Wild Garlic Pizza

Pizza WG

Last weekend I fell in the river.  I was keen to clear a bit of it that had got rather clogged up with logs, twigs and sticks after the last flood and had set out, pole in hand, to sort it.  I was leaning right over the river against an old tree stump in order to get the pole into the middle of all this debris when there was an almighty creak followed by a splash.  It seems this particular stump had long ago relinquished its hold on life, was entirely hollow and both it and I fell right into the river.  It was very cold.  I had been accompanied on this mission by Tom who, uncharacteristically for a Springer, doesn’t like water and was now pacing the riverbank anxiously presumably wondering what I was doing.  So, I was soaking to the waist and my boots were full of water but as I couldn’t get any wetter I decided I might as well carry on clearing the river and in fact it was much easier now that I was well and truly in.   Climbing out I found myself on nose level with swathes of wild garlic which is abundant along the bank and decided that is  what we would have for supper.

Each year we are spoilt with this particular foragers’ treat and I have made all manner of things with it, Wild Garlic Pesto (May 2013) and Wild Garlic Focaccia (May 2014) to name two.   I add it to salads, cautiously though it is pretty potent, and chuck into pasta dishes letting it wilt in the residual heat.  This years leaves have been around for a couple of weeks but it is only in the last few days that the white flowers have emerged.

We often make pizzas on a Saturday evening so I decided to see how much wild garlic we could get onto those.  My dough is a simple version of my white bread but with a good slosh of olive oil.  It is a dream to work with and cooks to a suitably crisp crust.   I decided to make my Fresh Herb Sauce (July 2013) with half parsley and half wild garlic which resulted in a pungent fabulously green number to drizzle over some of the pizzas when they emerged from the oven but you could just as happily use the Wild Garlic Pesto.  We strewed the pizzas with torn wild garlic leaves rather as I often use rocket and in fact rocket came into play when the wild garlic I picked had all gone and I couldn’t persuade anyone into the pouring rain to get more.

Pizzas are a personal thing and us such my family put different ingredients on each one – we usually start with a tomato sauce, the same one as used in my Meatloaf recipe (November 2015).  My son keeps his simple with cheese and salami, my daughter will add olives, capers and garlic to hers and my husband and I tend to add a good amount of chilli, mozzarella and lots of greenery when the pizzas emerge blistered and bubbling from the oven.   A trickle of good olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt bring the whole together and I can’t recommend these enough.  They are a world away from wodgy doughy shop bought pizzas and, I tell myself, must be better for us….

Wild Garlic Pizza

The following makes four pizzas which are just the right size for us, two adults and two children but you could happily double the recipe.  Remember you need to allow time for the proving but unlike normal bread, the doesn’t really need a second rise.

250g strong white flour

5g quick yeast

5g fine salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

100-150 ml luke warm water

Toppings of your choice, see above, but probably to include tomato sauce, mozzarella or cheddar, salami or pepperoni, olives, chilli flakes, capers etc

Mix the flour, yeast, salt, oil and 100 ml of water in a large bowl, you may need some more of the water but probably not all of it.  Once it comes together in a dough knead it for 10 minutes by hand or in a stand mixer.  When this is a smooth ball, put a little oil into the bowl to stop the dough sticking and leave in a warm place for an hour or so until doubled in size.  Preheat your oven to 220 and put in a couple of baking sheets to heat up.  Divide the dough into four and roll out thinly but not too thinly or you will struggle to get them from your work surface onto the baking tray.  If you are worried about his roll them out on baking parchment and they can cook on this.  Don’t use greaseproof paper as the pizzas will stick to this, you will never get them off and will have to eat the greaseproof paper along with the pizza, I found this out the hard way.  Add whatever toppings you have decided on but don’t go mad, if they are too heavy or wet you won’t get a crisp bottom.  Carefully take a hot baking sheet out of the oven, sprinkle with semolina if you have some or flour, put your pizza onto this and bake for 8-10 minutes or until cooked, bubbling and blistered.  When it is done I thoroughly recommend torn wild garlic if you can get some or rocket strewn on top or the wild garlic fresh herb sauce.  Each pizza serves 1.

 

Weekend Food

Marble Cake close 2

We had a houseful over the weekend with extras for lunch on Sunday and whilst I wanted everyone to be well fed of course, the last thing on the menu was for me to be stuck in the kitchen (hissing) all weekend.  With ages ranging from 18 months to grandparents and childrens’ teas to add to the mix I had much to do.  Nothing for it but a bit of organisation, a good list and setting Friday morning aside to get ahead.  I thought I’d let you know what we ate and what I was able to prepare beforehand in case any of these tips help.

