As most thing we do, my pizza sauce is going through a perpetual rebirth. 2011 draws to a close and this is now my favourite. This recipe makes for about 3-5 pizzas, depending on how long you let it simmer and how much you use. Worry not if you make too much, it makes a perfect pasta sauce the next day.
Pizza Sauce version: #6 // Dec 2011
Clove of garlic, finely chopped
Tin of plum tomatoes (400 g)
30 g tomato pure
About 10 basil leaves, chopped
1/2 tbsp sugar
Fry the garlic in the oil for a few minutes on medium heat
Mean while, pour the plum tomatoes in to bowl and properly crush them with your fingers
Add chilli in with the garlic and then the tomatoes
Mix well, add tomato pure and mix again
Add sugar in small increments, tasting each time to make sure it doesn’t go too sweet
Throw in your chopped up basil leaves and let it simmer till excess water has evaporated
Last summer, we had a lovely dinner at Fishers in the City, a very nice fish restaurant in Edinburgh. I can’t remember what I had but Darina’s starter was much more memorable; gherkin soup. I had never heard of such soup before and apart from few recipes online, it’s not well know. Perhaps that’s because gherkins aren’t as popular in much of English speaking world as they are in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
This recipe is a sort of a combination of the few I could find, taking the best bits and keeping it very simple. Unlike many vegetarian soups I think the gherkins bring a bit more body and distinct flavour.
We had this as the soup course on our Christmas meal this year. It’s great as it’s easy to make, I’ll make mine in the morning and heat it up for serving.
Polish Gherkin Soup with Dill
120 g diced onions
150 g diced potatoes
150 g diced carrots
150 g gherkin, sliced into strips
5 tbsp cream
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
1/2 tbsp dill
Heat butter in a small sauce pan and lightly fry the onions in it for 3 minutes or until soft. Be careful not to brown them
Add potatoes and carrots, and generously cover with water
Bring to boil and let it simmer till carrots are almost cooked
In a small bowl, dust the sliced gherkins with flour so they’re covered and then add to the pan
Add cream, stock and seasoning to taste. Omit dill if gherkins are preserved with it. You can also use a splash of gherkin brine to enhance the flavour
You can also add a little bit of finely chopped red chillies to add warmth
These two casserole dishes are must-haves in Finnish Christmas table. They’re side dishes to the main but especially carrot casserole would make a great vegetarian main anytime of the year.
75 ml rice
200 ml water (or water carrots were boiled in)
350 ml milk
500 g carrors, sliced and boiled
1 tsp salt
pinch of white pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tbsp syrup
breadcrumbs and butter for crusting
Start by boiling the carrots in barely enough water.
Keep the water and use it to boil your rice. Once rice has absorbed all the water, add milk and simmer on lowest heat for 45 minutes.
Mash your carrots and add other ingredients. I usually add rice last, little by little, and make sure there’s not too much of it. You can make this as little or much ‘carroty’ as you want.
Divide in batter into two, buttered, tin foil trays. This will make two roughly 400 gram trays. Level the tray and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 45 minutes in 200°C with a knob of butter on top.
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 50 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6 as a side
Swede (or Rutabaga) Casserole
650 g swede, diced
120 ml cream
40 ml breadcrumbs (plus extra for topping)
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of white pepper
Boil your swede and mash when ready
Add other ingredients and mix well
(Sometimes swedes (and Swedes) can be a bit bitter, if so add more syrup)
Divide into two buttered tin foil trays. This should make two 400 gram trays
Level the tray and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 45 minutes in 200°C with a knob of butter on top.
Here’s some photos from our pizza night next door at our family/friends place next door (well, next door once you’ve traveled to my home in Finland). I got to try making pizzas in a traditional Finnish ‘leivinuuni’, a type of bread oven. How was it? Well, I’ve called off all my meetings/work next week and we’ll be building one!
UPDATE: I actually have spent a large portion of last year designing a new type of wood fired oven called Uuni
Following on from my dough recipe last week, it’s time to spread some sauce on our pizza.
Relatively Quick and Easy Pizza Sauce
The sauce is a balancing act between sweet, salt, heat and, of course, quality of the tomatoes. It might take a bit of experimenting and trying out but as long as you don’t boil it for too long and are careful with seasoning, you’ll be fine.
clove of garlic
2 tins of good quality plum tomatoes
140 g tomato purée
2 tbsp of sugar
1/2 tsp chillie flakes
Salt and pepper
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauce pan, add roughly chopped garlic and onion.
