Blenheim Palace Food Festival

For mum’s birthday this year we headed to a food festival at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. It was pretty giant and there was a great mix of places to get hot food for lunch and places that sold oils/sauces/salamis and other things to take home for the store cupboard.

My favourite thing was obviously pizza, but this was actually some of the best pizza I’ve had for a while. It was made by the Secret Pizza Society, who had a super fancy van. The pizza had gorgeous black bubbles on the crust and some top-notch salami on top. Big thumbs up.

Other highlights were a great hog roast by Orchard View Farm, and some amazing paella with giant chunks of gorgeous chorizo (will add a link if I find the name of the people).

You can see the website of the people who organise the festival here, so if you get a chance to go to one of their events then I couldn’t recommend it more!

Weber

Since the sun was out, my brother and I got out the barbecue to make some pizza for what turned out to be an incredibly long lunch. The Weber has an insert to turn it into a pizza oven which gets sandwiched between the grill and the lid. I put a pizza stone on the bottom, and a big piece of circular steel (and a load of tin foil to make sure there were no gaps) on the shelf above to help the pizza cook on the top. We struggled to get the fire hot enough at first but once we started throwing in wood chips the temperature gauge on the front quickly maxed out (and in fact totally burnt so we couldn’t even see it eventually). We did have to constantly throw in wood chips to keep it hot – and by we, I mean Theo, who spent a long time crouching by the barbecue with smoke in his eyes trying to throw handfuls of wood chips through the fairly small hole in the front while being rained on (the sun did not stay out).

As far as the pizza itself goes, I used a Neapolitan dough that rose overnight (recipe here) and topped it with some passata, mozzarella and some strange overpriced Hungarian sausage which was the closest thing to pepperoni Waitrose had (but was delicious). The stone was so hot for some of the pizzas that the bottom cooked in about 30 seconds meaning I had to spent quite a while in front of the Weber holding the pizzas right near the roof to brown, also being attacked by an onslaught of smoke to the eyes.

Despite a couple of burnt bottoms, this turned out to be some of the best pizza I’ve ever made at home, so once I’ve bought myself some goggles to stave off the smoke from my eyes, I’ll be getting this out a whole lot more.

Tacos

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It’s the summer holidays!!

Yesterday we started off what will hopefully be an incredible summer of outdoor eating with a bit of a Mexican feast, made by my older brother. He spent the day in the kitchen making two of the best, and also hottest, salsas I’ve tasted – a lovely smokey chipotle one to go with pork, and a green chili one to go with chicken. He also cooked up a whole load of meat and other fillings and we sat outside in the evening sun making and eating our tacos.

Five Guys

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Five Guys has opened in Birmingham!!! I was very excited so went with a┬ábunch of friends (some more excited than others) for lunch today. We all ordered little portions of everything but still couldn’t finish even half of our delicious cajun fries. After we ate we drew nice little crayon postcards for their noticeboard. Here are pictures of my gorgeously greasy delicious cheeseburger.

Nduja

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We’re waiting for the rain to hold off for long enough to get the BBQ out and start making some pizza outside, but in the meantime we kicked off pizza season with some skillet-broiler pizza. Big bro made some dough a couple of days in advance and we got ourselves a jar of nduja – a spreadable Italian spicy sausage which you can put on in dollops – and it made a pretty great alternative to pepperoni. If you want to get yourself some (and you should), it’s sold at Carluccio’s.

Wood Fired Oven

Although the sun and the scenery was all very nice, the most exciting part of my holiday this year was that THERE WAS A WOOD FIRED OVEN AT THE HOLIDAY HOUSE!!

This ranks in top ten most exciting things in the world for me, so I started to prepare a few days before the night we had set for pizza night by making some dough. The odds were against us from the beginning, since we speak zero Portuguese and had a fairly hard time working out the different types of flour in the supermarket. Then we couldn’t find any yeast (partly because we didn’t know the word for yeast), so in a controversial move, I went for a bread mix. This came back to bite me a bit later because when I was making the pizzas, I didn’t have any flour to dust the surface with, only bread mix.

Then I was a bit ambitious and decided I’d make a wet dough so it would be nice and bubbly, and ended up making a dough that was probably closer to being a liquid than a solid.

In the end it was a bit of a disaster really since forming the liquid dough into anything resembling a pizza was pretty hard, and I didn’t exactly know what to do with the fire, but several hours later we had made six pizzas, and even disastrous pizzas are still pizzas, so I was happy.

Pizzette

IMG_3716 IMG_3710I had some leftover pizza dough so I made some little pizzas with it. It was a bit quicker than normal because I just did the bases in a frying pan and finished the pizzas under the grill. I did put a little too much garlic on the marinara and it was still a little raw when we ate it…so don’t do that. Here’s a recipe (the dough recipe is basically this one from Serious Eats, but with a little more water).

PIZZETTE (makes 6 small pizzas)

  • 10oz ’00’ flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon instant yeast
  • 7oz water
  • a tin of plum tomatoes, blended (passata would be fine too)
  • 2 balls of mozzarella, torn into pieces

Mix together the dry ingredients in the bowl, then add the water and mix it all in (get your hands dirty) until it all comes together in one big ball of dough. Knead it for a few minutes until your dough is smooth. Cover it up and leave it on the countertop for the best part of a day, or overnight if you can.

Split your dough into six equal balls (make them as even as you can now, it’ll make them easier to shape later), cover them and leave them in a warmish place for a couple more hours.

Heat up a frying pan and turn the grill on. Meanwhile, take one of the dough balls and stretch it out over a floured counter. Stretch it (or roll it) as thin as you can without it breaking – don’t worry if you get holes, just pinch them back together.

Lay the rolled out dough in the hot frying pan (you might be able to get two in, depending how big they are. Keep it there for a couple of minutes, until the bottom is getting some black spots on.

Turn it over, and then start topping your pizza. The ones I did in the pictures are margherita (tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil), marinara (tomato sauce, garlic and oregano), and a white pizza (i.e. no tomato sauce) with mozzarella, parmesan and asparagus. If you use parmesan, grate it on when you’ve finished, because it burns easily under the grill (as I found out).

When the bottom side has some nice black spotting too, stick the pan under the grill for a couple of minutes until your cheese has melted.

Take your pizzas out and repeat for the rest of the dough balls.

 

Enjoy!!