserole or Le Creuset style dish that can go on a hob

* Please feel free to vary your veggies as to what’s in season or you have in

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4.

Heat the oil in your casserole or Le Creuset on a medium to high heat. Once hot fry off the chicken pieces until golden on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Turn down the heat and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots, there should be plenty of residual fat from the chicken, but if not add a splash more olive oil. Saute for 5 minutes before adding the pumpkin and peppers. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

Now throw in the green beans and chorizo and cook for a further few minutes until the chorizo is oozing it’s lovely juices.  Stir in the hot smoked paprika and cook for a moment or two before stirring in the rice. Ensure all the grains are coated in the oily spicy loveliness before pouring in the white wine, chicken stock, chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme and a generous pinch or two of black pepper. Give everything a thorough stir and bring to a gentle simmer.

Take the pot off the heat and place the set aside chicken pieces on the top, pressing them down into the rice. Slot the orange segments where ever there’s space and scatter over the olives. Place the lid on the pot and slide into the oven.

Bake for 45 minutes. The rice and veggies should all be perfectly tender. Eat and enjoy!.

You might also like:

Paella

Paella

Mediterranean Pot Roast Chicken

Mediterranean Pot Roast Chicken


A Couple of Winter Crostini – Lovely (Cannellini) Beans and Green Olive Tapenade

Winter Crostini

Now I’m a big fan of pre-dinner nibbles in the form of Bruschetta or Crostini or whatever you care to name them, but for some odd reason I tend to favour such appetisers more in the summer months. Eaten as the sun goes down alongside a glass or two of white . They’re usually assembled to use up an glut of tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines or peppers from the garden (my Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta being a bit of a favourite). Which got me thinking, there really must be some excellent store cupboard toppings that would be equally as fabulous in the depths of winter with a glass of red.

The Lovely (Cannellini) Beans topping I’ve made many a time before, but not for many years now. It’s simply a heady mix of Garlic, Fresh Chili, Fresh Rosemary and lots of good Olive Oil roughly mashed into canned or soaked and pre-cooked warm Cannellini Beans. Quick and easy, but very substantial in the flavour department!. A posh beans on toast. The Green Olive Tapenade is a newbie on me – I put it together to clear out the three half eaten tins of green olives that were lurking in my fridge – and part followed a multitude of internet recipes. And with pretty tasty and zingy results. An extremely flavourful mix of Green Olives, Olive Oil, Capers, Anchovies, Fresh Chili, Lemon Zest and Juice, Garlic and Fresh Parsley.

Both are great just on toast or pitta bread, ‘poshed up’ on Crostini or Bruschetta or served as a dip with raw veggies and breadsticks. The Tapenade is also sublime stirred through hot pasta or as a topping for tarts (see A Couple of Tomato Tarts) or pizza and even slathered onto bread for a sandwich. And probably lots more amazingly tasty treats that I haven’t thought of!.

herbsonsaturdaySince herbs feature fairly highly in both these toppings I’m entering my blog to Karen of Lavender and Lovage‘s Herbs on Saturday bloggie challenge. And also to Javelin Warriors Made with Love Mondays as both my Crostini toppings are made with lots of homemade love!

Made with Love Mondays

Lovely Cannellini Beans

Lovely (Cannellini) Beans!

Great For: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids (though my toddler Jacques adores these beans on toast!), grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians

2 tablespoons of good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus a little more for drizzling)

½ to 1 Red Chili, finely sliced (use less or none at all if you’re heat adverse)

2 cloves of Garlic, finely sliced

a 400g tin of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed OR the equivalent in soaked and home-cooked beans (I tend to cook up large batches and use them in various recipes)

2 teaspoons of chopped fresh Rosemary leaves

1 – 2 teaspoons of Red Wine Vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Heat the oil in a saucepan on a low heat. Add the garlic and chili and fry for a few moments. Once you get a garlic aroma (but before it browns) quickly stir in your beans and rosemary together with a teaspoon of the red wine vinegar and very generous pinches each of coarsely ground black pepper and salt.

