Panzanella – Italian Summer Sour-dough Salad

Panzanella – Italian Summer Sour-dough Salad

 italian salad

Its hot! And its gorgeous outside! And when it’s hot for days on end, my tastebuds always hunger for light salady type foods, that are fresh, aromatic and seasonal.

This ‘salad’ could almost be called a de-constructed Bruchetta,  and is an absolute winner if you are hungry rather than peckish, as the bread is already inside the dish. The chunky sour-dough soaks up all the rich olive oil and vinegar, and combined with fresh tomatoes from the garden, you have yourself the perfect salad.

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Serves 4

1 organic loaf of sour dough bread or ciabatta

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

750g ripe tomatoes, halved

100ml organic extra virgin olive oil

2tbsp white wine vinegar

10 or so basil leaves
salt and pepper

 

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Combine the halved tomatoes and garlic in a bowl, with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix well using your hands to release the flavours.

Stir well, then leave the salad for 10 minutes, to infuse.

Meanwhile chop the bread into cubes, and lightly fry on a hot pan with a little extra oil, until golden. Add the hot bread to the tomato bowl, and combine well. Mix in the basil leaves, and serve immediately.

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Filed under Sides, Summer

Strawberry Rhubarb Summer Cordial

Strawberry Rhubarb cordial-4

 

 

 

This year has so far been a top year for berries. My strawberries have produced a bumper crop of delicious deep red fruit. However…just as they were 1 or 2 days away from perfection, something began to ‘nibble’ them. And after a close inspection I found a mouse hole, right in the middle of the strawberry patch! A great home indeed! Lovely warm straw, and plenty of fresh berries on the door step, well I couldn’t blame them really!

Strawberry Rhubarb cordial-1

Strawberry Rhubarb cordial-2

But, I wasn’t going to leave the remaining crop to the greedy mouse, so I picked every ripe berry and had enough to have with meringues and make a summer cordial too.

Paired with my last remaining rhubarb, this is summer preserved in a bottle.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb cordial-3

 

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Makes 1.5 litres

 

300g  strawberries,  roughly chopped
3 sticks of rhubarb, washed and chopped
300g caster sugar
2 lemons, juice and zest of
1 liter water

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Tip the fruit into a heavy-based pan alongside the lemon zest and pour over the sugar.

Simmer over low heat  for 10 minutes or until it has just begun to soften. Pour over the water and lemon juice and turn the heat up to medium.

Boil for a further 15 minutes then remove from the heat.

Strain the fruit using a sieve, pressing down well with a wooden spoon. Pour into sterilized glass bottles.

The cordial will keep for 3-4 weeks in the fridge.

To serve, dilute to taste, with either still, sparkling water or maybe serve with vodka as an aperitif.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb cordial-6

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Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pizza with Yellow Squash and Goats Cheese

pesto pizza sm

 

Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pizza with Yellow Squash, Goats Cheese and Dill

My garden is thriving, as the summer is at last here for definite! I’ve got various salads, including hot and peppery rocket, butter lettuce, chard, spinach..to name a few. And of course dill, which I use as a salad ingredient most days. Freshly picked, nothing beats the aromatic flavour of dill. It adds depth and contrast to this pizza, and is a match made in heaven with goats cheese.

This pizza came about as Al Fresco dining was on the cards last week, as it had been a hot afternoon, and the promise of a warm evening was guaranteed!

But after the decision had been made that pizza was on the menu, I realized I didn’t have my store cupboard staple – Pesto. But as I mentioned above, my rocket and spinach was doing well, so I quickly threw one together. The lack of pine nuts didn’t put me off, I just substituted them with pumpkin seeds, they do the job nicely!

rocket pesto sm

Here’s the confessional part of the blog post – I never use recipes, or measurements whilst cooking at home…

Only when baking do I pull out the scales and books, baking is a science, cooking is an art form! But when I am creating a recipe for the blog, or the magazine I work for, I meticulously measure my ingredients as they are being prepared, so I know what to tell the readers.

