Pizza Cake (or, happy birthday to me)

This is a monstrosity and absolutely worth your time. For my birthday get-together (which involved wine, quiplash and the five people I know in London all coming to sit in my front room), I made Pizza Cake. 

Pizza Cake is not cake but a stuffed, generally slightly soggy bread cooked in the confines of a cake tin. It is glorious but still very much a work in progress. 

I first read about this on James Morton’s site, and I think I tried it a few weeks later. This first time I made it, I followed Morton’s method pretty much to the letter. I was still quite new to bread baking – this was over 2 years ago now – but it was good. The middle was a bit too undercooked and I think I’d used way too much sauce, but it was good enough that I tried again (here is a picture of attempt one). 

A year later I revisited pizza cake. This time, I reduced the sauce a whole lot more and cooked it for a whole lot longer, and the result was better. The innards were still a little bit gooey, but it was more successful. There’s a picture here

This was my third pizza cake and I think I accidentally stumbled into improving it. There were some things I did deliberately, though. Firstly, I reduced the sauce for about an hour and a half until it was thick. In his recipe, James mentions that you could just use tomato puree which I think would work, but I feel like you won’t get the richness of flavour, so instead I just boiled it down until was nearly the thickness of tomato puree. Secondly, I decided to use pre-grated mozzarella instead of the ball stuff, as it carries less excess liquid. 

It’s important to note that during the assembly of this beast, my flatmate Alice was deep frying blocks of macaroni cheese (which I would say you should also do because holy shit, it was good*). Our kitchen is tiny – we have very minimal surface space, so trying to roll out dough, spread sauce and assemble a ridiculous pizza into a tin is challenging when you’re also trying to avoid knocking over a pan of hot oil. Since we were also doing fried mac and cheese (which seriously I cannot recommend enough), I took a cupful of the sauce out, added a splash of water and this became the mac and cheese dip. Due to the crowdedness of our wee kitchen and the slightly lower quantity of sauce (plus I didn’t buy enough pepperoni), this particular iteration was maybe 1 or 2 layers thinner than past versions (I think I had 5 including the lid). But actually I think this meant it retained the thick, meaty juiciness of the thing, but it did help with making sure it was cooked through. The recipe’s sauce and dough quantities here will allow you to cook one with more layers (you’ll need more pepperoni and cheese, possibly), but in retrospect I think thinner is ok. 

Also important – by the time this was in the oven, I was basically half cut on red wine. So between trying not to get oil burns and being just a tiny bit smashed, I did not even think to check my camera settings. Normally on this blog the photos are not great, but that’s why on this occasion they are **particularly** bad and really quite orange. Fortunately, the method is still very much the same as James Morton’s recipe (as are the ingredients, let’s be honest) – so you can use his for instruction. 

This is the most ridiculous show piece and so I think worth doing. It’s that kind of unholy but satisfying food, you know – like, when you eat a full spoonful of proper cake mix, not even waiting until you scrape the bowl, or the fried chicken you get at 3am on a drunk walk home and then eat ravenously in front of Netflix, knowing you won’t remember what you watched in the morning. It’s messy and gooey and gorgeous and I can confirm it’s also good the following morning when you are a little hungover. 

*As a bonus, here’s how to do this: make 1.5x the quantity of Anna Mae’s original mac and cheese recipe (or your preferred macaroni recipe), spread it over a pan and refrigerate for a few hours. Once cold, cut into strips, dip in beaten egg and then coat in breadcrumbs, before frying in a deep pan of sunflower oil until golden and crispy. Serve with a little cup of the tomato sauce used in pizza cake for dipping. Picture of the finished product here

