Finally the sun makes a break for it and spring is well and truly here, hoorah! This week’s menu is again light and easy, we’ve got some salads creeping in too – roll on BBQ season is all I can say. Oh and a lovely midweek pancake dish, because we all love pancakes and they are too good just to have once a year!
Saturday: Pizza arrabiata
Sunday: Mango chicken pot
Monday: Spanish omelette
Tuesday: Prosciutto and pea pasta salad
Wednesday: Spinach and mushroom pancakes
Thursday: Sausages w/ sweet potato and fennel
Friday: Homemade falafel pittas with salad and hummus
For the pizza dough:
12 g fresh yeast
pinch of sugar
250 g white bread flour or Italian ‘0’ flour, plus extra to dust
1/2 tbsp olive oil
For the tomato sauce:
4 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 tsp oregano
400 g canned chopped tomatoes, drained
For the topping:
75 g buffalo mozzarella, torn into pieces
200 g plum tomatoes, halved
150 g fresh spicy chorizo, sliced or removed from the skin and crumbled
50 g red pepper sliced or you can use peppadew peppers halved
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
dried red chilli flakes, to taste
chilli oil or extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
For the dough: In a medium bowl, cream the yeast with the sugar and whisk in 125ml tepid water. Leave for 10 minutes until frothy. Sift the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture, then the olive oil. Mix together with a round-bladed knife, then use your hands until the dough comes together. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface, wash and dry your hands, then knead briskly for 5-10 minutes until smooth, shiny and elastic. You should knead for 5 minutes if you have warm hands or 10 minutes if your hands are cold. Don’t add extra flour at this stage – a wetter dough is better. If you feel the dough is sticky, flour your hands, not the dough. The dough should be quite soft. If it is really too soft, knead in a little more flour.
To test if the dough is ready, roll it into a fat sausage, take each end in either hand, lift the dough up and stretch it outwards, gently wiggling it up and down – it should stretch out quite easily. If it doesn’t, it needs more kneading. Shape the dough into a neat ball. Put in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm, draught-free place until doubled in size. This should take about 1½ hours.
Uncover the dough, punch out the air, then tip out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a smooth ball. Place the ball on a non-stick baking parchment, cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to rise for another 60-90 minutes. For the last 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7 and put a large, heavy baking tray, pizza tray or stone on the lower shelf.
For the tomato sauce: In a large shallow pan, heat the oil almost to smoking point. Standing back to avoid the spluttering, add the garlic, oregano and tomatoes. Cook over a fierce heat for 5-8 minutes or until the sauce is thick and glossy. Pass the sauce through a sieve set over a bowl to remove any seeds or skin.
For the topping: Uncover the dough, punch out the air and roll or pull into a 25cm circle directly onto a piece of non-stick baking parchment. Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza base, leaving a 1cm rim around the edge. Scatter evenly with the mozzarella, tomatoes, sausage, peppers, fennel seeds, chilli flakes and drizzle with olive oil, then season.
Open the oven door and quickly slide the paper and pizza onto the hot baking tray or stone. Bake for 5 minutes, then carefully slide out the baking parchment and continue baking the pizza for a further 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and serve immediately with a green salad or if you are feeling piggy, chips!
Mango chicken pot
small bunch spring onions , chopped
thumb-sized piece ginger , chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 red chilli , seeds removed if you don’t like it too hot
small handful coriander , stalks roughly chopped and leaves picked
1 tbsp thyme leaves
zest and juice 1 lime , plus 1 lime cut into wedges to serve
1½ tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp sunflower oil
8 chicken drumsticks
300g long grain rice
400g can kidney beans , rinsed and drained
500ml chicken stock
1 ripe mango , peeled, stoned and cut into bite-sized chunks
200g mango chutney , plus extra to serve (optional)
Put the spring onions, ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander stalks, thyme, lime zest and juice, allspice and oil in a food processor, then blend to a paste. Pour over the chicken drumsticks and leave to marinate for at least 1 hr, or preferably up to 1 day.
Heat oven to 180C/gas 4. Tip the rice and beans into a large roasting tin with deep sides. Remove the chicken from the marinade and set aside. Mix the stock into the marinade in the bowl and stir well. Pour the stock over the rice and beans, then put the chicken drumsticks and the mango pieces on top. Cover the tray tightly with foil and bake for 30 mins.
Take the tray out of the oven and remove the foil. Increase the temperature to 220C/gas 7. Spoon the mango chutney over the drumsticks and return to the oven, uncovered, for 35-40 mins, to brown the chicken pieces and allow the rice to absorb all the liquid. Before serving, fluff up the rice a little with a fork and scatter with the coriander leaves. Serve with lime wedges and extra mango chutney.
