Home made pizza

For some reason I have always had a slight mental block about making my own pizza. I mean, I adore pizza, I was just a bit scared when I made it I would get disappointed with the results and return to my usual habit of going to the chilled section of the supermarket wiping tears of disappointment away from my sad eyes. Turns out I was wrong. Home made pizza is extremely straightforward and delicious! It obviously takes a bit of time for the dough to rise, and be knocked back but the result it so worth it.

I made these pizzas when I had my friends round at my house one friday night. Knowing what a control freak in the kitchen I can be they were happy to let me just get on with it while we chatted and drank cider.

To make your own pizzas at home you will need

For the dough

650g strong white flour

7g sachet of easy-blend yeast (dried yeast)

2 tsp salt

25ml olive oil

50ml warm milk (I actually used soya milk and it was fine)

325ml tepid water

For the tomato sauce

1/2 carton passata

2 cloves garlic

A splash of balsamic vinegar

Fresh basil/a splash of basil oil

The pizza toppings of your choice – you can see what I used later!

Using a wooden spoon mix the flour, yeast and salt together in a large mixing bowl and stir in the olive oil and milk. Gradually add the water, mixing well to form a soft dough. I like to use my hands to mix it in as you get a feel of the dough (make sure they’re clean!).

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The dry ingredients
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Oily
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Adding the water
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As you can see I made the slight error of forgetting to add a load of flour. I included this picture as I thought it was important to show you how daft I can be.
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The dough ready to knead

Put the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for about five minutes, until smooth and elastic. Transfer to a large bowl (I used the same one), cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for over an hour, until doubled in size.

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Kneading time
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Waiting patiently is the key
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Look how it has risen!

When the dough has risen, knock it back and knead again until smooth, roll into a ball and set aside for 30 minutes until it has risen again.

In this time, make your tomato sauce by blending the passata, garlic, basil and balsamic vinegar. I also made some garlic butter (to make a garlic flatbread) by mashing together garlic and butter.

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Divide your dough into 4. If you don’t want 4 pizzas cover what you don’t want in cling film and you can freeze it for another time. Heat your oven to its highest temperature.

Roll out your dough on a floured surface until approximately 12 inches in diameter. Place on a baking tray to add the pizza toppings. When the pizzas are ready to cook bake until crispy and the cheese is bubbling. The time varies according to your oven.

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This makes a good, crispy base

Here are the pizzas I made:

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Not exactly a perfect circle

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Garlic bread – just plain pizza base topped with garlic butter.

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Mozzarella and pesto.

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Goats cheese and sundried tomato.

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Prosciutto and rocket.

These pizzas were a big hit with my friends and are sure to be a crowd pleaser. I wouldn’t recommend overloading your pizza with too many toppings as you might end up with a soggier base. I really hope you will attempt your own pizzas if you haven’t already, home made bases beat shop bought ones by a mile!

Sukhothai, Harrogate

Sukhothai is a fantastic chain of Thai restaurants with several locations in Leeds and one in Harrogate. The restaurant in Harrogate is highly popular with locals and visitors to the town. I have actually been before with work and I did intend to review the meal, but I got a bit carried away with free wine (I love a good corporate function!) Anyway, J and I visited Sukhothai a few weeks ago and tried the set menu (C as I remember). I did have a very embarrassing moment eating some hot and sour soup where the chilli affected me so much my face went red (trust me to put too much in my mouth at once). Anyway, the staff were very kind and brought me lots of water so I could cool down. Here’s what we ate:

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Satay chicken and tiger prawns in crispy batter. Both perfectly cooked and served with a variety of dipping sauces which I thought was a nice touch. I particularly liked the satay chicken.

 

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The infamous hot and sour soup! It was absolutely delicious, even if it did make me sweat!

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Masaman chicken curry and king prawns marinated in spices and stir friend with ginger and garlic. I adore masaman curry and this one was beautiful and the chicken was so tender. The prawns were lovely too, really tasty. I don’t often pick stir friend dishes in Thai restaurants but trying this has inspired me to.

 

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Ice cream and Thai custard. For some reason, I never order desserts in Thai restaurants now, purely because I eat so much for starter and main courses. The Thai custard was lovely and had a delicate vanilla flavour.

If you live in Harrogate, Headingly, Leeds or Chapel Allterton and you haven’t been to Sukhothai, I urge you to go now. It will make you fall in love with Thai food all over again.

You can find out details on Sukhothai here.

Mars Bar melt cookies

I have a massive love of the type of biscuit where you can melt stuff in a pan and add it to dry ingredients. It makes baking things so quick and simple. Last week I had to provide baked goods to a cake stall at work (is bringing biscuits to a cake stall possibly not following instructions) and I made these Mars Bar cookies and some oat biscuits (recipe to be posted at a later date). These cookies are wonderfully sticky and sweet, a real crowd pleaser.

To make these cookies you will need:

125g butter (margarine tastes terrible in biscuits so always use butter if you can)

175g brown sugar (soft brown sugar is best but I ran out and used Demerara sugar and it was fine)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

150g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

200g Mars Bars (about 4)

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C if you have a fan oven. Line your baking trays with baking paper or silicone liners.
Slice your Mars Bars.

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Look at the glorious caramel!

Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan until it starts to bubble. Immediately take off the heat and stir to get rid of the excess heat.

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Once the sugar and butter mixture has cooled transfer into a mixing bowl and quickly beat in your egg and vanilla extract.

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Add the flour and baking powder. Beat until everything is smooth.

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Once everything is well combined stir in the chocolate.

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Don’t forget to lick the bowl!

Use a teaspoon to put the mixture onto the baking trays. Allow plenty of space as the cookies tend to spread slightly. Cook the cookies in batches if you need to.

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Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes. Some of the caramel might have spread out of the cookies. If this happens, don’t despair. Just use a spatula to push the caramel back toward the cookies.

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Messy but delicious

It took a great deal of restraint to take these to work without having a nibble. The kitchen smelt lovely and sweet all night. These cookies can be stored for several days in an airtight container if you can resist them for that long!

 

 

The Yorkshire Show, Harrogate

Harrogate plays host to the Great Yorkshire Show every year during the beginning of July. The Yorkshire show is not only an agricultural show, it also has a fashion show, a flower show, falconry and lots and lots of food demonstrations and a food hall (you can imagine where I wanted to visit most). DC joined my parents and I and we had a wonderful day out in the sun taking photos, watching cookery demonstrations all finished off by drinking a nice cold beer in the sun.

If you live in the Yorkshire area I highly recommend a visit next year. The dates of next years show can be found here.

Here are some pictures that DC and I took throughout the day.