Pizza Cake
Serves 6
Layers of pizza, cooked in a cake tin. Gooey, sloppy and tasty.
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For the dough
  1. 500g white bread flour
  2. 1 x packet instant yeast (about 7g)
  3. 10g table salt
  4. 40g olive oil (cheap and cheerful is fine)
  5. 325g tepid water (this is about 325ml, too)
For the sauce
  1. Two tins of chopped tomatoes
  2. Some oil
  3. 4 -5 cloves crushed garlic
  4. 2 tbsp tomato puree
  5. Some finely chopped fresh basil (optional, I just happened to also be making bruschetta so had some)
  6. Splash balsamic vinegar
For the other filling
  1. 200g grated mozzarella
  2. A pack or 2 of Pepperoni slices
  3. Anything else you want to put in but try to keep moisture to a minimum
For the dough
  1. In a bowl, measure out the flour. On one side of the bowl, add the yeast, then add the salt on the opposite. Tip in the oil and flour and mix to form a shaggy dough.
  2. You can then do one of two things - the first, leave the dough to rise for one hour, unkneaded and covered with cling film, then return to it an hour later. When it is risen, wet two fingers, slip them into the side of the bowl and fold the dough back in on itself. Rotate the bowl, repeating the finger slip technique until the air has been knocked out. Recover, leave for a further hour. The alternative, knead the dough for ten minutes until smooth, then leave to prove for one hour (I did the no knead method, mostly out of laziness).
  3. If using the first method, put your sauce on after the first prove, if using the second, put sauce on after kneading.
For the sauce
  1. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the garlic. Stir a little and cook until fragrant, then add the tomato puree. Stir again, and let cook for a minute or two.
  2. Tip in the tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and leave to cook for an hour or so, or until thick.
To assemble
  1. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Line the bottom of a loose bottomed cake tin with parchment paper.
  3. When the dough is risen, knock it back. Roll out a small piece of dough (a piece that is slightly smaller than a fist is a good start) into a large circle a little wider than the cake pan. It should be thin sheet - so thin you can see light through, but not so thin it breaks. A good way to do this is to roll the ball out a little bit, then hold it at the top and let it's own weight stretch it, moving your hands around the edge so it stretches evenly(ish). Lay it on the cake pan.
  4. Spread a small amount of the tomato sauce across the dough. Add pepperoni and a small amount of cheese.
  5. Roll out another piece, and repeat, always leaving some excess dough around the edge of the edge of the pan. Essentially, lay a bunch of pizzas on top of each other. Continue until you have two small pieces of dough remaining and a few tablespoons of sauce.
  6. Take one piece of dough, roll out as before, place on top of the pile but do not add sauce or toppings.
  7. Grease the sides of the cake pan with a little butter.
  8. Cut the excess dough off the sides of the pizzas you have built up.
  9. Take your final piece of dough and roll it into a long strip. Wrap this strip around your existing layers, creating sides. Tuck it under the base if you need to and fold it slightly over the top, or trim it if it's way too wide.
  10. Put the sides back on the tin, then put the cake into the oven for one hour.
  11. Take out the cake, add a final layer of sauce to the lid, plus your toppings, then return to the oven for a final 15 minutes. Once it's done, cut into slices and dig in.
Adapted from James Morton
Adapted from James Morton
Doughs and Don'ts http://www.doughsanddonts.com/

Lemon and Honey Hot Cross Buns (or, sun’s out, bun’s out!)


Happy Easter and happy hot cross bun season! 

Quite often, this blog is a bit doom and gloom; self care, cooking for colds, Rory Gilmore is terrible. But not today! Because let me tell you: everything is coming up Millhouse. 

It has been 3 and a half years since I moved to London, which means it’s been 3 and a half years since I needed somewhere to live and lied about how good I was at baking to get people to like me enough to let me live with them. 3 and a half years since I had to learn to bake to come good on that lie (my first Easter in London I made creme egg brownies which did go down well). 

Without wanting to sound like a total wang, I am SO PROUD of how far I have come in those years. I’ve gone from working in a bar for minimum wage (in some ways the most important experience of my life) to someone who has to go to management team meetings in a big-ass theatre. I got a job I like that pays me enough money to live in and enjoy London, and I worked hard to get there and I am so happy about it all. 

Perhaps most importantly, I am allowing myself to be publicly proud of myself. To think (know?) I am good at things.

See, I have also gotten good at the baking thing. No longer a lie, I can knead with the nearly-best of them, and these hot cross buns are a sunny celebration of the fact that I am a vaguely successfully human being. And of the fact that in the last two weeks there has been actual sunshine and drinking in parks and generally good things. They are laced with a lemony flavour, which makes them taste a bit fresher, lighter and sunnier. 