Keep the pan on the heat and allow the beans to warm through and the flavours to infuse. Once hot, remove from the hob and mash the beans a potato masher. I like a fairly rustic texture so don’t go too wild on the mashing, a few whole beans here and there are perfect.

Have a taste, adding more salt, pepper and red wine vinegar to suit. I don’t normally advise this but you may need to add a fair whack of salt to do the beans justice.

Serve warm on Crostini or Bruschetta with a naughty additional drizzle of olive oil. With a glass of red. Obviously.

Green Olive Tapenade

Green Olive Tapenade

Great For: Pre-dinner nibbles or appetisers, bigger kids, grown-ups, parties, starters, vegetarians (if they eat anchovies that is)

200g of pitted Green Olives

a heaped dessertspoon of Capers, rinsed

3 Anchovy Fillets (canned in oil)

½ a Red Chili, sliced

a heaped tablespoon of chopped fresh Parsley

a clove of Garlic, finely sliced

Zest of ½ a Lemon plus a couple of generous squeezes of Juice

a generously large pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper

50 ml of Olive Oil

No cooking required here. Simply throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you have your desired texture. Again, I quite like a fairly rustic texture here so don’t go too crazy on the blitzing. Or you could whiz with a stick blender in a deep sided dish. Taste and add more lemon and pepper if you wish; it’s unlikely you’ll need any salt.

Crostini

For the Crostini

These really are a cinch to make and well worth the effort if you have friends over for a nibble, especially as they can handily be made a few hours in advance.

a Baguette, or part of a Baguette, preferably stale

Olive Oil

a clove or two of Garlic, peeled and halved, optional

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Simply slice a baguette, stale if possible, into thinnish rounds of ½ to ¾cm thickness. Slice across the baguette for smaller and more delicate crostini or diagonally for a more generous two to three bite-fulls – my personal preference! Cut as many slices as you think you may need, plus a few more just in case.

Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil, rubbing one side with the cut side of half a garlic clove. I sometimes rub garlic in, sometimes I don’t, depending on how much the toppings already have in (and mine invariably have quite a bit in!). Place on a baking tray.

Place in the hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes, turning half way through. They should be golden and crispy when done. How long they take will depend on their thickness and how stale the bread was to start with – stale obviously being quicker to ‘crisp’ up.

Set aside to cool. They can be made a few hours in advance. Top with either of the above toppings, or anything else you so care to eat!.

You might also like: 

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

The Best Herby Garlic Bread Ever!

The Best Herby Garlic Bread Ever!


Pizza Puttanesca

Pizza Puttanesca

We do eat quite a few pizzas at Chez Foti, probably too many. Well about once a week if the truth be known. But in my defense they are always homemade. And I’m not being a ponsey foodie by saying that. Believe me I’ve absolutely nothing against good quality take away pizza, but we do live in distinctly rural SW France and without wanting to be too rude, the quality of the take away pizzas in these parts is considerably below par. Bordering inedible. Which is a shame as the only two fast food joints in a 25 km radius both happen to be pizza take aways!. And once or twice bitten I won’t be going back. Just don’t get me started on the supermarket offerings either. Think 80s Britain, say no more. Hence I’ve become a bit of geek at homemade pizza ….. and homemade Thai/Chinese/Indian to boot!. And we do happen to have an original bread oven in our lounge that bakes the most perfect pizzas.

I love playing around with inventing toppings and this recipe so happens to be one of my favourites of the moment. Think Puttanesca Sauce but on a pizza. Puttanesca, in case you didn’t know, is a tomato based sauce revved up with oodles of garlic, anchovies, capers, chilli and olives. And it’s sublime on a pizza with the addition of Mozzarella and a little Parmesan. Pizza simplicity at it’s best.

Pizza Puttanesca

Made with Love Mondays

I’m also delighted to be entering, for the first ever time, my Pizza Puttanesca to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays, a weekly series promoting, sharing and celebrating foods made entirely from scratch. Foods without any of the nasties and all the good stuff!.

Pizza Puttanesca

Serves 1 to 2 (depending on how much of a pizza monster you happen to be!)

