"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Well, dear Juliet, I'm afraid I have to correct you there. Because, if you happen to base the name of your new food blog on the slander of a celebrity chef, I'm guessing that there is a high chance people will think there's an un-rosie whiff to it. So my opening words should be an explanation; a justification; a defence. “Why you hating on Nigella?” you might ask. Well, I’m not really. I actually quite like Nigella; I have some of her books and make her recipes; I think she’s enviably articulate, and I’m thrilled that there is at least one female chef on TV in possession of an ample arse.
My ‘sod you’ is not to the lady herself, more the concept of Nigella. Actually, ‘concept’ is a bit of a wanky word isn’t it…let’s go with ‘production’. My ‘sod you’ is to the production behind Nigella. A perfect world of clean kitchens, full store cupboards, delis on your doorstep and sneaking downstairs at 3am to eat cheesecake in a designer dressing gown. Cookery has become all about the sugar coating; the beautiful chefs, the beautiful friends who pop round for dinner, the beautiful houses (did you know that’s not actually her house? That discovery was up there with the truth about Father Christmas for me, I can tell you).
I love cooking, but when I do it none of the above applies. I don’t have a lovely larder, full of seventeen brands of Italian pasta and some herb which none of us plebs have ever heard of. My dressing gown is a hideous, brown primark number, which I wear a lot more than my boyfriend desires and has pockets full of used tissues and hair grips. I don’t have any useful foreign relatives who have passed me down delicious, traditional recipes. I actually live in my house and don’t have a production team to clean up after me, so everything is always slightly dustier or stickier than I might like. And when my friends come round for dinner, everyone is usually so shitfaced by pudding that we have to retire to the sofa with the top button of our jeans undone. There’s nothing beautiful about that.
So, in conclusion, I am not Nigella. Up yours to that! And this blog is NOT a slur on Miss Lawson; more an ode to cooking like a normal and not trying to make a dinner that you want to have sex with.
So to open…Nectarine and Blue Cheese Pizza
This recipe is an amalgamation of a base from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals (which was conveniently on this weekend when I was thinking how I couldn’t be arsed to make proper pizza dough) and a picture I saw on Pinterest which featured nectarines on this Italian staple. You could use peaches if, unlike me, you’re not totally freaked out by their furryness. The advantage of the Jamie dough is that you can put it straight to use rather wait for it to rise, prove etc; because who has time for that on a Monday evening?
To make two hungry-adult-sized pizzas (the size that a hungry adult would eat, not the actual size of a hungry adult. Unless you’re really hungry, in which case, multiply recipe by 17).
For the base
3 cups of Self-raising flour
1 cup of water
A slug of oil (about 5tbsp)
For the topping
Cheese of your choice (I used a ball of Mozarella and some crumbled Blacksticks Blue)
Tomato puree (about 6 tbsp)
½ a red onion, finely sliced
The dough is easy peasy - just mix all the ingredients and knead together until you have a consistency that can be worked into a spongey, slightly sticky ball (add more flour or water as required). Turn-out onto a floured work surface and roll to your desired shape (make sure to flour the rolling pin too). Slide your base onto a sheet of greaseproof paper.
Top with a generous spread of tomato puree and scatter the cheese, onions and nectarines.
Jamie does his pizza in a frying pan, which I was a bit dubious of, but give it a go should you wish. I put mine on a tray in the oven, gas mark 8 for about 25mins. You want the edges to be starting to turn brown and the cheese to be all bubbly. If when you take it out it looks pretty done but the middle is still gooey, put the tray over a flame on the hob for a min or two, until the middle feels firm (keep a close eye as the greaseproof will catch).
Scatter with basil and serve with salad (to make you feel better about yourself).