Ok it was actually Saturday Saturday but after a late night and lots of margaritas vs little sleep it felt like a Sunday... We zoomed over to my brother & sister-in-law's in Stokie for the most delicious totally sugarless (!!) spelt cake** (I promise, it was actually nice - check out my epic portion, which I consumed in its entirety) and chats. I gossiped with Z, Uncle X took Pablo to Clissold Park to jump in some puddles, and Konch and Indy zonked on the sofa in a heap of teething and hangover. Dreamy (literally, for some of us)... I spent my actual Sunday cancelling exciting tea party plans to snuggle with our still feverish Indy. Those teeth need to HURRY.
The couple of weeks leading up to Christmas were INTENSE, mostly due to baking commitments (ok, and whims...) Here's a few things we got up to:
L-R from top...
- cutting heart shaped doughnuts
- double choc 70th birthday cake
- making christmas biscuits with Elton John
- incredible rolls by Konch
- red velvet christmas cake
- finished doughnut heart
- cassis mince pies (with cinnamon-chic ice cream)
- our gingerbread cabin
- proud biscuit baker
- all iced and packed up for the school party
- cinnamon-choc ice cream getting going
- satisfying gingerbread poke by Pablo
So I got older. And I even got a couple of presents from my wishlist, including two pairs of bloody lovely Minnetonka moccasins that I can probably never wear because I forgot I live in rainy London and it's now autumn. Konch took the day off, baked me a delicious birthday cake, and we watched Game of Thrones (I am a full blown addict) in the afternoon - ultimate indulgence.
Even though many folk like to curl up in a depressed little heap and pretend they aren't getting any older, I've always maintained that despite the inevitable ageing stuff AT LEAST a birthday is an excellent excuse for a party. I countered that lovely, wholesome day with a night out at Death by Burrito with my bestest girlfriends. The food was flawless - my fish tacos were melt in the mouth morsels of batter coated fish in corn tortillas with delicious slaw and a moreish spicy sauce. The pork w/ crackling burrito I tasted was the food of dreams. Helpfully a tequila-only cocktail menu meant the margaritas flowed. And flowed. Cat and Jo entertained themselves with through-window charades, and lovely Lisa gave me a big fizzy birthday sparkler for our petit fours of red and black macarons. I am more and more convinced I could live on just Mexican food (and drink) forever.
Recovery the next day was EPIC. But both the kiddos kipped at the same time, and I mostly spent the day on the sofa with Pablo watching A Monster in Paris, feeling emotional, and drinking lucozade whilst it poured with rain. Both kiddos thoughtfully kipped at the same time which meant I could too (unheard of!) and Leonie assured me I wasn't alone in my agony with regular text updates...
Pablo's dad is the king of homemade pizza - I can easily mow through about three or four whole pizzas when he makes them, they are...so delicious. We thought we'd test how much we really need him (ha) by bravely going it alone this evening, and proved to ourselves once again that we are pretty awesome. But that we still need Konch, if just to make us perfect pizzas! Ok, ok.. he has a few more uses than that. Our fairly failsafe recipe, below, is Jamie Oliver's - I know it's not cool but I am crazy about him. Recipe below is enough dough for 6 to 8 pizzas.
1kg strong white bread flour, or 'Tipo 00' flour
(or 800g strong white bread flour + 200g finely ground semolina flour)
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
2 x 7g sachets dried yeast
1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
650ml lukewarm water
Jamie's instructions (see link above) are to make the dough on a work surface, which is lovely and rustic, but for practicality (and, ok, laziness) we tend to use the trusty Kitchenaid, so these notes are slightly altered from Jamie's original recipe.
Sift flour and salt into mixer bowl and make a well in the middle. In a separate bowl, mix the warm water, sugar, yeast and oil and let stand a few minutes. Add liquid to the flour mix and knead via dough hook mixer attachment until the dough is smooth and springy (not sticky), about 6 mins on a medium setting. Plonk it into a flour dusted bowl, dust with yet more flour and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave somewhere warm to rise - about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Our dough was BANANAS. It became fairly giant and if we took our eyes off it for ten minutes it pretty much doubled again. I'm not sure why it was so keen!
For tomato sauce fry 4 cloves of garlic in 4 glugs of extra virgin olive oil until browning, then add 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes (we actually used 1 x plum and 1 x chopped tomatoes, because I had forgotten to stock up on plum, and it was fine). Also add a fat handful of torn basil leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then immediately strain through a sieve. Use a spoon to really squish out all the juice, then simmer this strained sauce until it thickens a bit - 5-10 mins.
Once your dough has risen, tip it onto a floured board/surface and beat the air out of it. Pablo is very into the Avengers at the moment - especially Hulk - and this was a highlight for him. Get the oven heated up to 250C, and pop in your pizza stone or baking trays to preheat. Divide the dough into portions (6 to 8 for this recipe). Roll out a portion on a floured surface to about 5mm thick. This is where we realised we needed Konch - our dough was SO springy it seemed unlikely we'd ever get it thin enough, and our pizzas came out a bit fat and bread (but totally cooked, and totally yummy). It's possible we are just weaklings, however, as Konch came home later and promptly used up the rest of the dough to make some totally perfect thin pizzas*. (Don't tell Pablo I said he might be a weakling...)
Once rolled out, you should really pop it straight on a hot tray/stone and speedily decorate/top it there before popping it in the oven. This isn't very child friendly, though, so we decorated at the table and then I slid the ready-topped pizza onto the hot stone afterwards, which was a tiny bit awkward but worked. Obviously key is fat, milky balls of mozzarella - buffalo if you're feeling flush, though the cheaper cow-stuff works just fine. Cover the base with a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce, spread it out with the back of a spoon and then scatter with torn mozzarella. The rest of the toppings are up to you - I am partial to a bit of pepperoni and a load of fresh basil. YUM!
Bake in the top of the oven for 8-10 minutes. DEVOUR.
* One of the pizzas Konch later made he topped with leftover fish and chips from the night before. With tomato, and mozzarella. Seriously, I married this person**.
** Yes, he is Scottish...