Lemon and Honey Hot Cross Buns
Yields 8
Fresh and zesty buns for a celebration
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Total Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr
Ingredients
  1. Half a cup of lemon juice (fresh or the bottle kind), plus another few tbsps for the cross)
  2. A few good fistfuls of raisins and candied lemon peel (I had about a cup and a half full)
  3. 250ml milk
  4. Zest of 2 lemons
  5. 50g butter
  6. 500g bread flour (plus another 100g for the crosses)
  7. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  8. 85g caster sugar
  9. 30g runny honey (plus 2 tbsp for glaze)
  10. 10g salt
  11. 7g sachet instant dried yeast
  12. 1 egg (plus another for an egg wash, if desired)
Instructions
  1. In a wee bowl, soak the fruit and candied peel in the lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. Gently heat the milk until warm but not hot. Take off the heat and add in the butter and lemon zest. The butter should melt without needing extra heat. Set aside to cool a little.
  3. In a big bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt and honey. Then add the yeast on the opposite side of the bowl to the salt (if you dump it right on there and kill the yeast). Add the egg and the milk mix and bring together into a dough.
  4. The dough will be shaggy and quite loose, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 - 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Don't add more flour if you can help it.
  5. Lightly oil the bowl (I tend to use sunflour oil), pop the dough back in and cover with cling film. Leave to prove for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  6. When proved, add in the soaked fruit and knock back for a minute or two.
  7. Shape into buns (I did 8 big ones, but do however many you like at what size you like). Prove for 1 hr or until doubled in size.
  8. Prehet oven to 180°C.
  9. Mix the other 100g of flour with 2 - 3 tbsp of lemon juice until you get a paste that is pipeable.
  10. When the dough is proved, do a quick egg wash and then pipe crosses onto each bun (I cut the corner off a sandwich bag. I m terrible at piping).
  11. Bake for 30 mins (adjust depending on size - smaller buns will need less time), or until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  12. While they are still warm, mix 2 tbsp honey with 1 tbsp water, then brush on the buns to make them shiny and sweet.
Doughs and Don'ts http://www.doughsanddonts.com/

Mango Meringue Pie (or, the alternative birthday cake)

mango-meringue-pie-3
I turned 25 on Wednesday. While I’m not much one for going off the rails or getting wild, I did spend a whole day baking stuff, which could certainly be viewed as a sign of a quarter life crisis. I made a polenta cake, party rings, an elaborate bread (watch this space), brownies and a pizza cake. And, of course, this: the Mango Meringue Pie. It was the sweetest, the sickliest and the very best.

mango-meringue-pie-1

I really love mango. I put that shit in salads and in stir fry and generally in my face at any opportunity. Recently, when I was at a music festival, I nipped out of the festival grounds to a local village and bought a wee pot of mango. Amidst the heavy, hearty festival food it was heaven. I sat and ate it in the door of my tent, and some high guy came, sat with me, and just started eating the mango. When he took the last bit I was more quietly filled with violent rage than ever before in my life. So, yeah. Mango – I love it. When I randomly saw something on pinterest about mango curd I knew exactly what I needed to do. This recipe for mango curd is the product of about an hour of internet research of different curds and weights and such.

mango-meringue-pie-5

My love of the sweet, stickiness of mango is rivalled only by my love of the kitchen blowtorch. Those of you who know me in real life may feel a real sense of fear descend upon you when you learn I own a blowtorch, but own a blowtorch I do, and I wield it with glee. I’ve made meringue a few times and creme bruleed a rice pudding into submission, though I do mostly use it to melt mozzarella onto bruschetta (or cheese onto anything). But the discovery of mango curd meant it was time to venture back to meringue. Also because blowtorch. This meringue recipe is this one. The pastry – just to make sure I properly attribute – is from James Morton’s brilliant bible of a cookbook How Baking Works, but with a zesty twist. 