One quantity of Pizza Dough (I usually stick to this Jamie Oliver recipe, using part semolina flour when I can get hold of it)

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 cloves of Garlic

a Red Chili (or go wild with 2 if you like your heat), finely sliced

4 Anchovy Fillets in oil

a 400g can of good quality Chopped Tomatoes or 450g of ripe and flavoursome Fresh Tomatoes (I’m still using up my frozen stock from The Great Chez Foti Tomato Harvest!)

a very large pinch of Black Pepper

a pinch of Sugar

a dessertspoon of Capers, rinsed

40g of stoned Black Olives, halved

80g of Mozzarella cheese, finely sliced

a heaped tablespoon of finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Special Equipment: a pizza stone, pizza baking sheet or an ordinary baking tray/sheet

Pre-heat your oven to the hottest it will go and pop your pizza stone or baking tray in to warm up.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the chili, garlic and anchovies for a few moments  until the anchovies are almost disintegrated. Slide in the tomatoes and add a very generous pinch of coarsely ground black pepper and a small pinch of sugar. Give everything a good stir. Allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes.

The sauce is ready when it’s considerably thickened and very flavoursome. Stir in the capers. Have a taste check adding more black pepper to suit. Obviously you could add salt but there’s a fair whack already in there from the anchovies so it’s unlikely you’ll need more.

Now for the pizza. Roll out your pizza dough to your desired size and thickness. I personally prefer mine very thin. Place on your hot pizza stone or baking tray.

Spread the puttanesca sauce evenly over the base. Place the halved olives and slices of mozzarella. Scatter over the parmesan or grana padano.

Place in your extremely hot oven and cook until crisp and golden. This could be anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes! Our woodfired bread/pizza oven usually takes less than 5 minutes and the oven at it’s hottest around 10.

Pizza Puttanesca

You might also like: 

Roasted Wild Mushroom Pizza            Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Pine Nuts and Thyme

Jacques mushroom picking

 


Spaghetti alla Puttanesca with fresh Tomatoes

Ordinarily this a wintry mid-week supper favourite at Chez Foti; a handy and quick store-cupboard dinner using tinned tomatoes. But with so many fresh tommies to hand it’s been made numerous times over the summer in my efforts to use up some of the glut. And it’s good, so much the better to be made with perfectly ripe, flavoursome, sweet and in-season tomatoes. You won’t be disappointed.

A bit of an Italian classic, Puttanesca is a heady mix of tomatoes, anchovies, capers, garlic, chili and olives. In Italian it literally translates as ‘whore’s spaghetti! Lovely. And it is. If you’ve never tried or made it you should. Deliciously simple.

I have no problem with using the tomato skin or seeds in recipes like this, but purists would balk. It’s up to you. If you want to remove the skins immerse the tommies in boiling water for 30 to 40 seconds then in a bowl of really cold water, they’ll then slip off easily. I use my plum tomatoes (which are the best for cooking with) for this sauce, but any very ripe, sweet tomatoes will be wonderful.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca 

Enough for 2 grown up folk (with hearty appetites!):

2 tablespoons of olive oil

a clove of garlic, finely chopped

a red chili, finely chopped (or less if you’re adverse to too much heat!)

4 anchovy fillets

450g of fresh chopped tomatoes or a 400g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes

a large pinch of freshly ground black pepper

a pinch of sugar

60g of stoned black olives

a dessertspoon of capers, rinsed

250g of spaghetti

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the chili, garlic and anchovies for a couple of minutes until the anchovies are almost disintegrated. Slide in the tomatoes and add a generous pinch of coarsely ground black pepper and a small pinch of sugar. Give everything a good stir. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti to packet instructions.

The sauce is ready when it’s thickened and very flavoursome. Stir in the olives and capers. Have a taste check adding more black pepper to suit. Obviously you could add salt but there’s a fair whack already in there from the anchovies and capers so it’s unlikely you’ll need more.

Run the sauce through the spaghetti and serve immediately.