Saturday lunch was a picnic with Cannellini Bean, Parsley and Lemon Dip (April 2015) with grissini (recipe coming soon) and Wild Garlic Focaccia (May 2014) alongside a big plate of salami, a bowl of tomatoes and a good chunk of cheddar.  For pudding we had meringues with vanilla bean cream and chocolate sauce (recipe coming soon).  I made the grissini, focaccia, meringues and dip on Friday so putting lunch together on Saturday only took a few minutes.  Incidentally the dough for the focaccia will happily sit in the fridge overnight so it can be baked just before lunch.

Wild Garlic Focaccia

At tea the children had orzo with bacon and tomato sauce (June 2015).  Pudding, and for us to tuck into with a cup of tea, was a Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake (October 2013) which I made on Friday.  For supper we had Chicken with Harissa (October 2012) with Little Rosemary Roasties (March 2015) and my favourite Green Salad (January 2014) – couldn’t have been easier.

On Sunday we had Lamb which had been marinading in garlic, lemon and rosemary.  With this Fresh Herb Sauce (July 2013) but I used half mint and half parsley which made a funky full of flavour modern take on old fashioned mint sauce.  It went down an absolute treat.

Asparagus with parmesan

We didn’t need much for supper so I roasted several bunches of fabulous in season asparagus (June 2014) followed by Vanilla Pannacotta (July 2014) with poached rhubarb, both of which I made on Friday.

At each sitting I was delighted that the children scoffed everything except one who found the colour of the fresh herb sauce too alarmingly green.  Admittedly I gave myself quite I lot to do on Friday but I have to tell you it was worth it and it helped to know anything left to prepare was easy and also that so much was already in the fridge or cake tin.

Finally please don’t think there is even one iota of smuggery here,  I am rarely this organised but have proved to myself this weekend the virtue of planning and preparing ahead.  You may always be this organised but if not, I hope some of these tips and recipes might help you breeze through it next time you have a houseful.

One more thing, I finished off the leftover poached rhubarb and vanilla bean cream with a last meringue and it was fabulous.  It reminded me of a rhubarb pavlova that I made a couple of times last year and I will post that recipe soon.

 

Wild Garlic Focaccia

Wild Garlic Focaccia

It is that time of year again and the familiar whiff of wild garlic is in the air.  This feels like the beginning of a slew of seasonal goodies and I look forward to it every Spring.  As soon as I picked a bunch of wild garlic yesterday I knew I wanted to make a focaccia with it and whizzing the leaves into the oil seemed the best way to get the herbaceous notes into the bread.  I made the dough yesterday evening and let it rise overnight so I only had to knock it back and put it in the tin for a final rise this morning – couldn’t have been easier.  You could of course make it all in one day but this suited me better for brunch on the beach with friends.

This makes a fabulous, squidgy loaf perfect for lunch or with a picnic as we had it today.  I took it from the oven to the car and it was still warm when we ate it.  Dip into oil and balsamic or use it to make a stella sandwich, stuffed with whichever goodies you like.  We had ours cut into little squares which the children loved, a sort of herby garlic bread.  My husband had his cut in half horizontally with a fried egg cooked on the fire on the beach, perfect.

For other ways to use your wild garlic check out the pesto (May 2013) which I wrote about last year or how about strewing some chopped leaves over a salami topped pizza….

Wild Garlic Focaccia 3

Wild Garlic Focaccia

450g strong bread flour

7g yeast

7g table salt

30oml luke warm water

50ml olive oil

Small bunch wild garlic, about 6-8 leaves

75ml olive oil

Sea salt

Mix the flour with the yeast, salt, water and 50ml of oil and knead for 5 minutes.  Leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours until doubled in size or put in the fridge overnight.  Preheat the oven to 190, knock the air out of the dough and then press it into a shallow tin approximately 24x34cm.  Cover loosely and leave to rise for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile whizz the garlic and 75ml of oil with a hand blender, or similar, until you get a fabulous green oil.

Press your fingers into the dough to make dimples and then pour the oil over to fill the little holes and cover the entire surface.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt and bake for 25-35 minutes until golden.  Check the bottom is brown, you can always give it another 5 minutes directly on the rack if necessary.