Friday, 27 October 2017

Salad Pizza

Salad Pizza. Yep. Salad on pizza. And spoiler... it was freakin' delish.

Firstly, I love a crisp zingy salad to go with my pizza. It cuts through all that decadent melty cheese but most of the time I never end up making a salad and just devour the pizza as is. But this whole Salad Pizza, salad on the pizza. It's a revelation. Fresh, satisfying, zingy, cheesey, even healthy and it's pizza. Who doesn't love pizza?

Salad Pizza | Los Angeles Cult Recipes | salt sugar and i.JPG

You start off by brushing the base with a sort of egg-wash to make the sesame and poppy seeds stick, then smother the base with garlic, onion and mozzarella. Bake until golden then allow to cool, I couldn't wait as usual so mine was still warm. Smoosh over creme fraiche (I used greek yoghurt as thats all we had and it was still delicious) and top with your salad mix thats full of tomatoes, mixed lettuce leaves, feta, onion and dressed in a lemon vinaigrette. Top with avo and there you have it. Salad Pizza.

Salad Pizza | Los Angeles Cult Recipes | salt sugar and i.JPG

Salad Pizza | Los Angeles Cult Recipes | salt sugar and i.JPG

The recipe comes from a cookbook which I was kindly sent call Los Angeles Cult Recipes by Victor Garnier Astorino, it's pretty self explanatory, it's full of iconic recipes from all over LA. From Hollywood Hills to Venice Beach featuring local farmers markets and iconic restaurants. It's not your typical styled cookbook book and has more of a feel like you are flicking through someones holiday snaps. Now, my only experience of Los Angeles is LAX Airport where all I remember is the huge and delicious and huge Cobb Salad I had. You don't get Cobb salad here so this was novelty. Did I mention it was huge? I also don't have any other Cobb Salad to compare this too so if you know of one I should try, I'm up for it. Oh and I also remember taking your shoes off through security and that once you were through security there was next to nothing to eat, see or do. Tip: bring a book.

There are quite a few other recipes I want to get stuck into such as the Cobb Salad, Banh-Mi Chicken Tacos, Vanilla Donuts, Banana Cream Pie, Lobster Roll and Hawaiian Tuna Poke. There is also a few other interesting pizza's in the book... mac and cheese pizza anyone? And it does supply a pizza dough recipe but it requires three days prep and I am not that organised. Instead I ended up using a  recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, called rushed pizza dough. It was great. If you are an organise person, I'd suggest you make the Jim Lahey pizza dough the night or morning before, it really is one of the best homemade ones I've had, yet for some reason I've never shared it with you before now.

Salad Pizza is definitely going to get a working this summer, pizza stone on the BBQ and voila! Pizza oven outside. I am not turning tiny apartment into a sauna this summer (again).

I know the recipes below look long (thats because there is three of them) and a lot of ingredients (thats because there is three of them) but it's not really... because it's three recipes. Pizza, Dressing and Dough. Just do it!

Salad Pizza

recipe from Los Angeles Cult Recipes by Victor Garnier Astorino
(makes 1 x 9 inch pizza)

pizza dough for 1 base (recipe I used below or here or here)
2 eggs
1 small handful poppy seeds
1 small handful sesame seeds
3 or 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100g grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
75g light creme fraiche (or sour cream)
1 big handful of mixed salad leaves
1 tomato, chunky diced
1/2 white onion, finely sliced*
60g feta cheese, diced
lemon vinaigrette (recipe below)
1/4 avocado, sliced**

*I used 1 whole red onion instead of 1/2 and 1/2.
**only a 1/4?? come on... 1/2 at least!

Preheat your oven to it's highest temperature it goes and if you have a pizza stone, place that in the oven too.

Spread out the pizza dough to about 30cm in diameter. Lightly whisk the eggs in a bowl then brush the entire surface of the pizza, inside and outside of the edges with the whisked eggs. Sprinkle over the poppy seeds, sesame seeds and chopped garlic - they seeds and garlic need to stick to the egg. Sprinkle with mozzarella and finely chopped red onion.

Bake the pizza for 12-15 minutes, the edges should be golden brown. Allow to cool.***

Mix the salad leaves with tomato, white onion and feta. Dress with a couple of tablespoons of lemon vinaigrette. Spread the dressed salad over the cheesy garlicky pizza base and top with avocado slices.

