Monday, July 30, 2012

Chocolate brownies

Everyone in the world has eaten them. They are full of intense chocolaty goodness, fudgy on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside. The gooiness of a brownie makes this dish stand out on the confectioner's shelf. Everyone has their own version of this recipe but my recipe include some extra goodies that take it up to another level of yumminess. In any brownie recipe, you must use a good quality dark chocolate, 60-70% cocoa solids to achieve that intense flavour. But, if it is easier you can use dark chocolate buttons or dark chocolate chips to make it easier.

 This recipe was inspired by my brothers cravings, once in a while they crave for something sweet and full of chocolate. This recipe fulfills their sugary craving and leaves them wanting more.

Brownie rules
1. Melt your chocolate slowly on a double boiler
2. You must use 60-70% dark chocolate to achieve perfection.
3. Taste a little bit of the raw brownie mix to see if it is sweet enough.
4. Do not add too many extra 'goodies' like fruits or nuts, just add the maximum of 2 ingredients.
5. Do not over cook your brownies or otherwise it will be dry.
6. Allow the brownies to cool down in the tray.

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease your small baking tray by rubbing a little butter around the pan.

2. In a small bowl place 200g of chopped dark chocolate and 100g of unsalted butter. Place on a double boiler to melt slowly.

3. Once the chocolate and butter has melt, allow to cool to room temperature. Place to one side.

4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and 125g of  dark muscovado sugar until light and fluffy.
5. Now with a spatula lightly fold the chocolate mixture into your egg mixture until smooth. Then sift through 100g of plain flour, 1 tsp of baking powder and 1 tbsp of cocoa powder. Fold in all the dry ingredients, until smooth.

6. Add a small handful of flaked almonds or dried fruit into your brownie mix.

7. Pour your brownie mix into your prepared tray and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is slightly cracked. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Viva la Pizza

Pizza. The world's favourite Italian dish, but you might be thinking it's easier to order it than make it yourself. Now, I am here to tell you, you do not need to be an Italian pizza chef or have a  wood burning pizza oven to make an amazing pizza. I have five rules with pizza:

1. The dough must be made the night before
2. The toppings must be of high quality
3. The tomato sauce must be made from scratch
4. The oven must be at the highest temperature when cooking your pizza.
5. Do not overload your pizza to avoid sogginess.

Every 'traditional' pizza chef will tell you to never over-load your pizza with toppings and sauce. They are right, you should try and put 3 or 4 toppings to avoid the pizza being soggy. I remember making this dish with my brothers when I was younger, my mum would make the dough and let us make our own creation. Then after feasting on our creations everyone would have bloated stomachs and the facial expression of 'no more or I will explode'. Every bite you take is a reward for all the hard work you have put into making the pizza.  I have slightly changed my mums dough recipe to create an even crispier base.


1. For the dough: in a large bowl sieve 450g white bread flour and 2tbsp of olive oil and 1 tsp of white sugar. Then place 4 tsp of dried active yeast on one side of your bowl and 1 tsp of salt on the other half. Now make a well in your bowl and place 300ml of lukewarm water.

2. Mix together until it form a rough dough, this takes around 3 mins. Now, slowly add 100ml of lukewarm water to the dough with a wooden spoon. Your dough should be really sticky. Place on a heavily floured worktop and knead for 5-8 mins.
3. Once the dough is kneaded place in a bowl and cover it with a dish towel and allow to prove overnight in a warm area.

4. For the sauce: in a medium saucepan, saute 3 cloves of chopped garlic and 1 diced red onion, until golden brown. Now add 5 freshly chopped tomatoes and cook for 3 mins on a medium heat. To season add 1 tbsp of fresh/dried oregano, 2 tsp of sugar, a pinch of salt and pepper and mix. Allow to cook for 4-5 mins and stir occasionally. Now add 2 tbsp of tomato puree and a handful of roughly chopped basil and cook for a further 2 mins. Season to taste and allow to cool.

5. Preheat your oven to 220C and place your baking tray in to heat up.
6. Roll out your dough.Place your dough on a lightly floured worktop  and roll into a  long sausage shape. This recipe makes 10 pizzas, divide your dough into 10 pieces and flour them.

7. Now lightly flour your worktop and your rolling pin and roll out the dough until its 1-2cm thick. Do not worry if the dough is not circular, it does not matter. Place on your hot baking tray. Repeat step 7 to make the other pizzas.

8. Now, smear 1-2 tbsp of your cold tomato sauce across your pizza and place your toppings. Some fresh basil, parma ham, mozzarella, artichokes et.c Once you have chosen your toppings, bake for 15-20 mins.

9. Once the pizza is cooked, garnish with some fresh basil leaves and enjoy!!

Bon Appetito!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Everyone has seen this bread either in Italian sandwich bars as a sandwich stuffed with salty parma ham and mozzarella or sold in a packet of four in supermarkets. For the people, who have not seen Ciabatta before its a slightly long Italian bread with some air holes. It is incredibly addictive once you have tried it! This bread is a 'vehicle' for many indulgent snacks like bruchettas topped with creamy indulgent mozzarella cheese and a tomato and basil salsa. This bread can be used in any dish you want. Like my other bread recipes, it is similar to how I make foccacia, except you don't use as much oil in the recipe. This recipe can be made in 2 hours or if you want the perfect ciabatta, allow the dough to rest overnight. This give the dough time to prove slowly, which mean more flavour.  
My family love this recipe, it gives them a break from foccacia. This recipe was inspired by brothers, they wanted a bread that has the same flavour as foccacia but not as oily. So I created a recipe that had the same flavour but not as oily. I hope you enjoy making this recipe as I have creating it.

1. In a large bowl, sift 450g of strong white bread flour and add 2 tsp of salt on one side of the bowl and 3 tsp of instant yeast on the other side of the bowl. Make sure the yeast and salt are not near each other. Salt touching yeast = death of yeast!! Then add 2tsp of sugar, 30ml of olive oil and 2 tbsp of dried or fresh oregano.

2. In the same bowl add 300ml of lukewarm water and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough come together, it will take around 3-4 mins.

3. Then slowly add 100ml of water into the dough, a little bit at a time until the dough has absorbed it. Now at this stage the dough is really sticky. Place 50-60g of strong white bread flour on your worktop and place your dough on it.

4. Heavy flour your hand and knead the dough for 5 mins. If the dough keeps sticking flour your worktop with a little bit of flour,but not too much. After kneading, place the dough in a bowl and allow to prove for 1 hour in a warm place.

5. After an hour place back on a heavily floured worktop and divide it into eight pieces.

6. Then shape your dough into a long rectangle and slightly stretch it. This will give you the air bubbles. Place on a baking tray and repeat.

7. After you have shaped your loaves, allow to rest for 25 mins.
8. Preheat your oven to 220C and bake for 30 mins or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 mins on a wire rack. Enjoy!!!