mango-meringue-pie-4

Meringue pie looks impressive – a perfect pile up of pastry, curd and meringue – and so it seemed ideal that I would make this for my birthday – a proper decadent, ostentatious show off of a thing to celebrate my quarter century of existence (which has been the exact opposite of decadent and ostentatious, given that I made my own cakes and watched GBBO).

mango-meringue-pie-2

Mango Meringue Pie
Ostentatious, ridiculous, amazing.
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
30 min
For the mango curd
  1. 2 big mangoes
  2. 160g unsalted butter
  3. Juice of 1 lime
  4. 160g caster sugar
  5. 4 eggs, lightly beaten
For the pastry
  1. 125g unsalted butter
  2. 75g icing sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. A dash of vanilla extract
  5. 250g plain flour
  6. Zest of 1 lime
For the iltalian meringue
  1. 4 egg whites
  2. 140ml water
  3. 250g caster sugar
Instructions
  1. Start by dealing with your mangoes - peel them, and cut out the stones, then roughly chop the flesh. You should have about 2 cups of mango flesh. Puree it in a blender or food processor until smooth (mine was a bit lumpy, and still fine, because my blender is terrible).
  2. Make the mango curd. Boil a bit of water in a pan, then place a heatproof bowl over it to make a ban marie (don't let the bowl touch the water). Leave the pan over a low-medium heat. Put the butter in the pan and melt.
  3. When it has just melted but is not yet *hot*, add in the lime juice, caster sugar, eggs and mango pulp. Cook, continually stirring, for 8 - 10 minutes, until thick. It should coat the back of a spoon. When it's thickened up, cover it with cling film (to stop a skin forming), then put it in the fridge.
  4. Pastry time! Weigh out the butter and icing sugar and beat them together until they form a smooth, pale paste. Chuck in the egg and vanilla and beat in. Mix in the flour and lime zest (don't overdo it!), then form into a dough, using your hands if necessary. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 180C. When your pastry has chilled, roll it out to be about the thickness of a £1 coin. Grease a 23cm tart tin, then place the pastry into the tin, with a cm or so of dough hanging over the rim. You can use a small piece of dough to press it into the corner. Prick the pastry all over with a fork. I made this on a VERY hot day - if you are doing similar, place the tin in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  6. Place some baking paper over your pastry, then fill with rice or baking beans. Put in the oven and bake for 15 mins, then remove paper and baking beans and bake for 15 mins more, or until golden brown. While it's still hot, trim off the excess pastry. Set aside to cool.
  7. When your pastry has cooled, pour in the mango curd and spread evenly. Return to the fridge.
  8. Make the meringue. In a stand mixer (a hand one is fine if that's what you have, but be careful), put the egg whites in the bowl and mix on high heat until it forms stiff peaks.
  9. While the meringue whips up, heat the water and sugar until just starting to boil. Once the meringue has reached soft peak stage, pour in the sugar syrup slowly while the mixer is still running. Leave to mix, until the bowl is cool and the meringue is glossy.
  10. Remove pie from fridge, pour on meringue. Drag a fork through it until it cover the pie and looks vaguely attractive.
  11. Fire up your blowtorch and torch the meringue until it browns a little. It will look lovely.
Adapted from Really Nice Recipes / How Baking Works
Adapted from Really Nice Recipes / How Baking Works
Doughs and Don'ts http://www.doughsanddonts.com/

Irn Bru Gammon (or, girder pig for a great nation)

Irn Bru Gammon

This week, I do desperately miss Scotland. 

I loved Scotland’s coldest winters with ankle deep snow and gothic architecture and the extinct volcano towering over it all. I miss feeling in tune with a place, feeling like a little bit of it was mine, feeling like I knew it. 

On Thursday, the majority of Scotland’s population voted to Remain the EU. I have never been so proud nor ached so desperately for a nation. So, Scotland, my love, this one is for you. I’ve been meaning to write this recipe up for a while now, but this – in the midst of political turmoil across the UK – really felt like the right time. 