Fry for 3 minutes or until they start changing colour a little.
Add sugar and stir until the onions start caramelising, minute or two at longest.
Pour in your tinned tomatoes and stir so the tomatoes break up. (Get the best plum tomatoes your money can by. Napolitana are available in most places and are pretty good.)
Mix in tomato purée.
Add seasoning, chillie flakes and basil, simmer for 6-8 minutes.
Want that special vegetarian friend or wife to love you even more? Try this excellently simple and pretty quick mushroom pâté. You can serve it hot straight off the pan or keep it in the fridge for a fair few days. Excellent on top of some toasted French bread.
Vegetarian Mushroom Pâté
150 g oyster mushrooms
150 g button mushrooms
3 Spring onions
2 tbsp sour cream
Fry chopped mushrooms, spring onion, garlic and shallots in a bit of butter and on low heat until they stop giving moisture. Be careful not to let them get brown.
Half way through above, add basil, thyme and seasoning.
Mix in mustard and sour cream.
Take off the heat after about a minute or so
Divide into ramekins and garnish with a sprig of thyme.
Every pizza has to start with the dough. No dough, no pizza. Obviously.
I started making pizzas about year and a bit ago. With ‘started’, I mean that before that I’d only make them occasionally, couple of times a year. It turns out that there’s a lot to it if you’re critical of what you’re doing and aim to make better pizzas than 95 % of pizzerias offer.
Back home, in Finland, a home made pizza used to consist of flattened bread dough with ketchup working as the sauce and fried mince, tinned pineapple, tomatoes and mild edam as toppings. That’s how my grandma used to make them. Today, I think people also have some olives on top.
I know that’s a bit harsh and that’s not everybody’s experience of home pizzas but I think that experience is what made me try harder. Try to make pizzas that actually kick ass and you would hesitate ordering another pizza in a restaurant as you know that you can make better ones at home. It’s a bit like with steaks. Most restaurant steaks are pretty average as it’s not hard to learn how to grill ‘the perfect steak’.
This is why we’re starting Month of Pizza with the dough. With a bit of trial and error, anyone can make a kick-ass pizza dough that’ll rival anything you can whack ten quid on in a restaurant.
500 g of Type ’00’ flour – available in most supermarkets. Use strong bread flour if not available
300 ml luke warm water
8 g dry yeast
3 tbsp olive oil
25 g (2 tbsp) caster sugar
10 g (2 tsp) salt
Mix salt into the flour in a large mixing bowl
Mix water, yeast, sugar and 2/3 of oil together in another bowl
Make a well in the middle of the flour, pour water in that and let it sit for 10-20 minutes until the yeast start working
If you’re using a kitchen mixer such as a Kenwood Chef, mix the dough on low speed for 10 minutes.
While the doing is being mixed, add remaining oil to keep dough from sticking too much.
If you’re hand kneeding, mix the dough by hand in the bowl and pour on your kitchen surface. You should kneed the dough for about 15 minutes and no less to ensure right kind of consistency. There’s plenty of good videos on YouTube to show you how.
(personally, I really like my 1970s Kenwood Chef I got of off eBay.)
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 1 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 3-6
If there’s two important stages to making dough, first is kneeding, second is proving. When the dough is rising, yeast eats and burns sugars from the flour to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The CO2 expands the dough and stretches the gluten, thus making it stronger.
There’s two proving methods I use. First one is quick, just leave it in a mixing bowl and let it rise , covered with cling film or towel, for an hour or until it’s doubled in size.
Cold proving pizza dough
The second is to divide the dough into smaller portions, about four or five, place them into containers with enough room to grow and put them in the fridge. This is called cold proving. I’m not sure of the science and and mechanics of it but it seems like the slow pace the fought tales to rise, it adds to the texture and flavour of the final product. You’ll need to leave it in the fridge for at least 12-24 hours. Many pizzerias that use this method leave the dough to cold proof for up 36-48 hours.
Yes, it’s a lot slow process but results are worth it.
If kneading and rising is done properly, you’ll end up with a dough that can be stretched till it resembles graphene in its thinness. (Your mileage may and will vary.)
Once the dough’s been proven, you need to knock it back. In other words, drop it back on the surface and gently kneed it until most of the air bubbles are gone.
