Photo Party!


I didn’t have a blog post for this week. I made a cake! And every single photo I took of it looked like I’d taken it with a toy camera. So, that wasn’t going to work. I took a look through my Instagram feed, and turned up a few photos that never made it blogward. I thought I could try a bit of a photo party with those – it’s a new idea for me, but let’s give it a whirl.

First of all, it’s been my birthday! I managed to carry the celebrations over a few days, starting with a surprise cake when I went out to dinner with my work buddies. That sneaky lot. I had a load of cards, including one depicting me as a monster playing drums (so true to life), and my mum made me the traditional Smarties cake. I’m one lucky blogger.

I’m more of a cook-at-home kind of gal, but sometimes (especially hangover times) I like to get out and have someone make me a sandwich. There’s a place near my flat called Siempre, and the G man and I head down there every so often to check out what their menu’s up to. This is a Vietnamese style chicken sandwich with a cup of curried chickpea soup. Not pictured is the fruit smoothie that actually does help a hangover better than Irn Bru does. Sometimes I still have the Irn Bru, because sometimes you need to drink ten teaspoons of sugar suspended in a bright orange liquid.

What have I been making? All sorts of things! I tried one of those curry kits – not something I’d usually pick up – and I have to say that in twenty minutes I had a pretty good curry, as promised. I did, of course, mess about with the directions and serve it with noodles and gomasio sprinkled over the top. It’s very brown, and not the prettiest to look at – much like that photo of the brown risotto. It was mushroom and asparagus, made with real chicken stock, and I made it with my special risotto spoon. Did you know that risotto spoons existed? They do.

I also made these raspberry cheesecake brownies, from Joy the Baker’s new cookbook, and Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Laksa. That’s another recipe I messed around with – I’ve made it a few times, and it’s great for getting a quick fix of veg when I feel like I haven’t been eating enough. This iteration had a lot of green veg, including mange tout, asparagus and broccoli. So good. I think I snuck some leftover broccoli into the salmon pasta up there – that was a real ‘what’s left in the fridge’ dinner. And, yes, that’s a bowl of popcorn up there. It’s not fancy, it’s plain old microwave popcorn. I’m intae popcorn these days.

Selvedge Yarn

Wool! Well, yarn. This is made of the scrap edges of fabric, which would otherwise go to waste – I’m part of the upcycling movement now, you know. I haven’t made anything from this yet, being utterly preoccupied with my peacock blanket (42 feathers done!).

Oh, go on – a photo of the current state of the peacock blanket:

Feathers

I have six balls of the black and red yarn to work with – I was originally thinking a cushion cover or covers, depending how it knits up on 12mm needles, but I’m wondering now if I could fashion some kind of punky waistcoat. Sometimes life is one long string of decisions.

I’ve been making purchases, also. These are three that I thought worthy of Instagram – a limited edition artichoke and smoked ricotta pesto (it was good, but I missed the basil), a pot of Lucky Charms (exactly as awesome as I remember) and a book of writing exercises and prompts that I found for 99p in a charity shop. It originated in the library of Glasgow Uni, the uni I went all those years ago, so I feel like it was meant to be.

Mushrooms

I bought my dad a mushroom growing kit for Christmas, and after a few months (and without any preamble), he sent me this picture. How cool?

The world’s driest lime and the world’s largest naan bread. It’s been a mixed bag. That lime, though. Soooo dry.

Cleaner vs Lighter

Things not to get confused on oven-cleaning day.

Care Box

My pal Amy had to move away from the UK to the US, and neither of us is especially happy about that. However, it *does* mean that she could send me this amazing care package. I’m savouring it and trying to make it last – I have cheesecake plans for those graham crackers. I also object to it being pronounced ‘gram crackers’. What? Are people not called Graham in the States?

Found at Work

Finally – people at my work are pretty serious about their mugs.


Steak and Mushroom Sandwich


Fact: mushrooms are the best.

Mushrooms

I love them. They’re good in soup, on toast, in lasagne, in a curry with chickpeas and spinach, in risotto, even as a surprise bonus in falafel. They’re great on pizza, so great that you need a triple serving of them. When I see them at a breakfast buffet I do a little jig of joy in my mind (and sometimes right out loud). They’re my favourite.

Know who their best friend is?

Steak.

Steak-and-Mushrooms

They’re such good friends that they don’t mind sharing a pan. This is a boneless ribeye steak, by the way, and there’s just a smidgen of garlic in that pan. Garlic is another friend of the mushroom, they complement each other beautifully. Cooking the steak and mushrooms in a pan together saves on the washing up, yes, but that’s just a fringe benefit. The main bonus of it is how the flavours combine, and then you can impart all that flavour from the pan to the final member of today’s friend group.

Breeeeaaaaaaaaaad.