Irn Bru Gammon

So, this is Irn Bru gammon. I went through a real gammon phase, recently. There was always a hunk of meat on the boil, always a big chunk of pig in the fridge to pick at. It started with Nigella and her now infamous ham in cola, and progressed when I discovered Crumbs and Petals –  a Scottish site which since seems to have fallen off the internet – and their recipe for Irn Bru gammon, which I’ve adapted a bit.

It’s perfect – sweet, salty and meaty – a loveletter to Scotland in the form of a bastardised Nigella recipe and a whole lot of Irn Bru. It is perfect for a celebration, too – a lovely centre piece at a party – or the perfect comforting commiseration meal if your country just threw itself down the pan. Scotland, I love you.

Irn Bru Gammon 

Irn Bru Gammon
Sweet, salty, meaty and everything wonderful about Scotland
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr 50 min
Total Time
3 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr 50 min
Total Time
3 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 gammon joint
  2. 1 onion, cut into 8ths or very roughly chopped
  3. Zest of one orange
  4. Irn Bru (0.75 - 1 litre) plus some water
  5. 4 tbsp honey
  6. 1 1/2 tsps English mustard
Instructions
  1. Put the gammon in a pot, fat side down if you can. Pour in Irn Bru until it comes halfway up the gammon, then add water until the liquid covers the gammon. Throw in the orange zest and the onion. Bring the pan to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and leave to cook for an hour per kilo (mine was 1.4 kilos, so took just less than 1hr 30) - you might need to add 20 mins if it's just out of the fridge.
  2. Half hour before it's done, preheat your oven to 240°C. While it's cooking, mix up the honey, mustard, and an extra tsp of irn bru into a wee bowl.
  3. Remove the gammon from the pot (can be tricky, I used some tongues and a flatmate to assist) and place on a baking tray, fat side up. Cut off the layer of fat, if there is one, and score a diamond pattern into the top. Pop cloves into the diamonds, and then smother it in the honey mustard glaze mix.
  4. Put in the oven and cook for about 20 mins, until the glaze has turned a bit golden. Eat in thick slices alongside a glass of Irn Bru.
Adapted from Nigella / Crumbs and Petals
Adapted from Nigella / Crumbs and Petals
Doughs and Don'ts http://www.doughsanddonts.com/

Turkey, Cranberry and Brie Toasties (or, love of leftovers)

Turkey, Cranberry and Brie Toasties

Christmas is done. This year, it was just me and my parents. My mum and I, despite lacking two additional family members since my brother and his wife are up in Yorshire, decided not to scale down dinner at all. 12 Yorkshire puddings for 3 people obviously seemed about right. This Boxing Day, we are therefore up to our knees in Celebrations wrappers and a shedload of leftovers.

In a mission to start to work through the leftovers, I made these sandwiches. They are quick, because Christmas Day is all about big and bold and excess, but Boxing Day is about lay ins and good books and lounging. But Christmas, as a time, is really all about deliciousness, which these sandwiches definitely are. 

Turkey, Cranberry and Brie Toasties

(Actually, I think there was a time when Christmas was all about toys and watching my dad put stickers on things and making Lego constructs, and another time when it was about getting as far in to the latest Final Fantasy game as possible in a single day, but now it is absolutely all about food).

These toasties are very buttery, a little crispy, and full of cheese, and a bit fruity, which is everything you want in a season so wholeheartedly dedicated to calories. They are really quite filling, too. They are quick enough that you can whip them up for some people you love, increase surplus fridge space, do a quick clean and still have time to fit in a watch of Paddington in the afternoon. 

Turkey, Cranberry and Brie Toasties

 

Turkey, Cranberry and Brie Toasties
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. Bread
  2. Leftover Christmas Turkey
  3. Cranberry Sauce
  4. Brie
  5. Butter
  6. Salad Leaves (I used rocket)
For one sandwich
  1. Cut two slices of bread. Lightly butter each side of each slice.
  2. On one side of one slice, pile up some brie.
  3. On one side of the other slice, spread over some cranberry sauce, and pile on some turkey.
  4. In a frying pan, over a medium heat, melt a little butter. Then, place the brie slice (butter down, brie up) into the pan, and fry until the underside browns.
  5. When the bread has browned, throw a handful of rocket onto the brie.
  6. Then, take the cranberry-turkey covered slice, and place it (turkey down, butter up), quickly, onto the brie slathered bread.
  7. Flip the whole sandwich, and let the bread on the other side brown again.
  8. Remove, serve. Repeat for as many sandwiches as you need, or want.
Adapted from from Christmas Dinner
Adapted from from Christmas Dinner
Doughs and Don'ts http://www.doughsanddonts.com/