Now it’s ready for rolling, pushing, tossing and stretching into the best pizzas you’ve ever made. These days, I use this amount of dough to make four pizzas but it’s possible to carefully roll up to 8 very very thin pizzas out of this. Once rolled to size, you can leave the base to rest for 10-15 minutes until adding toppings and baking.
If you do end up using this method, please leave a comment and perhaps even a photo on our Facebook page or below!
This is one the cakes made for Oskari’s naming party. I’ve since made it a few more times and done some changes to the original recipe. As with most things in life, you can make them better by adding a drop of alcohol. With the lemon drizzle cake, the natural companion is gin.
To prepare the lemon gin liqueur, squeeze juice from one lemon in to a medium size jam jar, mix in 50 g sugar and place to halves of lemon on top. Then fill up to the brim with gin. Close the lid, shake for 30 seconds and leave for at least a week. This will make for an incredibly bitter sweet ‘juice’ to use for moistening the cake.
Now, on with rest of the recipe.
Kristian’s Lemon Drizzle with Lemon Gin Liqueur
225 g soft butter
255 g sugar
255 g self raising (or plain flour and 2 tsp baking powder)
grated zest of a lemon
Topping and moisten
grated zest of a lemon
15-20 cl lemon gin liqueur
50 g sugar
15 cl icing sugar
Pre heat your oven to 180°C
Mix the sugar and butter until fluffy and creamy.
Continue mixing while adding eggs one at a time.
Add lemon zest and then flour.
Pour and spread dough into a cake tin and bake for 40-55 minutes depending on how deep the tin is. Use skewer to find out if it’s ready.
Take the cake out of the tin and on to a cake base
After about ten minutes out of the oven, use a dessert spoon to slowly infuse the cake with the lemon gin mixed with 50 g of sugar.
Make a runny icing and mix in the remaining lemon zest
Generously, spread the icing over the cake while letting it drip over the edges
We’re back from our holidays and it’s time to get some more recipes up. During our trip, I got started in planning our Christmas meal. Yes, I know, it’s a bit early but we’re hosting it for the first time ever so it’s kind of a big deal. Over the next few months, I’ll be testing out recipes for dishes I’m thinking of offering. You can follow the progress via this tag: The First Christmas. This week, I’ll start with something that’s surprisingly quick and easy to make liver patè.
I’ve made it with port liver, but I’m sure it’ll work just the same with chicken or venison.
Coarse Pork Liver Patè
Relatively easy to make liver patè.
400 g pork liver
1 onion, sliced
50 g butter plus some for frying
1 tsb mace
1 tbsp thyme, chopped
a few sage leaves, chopped
Cut off all the membrane left on the liver
On medium heat, fry the liver and onion in the butter
Add seasoning and herbs
Fry on both sides till the liver is still a little pink inside
Take off heat and let it cool down a bit
Mix in rest of the butter to add moisture
Now, take half of the livers and blend in a small blender until smooth
Blend rest of it only a little bit so that it’s more like a mince
Mix both halves together and pack into ramekins. Try and get rid of as much of the air pockets as possible
Melt a large knob of butter and use it to seal the patè
For a long time, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with stinging nettles. Nettles is one of the first plant of the spring you can forage for food. It marks the beginning of the summer as it’s often the first thing in our garden to end up on our plates. Unfortunately, it just keeps growing ever bigger and in larger quantities. It attempts to infiltrate its stingy stems everywhere, between the raspberry bushes, strawberries and any free space you can find in the garden. I’ve been trying to turn my hate for into love by using it’s stems for colouring wool, but the colour only ends up being a bleak greyish-green.
Luckily, nettle pancakes, by themselves or with mushroom stew, are delicious!
3 litres of small nettle leaves, washed
30 cl plain flour
10 cl barley flour
80 cl milk
an egg or two
1/2 tsb salt
Mix the dough until smooth and add finely chopped nettles
Let it sit for an hour
Cook on a hot skillet with butter
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 1 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4
Morel Mushroom Stew
200 g morel mushrooms (boiled twice to remove poison)
35 g butter
1 tbsp plain flour
20 cl cream
Fry the mushrooms on a dry frying pan for a moment until excess water has evaporated
Add butter, onion and salt, and fry for a few minutes
Add plain flour and fry a bit more until slightly browned
Finally, add cream and let the stew sit for about 10 minutes until serving.