It has been a real where-did-the-week-go week. My kitchen saviours have been the freezer and the oven timer. From the freezer came a container of Chinese-flavoured braised pork, which made the most of a vegetable fried rice. Also from the freezer, I dredged up a container of beef stew, which was mostly mushrooms and shallots in rich gravy. Some boiled potatoes and wilted cabbage were all that was needed there. And then Tuesday was a pasta bake with cheese sauce, some scraps of broccoli, spinach and spring onion and pancetta, which also did duty as leftovers last night. I made the sauce and cooked the pasta and veg in the afternoon when E was occupied, and put it into the oven with the timer set so it switched on with a delay, and was ready 15 minutes before we were sitting down to eat.
- Homemade pizza – see recipe below
- Leek and potato soup in the Thermomix
- Two ingredient microwave chocolate pudding – from Stephen Harris (a bit dark when made with 70% chocolate, but would be good with something milder).
- Slow cooker caramelised onions – from Slow Cooked
Without a recipe:
- Beef stew from the freezer, with boiled potatoes and savoy cabbage
- Fried rice with chinese pork
- Cheesy pasta bake with pancetta, broccoli, spinach and spring onion.
- Fish and oven chips
- Niamh, aka Eat like a girl gives us some good reasons to eat pasta, and dispatches a few pasta myths.
- Food52 Burnt Toast podcast – what I learned from cooking 90 meals in 30 days. Some interesting observations on the barriers that can stop us getting into the kitchen.
- One batch of prunes, four recipes. Really want to try the pork and bay recipe.
- Perfect chocolate pots
- Why eating in season isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and how to make the most of out-of-season tomatoes; and a defence of eating seasonally
- A forensic examination of a flour-free chocolate torte recipe
Recipe: Homemade Pizza
I have tried any number of ways of making pizza at home, but my oven doesn’t really get anything like hot enough to attempt to replicate a real pizza oven, so I’ve gradually adjusted to the idea that homemade pizza is rather like oven chips – still good, but not what you’d get in a restaurant.
This means I have come around to a process that is as low effort as possible, but still produces something tasty with a crust that’s fairly thin and crisp on the edges and base. This is largely inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s approach in her cookbook.
The most important step is stretching the dough. Each time you stretch and work the gluten, it gets springy and wants to contract back. So stretching and shaping is best done in gradual stages, letting the dough relax in between. This makes it easier to get the dough really big and thin.
The other trick is to do the stretching on the baking sheet you use to bake it. You will lose something by not putting it directly onto a hot surface, but I think that’s outweighed by the ease of not having to slide the dough around.
- 300g strong white flour
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 180g water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- small box of passata
- 1 packet pre-grated mozzarella
- 1 pack fresh mozzarella
Prepare the dough a couple of hours before you want to have dinner. Alternatively, you can prepare it the night before, and put it in the fridge. In that case, it helps to get it out of the fridge a bit before you want to bake with it.
Weigh out the flour and add the yeast and salt. Mix briefly together, and then add the water and oil. Stir everything together, or use a mixer with a dough hook.
Then knead everything for about 5 minutes, either by hand or in the mixer. Try not to add any extra flour. You can also use a food processor, with brief pulses.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave at room temperature to rise (it doesn’t need to be somewhere warm).
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 250C or as hot as you can get it – my highest temperature is 220C in a fan oven.
Divide the dough into two pieces, and shape into balls. Pat the dough out into a rough rectangle or oval, or use a rolling pin. Do this in stages, leaving the dough to rest for at least 5 minutes under a tea towel before trying to roll or stretch the dough again. This helps to get it really thin without breaking it or having it spring back.
Sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal/polenta or semolina, or line it with baking parchment. Put the dough onto the sheet, and stretch the edges again to fill the sheet as much as you can.
Top the pizza with passata or tomato sauce, cheese and any other toppings. Bake at 220C for 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned, and the cheese is melted and bubbling.
Leave to stand for a couple of minutes before cutting into pieces.