The umming and ahhing is over. The decision has been made. Our house is now officially on the market and we’ll soon be leaving the sticks and heading back to the big city. Bristol, to be precise, which isn’t exactly a heaving metropolis and is actually one of the most laid back, greenest and coolest cities I know.
Bristol was home for us until our first daughter was about eight months old, at which point we decided family life meant a bit of the good life, the country life. And while we’ve loved it here and having space and green fields around us, a veg patch and apple trees, foraging in the hedgerows, picnics by the stream and drinking scrumpy at the annual village fete, it’s now time to crank the pace back up again with a bit of inner city living. You can take the girl of out of the city, but you’ll never take the city out of the girl, it would seem.
There are lots of things I’m looking forward to about being back in a city. One of them is not having to drive so much to get, well, anywhere really. I love the idea of being able to walk back home after a night in a restaurant, or at least being able to afford the taxi fare. And one of the restaurants I intend on visiting as soon as we’re in Bristol is Tom Hunt’s Poco on Stokes Croft, with its emphasis on seasonal ingredients, thrifty cuts of meat and sustainably sourced fish, most of which is sourced from within a 50-mile radius, and at the same time producing the minimum of food waste. Continue reading “Grilled salad of courgette, chicory, basil and mozzarella from ‘The Natural Cook’”→
Herbs on Saturday is one of my favourite bloggers’ challenges as it always attracts such diverse and delicious dishes, so I really must not let the side down! It is a simple and easy way to share recipes throughout the month that celebrate cooking with herbs, as well as a chance to pick up new ideas and discover new blogs and bloggers, and I hope you’ll join in the fun.
To enter all you have to do is add any recipe you have made during the week by emailing me with the URL for your post. And they don’t only need to be recipes made on a Saturday! At the end of each month, a ‘special blogger’ will choose their favourite recipe from all the entries, and the winning blogger will receive a fantastic cookbook as their prize. The full entry guidelines are below.
This beautiful book features 85 flavourful recipes for soups, salads, appetizers, fish, meat, poultry, vegetarian dishes, bread, biscuits, cakes, desserts and ice creams – all of course made with generous handfuls of fragrant fresh herbs.
There are classic dishes such as lamb with mint, and roasted tomato and mozzarella salad with basil dressing, as well as unusual combinations such as chicken with thyme and lavender. It includes a useful herb directory that identifies some of the best-known and most useful culinary herbs, as well as delicious flowers, fruits and spices to pep up a plain meal.
So, to get the ball rolling here’s my recipe for a lovely summery salad with oregano – just wish we had the weather to go with it!
Courgette and oregano flower salad
This fresh, light salad features delicate oregano flowers, as well as the leaves. The crunch of the courgette with the soft mozzarella cheese and juicy tomatoes is a sensational combination.
Make sure you slice the courgette as thinly as possible as it is eaten raw in this salad. It’s best to use a mandolin on its thinnest setting. And use the smaller, firmer courgettes if you can.
For the dressing
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
Salt and pepper
4 or 5 courgettes, very thinly sliced lengthways
250g baby plum or cherry tomatoes
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
300g mozzarella, thinly sliced
Handful oregano leaves, picked
Handful oregano flowers, picked
To make the dressing, simply put the ingredients into a jam jar, screw the lid on tightly and give it a really good shake.
Place your salad ingredients (except for the flowers) into a large serving bowl, pour over the dressing and toss well. Carefully decorate with the oregano flowers.
This is a lovely salad to serve with grilled fish or chicken, or on its own with crusty bread to soak up the juices.
Herbs on Saturday for July – guidelines on how to enter
Send your recipe URL to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date is Monday 30 July.
Display the Herbs on Saturday badge (as shown above and below) to the relevant recipe post, with a link back to this post and also to the challenge page over at Lavender & Lovage.
Email me as many recipe links as you like, there is no limit and the recipes and posts can be from any day, not just Saturday!
If you tweet your post, please mention #herbsonsaturday, @BangerMashChat and @KarenBurnsBooth in your tweet – I will retweet all that I see.
