Sunday, 4 March 2012

Vintage Recipe Swap: Little Caramelised Onion & Cheddar Pizzas

I know my photo isn't too appealing - but these really do taste amazing!

It has been a hectic but fun couple of weeks with work and home being very busy places!  Cammy has his first tooth, Anna is potty training and we’ve had visits from Uncle Malc, Granny and Pampa and my wee brother turned 30 – this makes me feel old!  I have also managed to visit a restaurant I have been dying to visit for ages where my favourite thing was the haggis spring rolls my husband ordered – yum! I’ve been busy on the baking front too and have had a bit on a Nigella fest – I can thoroughly recommend her Chocolate Guinness and Bounty cakes!
Work wise, things are really busy and I must admit to really enjoying being back.  The crisis in Syria has been keeping my colleagues busy and in here in Aberdeen, North Africa and Nigeria have been key areas of interest for my clients.  To see some of what I’ve been up to have a look here.
I had some very exciting news from a good family friend and former colleague who now lives out in Kabul.  He is part of a supper club out there they affectionately (and fabulously) term the “Mujahidinner” and he won with an Afghan-acceptable version of my Lentil Soup with Pumpkin Scones (i.e. switching the ham for chicken).  I am so glad he emailed to tell me, his stories always make me laugh, but this made my week – thank you JMH!
This is the first month that the monthly recipe swap I participate in has split into two groups, one posting on a Sunday and another on a Wednesday.  Along with my fellow Sunday posting pals, this month’s recipe for the Burwell General Store Vintage Recipe Swap is one of my favourites (and that of my girls)  – PIZZA!  So I encourage you to read all the lovely recipes on both days and hosted at
The original recipe is from the The Second Ford Treasury of Favourite Recipes from Famous Eating Places”.

My recipe this week is sooo simple, and inspired by one of my favourite snacks of recent weeks, involving oat cakes, strong Scottish cheddar and my mums red onion marmalade – mmmmm!

This recipe makes about 8-10 individual pizzas (I would serve two for adults and one for children).
Pizza Base
Everyone has there own recipe for pizza dough, but this is a simple one from a very useful recipe book I bought not long after I was married, the “Good Housekeeping 1001 Recipes for Every Occasion”.
350g 00 Flour (+ extra to dust)
1 Teaspoon Salt
7g Sachet fast-action dried yeast
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Tomato Sauce (enough for your pizza’s and to make a pasta sauce later in the week)
1 x 400g tinned tomatoes
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Fresh Basil
2 Large Red Onions
Worcester sauce
10 Teaspoons Light Brown Sugar
White Pepper
Strong Scottish Cheddar – grated) – enough for a scant handful per pizza (I used the local Devenick Dairy’s Granite City Cheddar)
Sour Cream and Fresh Basil to Garnish
For the tomato sauce, blend together the tomatoes, the garlic, basil and olive oil.  I usually do this earlier in the day and keep it covered in the fridge for the flavours to infuse.   You obviously don’t have to do this and as it is so simple, you can easily do this while to dough is rising.
For the dough, simply mix together the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl, add the olive oil and 200ml of warm water and mix together with your hands until it forms a soft and sticky ball.  Cover in the bowl and leave to rise for about half and hour.
While this is happening, caramelise your onions.   Preheat your oven to about 200 oC ( 180 oC  Fan). Peel and slice your onions into about half centimetre rings (they look so pretty this way!).  Arrange them on a large baking sheet lined with baking paper.  Sprinkle a teaspoon of the soft brown sugar on each, add a couple of drops of Worcester sauce to each and sprinkle with pepper.   Place in the oven for 15 minutes (although keep your eye on them – you don’t want them to burn). 
When you remove the onions from the oven, turn it up by 20 oC in preparation for your pizzas and line a couple of baking sheets with some baking paper.
Once your dough has risen turn it out onto a floured surface and punch down.  Flatten it out quite thinly with your hands and cut out your pizzas with a large round cutter (mine is about 10cm across).
Spread a good dessert spoon of the tomato sauce on each of the bases and then top with a scant handful of the cheese. Carefully place one of your caramelised onion circles on each of the pizza’s.  Transfer to the baking sheets and place in the oven for around 15 minutes (again keep an eye on them).
Serve with a dollop on sour cream on the top and sprinkle with some torn basil leaves.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Vintage Recipe Swap: Baked Polenta Stuffed Chicken with Sage