BBQ Beer Can Chicken (or, tradition)

Doughs and Donts_BBQ Beercan Chicken Title
Lillis pointed out that we have been friends for like 6 years. Maybe 7. That’s a long time. Like most friendships that span great time and big oceans, we have developed traditions; they include cuddles that are a bit too keen and more in-jokes than I can ever count. One tradition – a very good one – is making Beer Can Chicken. 

Doughs and Donts_BBQ Beercan Chicken On Can
I do not remember how this tradition began. All I know is that Lillis once made a beer can chicken while I was around, probably some time in my first year of uni during the coldest winter I have ever known, and it was brilliant. They happened a few more times over the course of the few years we both spent in Edinburgh, and again nearly every time we saw each other again. This time, eleven months since we were last in the same room, we made it once again. 

Beer Can Chicken, like a good friendship, is ridiculous and silly but is completely worth it and completely warming. 

Doughs and Donts_BBQ Beercan Chicken Crving
It begins with drinking. You need to use a half full beer can for the chicken. So drink. Share the half a can. Then, you are ready. You place the chicken so it sits upright, sitting with the beer can in its bum. This gives you a really lovely moist chicken, and it means the meat cooks evenly, rather than the legs being tied together and blocking the heat. The skin will get really crispy. Here, we made a BBQ rub. It was a little sweet, a little spice and a little sticky, and it was great. 

Doughs and Donts_BBQ Beercan Chicken Carved
Most importantly, beer can chicken looks impressive. It is a strange spectacle, so even when there are just two of you, it is the best kind of meal; the best way to celebrate actually being in the same country as your favourite friend for the first time in nearly a year. 

Doughs and Donts_Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese

We served it with a recipe loosely based on Nigella Lawson’s Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese, which was good, and far too plentiful for only 2 people (I got pretty excited about an ENORMOUS sweet potato in the supermarket… and, fun fact, if you cook mac in a wok in the oven it will crisp *on the bottom* not the top). We drank more beer (New York, in turns out, is pretty excellent for good beer), and we watched good films, and we enjoyed a tradition that’s been going nearly 7 years. 

Doughs and Donts_BBQ Beercan Chicken Plated

BBQ Beer Can Chicken
A chicken cooked upright on a beer can. Moist and delicious.
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
For the rub/glaze
  1. Several tablespoons BBQ sauce (we used the korean kind, if you do not have the Korean kind, you might want to throw in some chilli flakes, some garlic or some sesame oil - I don't know that you can even get the Korean kind in the UK)
  2. A good glug of maple syrup
  3. Another glug of beer
  4. (Quantities will vary on your taste and the size of your chicken, so do as you will)
Otherwise
  1. A chicken
  2. A can of beer, half full (do not use one with a widget in)
Instructions
  1. Heat your oven to about 200 °C
  2. Drink half the can of beer.
  3. Place the half full can on a roasting tin or baking tray. Then elegantly spread the legs of the chicken to widen it's bum, and with a thumb each side of the chicken's bum place it over the can, so it sits upright with the can up its arsehole. It will look hilarious.
  4. Drizzle the rub all over the chicken. Maybe use your fingers to get it in all the little crevices between the wings and legs.
  5. Put it in the oven. You might need to rearrange your oven shelves to accommodate the upright chicken, and that is ok.
  6. After 20 mins, turn the oven down to about 170°C and cook until the juices of the chicken run clear when you pop a skewer in it, drizzling on the rest of the rub/glaze half way through the cooking time. You can work out how long to cook your chicken by using the BBC Roast Timer: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/tools/roast-timer
  7. Leave to rest for ten minutes or so out of the oven. Carve, or tear apart. Serve.
Notes
  1. Do not use a can with a widget in it (this means most Guinness cans, I think).
  2. Our chicken was quite small, so ever pratical Lillis lopped it in half with a blade. If you do this, watch your fingers.
Doughs and Don'ts http://www.doughsanddonts.com/

Harissa Roast Lamb (or, the alternative Sunday Roast)

Doughs And Donts_Harissa Roast LambI don’t know if ‘I’m going to make an amazing roast’ is a normal reaction to feeling a bit down in the dumps of life. But that’s what I did on Sunday. 

