Pizza – Take Two

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Oh where has the summer gone? It seems to have passed us by and it’s already starting to feel quite autumnal. As I type this the sky is grey and there’s not a hint of sunshine to be seen. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago we went to Crete a few weeks ago. This is a distant memory now and I’m already hankering after sunshine, warmth and alfresco dining. ‘Why I am I wittering on about this?’ you may ask. Well, today’s post reminds of sunnier times. We each had huge pizzas down by the quay in Elounda in Crete which were so big we had to ask for boxes to take it away (which came in very handy for lunch the next day). (I think I spoke too soon when I started typing this this morning. Obviously the weather heard about my grumblings as we have been treated to a glorious sunny day here in Hampshire – hurray! I am sat finishing this in the remaining sunshine in the garden. )
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Smoked bacon, leek and roast garlic quiche

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My Dad came to visit this week and was due to arrive around lunchtime so I decided quiche might be a good lunch option. I’d never made one before and I am also a little nervous when it comes to making pastry so it was a new adventure in baking for me! I had a look at quite a few different recipes but spotted this recipe on the BBC website. As I had some leeks that needed using up, I decided this was the recipe to try. Handily, there is a video that accompanies the recipe showing you step-by-step what you need to do.
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Beef cobbler with cheddar and rosemary scones

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I decided to try a savoury bake this weekend. This week was a week of birthdays at work so by the time my colleagues had munched their way through my Salted Caramel Billionaire’s Flapjack on Tuesday and then cake nearly every other day I think we all need a break next week (well until maybe Friday!)

I had seen this Paul Hollywood recipe ages ago and pinned it to my ‘Recipes to try’ board on Pinterest. After making Mary Berry’s Cottage pie with dauphinoise potato a couple of weeks ago we had some red wine that needed using up so decided yesterday was the day to give it a go. I normally fail to make a decent beef casserole but I have to say this was delicious. The recipe says to use a metal casserole dish but we don’t own one so I cooked everything in a frying pan before transferring it to a glass casserole dish in the oven. The original recipe is for 6 people but as it was just the two of us I halved the quantities to make enough for 3 (leaving a portion for the freezer). The original recipe uses malt flour and wholemeal self-raising flour which I didn’t have so just added a teaspoon of baking powder to some wholemeal flour and increased the amount of self-raising and wholemeal flour to make up for the missing malt flour.
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Pork en Croute with Spicy Cabbage Stuffing

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When out doing a spot of last minute Christmas shopping with Mr Birdie we found Rachel Allen’s ‘Bake’ for a bargainous £3! I spent a lot of the Christmas holidays perusing the recipes. One of the recipes I spotted was this pork en croute recipe which I thought sounded interesting. When food shopping just before the New Year I spotted some pork fillet which was reasonably priced so snapped it up. This weekend I decided to try it out.

It is the first time I have tried anything savoury pastry based and this ambitious! I have to say I thought there was a point during the making of it that I thought it would all end up going horribly wrong but I was pleasantly surprised. As you can see from the photo above I did have a few cracks and sadly a ‘soggy bottom’ but for a first attempt I was pretty pleased. I used the flaky pastry recipe from Ruth Clemens ‘The Pink Whisk’ blog which you can find here. I found it was just the right amount of pastry with enough left over to decorate it. I served it as a Sunday roast accompanied by roast potatoes, roast carrots and parsnips and Brussels sprouts. The bonus of this recipe is that it can be prepared beforehand and can stay in the fridge for up to 24 hours or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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You want a pizza this?

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As I’ve said before I’m not really a savoury baker. Dough scares me! However, with time on my hands during the holidays it allows me to try out some different recipes. We enjoy pizza in the Little Birdie household so I decided to try making a pizza from scratch for dinner.

I used a Lorraine Pascale recipe for the dough which you can find on the BBC website here. I was pleased with how it turned out. It wasn’t as thin and crispy as a normal pizza but this was probably down to me not rolling it out thin enough. I’ve also read that a pizza stone helps create a more authentic pizza but sadly we don’t own one so maybe I will have to investigate.
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A savoury twist – Cheese straws and Tomato & Gruyere whirls

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I’m not normally a savoury baker – I much prefer sugary, chocolaty treats that are crowd pleasers. However, last Saturday I organised a baby shower for my lovely friend Emma who is expecting a bundle of joy very soon. This called for some savoury snacks. I decided to make cheese straws and tomato and Gruyere whirls. I had made the tomato and Gruyere whirls last year for my 30th birthday afternoon tea and everyone had enjoyed them so decided these would be a good bet. Cheese straws were an entirely new adventure for me! The tomato and Gruyere whirls are super easy and require nothing other than assembling (unless you are feeling brave and want to make your own puff pastry – something I am not quite ready for!)

Both of these recipes come from a Sainsbury’s cooking book I was given as an end of year present by an ex-pupil. I used to bombard them with tales of my cupcake making and even bring baking into my Maths lessons so I was really touched to receive it. It’s called ‘Baking Recipe Collection’ by Sainsbury’s and is out of stock on the Sainsbury’s website but it you look on Amazon you can find second hand copies starting from the bargainous price of 1p (plus postage and packing). I’ve decided to combine the two into one post.

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