The recipe can be one of your own or one you’ve seen elsewhere. You are welcome to republish old recipes/posts but please add the information about this challenge as listed above with the Herbs on Saturday badge.
As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page and at the end of the month there will be a round-up of all entries received.
Homemade pizza is a regular on the menu in our house. The children like to get involved in making it, especially kneading the dough and putting on the toppings. As you can imagine, it can turn into quite a messy affair!
This recipe for slow roast tomato and oregano pizza is a firm family favourite and the perfect way to put to good use all those gorgeous tomatoes and herbs coming into plentiful supply this time of year.
You do need to plan ahead a little with this one. The tomatoes are slow roasted in a low oven for four to five hours, giving them an incredibly intense, sweetly caramelised flavour and a gorgeously sticky, slightly chewy texture.
Trust me, it’s worth the effort. They taste sublime and are fantastic on pizza, as well as in salads, quiches or served with olives and cold meats as part of an antipasto.
Slow roasted tomato and oregano pizza
Makes four pizzas
For the slow roasted tomatoes:
8 cherry tomatoes
6 medium tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
For the dough:
400g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
250ml luke warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
For the topping:
Passata, about half a jar
Mozzarella, 2 x 250g balls
Two handfuls fresh oregano, leaves picked
Firstly, prepare the tomatoes – I suggest the night before.
Preheat the oven to 140°C /Gas Mark 1 or use the bottom oven of an Aga.
Cut the tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle over the olive oil, and sprinkle on the oregano and sugar, and season to taste. Place in the oven and roast for four to five hours, until the tomatoes are shrivelled but still sweet and juicy.
To make the pizza dough, put the flour, salt, dried yeast and oregano into a large mixing bowl and mix well.
Make a well in the middle and pour in the lukewarm water and oil. Gradually work the flour into the liquid, making a soft dough. If it’s too dry, add a drop more water. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour.
Flour your surface before tipping the dough onto it. Knead the dough by stretching it away from you, then pulling back into a ball. Do this for five minutes or so, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover loosely with cling film and put in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 or use the middle of the top oven of an Aga.
Uncover the risen dough and punch it back down. Flour the surface again and divide the dough into four balls. Stretch or roll out each ball until you have a thin circle about 22cm across. Place the pizzas onto slightly oiled baking sheets.
Pour a couple of tablespoons of passata onto each pizza, smoothing out with the back of the spoon. Next add the roast tomatoes and oregano leaves and finish with torn pieces of mozzarella.
Bake your pizzas for 15-20 minutes and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before devouring.
I’m entering this tasty pizza into the June Herbs on Saturday blog challenge over at Lavender & Lovage. Karen always receives heaps of delicious looking recipes for her blog challenges, so make sure you go and take a look at the other entries!
I’m also adding it to the One Ingredient blogging challenge, as the ingredient in question is the tomato. The challenge is run by Laura at howtocookgoodfood and Nazima at Londonworking mummy.
I seem to be going through a bit of a phase a the moment baking savoury muffins for our lunch boxes, and this is my latest creation.
It actually started life as a pizza muffin. My daughter Jessie loves pizza toppings and asked if we could make a muffin with these same ingredients. So we gave it a go. But despite being very tasty, they just didn’t quite taste like pizza. Which is why we’ve named them olive and mozzarella muffins instead.
Preheat oven to 200°C/gas 6. Oil and line a 12-hole muffin tin with baking paper or muffin cases.
Sift the self-raising and wholemeal flour into a large bowl, along with the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in the salt, oregano and black olives.
In another bowl, mix together the eggs, yoghurt, milk and tomato puree. Pour these wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and very gently combine together. Carefully stir in the mozzarella pieces, keeping back a few pieces to place on top.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and pop some extra bits of mozzarella on top of each one.
Bake the muffins in the oven for around 25 minutes until they well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Eat warm or cold.
I’ll keep working on the pizza muffins and I’ll let you know when I’ve sussed them!