Magic!

I’m really good at starting projects and really quite poor at seeing them to completion. Or in the case of this blog, keeping it going. However, I have not yet given up and it may be that posts pop up more often in the future now.

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I’ve spent the intervening period moving house, well, moving flat. It took a very long time (there was a cross-over period between leaving the old flat and also being in the new one) partly because I moved all of my belongings myself. Fairly eye-opening in terms of how much stuff I actually have and hard work too. And then there was some inevitable decorating and sorting hence the radio silence.

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But I’m moved now and I very much like where I am now, even though half of my life is still in boxes (and probably will be for the foreseeable future – see comment above regarding being poor at completing projects ;-)). And in a week or so I’ve got a pretty major experiment going on which will hopefully result in more blog posts. Fingers crossed for all sorts of reasons there!

In the meantime those who know me well will understand that although many things remain packed my cookery books are happily on shelves and I have been reunited with the joy of browsing through them. Prime candidates for this activity at the moment are Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s (HFW) books River Cottage Everyday, Veg Everyday and Three Good Things. Every time I open one of these I invariably want to make whatever is on the open page. Always a good sign.

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I was recently talking to someone who knows me and my love of baking well and they recommended the ‘Magic Dough’ in Veg everyday. Despite currently having the world’s smallest oven (that’s one of the things yet to be sorted in the new flat but I couldn’t be without an oven so I have a Lakeland toaster oven at the moment, and no, they’ve not sponsored this post…) I decided to give it a go.

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Most of my bread recently has had a dairy base so it was a bit of a change to use just flour, water, salt and olive oil here. The recipe is available online here on the Guardian website. Half soft plain flour and half strong flour meant the dough was soft and pliable to work with. I divided the dough into twelve equal balls (yes, I did weigh them…)

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I decided to make six rolls (Hugh recommends this as a versatile dough), a sort-of-pizza and then freeze the remaining five portions of dough for later use. I’ve no experience of freezing dough (I did it after knocking it back) so any comments welcome! Otherwise it’ll be a case of wait-and-see as to whether the frozen dough ever escapes the confines of it’s icy lair…

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So I had my sort-of-pizza for lunch one day when I was in no particular hurry. Thick slices of courgette very slowly softened in a little oil were then allowed to cool before being placed onto the dough which helpfully pushed out to a good size without springing back and was then topped with parmesan. I know mozzarella is more usual but I once had pizza melanzane in Italy with parmesan on it and it was the most delicious pizza ever. And from a practical point of view I always have parmesan on hand and rarely buy mozzarella.

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Delicious, can’t wait to see how the frozen dough works out because I’ve got plenty more ideas for toppings!

I’m going to add this to Bookmarked Recipes because I’ve had this book for years and have so many bookmarks sticking out of it to make. The recommendation prompted this to be bumped up to the top of the list!

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Magic!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Risotto

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Obviously, this isn’t a picture of roasted butternut squash and red pepper risotto – it’s mushroom and sundried tomato risotto. I decided that the photo of the former was not particularly attractive so there we have it; I will leave you to imagine what my bowl of sunshine yellow risotto with red peppers looked like.

Risotto is another of my favourite meals to have. I haven’t been all that adventurous with risotto, but regulars at my dinner table are mushroom risotto and courgette risotto, usually with sundried tomatoes added and occasionally bits of sausage or chicken, depending on whether the mood takes me or not.

This was a bit of a departure and featured roasted butternut squash (BNS because I’m lazy) and roasted red and yellow peppers (I roast these in batches and then freeze them – they’re really handy to have to throw into all sorts of meals and add colour and hopefully nutrients too!). And I added the sundried tomatoes too – I like their chewy texture, their flavour and I have quite a few in the cupboard to work through at the moment.

Preheat the oven, peel and deseed the BNS, rub with some oil and roast until tender. I wasn’t really paying attention to the timing for this but probably about 45 minutes at about 170C ish. I started roasting the BNS just before I started the risotto. Soften the onion (I used a red one because when I cut into my white onion it looked a bit weird) in some oil and then add the (risotto) rice. Stir until well coated with the oil and then when it sounds like it’s cracking a bit add some dry sherry. Add sundried tomatoes if you fancy. Add stock, stirring occasionally (it’s too much effort to stir all the time!) until the rice is soft to your liking. l don’t like al-dente rice so the 20-25 minutes on the packet is never long enough. Reserve some of the roasted BNS to cut into cubes to garnish and then add the rest of the roasted BNS near to the end, mashing it in well so that the pot turns golden. I added the roasted peppers close to the end of the cooking time but actually, next time I defrost and warm them through some other way because the stirring made them fall apart completely. Finish the risotto with a generous amount of grated parmesan.

Pretty successful though I still have a preference for mushroom or courgette! Out of interest my stock powder of choice is Kallo at the moment. It doesn’t contain garlic and I really, really don’t like garlic. So it’s a winning choice.

I’m going to link this to ‘Extra Veg’ a blogging challenge to encourage us all to add veg to our diets. I’m lucky that there are plenty of veggies that I really enjoy eating but this recipe would be a great way of getting more veg into your family meals! Hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary this month and founded by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle at Utterly Scrummy.

OK, I relent, photo is below….

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Risotto