A day in the kitchen: (almost) domestic goddess-ing

Despite having the best looking veg box delivered last week, somehow lunches didn't happen as I'd hoped. They were hastily grabbed and probably not the healthiest option and I was keen not to repeat that again this week.  So yesterday I spent some time prepping and cooking in the kitchen so that I stood half a chance.

If you didn't see my pretty and tasty veg box, here's my Facebook post:

The box was so good - it's the type of box where you can choose your items - that our second box is arriving before we head to work this morning. We usually buy our fruit and veg from our local greengrocers, but just lately the quality seems to have gone down while the price has gone up and so I've been looking at other options. The price of this box is similar but the quality - and freshness - of the produce is far superior.

As well as these we also had some raspberries from the allotment to use - most are in the freezer - so my day of Domestic Godess-ing started with banana, apple and raspberry spelt pancakes, which of course we topped with greek yogurt, more apple puree and honey. They're good, and I use the recipe in Hugh's River Cottage Everyday as my base. I'm not sure I ever really follow it - for a start it doesn't have banana in it - but you'll discover through this post, I often only use a recipe as a guide.

Back to those lunches...

And yes, if you've scrolled down that is cake. But a homemade cake so I think that's slightly better. And any lunch this ends with cake is even better still.  

So this is my take on Elly Pear's apple and banana cake. It does have quite a bit of sugar in, as I discovered as I started to make it - oops.  Well, I consoled myself that it was helping me reduce the mountain of frozen bananas I have in the freezer.  The recipe says to use overripe bananas, not frozen ones, but I sort of adapted the recipe a bit, I also didn't add the second topping, purely because by the time it was in the oven I had moved onto other things.

Elly Pear's apple and banana cake my style

The cake recipe says it serves ten, even for a big cake person like me, I think it'll do more than that. Maybe next time though I should opt for a healthier cake, I will, if I remember. There is more to our lunches than cake, but rolls get boring (and sandwiches aren't my thing) so I've turned to those kinds of lunches where there's salad, protein and grains with lots of variety.

To help get us back on track with weekday lunches, yesterday I cooked some greenwheat freekeh and knocked up another batch and a half of Elly Pear's green harissa. I was only going to make a single batch, but my kitchen scales went a bit loopy with the coriander and so it became a batch and a half.

I think I agree with her about it being addictive, and who'd have thought that spring onions, kale, coriander, garlic, pickled jalapenos, salt and vegetable oil could produce such a winning combination.

Elly Pear's Green Harissa (it's addictive) and some freekeh for lunch

In her newest book there's also recipes using the paste - I cooked the green eggs and refried beans, and we'll be having that again. Maybe not this batch though, as a spoonful alongside grains, salad and roasted vegetables will give our lunches a bit of zing, and there's more recipes I want to try in her books too.

And a batch of pizza dough 

While the cake was cooking I was making a batch of pizza dough, as with the weather nice again we decided to fire up the pizza oven. There seemed little point making enough for one meal though so in the end I made enough for what turned out to be three occasions.  With a kilo of flour, plenty of yeast, some olive oil, salt and tepid water it's a sticky, but enthusiastic dough.

I've still the perfect my take on the recipe, but when I do I'll share it here. Already we've found that the simplest pizza toppings are the best: tomato sauce, torn mozzarella and torn basil, or with some shavings of spicy nduja sausage.

Here's one serving of the dough during its second prove, it's enough for four pizzas the size of a large side plate and a smaller, test, garlic bread pizza. With another two "meals" in the freezer, the self appointed domestic goddess title was starting to be earnt.

pizza dough on its second prove and ready to shape

But I wasn't done there as while the pizza oven was on, it seemed a missed opportunity not to make use of the heat as the oven cooled down. So the apricots from my veg box were split and doused with thyme, vanilla sugar, water and a vanilla pod. A combination I remembered seeing online recently and was looking forward to trying out. 

Apricots with thyme and vanilla ready for the pizza oven

Each year I forget just how much I like apricots and I was really looking forward to trying these. 

Outside finally the pizza oven was getting there, and pizzas were cooked and eaten. No pictures, as by now I was hungry. I'd also made some crumble to keep in the fridge to meet emergency crumble needs, and following the suggestion of rhubarb crumble in an earlier comment, it seemed the only way to go.  

Getting the pizza oven fired up took longer than we thought

Not content with that I'd also made a good looking, and well-risen sourdough to cook in the pizza oven. We knew it was possible, but as we discovered our oven was still too hot. The crust crusted up well, but before the bread could continue to rise in the heat, and it came out looking like this - oops.

Cooking sourdough in the pizza oven needs a little more practice
Our pizza oven sourdough tasted better than it looked

Thankfully though it tasted better than it looked and so we'll be eating this for breakfast this week. And trying again, every time we fire up the pizza oven. 

That wasn't our only mishap though as it turns out I needed my emergency crumble sooner than I thought too. That turned out much better than the bread, especially dolloped with mascarpone and eaten straight out of the tin as soon as it was done. It seemed rude not to.

A change of plan on dessert, rhubarb crumble & mascarpone

But what became of the apricots? 

The short answer is, not much and quite a lot! They cooked well and were just starting to catch so MOH took them out of the oven. And promptly dropped them. 

Apricots and dirt anyone? No, me neither

Strangely, after that neither of us wanted any...   Ah well, another time maybe.