Things are up and down, stressful and sad, and a roast is like a project. It’s something you can dedicate a big portion of the day to and enjoy at the end. For a few hours, this is the focus. But it’s gone away when the washing up is done, which is equally ideal. Most of the projects I begin in bursts of sadness (the children’s novel,  tidying my room, learning to knit) normally end up abandoned.

Not a roast, though. A roast gets seen through the end. It’s a pick me up with its feeling of accomplishment and with its juicy taste.

Doughs And Donts_Harissa Roast Lamb

Roasts shouldn’t be saved for sadness, of course. Make them whenever the feeling takes you. Everyone needs to feel accomplished once in a while. Everyone sometimes needs a meal a lot more grand than the situation demands. 

I could’ve just done a standard roast (there is always temptation to try and get the crispiest pork crackling ever possible), but on this occasion I was struck by inspiration. Recently, Ellabell of eatingwithmyfingers.com fame, posted a photo on instagram. Take a look and then read her whole blog because it is a beautiful, beautiful thing. There it was. Harissa roast lamb. I love harissa. Ever since I had it over some Mac and Cheese from a Camden Market street food stall a year or so ago it was has been one of my greatest food flavour loves. 

Doughs And Donts_Harissa Roast Lamb

Now, Ella, caught in the throes of her boyfriend’s cancer diagnosis (donate to their fundraiser here) never published a recipe for this lamb. So I kinda guessed one, with a bit of help from this recipe over at the BBC. I stole Ella’s method of cooking the lamb on top of some shallots, apricots and garlic, but also nicked the BBC method of using harissa paste. I served it with some roast sweet potato and some criminally underdone cauliflower which my housemates dutifully still consumed. 

Here’s a recommended soundtrack for while you make this. A good mix of melancholy and folksy swells of hope.

Harissa Roast Lamb
A spicy alternative to a traditional Sunday roast.
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup harissa paste
  2. Juice of 1/2 lemon
  3. 1 tbsp olive oil
  4. 1 tbsp honey
  5. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
  6. 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  7. 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  8. A few good grinds black pepper
  9. A joint of lamb, of a size that will feed all you need it to*
  10. A few handfuls of dried apricots
  11. Several echalion shallots
  12. 5 or 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
Instructions
  1. Preheat Oven.**
  2. Crush up the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, rosemary and pepper in a pestle and mortar
  3. To make your marinade, combine the crushed herbs and spices with the harissa paste, lemon juice, olive oil and honey and mix thoroughly.
  4. Scatter the apricots, garlic and shallots across the bottom of a roasting pan. Place your joint of meat on top, and with a knife put a few deep slits into the meat so the paste can penetrate.
  5. Rub half the marinade over the meat, and leave it for about half an hour to soak in a little.
  6. Pop the meat into the oven and roast for half of the appropriate amount of time**.
  7. Remove the meat from the oven and drizzle over the rest of the marinade, before putting it back into the oven for the rest of the time it needs.
  8. Remove the meat and leave it to rest for about 20 minutes so the juices can redistribute.
  9. Serve, with a few apricots and shallots and whatever else you fancy.
Notes
  1. *Mine was 1.15 kilos. The marinade in this recipe covered it once before roasting, and once during, with a little to spare. If your joint is massive you could always make a little more.
  2. **I don't know how much your meat weighs, or how well done you like it, so to work it out you can use this roast timer over at the BBC: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/tools/roast-timer
Adapted from Eating With My Fingers / BBC
Adapted from Eating With My Fingers / BBC
Doughs and Don'ts http://www.doughsanddonts.com/