Here’s some other quickie mid-week supper ideas: Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, Garden Pasta, Cheese, Courgette & Tomato Bread & Butter Pudding, One Pot Ratatouille, Tomato Tarts, 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow, Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto, Noodles with Pork & Veggies


A couple of Pizzas: Salami, Courgette & Blue Cheese, Griddled Veggies & Goats Cheese

Griddled Veggies & Goats Cheese Pizza

We had our first pizza night in ages at Chez Foti last night. We’re very lucky to have an original bread oven in the house that makes the most excellent wood fired pizzas, though I have yet to use it to actually make bread – it’ll be this Winter’s challenge!  Over the summer it’s just too hot to fire up as it’s stays warm for days, so homemade pizza is a cold weather treat for us.  And the still hot oven is great the next day for warming up bread and croissants for breakfast, plus any lucky leftover pizza slices (an amazing hangover cure I find!).  I think we gorged ourselves on pizza virtually every Saturday night last winter!  It’s such a fun thing to do, and really not at all tricky.  I would say it’s great for kids too, but it doesn’t really work for ours, at least not yet anyway!  Francesca who’s three doesn’t like pizza, a very strange phenomenon for a child I know!  And little Jacques’s in bed by the time the oven’s hot and ready to bake (it takes about two hours of wood burning). I’m sure almost all other kids would love to help with the kneading, topping and scoffing though.

The roaring inside of our pizza oven

Obviously you can make pizzas equally well in a domestic oven, just make sure the oven is set to the highest temperature it will go it and has been preheated for a good while before.   Also important is that you bake the pizza on a pre-heated baking tray or special pizza stone….so that the dough starts cooking during assembly.

The great thing with pizzas is that you can put almost anything on them; you can keep them as simple or be as inventive as you want.  I find sticking to just two or three key ingredients in the toppings however usually works best.
Last night I made a couple of pizzas, the first a Salami, Courgette & Blue Cheese Pizza and the second Griddled Veggies & Goats Cheese – see my previous blog  for some blurb on griddled veggies.  If you don’t have a griddle pan, just roast the veggies in the oven instead.  I’ll blog lots more pizza topping suggestions after I’ve made and eaten them over the winter!

To make the pizza dough, enough for two largish pizzas:
350g strong white bread flour, plus a little extra for kneading and dusting
1 tsp salt
6g dried yeast
1 desert spoon of honey
about 220ml warm water

Place the salt and flour in a large bowl and combine.  Add the yeast, honey and water to a jug and mix. Leave for a few minutes for the yeast to act.  Once the yeast is bubbling start to add the wet mix to the flour, at first stirring with a fork, then using your hands.  Once the dough starts to come together place on a floured board or work surface and knead.  Knead until the dough is soft and springy, about 10 minutes.   Flour the dough all over and place in a bowl to rest.  Cover with cling film and put in a warm place for about 30 – 60 minutes.  The dough should be about double it’s original size.  Once risen divide in two and either immediately roll out into your pizza shapes, or place the dough in the fridge until you’re ready.

Salami, Courgette & Blue Cheese Pizza



To make the tomato sauce, enough for two large pizzas:
olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
a handful of fresh basil leaves
a pinch of sugar
salt and pepper

Add the oil and garlic to a saucepan and cook very gently for a moment or two, ensuring you do not burn the garlic.  Add the tomatoes and stir well. Cook for about 10 minutes then stir in the basil, sugar, a good grinding of pepper and a pinch of salt.  Taste and adjust seasoning to suit.

Salami, Courgette & Blue Cheese Pizza
½ the above pizza dough quantity
½ the above tomato sauce quantity
90g salami or french saucisse seche, sliced thinly
60g strongish blue cheese (Gorgonzola, Saint Agur, Roquefort, Stilton for example), cut or torn into small chunks
½ ball of Mozzarella, sliced thinly
1 small courgette, cut lengthways into 4mm strips (if griddling), or halfed lengthways and sliced into  4mm pieces (if roasting)
handful of black olives
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 250°C/gas 9, or as hot as it will go.  Once hot preheat your pizza stone or baking sheet.

Firstly prep your courgette by cooking the strips in a very hot griddle pan.  Cook on both sides until they are charred.  Marinade the courgette in a little olive oil, good grinding of pepper and a pinch of salt.  If you’re roasting the courgette instead, rub the slices with a little oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet in a hot oven for about 10 minutes or so.