*** I topped my pizza when it was still slightly warm as I am impatient and was hungry. Just meant it needed to be eaten quickly and not sitting around. Delicious!

Lemon Vinaigrette

recipe (slightly adapted) from Los Angeles Cult Recipes by Victor Garnier Astorino
(makes enough for salad pizza and to dress your salads throughout the week)

125ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
60ml (1/4 cup) white wine vinegar
1 small bunch curly-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed/minced
45ml fresh lemon juice
30g dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place everything in a glass jar, put the lid on (make sure it's tight!) and shake shake shake.

Rushed Pizza dough - using a mixer

recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
makes 1 thin 30cm round pizza

100ml warm water
1 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
200g plain or bread flour, plus more for counter
1 teaspoon table salt
olive oil, for coating bowl

Turn your oven to warm (120C) for 5 minutes, then turn off.

Using an electric mixer, pour the warm water into the bowl of your mixer, sprinkle yeast over the water and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the flour, then salt and mix using your dough hook on a oderate speed until the mixture starts to form a craggy mass. Reduce the speed to love and mix for 5 minutes, letting the dough hook knead the mass until smooth, elastic dough. Remove the dough and wipe out the bowl.

Coast the inside of your wiped out mixing bowl with olive oil, place the dough back in and cover with plastic wrap. Place in previously warmed (turned off) oven, and let it sit for 30 minutes or until doubled. Remove dough from oven (now is a good time to preheat it according to your recipe's instructions).

Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop and roll and/or stretch to fit your baking tray/pizza peel. Your pizza dough is now ready to top with delicious goodies.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Lemon and Poppyseed All-Day Cake... for baby George.

When a friend delivers a scrumptious baby boy you make cake. Just a simple cake. The kind of cake you can eat no matter what time of day it is because I'm told, the days and hours all meld into one.

AND cake is for celebrating and what better reason to celebrate than welcoming a new baby??!

lemon and poppy seed all-day cake | salt sugar and i

When I went over to visit the brand spanking new parents and bubba I brought lemon and poppyseed afternoon cake, still warm from the oven. I knew that morning while I lazily lazed in bed dreaming of food that I wanted to take something, some sort of food as a gift. You see, it's important to always have snacks, and tasty ones at that. I was also sure that the new little one had been keeping them pretty busy so it was something I could do while their arms were newborn full. Never having made this recipe before I was in somewhat risk of turning up empty handed but I was quietly confident (the only one home was Arty so yes... quietly confident) as it's a Julia Turshen recipe and, touch wood, hers always turn out delicious and without drama.

It did not disappoint. Not only was it simple, moist (yes it's ok to use this word) and not too sweet, it was the perfect type of cake to be eaten any time of day, not just afternoon like the recipe says. PLUS, just like Julia says in the intro to the recipe, it's a great one to have up your sleeve. It's up mine now that's for sure. She also throws some spin-offs to the recipe (this is one) so you can swap up the citrus, take out the poppy seeds or add different extracts for whatever might tickle your cake cravings.

lemon and poppy seed all-day cake | salt sugar and i

Now I'm going to say I think it was enjoyed by all... otherwise everyone was very polite and have great poker faces but I'm going to go with the first one and the fact that I enjoyed it so think you would too.

If you know someone who just had a baby I suggest you make this for them. It won't matter what time of day you visit, it can be for breakfast, second breakfast, morning tea, arvo tea or even dessert. And if you don't know anyone who's just had a baby, add this one up your sleeve and make it just because my friends had a baby.

And the new bubba.... he's so delicious. George. Welcome!

lemon and poppy seed all-day cake | salt sugar and i

Lemon and Poppyseed All-Day Cake

recipe from Small Victories by Julia Turshen

120g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
50g (1/2 cup) almond meal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
120ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil*
100g (1/2 cup) white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 60ml (1/2 cup) fresh lemon juice
icing sugar, for dusting

* I used half extra virgin olive oil and half regular olive oil
** I used raw sugar (it's what we had on hand)

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8 inch (20cm) round cake tin, then line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and then for good measure, butter the baking paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. Zest the lemon over this bowl to catch all the zest and any extract oils that come with it.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until the whites and yolks are fully combined. Add the olive oil and granulated sugar and whisk until sugar is dissolved (test by rubbing some of the mixture between two fingers). Whisk in the vanilla and lemon juice. Whisk in the flour mixture.

