Monthly Archives: April 2017

Cooking in a Woodfired Oven

On Saturday I went on a course to learn how to use our rather elderly pizza oven properly.  We have had it for 18 years now so, although I had been doing pizzas in it, I was sure I could do more and better!

Mike, who is the pizzaiolo of Lucca Enoteca in Manningtree, is a third generation Italian chef and turns out something like 800 pizzas a week from his woodfired oven certainly helped me look at things differently.

Rather than make this an extra long post, I will post how to make and shape dough another time as well as giving some ideas for different combos of toppings and how to make calzones.   I must, however, mention Nutella pizza   Just cook a plain base and spread with Nutella once out of the oven   I found today the Nutella had mysteriously disappeared so I used praline paste and chocolate drops instead   Delicious with an espresso to sip on

The photos are from today, Sunday, when I put what I had learnt to the test   I think I got the best results ever and am no longer worried about putting the pizza directly on the oven floor as I know how to control the ash  Here are the top ten tips I learnt  Continue reading

Salted Chocolate Caramel Mousse

This recipe makes me feel very sophisticated and very French, particularly if I serve it in small, elegant coffee cups. I can easily imagine myself as a very chic Parisian Madame as I eat it. It doesn’t need cream as the hint of salt cuts through the richness of the chocolate  The caramel element adds a lusciousness and depth that is often missing from mousses.  It can be dressed up with almond biscuits or berries or even a madeleine on the side – this time I added a mini chocolate praline egg for Easter   For entertaining it is a perfect recipe as it can be made in advance and keeps – providing you can repel marauders – for up to a week in the fridge.   In my opinion its intensity probably makes it a pudding more suited to grown ups,  but lots of children have such sophisticated palates nowadays I wouldn’t like to count them out!! Continue reading

Hot Cross Buns

Q: What do you get if you pour a kettle of boiling water down a rabbit hole?

A: A hot cross bun!

A truly dreadful joke I admit but homemade hot cross buns are wonderful I promise   They are time consuming but most of that is because you have to wait longer than normal to let the dough rise, partly because it is an enriched dough and partly because the spices seem to slow the yeast down

Mind you, I cheat and make and shape my dough the day before and leave to prove in fridge overnight, then remove from fridge an hour before baking so we can have them for breakfast on Good Friday without getting up at the crack of dawn!!! Continue reading

Baked Gigot of Monkfish with a Warm Tomato Vinaigrette

It’s Good Friday today and traditionally in our household, and no doubt many others, we eat fish.  Unfortunately, lots of people I know get put off fish by the prospect of fiddling about with bones.  This is where monkfish comes into its own. The gigot (or tail) of monkfish only has a large central bone which makes serving easy!  But this is a dish that keeps on giving, because there is no last minute frying or poaching- it bakes in the oven.

Monkfish has a dense, white meaty flesh, and in this recipe it is spiked with anchovies to season (please don’t be put off if you aren’t sure about them, the anchovies melt into the monkfish), then marinated in lemon and olive oil, and nestled on a bed of Rosemary so that it is perfumed with its flavour as it bakes.  The warm tomato vinaigrette that is poured over just before serving is the perfect sauce and also goes well with whatever green vegetable you serve with it.  Today we had it with asparagus as it is growing like mad in the garden right now. Continue reading