Roll out your pizza dough to form a large circle.  Place either on the pre-heated pizza stone or tray, it should sizzle a little as the dough starts to cook.  You should now quickly assemble your pizza, as you don’t want the stone or tray to cool down much.

Spread the tomato sauce, evenly place the salami, then the courgette and finally the cheeses and olives.  Add some extra pepper if you wish.  Place in the hot oven for about 5 to 7 minutes until the pizza looks golden and crispy.   The underside of the pizza should look a little golden.  Slice and serve immediately!

Griddled Veggies and Goats Cheese Pizza

½ the above pizza dough quantity
½ the above tomato sauce quantity
1 small courgette, cut lengthways into 4mm strips (if griddling), or halfed lengthways and sliced into 4mm pieces (if roasting)
½ small aubergine, cut lengthways into 4mm strips (if griddling ), or quartered lengthways an sliced into 4mm pieces (if roasting)
½ red pepper, cut lengthways into narrow strips (if griddling or roasting)
90g goats cheese, sliced thinly
½ ball of Mozzarella, sliced thinly
olive oil
a good squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper
a few torn basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 250°C/gas 9, or as hot as it will go.  Once hot preheat your pizza stone or baking sheet.
Firstly prep your veggies by cooking the strips in a very hot griddle pan.  Cook on both sides until you have charred stripes. Marinade them in a little olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon, a large pinch of freshly ground pepper and a pinch of salt.  If you’re roasting the veggies instead, rub them with a little oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet in a hot oven for about 15 minutes or so.  Add a squeeze of lemon once roasted
Roll out your pizza dough to form a large circle.  Place either on the pre-heated pizza stone or tray, it should sizzle a little as the dough starts to cook.  You should now quickly assemble your pizza, as you don’t want the stone or tray to cool down much.
Spread the tomato sauce, evenly place the veggies and cheeses, and then scatter the basil leaves.  Add some extra pepper if you wish.  Place in the hot oven for about 5 to 7 minutes until the pizza looks golden and crispy.   The underside of the pizza should look a little golden.  Slice and serve immediately.

Sausage & Courgette Risotto

Yep, it’s been two risottos for us this week but I make no apology, having not made any for quite some time I’ve had a bit of a resurgence of interest in my favourite cold weather comfort food!.  I tend to make up my risotto recipes and ingredients as I go along, based on what happens to be lurking in the fridge.  I find that most of my favourite ingredients I’d use to make up a pasta sauce work equally as well, or better, cooked with rice in a risotto. This sausage and courgette risotto is the first time I’ve made this, normally it’s my staple sauce for a quick penne pasta supper (just making a sauce out of the shallots, garlic, chilli, sausage, courgette and passata).

Enough for two very hungry or greedy adults:
2 x shallots
a clove of garlic
pinch of dried chilli flakes
a small knob of butter
olive oil
a medium sized courgette
arborio rice – 200g
a small glass of white wine
hot chicken stock – 700ml
3 tbsp of tomato passata, or 1 tbsp tom puree
Italian salami or French saucisse seche – 100g
a handful of grated Parmesan, plus a little extra to finish
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
a handful of stoned black olives (optional)
salt and pepper

Start the risotto base, by finally chopping the shallots and garlic, and slicing the courgettes (first in quarter lengthways, then sliced to a thickness of a pound coin).  Place the garlic, shallots and chilli in a heavy based pan with a good glug of olive oil and the knob of butter.  Fry until softened then add the courgettes and salami/saucisse for a minute or two.  Now stir in the rice, ensuring the grains get a good coating of the oil/butter.  Pour the wine and tomato passata into the rice and stir well.  Once the liquid has evaporated add a ladleful of the hot stock.  Continue to stir fairly regularly, and once the stock has been absorbed by the rice add another ladleful.  Continue adding the stock until the rice is plumped up and tender, but still has a tiny bit of bit to it.

Stir in the parmesan, parsley and olives if using them, and cook for a moment or two more.  Season to taste and serve with a grating of parmesan over the top.


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