Pour the batter into your prepared cake tin, making sure you get all the batter out of the bowl. If you have any large air bubbles, hold the tin just a little bit above the counter and then drop it on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles.

Bake until the cake is beautifully golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre come out clean, 25-30 minutes. Transfer the cake, still in its pan, to a wire rack and let cool completely ***. Once cool, use a butter knife to loosen the edges of the cake from the pan and invert onto your work surface. Peel off the baking paper and invert it again, dome side up.

Just before serving, dust with some sifted icing sugar.

***I did not do this, I was impatient and running late. Plus who ever turns their nose up at warm cake??!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Risi e Suca (Pumpkin & Rice Soup) from Veneto.

A good few weeks ago while everything seemed a little mad I was sent this beautiful book Veneto by Valeria Necchio of the blog Life Love Food. It a beautiful Italian cookbook filled with stories and traditions from the Veneto region in north-eastern Italy. After just flicking through the book I was already making mental notes of everything I wanted to cook and after what feels like a lifetime, I finally got around to sitting down, having a read and making a couple of recipes.

The book is split up into two sections. Part I: 'then' and Part II: 'now'. The 'then' explores family recipes cooked in Valeria's childhood home, the Venetian Countryside by Valeria's grandmothers and mother, some recipes are three generations passed down. The 'now' is all about the foods she makes in her modern Italian kitchen. You'll find recipes where she has drawn from tradition but also modern influences from her travels and current home, London. You don't see the obvious dishes of Italy in this cookbook, instead it explores a region I think that is less well known.

Each recipe in the book has an introduction that gives you tips and a story to the dish. I love when there is more than just a list of ingredients and a method - it makes the whole book much more personal. I love knowing why a recipe's made it in a cookbook, why they make it, who makes it for them and why it's been carried down for generations. I'm a nosey little tosser really!

When I finally picked a recipe, this was no easy task may I just reiterate, it was on a cooler night last week when I was home by myself so the entire book was my oyster without the usual comment of 'is there chicken in it?' *rolls eyes*. This meant I got to choose a recipe that was full of veg and carbs - my favourite! I checked what we had in the fridge and pantry and decided the pumpkin and rice soup which is in Part 1: 'then' would be my dinner. I wanted to cook something I've never made before and this caught my eye. It looks and sounds pretty much like risotto but according to Valencia the difference is the way it's cooked so it's called a soup instead.

It was such a simple recipe I couldn't believe it while I was making it, I kept thinking surely I need to do something else or add something more here but nope. It's a genius way to make risotto .. sorry soup and I completely understand why it's on her mum's list of favourites. I didn't add the optional Italian pork sausage but will next time as the salty savoury-ness of the sausage stirred through would work so great against the sweetness of the pumpkin. Mmmm yum.

Next on the list to make is the prawn and prosecco risotto, baby octopus and potato salad, venetian-style doughnuts and Ice Cream 'drowned' in coffee & Amaretto - umm how decadent do they sound?!

Anyway... here's the recipe incase we get a cold snap this spring or you haven't accepted winter is truly done and dusted and you're living with the air-con set on 18C OR, if you're on the other side of the world to me, it'd be a great fall recipe to make.

Rice and Pumpkin Soup - Risi e Suca

recipe adapted from Veneto by Valeria Necchio
serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 brown onion, finely chopped
800g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 3cm chunks
1.5L vegetable or chicken stock
250g risotto rice
100g Italian pork sausage, crumbles (optional)
50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a wide, heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter and when it's hot and bubbly add the onion and fry on a low heat until translucent, stirring every so often so it doesn't colour. Stir in the pumpkin and cook over a medium heat until the edges of the pumpkin are soft, make sure you stir often so nothing colours.

Pour in the hot stock, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the pumpkin is cooked through and falling apart. Remove from the heat and using a stick blender, blitz until smooth. Season to taste.

Place the pumpkin stock back on a medium heat and once it comes back to the boil, add the rice. You will need to stir quite frequently to avoid the rice sticking to the bottom but you don't need to stand there as a slave to your pot. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the rice feels tender and the soup has thickened and turned dense and creamy.

Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, if you are using the Italian pork sausage in the recipe, fry the crumbled sausage in a dry frying pan until browned and cooked through. Stir into soup at the very end along with the grated parmesan and a fresh grinding of black pepper.