500g Charlotte potatoes
knob of butter
2 small onions, finely sliced
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 x 25g pack chives
Finely slice the onions and chop the red pepper, removing the seeds. Cut the potatoes into roughly 1/2 cm slices. Heat a knob of butter in a medium (about 24cm) frying pan over a low heat and cook gently for 10 – 15 until starting to go brown, add the peppers and cook for a further 5 mins.
Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with boiling water and simmer gently for around 8 – 10 mins until just cooked through and drain well.
Break the eggs into a jug and beat with a fork, season with a generous grind of pepper and a pinch of salt. Use scissors to snip the chives into small pieces and stir in.
Heat the grill. Add a little more butter to the frying pan and add the potatoes. Pour over the egg mixture. Cook for 15 mins until almost set and golden brown underneath – you can use a fish slice to lift the omelette up and check. Put the frying pan under the grill. Cook for a further minute or two and serve with a side salad.
Prosciutto and pea pasta salad
350 g pasta, such as orecchiette, fusilli or farfalle
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
100 g prosciutto, sliced
350 g frozen or fresh peas
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp fresh chervil, chopped
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add plenty of salt and return to the boil. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the prosciutto and cook a further 5 minutes. Add the peas, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes until the peas are tender and remember that fresh peas will need slightly less cooking time.
In a bowl, mix together the extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and mustard, adding salt and pepper to taste. When the pasta is cooked, drain and refresh with cold water to cool a little. Combine the pasta with the pea and prosciutto mixture, vinaigrette, parsley, chervil and mint before serving.
Spinach and mushroom pancakes
For the pancake batter
15 g butter (salted)
150 g plain flour
200 ml milk
For the filling
25 g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
400 g baby spinach
225 g mushrooms, sliced
100 ml single cream
1 tsp parsley, freshly chopped
chives, chopped, to garnish (optional)
For the pancake batter: Melt the butter over a low heat. Put the flour, a pinch of salt, milk, eggs and 2 tablespoons of water into a mixing bowl and beat together with a hand whisk to make a smooth batter. Whisk in the melted butter and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes.
For the filling: Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan until it foams. Add the onion, then cover and sweat over a gentle heat for 5-10 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Meanwhile, cook the spinach in a tiny amount of water in a large lidded saucepan for about 3-4 minutes or until the leaves wilt. Drain the spinach, then squeeze out the excess liquid with the back of a spoon.
Add the mushrooms to the onion and cook for a few more minutes, then stir in the cream, parsley and spinach. Season with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Cook ladles of the pancake batter into a non-stick frying pan until set on the surface. Turn over to cook the other side. Use to make 4 large or 8 small pancakes.
Lay the pancakes on warm plates and spoon the filling in the middle and fold over. Serve, sprinkled with chopped chives.
Sausages w/ sweet potato and fennel
500 g sweet potatoes, roughly chopped into 4cm chunks
1 bulb of fennel, chopped into 1cm slices
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
8 sausages, any type you like
8 rashers smoked back bacon
1 tbsp plain flour
100 ml apple juice
50 ml white wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs thyme
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Place the sweet potato and fennel in a large roasting tin with the garlic, celery seeds and brown sugar. Drizzle over the olive oil and give everything a good muddle so all the vegetables are coated and season well. Wrap each sausage in a rasher of bacon and then nestle in with the vegetables. Roast the whole lot in the oven for 25 minutes.
Lightly sprinkle over the flour and shake the tin until it’s disappeared and has been incorporated among the vegetables. Pour over the apple juice, white wine and balsamic vinegar, add the herbs, then continue to roast for a further 20 minutes until everything is cooked through and the sauce is thickened. Serve immediately.
Homemade falafel pittas w/ salad and hummus
For the falafel:
400 g canned chickpeas, drained
1 small onion, peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 pinches dried red chilli flakes, (optional)
2 sprigs coriander, parsley or mint
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp flour
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
vegetable oil, for shallow frying
Salad – any leaves you like, I used a mixed herb salad
For the hummus:
200g canned chickpeas
2 tbsp lemon juice or more
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
100ml Tahini (sesame seed paste)
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp paprika
Put all the falafel ingredients except the flour and oil into the a blender and blitz to a chunky paste. Stir the mixture, add the flour and a tablespoon of water and blitz again to combine. Shape into 4 large patties or you can make small ones, up to you and flatten slightly.
Cover the base of a frying pan with olive oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Fry the falafel for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden and cooked through, don’t have the heat too high or the outside will get dark too quickly and the inside will not be cooked. Drain well on kitchen paper.
For the hummus: Drain the chickpeas and rinse. Combine the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, tahini, and water in a food processor, and blend to a creamy purée. Add more lemon juice, garlic, cumin or salt to taste. put into a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and paprika.
Warm through your pitta breads either in the oven or in a dry frying pan. SLice them open, fill with salad then add your falafel either halved or whole up to you. Add a good dollop of hummus and serve.
(Credits: Good Food Magazine, Rachel Allen, Georgina Fuggle, Good Food Channel, JJMoola’s Kitchen)