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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Garlic Pesto, Tomato and Courgette Pizzettes


Back off my holidays and afresh with new ideas, I couldn't wait to get back into the kitchen! On my travels I re-discovered how delicious freshly baked bread can be. Plain and simple, with no additions, just with a dip of good quality extra-virgin olive oil and some sea salt flakes. I'd forgotten how good it can taste and with this in the back of my mind, it inspired me to make these vibrant, gorgeous pizzettes. 



Using equally good quality fresh ingredients of piccolo tomatoes, garlic, pesto, courgette and rocket is all you need with this recipe.... a perfect lunch to beat those post-holiday blues.



They taste just as delicious hot or cold and even though it makes 8 which may seem a lot, they are supposed to be smaller than your average pizza, hence the cute name - pizzette, so trust me on this one because with these on your kitchen worktop, you won't be able to help yourself but nibble on them all day long (like I did!) 



The dough is effortless too, which for me is just what I tend to go for when choosing a bread recipe. Because who has the time these days to keep going back and to? Proving, knocking back, shaping, re-proving...it can often go on and on! I do have to admit though, I love kneading dough, yet, there is a time and place for it. It just so happens to be that stirring together the dough until it forms a ball is actually the best thing for a flatbread, meaning no need for a knead (sorry). 



Garlic  Pesto,  Tomato  and  Rocket  Pizzettes 


Ingredients


For the dough:
100g wholemeal (whole-wheat) plain flour
200g strong white bread flour
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp fast-action dried yeast

For the topping:
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 ½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp basil pesto
¼ courgette
10 piccolo tomatoes
salt and pepper
½ tsp balsamic vinegar
handful of rocket

Method


The dough will need to be made 2 hours in advance so it has time to rise before putting the toppings on. To make the dough place both flours in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add in the salt and yeast and then 225 ml of lukewarm water. Stir until it forms a ball and no floury patches remain. Cover the bowl with plastic cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for a minimum of 2 hours, 

To prepare the toppings, mix the garlic with olive oil and pesto in a small bowl. Grate the courgette into small strips or use a spiralizer to create short strands. Slice the tomatoes into quarters. Season the courgette and tomatoes with salt and pepper and drizzle over the balsamic vinegar.  

Once the dough has finished rising, preheat a large ovenproof, non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Preheat the grill to its highest setting. Form the dough into 8 balls, you may need to dust your hands and the work surface with flour. Flatten each ball into roughly 12.5cm (5-inch) diameter circles with your hands. 

Place 2 circles of the dough into the preheated frying pan. Brush them quickly with the garlic pesto mixture and top with some of the tomatoes, courgette and rocket leaves. Cook for about 3 minutes, the underside will be browned but make sure they don't blacken underneath by carefully lifting the sides with a fish slice to check. Then place under the hot grill for another few minutes or until puffed up and golden and the rocket has wilted. Remove the pizzettes from the pan and keep them warm whilst you repeat the process with the other 6. 



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Monday, 11 July 2016

Banoffee Blondies


The blondie. I predict that some of you may be completely in the dark as to what this actually is. If that's you, well, I'll tell you what it is. 



It's the brownie's younger cousin, still holding all the charms that a classic brownie would have. Fudgy, dense and every bit the same, rich and delicious. But, the main differentiation which cuts them into two is the principal flavour. 



Blondies contain white chocolate, however, the main theme running throughout this tray bake is the brown sugar, creating a lush butterscotch flavour. To add to this, most choose to add in other extras, likewise to what you might expect from the counterpart sibling - brownie. Nuts are a popular choice to give it that textural contrast between them and the soft, dense batter as for their lovely flavour. 



As for my recipe, I have put my spin on the traditional banoffee concoction, choosing to swirl thick dulce de leche through the batter to which I also added in a mashed banana, resulting in a moorish, toffee-like consistency. To finish, I sprinkled over chopped hazelnuts and chewy banana chips. 



Cut into as big or as many small pieces as you like and depending on this, you may find that they last you up to 5 days, if that's true for your household then that's fine as these blondies keep well due to being so moist! (Moist...don't ya think it's a funny, weird word.)  Anyway, just store them in an air tight container. 

Banoffee  Blondies


Ingredients:


4 eggs
250g light brown soft sugar 
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g unsalted butter, melted
130g plain flour
160g white chocolate (or chips), chopped
1 large ripe banana, mashed
130g dulce de leche or carnation caramel
40g hazelnuts, chopped
40g chewy banana chips


Method


Preheat the oven to 160°C/ 325°F/ gas 3. Line and grease a square baking tin (20-23 cm in size) with parchment paper,

Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until the mixture is thick, pale and creamy. It should have almost doubled in volume and the mixture should leave a ribbon-like trail when the whisk is lifted out of the batter. This could take up to 10 minutes, or longer if doing by hand with a balloon whisk. 

Add in the melted butter, whilst still whisking, pouring slowly as you go. Now add in the flour and beat until just smooth and there are no lumps of flour left. Stir in the white chocolate and mashed banana. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin. Put the dulce de leche into a small bowl and beat with a spoon until it slackens. This will make it easier for it to be drizzled all over the cake batter. Sprinkle over the chopped hazelnuts and banana chips and then bake for 45-50 minutes or until just set. Leave the blondie to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Peel away the parchment paper. The blondie may sink slightly and crack on top just like a brownie. 

Cut the blondie into portions and serve. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for upto 5 days. 

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