But I thought I would, as a first ever Camera and Clementine special, not include precise quantities for the pesto (I will do that for the dough, though) as it is an easy recipe to develop and practice your cooking skills and tastebuds on.

pesto pizza 1 sm

Pesto

makes one jar

2 big handfuls of fresh spinach

2 handfuls of rocket

1 handful of fresh basil

3 cloves of garlic

1 handful of pumpkin seeds

a large squirt of lemon juice

enough organic extra virgin olive oil to make it smooth

a 3×3 inch square of parmigiana

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Dough

300g strong flour

½ tsp fast action yeast

2 tbsp olive oil

170ml water

½ tsp salt

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Topping

1 small yellow courgette

100g goats cheese

3 tbsp pesto

1 red onion, sliced

a few olives

a few sprigs of dill

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Method

To make the dough:

Tip the flour, salt and yeast into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the water and oil into the well and slowly incorporate the flour until you have a soft dough.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 min. Place back into the bowl, cover and leave to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 220 °c /fan 200 °c.

Lightly knead the dough again. Divide the dough into two equal balls and roll out using a rolling pin and place on 2 baking trays

To make the pesto:

Dump all of the ingredients into a food possessor and blitz for a few seconds. Then with the motor running, add the olive oil. Now taste it, and check the consistency. Is it garlicky enough? Can you taste the parmigiana? If not, add a bit more. 

 

Pop in a jar, and refrigerate.

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To assemble the pizza:

Spread the pesto over the two pizza base’s and layer the sliced squash, goats cheese, olives and red onion on top.

Bake for 12-14 min, once out of the oven, top with dill and serve.

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Roasted Cherry Tomato and Aubergine Bruschetta with Rocket

rocket copy

Roasted Cherry Tomato and Aubergine Bruschetta with Rocket

 

Its hard to beat freshly picking your own salad leaves, and rocket is at the top of the list for flavour and bite.  Last spring my good friend and ‘Bridesmaid to be’ sent me a packet of wild rocket seeds, and being a lover of variation, I sowed them beside my already thriving lettuce’s. Well, 12 months later and the rocket is still thriving, having survived the mild winter, it is looking and tasting better than ever.

Add rocket to these warm and juicy bruschettas,  and you have a match made in heaven, with the sweet tomatoes,  and lovely fresh pepper punch from the rocket. I like my bruschetta oily and warm with lots of garlic, so if you are like me, dont hold back on the organic extra virgin olive oil.

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Serves 4 as a starter or 2 for lunch

 

250g grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

6 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp oregano

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 large aubergine, sliced into 1cm thick rounds

2 handfuls rocket leaves

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

25g parmigiano cheese, shaved into flakes

1-2 small ciabatta bread

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Pre-heat the oven to 150 ˚C/fan 140˚C.

Place the halved tomatoes in a roasting dish, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper, and roast for 30 min.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining oil and crushed garlic and coat the sliced aubergines. Set aside.

Once the tomatoes are almost cooked, heat a large pan over a medium heat, and grill the aubergines for 5-10 min until soft and cooked through.

Slice the ciabatta and brush with a little olive oil and grill for a minute or two on each side until slightly golden.

 

Now assemble the bruschetta by layering up the aubergine, tomatoes, rocket and parmigiano flakes. Serve warm.

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Rhubarb and Ginger Gin Fizz

rhubarb fiz

You can’t but marvel at nature, especially whilst cooking fruits like the colourful rhubarb. It is always a joy to create impressive looking dishes and drinks all done with nature-powered colourings. I have rhubarb popping up in my garden, and I’m on my second harvest already, so I thought a little celebratory drink to mark the arrival of spring is in order!

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Rhubarb and Ginger Gin Fizz

Syrup:

200g sugar

200 ml water

150g finely chopped rhubarb

1/2 vanilla bean, pod split and scraped

1 thumb of fresh ginger, finely chopped

Mixers:

100ml gin

100ml rhubarb syrup

150ml prosecco or other sparkling wine

a squirt of lemon juice

crushed ice to serve

4 sprigs of rosemary

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To make the syrup:

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook gently until the fruit is soft and the liquid has thickened slightly, about 20 minutes.

Pour and strain the liquid into a large bowl.

Pour the hot syrup into a sterilized glass bottle, cover or cork the bottle and refrigerate. The rhubarb syrup will keep for a week in the fridge.