Well I am probably cheating a wee bit here, as this is not a new recipe but one I have posted on my blog before.  I hope that none of my fellow recipe swappers are too cross at me for what may look like laziness on my part.  My excuse for this is that I have just gone back to work after seven months off on Maternity Leave.  I hope you agree though that it does fit very well with the recipe Christianna has chosen for this months’ recipe swap – Wild Rice Dressing.

It has been a strange week of mixed emotions but I have enjoyed being back at work, this despite missing my wee ones.  There are some exciting things going on at work and I guess not everyone gets to arrange the launch of their company’s Nigeria office, task their colleagues in Libya, organise training for personnel working in hostile environments and sessions on the challenges facing those looking to work in such desirable locations as Iraq, Colombia, Libya, East Africa, West Africa, Piracy and the Caspian Basin and still go home to be mummy to three gorgeous bairns by night.  I do consider myself a very lucky lady!

I am only working four days a week at the moment, so will have an extended weekend with the children.  We are therefore hoping that the cold but beautiful weather we had in Aberdeen today will continue tomorrow so we can get outside to play - despite our northerly location, we have not yet come to a weather induced standstill as they have in England this weekend. Anyway, Mondays in this house are for making muffins (for inclusion in lunch boxes for the rest of the week) and tomorrow we’ll be making use of the pears languishing in the fruit bowl (yes the girls declared a like for pears and again I bought them in vast quantity convinced their fruit intake would increase – it hasn’t).  I’ll keep you posted as to our success or otherwise in the pear and choc chip muffin venture.

Back to this post though and as always, I am part of a gang of, I believe nearly 30, food-crazed bloggers who are part of the Burwell General Store Vintage Recipe Swap.  This is our third monthly foray into the delights ofThe Second Ford Treasury of Favourite Recipes From Famous Eating Places”.  Please visit the links below to see all the other contributors to the swap and their delicious recipes.

Here is my contribution – I hope you like it..


4 Chicken Breasts

8 slices prosciutto crudo

Fresh sage – 12 leaves

20g butter

For the stuffing:

50g polenta

20g bread crumbs (they don’t have to be fresh but homemade are best)

½ stick of celery

½ onion

1 small clove of garlic

Fresh sage – about one heaped dessert spoon finely chopped

Fresh thyme – about one teaspoon finely chopped

40g butter

½ of one beaten egg


Finely chop the sage, thyme, onion, garlic and celery.

Put the polenta in a saucepan (one larger than you would think necessary as the polenta grows quite a bit when you add the water) and add 375ml of water. Heat it on a low heat and simmer and stir for approximately 10 minutes until the polenta is thick and smooth.

Add 20g of the butter and stir well, then add the sage, thyme, onion, garlic and celery and mix well.

Remove from the heat and add the breadcrumbs mix again and then add the beaten egg, stirring well and seasoning with salt and pepper.

Allow the polenta mix to cool and set aside until it can be handled.

Prepare the chicken by slicing each breast open along the middle of one side so you can simply turn it like a page to open it up to add the stuffing.

Take about a dessert spoon of the polenta mix and make into a loose sausage-type shape, open the chicken breasts place the stuffing inside and close over so that none of the stuffing is showing. (There will probably be a little bit more stuffing than is required).

Place three of the sage leaves on the top of each breast and wrap each of the breasts with two slices of the prosciutto crudo.