Steak-and-Mushroom-Sandwich-Bread

This is from my second attempt at the New York Times Speedy No-Knead Bread – it’s a great recipe. It’s responsible for perhaps the most beautiful looking loaf I’ve ever turned out of the oven.

Some days are good bread days.

A photo posted by Carol Anne @ Rock Salt (@thisisrocksalt) on

To get a lovely golden crust on the bread, as well as all the mushroom and steak flavours that remain after I lifted those guys out, I scraped one side of the bread with a little butter. Not too much – I didn’t want to make a barrier between the bread and the pan – just enough so that I got some golden colour and crunch.

Know what else I love?

SANDWICHES.

Steak-and-Mushroom-Sandwich

Some token greenery on the bottom, sliced steak over the top, finish it all off with mushrooms. Dinner is served. I don’t usually condone eating sandwiches with a knife and fork, but in this instance it was necessary. Those pesky mushrooms spring out in all directions otherwise, and there are few feelings as sad as losing a strip of steak to the floor because it tumbled from an unwieldy sandwich.

I debated whether to put horseradish on here, too, and in the end decided against it. I think it would have been a good idea, though. Also, while eggs and mushrooms aren’t *best* friends, they do like to spend time together now and again, and a soft egg perched on top of this would have been just the ticket (and another compelling reason to use a knife and fork).

Sandwiches for dinner. They’re also the best.


Frankenstein’s Pizza


pizza-side

This is one of those times when I took three recipes and crammed them into one. Sometimes that’s the best way to go about things – though it does depend on the recipes. If I’d tried combining a chocolate trifle with a pizza base, for example, that might not have gone so well.

 

To start with, the base I made (or didn’t really make, as it turns out) was from BBC Good Food. I screwed it up by trying to half the recipe, then forgetting half way through the ingredients (of which there were a grand total of four) so putting in twice as much oil and water as I needed. Lesson: if you’re going to half a recipe, do the sums and write out your new ingredient amounts. I threw in as many handfuls of flour as it took to get the dough looking more like dough than soup, and proceeded from there.

 

So, if I wanted to replicate this exact pizza base, I’d have a bit of trouble. I won’t be going to that trouble – the base was fine, and the crusts were like massive, chewy breadsticks (which went extremely well with some cucumber and yogurt dip I happened to have in the fridge), but there are plenty of recipes out there that will do the trick for pizza in a pinch. For pizza that’s planned well in advance, there’s Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough, which is the finest pizza base I’ve ever made, by a country mile. Its only drawback is that you do need to start about 18 hours before you want to eat the pizza. Or make a few bases and have some ready in the freezer at all times. Something for me to think about, in future.

pizza-half

Anyway, once I’d bungled my way through the base – which I let rise for a while, even though the recipe said I didn’t have to – I piled on a made-from-memory pesto. I used a mix of walnuts and pecans in place of pine nuts (guess who forgot to buy any nuts and had to use what was in the cupboard?), one clove of garlic (because I usually make it toooo strong), and two bunches of basil. I have some left, which is good news for dinner later in the week. Amounts? Nope. I just used enough of everything. Sometimes you don’t need a recipe. Sometimes you don’t write things down for your blog…

 

On top of the pesto went diced mozzarella, and all the mushrooms. More than you would imagine would fit on to one pizza. When I first moved out of my parents’ house, my flatmate was a pretty fussy eater. One thing we did agree on, though, was mushroom pizza. We used ask for triple mushroom on our Domino’s orders. No meat, no other veg – cheese, tomato and triple mushrooms. They always obliged, but when you phoned to order one (because in those days you would phone to order food) there were mixed reactions, from people who were sure they must have misheard me to people who thought it outright hilarious. But, you know, if you just ask for mushroom you don’t get enough. These are the facts.

 

Now, are you ready for a pizza-related surprise? Here it is:

pizza-salad

Whaaaaat? Salad pizza? That’s right, my friends. Now, I’m not a salad fan, as a rule. The charm of it evades me. Not enough carbs, I think. Best possible solution to a lack of carbs: put the salad on a pizza base. This is far from being an original idea – it was a recent recipe on Leite’s Culinaria, which I absolutely loved. It calls for a plain, white pizza – just mozzarella and garlic – topped with lightly-dressed salad leaves. I amped up the pizza underneath, and added a few shavings of pecorino to the salad for good measure. The leaves are a mix of rocket, spinach and watercress, and they’re sparingly dressed with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. It works. It seems strange, but it works.

pizza-slice

And thus ends the tale of Frankenstein’s pizza, made up of so many different recipes and ideas that it becomes impossible to name without just reeling off every ingredient. Triple Mushroom Pesto Salad Pizza with Accidental Breadstick Crust is a name with character, yes, but also a name designed to send people off in search of a blogger who seems to have a clue what she’s doing when it comes to naming recipes.

 

Fooled you.

 


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