Make the cocktails by mixing the gin, rhubarb syrup, and lemon juice in a jug or cocktail mixer. Divide the crushed ice between 4 glasses, pour in the mixture and top each glass with sparkling wine. Stir gently and garnish with rosemary sprigs. Serve immediately.

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Filed under Spring, Uncategorized

Super Green Spinach Smoothie

spinach smoothie

 

I dont know about the rest of the world, but here in Scotland, its still cold and wet. April is said to be the rainiest month, and my garden is living proof. I’ve not seen the sky for 10 days straight, just a drab gray cloud cover. In which case, now’s a good time to devour some extra vitamins – the green way!

A super green spinach smoothie to boost your immune system, and get you lean and mean for spring time!

Helping the spinach become more palatable, is sweet pear and tangy kiwi, delicious yoghurt and fragrant vanilla. Once blended, its best to drink the smoothie immediately.

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Serves 2

1 large handful of spinach (50g)

1 kiwis

2 bananas

150ml pear juice

2 tbsp natural yogurt

¼ vanilla pod, scraped

a dash of lemon juice

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Chop the banana and kiwi into chunks and pop them in the freezer for 30min. (they do the job of ice cubes)

Place the spinach and pear juice into the blender, and blitz until smooth. Add the frozen fruit, and blend again. Now add the yoghurt and vanilla seeds, and whizz again for a few seconds.

Serve immediately.

 

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Pear and Marzipan Tartlets with Lemon Marmalade

pear tart

 

Spring seems to come and go, this past week. But there are sure signs of its increasing presence, with the hedgerows turning light green and the daffodils standing tall in full bloom. Spring will triumph once again!

And if you feel like you are just sitting around waiting for spring to really get going, then I’ve got just the recipe if you’ve got a bit of time on your hands.   These little pear and marzipan tarts are a perfect afternoon treat, for friends and family to enjoy on a grey day.

pears_on_table

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Makes 8 tarts

For the pastry

225g plain flour
100g butter
80g sugar
1 large free range egg
½ lemon, zested

Frangipane filling

170g sugar
170g ground almonds
50g marzipan
1 tbsp flour
1 large free range egg
1 tsp almond extract
½ lemon, zested

Plus

3-4 pears, sliced
2 tbsp almond flakes
5 tbsp lemon marmalade, heated

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Add the cold butter and flour to a food processor and blitz to bread crumbs. Add the sugar and egg, and blitz until just combined. If the dough is to dry, add 1 tbsp of ice cold water to the mixture.
Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for one hour minimum.

Meanwhile make the filling. Whisk together all the filling ingredients to a smooth paste, and set aside.
Divide the pastry into 8 equal pieces, and roll out to 3mm thickness, and press lightly into 10cm tartlet tins, prick the pastry with a fork, and refrigerate again for 30 min.

Once chilled, scoop 1 tbsp of filling into each of the tartlets, making sure to fill any gaps. Press slices of pear lightly into the filling and bake at 170 degrees for 25-30 until golden and baked through.

Brush heated lemon marmalade over the tarts, and sprinkle with a few almond flakes. Leave to cool.

 

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Baked Breakfast Eggs with Courgettes and Dill

bagteæg baked eggs

When I get a new piece of kitchen equipment, such as these pretty little turquoise ramekins, Im always looking for an excuse to use them. And what I most often use ramekins for, are to make delicious and easy baked eggs. Yum! You can never have to many eggs in your larder, and Im lucky enough to have friends with hens, so I know exactly where these tasty eggs are from.

eggs small

This dish can either be a lazy morning breakfast for guests, or a hassle free dinner, if your not overly hungry. I like to add a bit of chilli or spinach, but for this recipe I’ve chosen courgette and dill. Serve with some hearty sourdough bread to scoop out the sill runny yolk!

happy hens

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Makes 4 portions

4 organic eggs
4 tbsp cream
1/2 a courgette, sliced
a few springs of dill
1 tbsp olive oil
a knob of butter
salt and pepper to taste

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  • Preheat the oven to 170°C and put the kettle on to boil.
  • Butter the ramekins and place a few slices of courgette into each, then place the ramekins into a baking tray.
  • Break an egg into each ramekin, then pour a tbsp of cream over each egg and add a sprig of dill, salt and pepper.
  • Pour the boiling water into the tray, so that it reaches half way up the ramekins.
  •  Bake for roughly 12-14 min for a still runny yolk

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Rhubarb and Champagne Custard Tart

rhubarb tart

I am to be married! My gorgeous boyfriend of almost 4 years popped the question last week, and I am over the moon! My head is filled with table decor ideas, seating arrangements, menu plans and honeymoons, and when you have an occasion to celebrate, I say – bring out the Champagne!