Mash half the remaining butter (about 20g) onto the bottom of an oven proof dish (I use a lasagne dish for this) and place the chicken breasts close together on top of the butter. Divide the last 20g butter roughly in four and put a piece on top of each chicken breast. Season well and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Cover with tin foil and put in the oven for around 35 minutes – uncover for around the last ten minutes – basting the chicken well after taking off the foil. (I use quite large chicken breasts so the cooking time will be less if you use smaller pieces of chicken)

(Serves 4)
I usually serve this with new potatos and a nice green salad. Enjoy!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Recipe Swap: Cranachan Zabaglione

Happy New Year one and all!  Firstly, I must apologise for my lack of blogging over the past month, it really has been a crazy end to the year culminating, in fact, on Hogmanay (New Years Eve) with my lovely father-in-law having a heart attack!  Thankfully, he is on the mend, but it was a scary few days! 
I did have an amazing Christmas though, the children had a fabulous time and I got to live out my long-held ambition to host Christmas Dinner at my house – with 13 (including baby Cameron) for lunch from ages 6 months to 91!  It was great.  Mum did the starter and my Turkey (a very local bird ordered through the brilliant Devenick Dairy), was delicious.  The best part of all though was the AMAZING brown sugar meringues with whipped cream and lemon curd – the recipes for which came from a cooking demonstration I went to a couple of months ago by Lady Claire MacDonald of Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye. I will post the recipes shortly as they are too good not to share!

At Devenick Dairy getting our Turkey
Back to this entry though, and it is recipe swap time again! Continuing the theme of puddings, the swap recipe this month is for Zabaglione, a traditional Italian dessert.  As she does every month, Christianna over at chooses a recipe from our current vintage cookbook The Second Ford Treasury of Favourite Recipes From Famous Eating Places” and we (20+) swappers post our take on the original recipe. Here is mine.
Once again, I thought I’d add a little Scottish twist to the swap and merge the cuisines of two of my favourite countries; something I starting doing when we lived in Florence (where for dinner at Hogmanay I made Haggis Lasagne for our guests - an unexpected success).

Cranachan is a traditional Scottish dessert for which there are many variations.  It is made from cream, crowdie cheese, whisky, honey and oats.  I tried a few versions for the swap, as well as a few different whiskies from my husband’s collection and also a whisky liqueur, however the latter was far too sweet.  On Col’s advice, I settled on The Balvenie Doublewood (12yr), a whisky from the Speyside Region which he tells me has hints of fruits, honey and vanilla!  My resident whisky expert has also advised that it would be best to avoid the smokier, peatier malts of Islay for a dessert like this.
Anyway, I hope you like this fusion of two traditional puddings.  I am very happy with the result and think I will serve this on Burns Night later this month.  

4 large egg yolks
50g Caster Sugar
50ml Whisky
30g Porridge Oats
30g Soft Light Brown Sugar
100-150g Raspberries
Heat up your grill.  Line a baking tray with foil and spread out the oats and brown sugar.  Toast under the grill until golden brown – remembering to keep your eye on them and move them about frequently or they will very quickly burn!  Set aside and keep for later.
Fill a pan half full with water and bring to the boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
Put the yolks, caster sugar and whisky in a glass bowl (big enough to sit atop the boiling water without touching) and whisk all together with a hand-held mixer.  Set the bowl in the pan of boiling water and whisk constantly until the mixture becomes thick, frothy, pale and creamy.  Be careful not to scramble the eggs!
Allow to cool slightly before adding two or three handfuls of the toasted oats to the mixture and gently and loosely mix in.  Then lightly squash a couple of handfuls of the raspberries in your hand before adding them in and mixing them in too.  (Keep a little of each to decorate).
Spoon the mixture into serving bowls or glasses and refrigerate for around three hours before serving.  Prior to serving, decorate with the remaining berries and sprinkle with some of the toasted oats.

Serve with some lovely Italian cantuccini or amaretti biscuits or some wee Scottish shortbreads.
(Serves 2)

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