The Dining Room, The Cauliflower and The Grain Free Pizza.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

I’m sitting in my dining room, which has just been painted white by our landlord after years of peeling paint and strange patches on the walls.  I feel like I have a blank canvas to play with, full of potential.  Our living room on the other hand is packed full of our dining room furniture and pretty much resembles Steptoe’s Yard.  But I get to start again in this room.  This weekend we’ll start to drag stuff back.  I’ll put my vintage plates lovingly away in the dresser.  My husband will enjoy reorganising our music collection far more than a person should.  We’ll argue over how the books should be arranged and in what order.  Pretty soon it will look much as it ever did, a thoroughly lived in room with all the tapestry of our lives strewn about.  But for now it’s a blank canvas and how often do we get one of those?

I was going to make a tenuous link about pizza bases being a blank canvas but I won’t do that (except I just did). This is a pizza base with a difference since it is made from cauliflower.  I’d seen quite a few recipes for grain free pizza bases made from cauliflower around the internet and the idea intrigued me.  When I saw this recipe on Green Kitchen Stories the simplicity of the recipe appealed to my sometimes lazy attitude towards cooking and so I took the plunge and gave it a try.  It was a great success and my husband declared it the best “gluten free” pizza he’d had.  Notice he said “gluten free” because quite frankly if you are looking for this base to taste like real pizza you will be disappointed.  Personally I’ve forgotten what pizza tastes like but I know this isn’t going to replicate.  It does stand out on its own as a delicious alternative with a slightly nutty, sweet taste and softer texture. 

Since my husband can’t eat tomatoes these days I went for a goat’s cheese topping with roasted fennel and pear.  The result was delicious.  The sweetness from the caramelised fennel and pears complimented the tang of the goat’s cheese perfectly.  We’ll definitely be making this again many times in the future.

Pizza base recipe adapted from Green Kitchen Stories:  Serves 2-3
1 cauliflower (how much you use will depend on the size of the cauliflower)
80g ground almonds
1 tablespoon of dried rosemary (or whatever dried herb you like)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs beaten
Preheat the oven Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F
Line a baking tray with parchment and set aside.
Chop the cauliflower in to florets and process in a food processor to make a fine, rice like texture.  You should end up with about 700ml of cauliflower rice.  I started off in batches and stopped once I had reached 700ml.
Add the ground almonds, rosemary, seasoning and mix together with your hands.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the eggs.  Mix together until a dough is formed, you will probably need to use your hands for this so be prepared to get messy.  Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.  It will be quite loose and sticky.  Push the dough out towards the edges of the baking sheet and flatten with your hands until a flat base is formed.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until golden.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 fennel bulb finely sliced using a mandolin
1 pear finely sliced.
Hard goat’s cheese sliced
While the pizza is baking in the oven, place the fennel on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast for about 15-20 minutes until the edges are beginning to caramelise and the fennel is slightly softer. 
When the pizza base is ready remove from the oven and top with the fennel, sliced pear and finally the goat’s cheese.  Return to the oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.

Roasted Butternut Squash Rice Bowl

Thursday, 14 November 2013

I’m making an early appearance this week due to a hectic weekend ahead.  I’ve a free evening, home alone with too loud Bon Jovi to keep me company (sorry neighbours).  Rather than stare at the walls I thought I’d talk to you lovely people instead.

I feel like I should almost apologise for posting yet another of my rice bowls but I can’t seem to stop making them.  Once I discovered the magic that some toasted nuts, dried fruits and a bit of goat cheese can bring to a bowl of brown rice and vegetables it seems to be an unstoppable express train headed for my mouth.  You can totally make it your own and just throw in whatever combination of roasted vegetables, nuts and dried fruit you want.  I’m having a thing for butternut squash at the moment so here I used it to add a vibrant touch of orange to my bowl of rice.  There is no end in sight to my love affair with pistachios and for a little festive seasonal colour I used cranberries as my dried fruit of choice.  Kale or some sort of green always makes an appearance.  I made a quick dressing out of olive oil and maple syrup.  Honey would be a good sub.  I think roasting the butternut with a little maple syrup would also be a good plan.  I don’t think I need to write this one up.  Here’s the bones of the recipe, mix it up to suit your own style and tastes.  I roasted the butternut for 35 minutes at Gas Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Apple, Cinnamon and Almond Layer Cake

Sunday, 10 November 2013

There are few combinations that work better than apples and cinnamon so this cake is already a win without even really trying.  It’s a pretty rustic looking cake, a bit rough around the edges.  I like it that way, minimum effort in cake decoration but maximum taste is always my preference.  It’s not overly sweet but then I did reduce the sugar as is my way.  With a bit of yoghurt on top it makes a good winter pudding.  After a stomp across the downs in a tonne of mud it’s perfect with a cup of tea.  This is the third time I’ve made this cake.  That’s how good it is.  The recipe is adapted from Jamie Magazine.  I’ve started buying it recently and my purse isn’t going to thank me for these purchases.  A few years ago I gave up buying magazines.  The price and the fact that they were half full of advertising put me off.  This current little slip is mainly due to the fact I find recipes like this.  If you can use a mandolin to slice the apples it makes for a prettier end result but if not just slice with a sharp knife.  It will add to the overall rustic effect.

Adapted from Jamie Magazine Autumn edition.
100g (4oz) rice flour (or plain flour if you don’t need it to be gluten free)
100g (4oz) ground almonds
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
180g (6oz) unsalted butter, softened or if you want to make it dairy free use 180ml olive oil
100g (4oz) demerara sugar plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling *recipe calls for 180g so I reduced the amount.
3 eggs
1-2 eating apples finely sliced
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F
Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with baking parchment and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the flour, almonds, baking powder, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.  In a large bowl mix together the butter and the sugar and then beat in the eggs.  Carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet until well combined.  Pour half the batter in to the prepared cake tin then top with a layer of apple.  Pour over the remaining batter and finish with a layer of apple on top.  Sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown.