25 August 2014

Fried pizza with aubergines and mozzarella


Fried pizza is all the craze now, and I decided to make a few of those as well. But here comes a serious WARNING! Be very careful at all times when handling those hot pans! They have been to a very hot oven, and that should not be forgotten. The VegHog wasn't careful enough and scorched its hand severely enough to have to visit a doctor! I'm fine again, and this injury hasn't scared me away from making more fried pizzas as they were absolutely delicious. The frying adds a certain smokiness to the base and makes it crispier than you would achieve in a normal oven.

If you got curious about fried pizza, I would recommend you to read also this Guardian article. There are many good tips for making a good fried pizza. 

So here's how I made my first fried pizza ever.

Spelt pizza crust:

It of course depends on the size of your pan, how many pizzas you'll get out of this amount of dough, but it should be at least a few small ones. And this time I made my crust a bit thicker than usual.

2 tbsp dry yeast
400 g spelt flour
2 tsp salt
350 ml lukewarm water
3 tbsp olive oil

First make the crust. I made a spelt crust, because I recently bought spelt flour in bulk. You could also make a half spelt, half wheat crust, which is what I normally make.

Toppings:

4 tomatoes (mine were tomato tigerellas from my own garden)
1 red onion
1 garlic clove
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
Fresh basil leaves
200 g buffalo mozzarella
4 mini aubergines
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano


What to do:

Make a quick basic tomato sauce by chopping the onion, garlic and tomatoes finely and cooking them in olive oil until the flavours blend nicely. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. You can also make a pizza without a tomato sauce and just put some tomato slices on the base. That is just as good, only a bit different.

Roast the mini aubergine slices brushed with olive oil and oregano at 220C for about 10 minutes until tender and golden brown.

Heat a non-stick frying pan with a metal handle (it has to be able to take the heat of the oven) very hot and also heat the grill setting of the oven as hot as possible. Then place the stretched pizza dough and the toppings into the pan. I put my toppings onto the base in this order: tomato sauce, some mozzarella (more will be put on after the baking), basil leaves and roasted aubergines.

Leave the pizza in the pan until the crust gets slightly brown below and then pop the whole thing into the oven under the grill for a further couple of minutes. My grill doesn't get that hot, so I had to leave the pizza for about five minutes to get nice colour. The first frying bit is also only a few minutes, so it's a very quick way to make a tasty pizza.



When the pizza comes out of the oven, tear some buffalo mozzarella on the top and serve, but still be careful with that pan! I also made a different one with extra heirloom tomato slices on the top.


Have you tried this sort of pizza before, and what do you think of the idea?

Your VegHog

21 August 2014

La Bière des Cigales


And with this post we return briefly to my recent holiday in France, as I wanted to introduce Provençal beer to you.

Les cigales, the cicada, were a new acquaintance for me when I encountered them in Provence. Cicadas are insects that sing a distinct song and hide in the trees and bushes. The noise can be constant and quite loud. It reminds me of the sound of crickets, but it is more powerful. I took this short video footage from a bush in a park in Avignon, have a listen to the song of the cicada although it's not the greatest footage.

video

I also purchased a furry toy cicada to take home with me.



So that's the insect cicada, and now to the subject that this article is actually about: the beer named after the creatures. La Bière des Cigales is a crisp, dry and malty lager beer, balanced with a caramel aftertaste. It has a smooth bitterness to it and it's very refreshing. It was quite nice to get a decent beer as refreshment as I didn't always feel like drinking wine. It is especially nice enjoyed under a tree while the cicadas chirp above.  



Your VegHog

20 August 2014

Cheese and onion bagels


Good morning! It's always morning somewhere, isn't it. Here's what I had for breakfast today: a cheese, onion, tomato and rocket bagel. The tomatoes came fresh from my garden and many other components were just basically leftovers that I had bought for other dishes, and I had to get rid of them. This was a very good breakfast indeed, I don't have to have lunch for a while.



These are the ingredients I used:

Plain bagels
Tomatoes
Red onion
Salad onion
Emmental
Sussex Charmer cheese
Fresh rocket
Salt
Pepper

I halved the bagels and baked them at 180C for about 10 minutes with the red onion rings, tomato slices, salt, pepper and cheeses on them. Then I just added some fresh salad onion rings and rocket and put the halves back together.



I always need my morning coffee, and today I had it from a lovely Moomin mug.

Have a good day everyone!

Your VegHog

19 August 2014

Harissa and honey roasted aubergines with tomato salsa, halloumi and spicy couscous


I wanted to make something different with my special aubergines from France, and this is the spicy dish I came up with. There are several components in this dish that go well together, and I also used my exquisite olive oil from France for the aubergines and the tomato salsa. I cooked this dish before I left to Finland, so sorry for the small delay in posting it.

Here are the ingredients and instructions to each part of this meal.


Tomato salsa:

4 tomatoes
1 small garlic
2 tbsp lemon juice
Black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

It was lovely to have something raw and fresh with this dish, and I thought that this tomato salsa suited it perfectly. I combined some French heirloom tomatoes with a few from my own balcony.

Cube the tomatoes and chop the garlic finely. Season them with lemon juice, black pepper, salt and olive oil. Refrigerate for around half an hour to let the flavours blend together.

Roasted aubergines:

2 aubergines
2 tsp harissa
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp water


Make the marinade by combining harissa, honey, olive oil and water. Slice the aubergines lengthwise and roast them at 180C for about 40 minutes. Then brush them with the marinade and roast for further 10-15 minutes until the honey starts to caramelise. Turn the aubergine slices during the roasting to achieve an even coating.


Couscous:

1 cup couscous
1 cup water
1 garlic stock cube
1 red onion
1 small bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
Chilli flakes to taste
1 tsp olive oil

Chop the bell pepper, red onion and garlic finely. Cook them in olive oil in a pan until soft. Season them with ground cumin, ground coriander and chilli flakes.

Bring garlic stock (water + garlic stock cube) to boil and remove it from the heat. Add the couscous and the contents of the pan to it and let rest under a lid for about 10 minutes.


Halloumi:

250 g halloumi
Vegetable oil for frying

Just fry long thin strips of halloumi in vegetable oil until golden brown.



Serve all components together and have some lovely red wine with it. Enjoy!

Your VegHog

18 August 2014

Redcurrant and chilli jam


My holidays are over and I have returned home. Of course it's a shame not to see fascinating places all the time, but it's kind of good to be here again to my usual routine. I can't wait for the autumn to begin either, as it's somehow such a cosy season. I'm sure there will be a few holiday posts still, but at least I'm now able to cook in my own kitchen again.

I love redcurrants for their sharp taste, and now I got some fresh ones after a long while (haven't really had them in large quantities for years). A cake, a pie or anything sweet would've been the natural choice to make from them, but this time I went with something different.


I found this redcurrant and chilli jam recipe in a Finnish magazine and I pretty much followed it. The only thing was that I added vegetarian gelatine to it, as my jam didn't set without it. I guess Finnish redcurrants have that much more pectin, so that the jam sets without gelatine or extra added pectin. 

Ingredients

10 small dried red chillies (in the original recipe: 5 red chillies)
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
200 g redcurrants (original recipe used frozen ones)
2 dl white wine vinegar
1 dl water
2 tbsp ground ginger
4 dl sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetarian gelatine

Method

Chop the chillies, shallots and garlic finely. I left the seeds in the chillies as I used my own harvested and dried chillies, but if you don't want a very spice jam, remove the seeds then. My chillies are really very small, so the quantity might sound like a lot.

Put all ingredients into a saucepan and boil it through for a few minutes. Then let the mix simmer at lower heat for about 30 minutes. The original recipe says that the mix is fairly liquid at that point, however I would recommend adding a little vegetarian gelatine, if you want a firm jam.

Let the mix cool a little and then put it into jars and store in a cool place. Serve this jam with hearty cheese sticks, vegetarian burgers, roasted potatoes, whatever you would like!





Your VegHog

15 August 2014

Heirloom tomato and mozzarella pasta


This is a very quick and a very fresh pasta dish. I just love this kind of meals, where the ingredients are simple yet beautiful. There is hardly any chopping to be done and no lengthy sauce making at all. These flavours work really well together, so why add anything extra. Have a look how easy it is.

Ingredients

1-2 large heirloom tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
200 g buffalo mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh rocket leaves
Salt
Ground black pepper
300 g rigatoni (or other pasta)

Method

Cut the heirloom tomato into small cubes and chop the garlic finely. Boil the pasta until it's al dente.

In the meanwhile cook the garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes, and then the tomatoes only for a minute or so. They should only cook slightly and stay fairly firm. 



In the end add the basil leaves to the tomatoes and season with a sprinkle of salt and ground black pepper.

When the pasta is cooked, put it into a bowl, and then the tomatoes, generous pieces of torn mozzarella and a handful of fresh rocket on the top.



Enjoy the meal with a bottle of nice white wine.

Your VegHog

14 August 2014

Stuffed yellow courgette with chanterelles

I have once again found such beautiful ingredients here in Finland, so I had to start cooking. This dish really contains the taste of the season. I stuffed a yellow courgette with a chanterelle, new onion and pearled spelt mix, and I think that everyone quite liked it. Here are the instructions.

Ingredients for the stuffed courgette:

1 large yellow courgette

100 g chanterelles

1 new onion of the season

1 dl pearled spelt

150 g grated emmental

1 vegetable stock cube

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Method

Cook the pearled spelt in water with an added vegetable stock cube until tender. This takes about 15 minutes.

Chop the onion finely and cook it in vegetable oil until soft.

Cut the courgette in half lengthwise and carve two hollow boats from it, save the pulp from the inside. Then quickly cook the halves in a pan in little vegetable oil so that they get a bit warmed on each side.

Add the courgette pulp into the onion pan, and then also add the finely chopped chanterelles. Cook the mix for a few minutes and then add the cooked spelt (where any excess water has been removed from) and half of the grated emmental into the pan. Season with ground black pepper. I didn't add any extra salt as the stock cube already made the spelt quite salty and the cheese adds a certain saltiness as well.

Fill the courgette boats with the spelt and chanterelle mix and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the top.

Bake them in the oven at 200C for about 20 minutes until the crust is crisp and the courgettes have cooked, but still have a certain bite to them.

You can serve some sauteed chanterelles on the side like I did. Just cook them in butter with chopped onion for a few minutes and maybe add some salt and pepper.

I also served pettuleipä with this dish (wartime bread, where part of the flour has been replaced by ground tree bark) that I bought at the 18th century market in Isokyrö. It was plenty chewy, but actually tasted a little of pine.

So, that's the dish, I hope you enjoyed this post! See you soon!

Your VegHog

 

13 August 2014

Old animals' home in Ylistaro

Wanha Markki in Ylistaro in western Finland is the home of an artist couple, who have an old animals' home on the premises. The old animals' home is one of a kind in Finland and has been in operation since 1999. Many animals have been able to enjoy their retirement there, and sometimes even younger animals are allowed to enter. The old animals' home exists thanks to volunteers, donations and earnings from the owners' art and gift shop sales.

Many of the animals are able to roam the yard freely, and some dwell in generous sized enclosures. Visitors can look at the animals and pet them. Life is calm and serene on the yard, it's a true countryside haven. I try to visit there at least once a year. Now behold the cute animals!