So in the name of happy engagements, I share with you this delicate, subtle and oh so gorgeous Rhubarb and Champagne Custard Tart.

This tart does very well for any special occasion, as it looks like a plate of pink and peach coloured jewels. It’s very delicate in its flavours, aided by the creamy custard and light champagne and rhubarb jelly glaze.

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Pastry

225g plain flour
110g butter
80g sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp ice cold water, if needed

Custard

550ml milk
50ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
4 egg yolks
30g sugar
2 level tsp cornflour

Topping

Syrup:

200g sugar
200 ml water
150g finely chopped rhubarb
1/2 vanilla bean, pod split and scraped
1 thumb of fresh ginger, finely chopped
100ml water
100ml champagne
1 tsp vege-set

plus an extra:

200g rhubarb, chopped into 1cm pieces.

2 tbsp sugar

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Method:

Crumb together by hand or using a food processor the butter and flour. Next add the sugar, and egg to form a soft dough – add the water if needed.

Wrap in cling film, and chill for 1 hour.

Meanwhile make the rhubarb syrup by combining the syrup ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a gentile simmer and cook until the fruit is soft and the liquid has thickened slightly, about 20 minutes.

Pour and strain the liquid into a large bowl, set a side.

Remove the pastry from the fridge, and roll out to 1 cm thickness, and place in a loose bottomed 24cm tart dish.

Press the edges into the fluted rim, to ensure a nice finish. Chill the pastry once more in the fridge for 30 min.

Blind bake at 170 degrees for 15 -20 min until lightly golden. Remove from oven, and set aside, leave oven on.

Meanwhile, chop the rhubarb into 1 cm pieces and place in a baking tray. Coat with 2 tbsp sugar, bake in the hot oven for 10 min.

Make the custard.

Bring the milk, cream and vanilla pod to simmering point slowly over a low heat.

Remove the vanilla pod.

Whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a bowl until slightly paler in colour.

Pour the hot mixture over eggs and sugar whilst whisking.

Return to the pan, and over low heat gently stir until thickened.

Allow the custard to cool slightly before pouring it into the pastry case, leaving a 1 cm gap at the rim.

Bake for 30 min, until just set, but still wobbly. Leave to cool.

In a pan, combine the syrup, water, champagne and vege-set and heat until boiling point, stirring all the time.

Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for 5 min.

Place the baked rhubarb on the custard tart, then gently pour the jelly mixture over the top. Place in the fridge for 2 hours to set.

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Filed under From the Bakery, Winter

Heart Warming Valentines Cookies with Cinnamon Sugar

valentines cookie sm

I don’t need an excuse to bake, but since its almost St Valentines day, I thought I’d whip up a batch of cookies for my special someone. Who wouldn’t appreciate a tin of homemade goodies, right?

These baked cookies are really easy to put together, and what’s great about them is you can make the dough in advance, and freeze it. Just thaw for an hour, and they are ready to be shaped into love hearts!

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Makes 40

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
1/2 lemon, rind of
300g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp brown sugar

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Cream the butter, caster sugar, then add the vanilla, and lemon rind, cream until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs lightly and add to the creamed mixture. Sift the flour with the baking powder and a pinch of salt, add to the egg/butter mixture. Mix in until combined.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, divide into 2, then wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes. Or freeze for up to a month.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan160°C/gas 4.

Roll out one portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/2 cm. Cut out disks, using a heart cutter, and place on baking sheets lined with baking paper. Now sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar lightly over the tops of the cookies.

Re-knead and roll the trimmings to make more biscuits.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges. Carefully lift onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

Store in an airtight container for a week.

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