I read somewhere that you should have one signature dish that you can always whip up.

Writing this I think Hannah Gale wrote in one of her very fab blog posts. The idea being that on a Saturday at midnight, when you’ve missed the last train home, you can still make this recipe. You can perfectly create it every damn time. You don’t need to weigh out 59603059220 different ingredients. You’ve made it so many times it’s inscribed on the cookery book you keep inside your noggin.

For me that did is homemade pizza. It started last year when I oddly had all the ingredients in the cupboard. I then lived off homemade pizza for six months. (Almost.) T and I recently celebrated two years together and I suggested making pizza. T pulled a face thinking it would take 98 hours. But, I whipped it up in half hour or so. So I’m sharing how you can do the same.

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

Put in your trolley (For the dough.)

200g strong white flour

50ml of lukewarm water (Give or take.)

1tbsp of olive oil

For Toppings

Tomato and basil passata

Sweetcorn

Deli Chicken (We used chicken tikka, T had quorn.)

An egg

Mozzerella

Anything else you fancy topping your masterpiece with.

You may have noticed there is not yeast in this recipe. I like very, very thin and crispy pizza bases so I don’t wait for the dough to rise. I’ve done it before and (with yeast and proving,) and found it unsuccessful. (If you were wondering.)

Step One

Measure out the flour into a bowl, spoon in the oil. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water bit by bit. I add very little amounts at a time – you don’t want it too sticky. Stir with a spoon until it comes together and then use your hands.

Step Two

Put the oven on to pre-heat at 200C.

Take the dough from the bowl and knead. Youtube helps if you’re struggling with the motion. Knead until it resembles mashed potato. Then roll out using a rolling pin. (Or a bottle of tomato sauce.) It will spring back, so keep rolling until it’s circular(ish) and the thickness of a pound coin. Liberally sprinkle a baking tray with flour and place the dough on-top.

Step Three

Top with the passata (quite a lot) and then add your toppings (minus the egg.) We added a mixture of the toppings featured but just use your favourites. Mushrooms, olives, artichoke – whatever you fancy. Pop in the oven and cook for 7 minutes.

Step Four

Once the base is cooked – give it a prod, crack the egg on top and then whip back in the oven. T likes his quite cooked so he put his on a couple of minutes earlier. Once egg is cooked take out, slice and devour.

Numbers (if you’re bothered.)

Depending on how many toppings you use this comes to between 450 – 500 calories which is higher than a lot of the recipes I’ve been posting. But compared to ordering a large dominos you’re onto a winner. It’s a brilliant way to treat yourself without ruining your healthy eating mission.

Recommended Reading

I’m not going to suggest reading for this one. Pop on Project Runway with a glass of diet coke and while the evening away. Perfection.

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

If you haven’t got a spiralizer you need to.

Maybe need is too strong.

I would recommend it.

They’ve been around a little while now so you can pick them up for pennies from Amazon and the like. I’ve been experimenting the past few weeks with different recipes and vegetables. I’m currently on a toning up mission and one of the big wobbles has been a reliance on carbs. Carbs are good for you, there’s no doubt about it. But, I was VERY reliant. Breakfast, lunch and all my snacks, and it was making losing weight tougher. Cutting pasta from evening meals and replacing with carrot spaghetti has been, eye opening. Here’s one of my favourites from the past month.

Carrot Tomato Spaghetti

Put in your trolley

Serves two people

200g of carrot peeled and spiralised. (Use a potato peeler if you don’t have one.)

50g of red onion

140g of sweetcorn

200g of bacon (I used Campbell’s from my box that I’m still getting through.)

120g of chopped tomatoes

20g of feta cheese

1 heaped tbsp of jerk seasoning

You might have noticed that a lot of recipes contain the same types of ingredients. It’s because everything I make is something I eat regularly which means a lot of the recipes rely on the same types of things. Hope this is cool with you all.

Step One 

Chop up the bacon into small bits and fry with the onion until caramalised around the edges. If you wanted you could save a couple of bits to really crisp up and sprinkle on the top. I don’t actually like crispy bacon (sorry) but you could. Chuck in the sweetcorn and jerk seasoning and cook for a minute

 

Step Two

Spiralize the carrots and add to the pan. Cook for a good 5 minutes. Carrots are a lot tougher than courgette which takes about 2 seconds to cook. You don’t want the carrot to be tough. Slop the chopped tomatoes into the pan and let bubble for a good couple of minutes. You want this to thicken nicely and coat everything.

Step Three

Once everything has come together and it’s bubbling nicely put into a lovely looking bowl and sprinkle with the feta to add contrast. Add some cracked black pepper and you’re good to go. So, DEMOLISH.

Numbers (if you’re bothered.)

This is super low cal, but really filling because of the carrots and sweetcorn mix. It comes to around 370 cals depending how much feta you add. Really great for a lighter evening meal which I tend to prefer before bed. Breakfast like a king and all that.

Recommended Reading

I recommend reading The Graces by Laure Eve. The cover is sublime and the blurb sounds fabby.  

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

Carrot Tomato Spaghetti

Carrot Tomato Spaghetti

I love slow-cooking. Throw a load of ingredients in a pot and leave for 7 hours – end up with a very good meal.

However, not EVERYTHING works in slow cooker form. I’ve made soups that haven’t been quite flavoursome enough and a pasta dish that tasted like mush. (I ended up getting stuck in London and it over-cooked.) So, having a book to come back to is very helpful. What did I think of The Slow Cooker Solution? Read on to find out.

The Slow Cooker Solution (Go slow and eat well.)

Blurb

The great advantage of a slow cooker is that you can set it and forget it. Throw the ingredients in, leave them to cook and then return home to a delicious meal.

Slow cookers are also economical to run, can be packed with vegetables and also suit less expensive cuts of meat. The deep-flavoured dishes can be created with your favourite vegetables. From carrots and turnips to kale and cauliflower. As well as healthy beans and grains. What is more, when you just don’t want to cook you won’t have to resort to a fast-food fix because they’ll be a tasty meal waiting for you at home.

My Review

I was actually bought this book and a slow cooker when I moved to London. Since then I have used it weekly and the book almost as much. First thing – the book has both English and American measurements. So helpful. Cup sizes are easy to google but it’s nice to have both. All the ingredients have been easy to find which is a plus.

The book has 6 sections. The introduction (full of really helpful tips) nourish, load and leave, comfort, global and wow factor. I love that the sections are so diverse. The wow factor section is a lot more complicated but perfect for dinner parties. The wild mushroom lasagne (in the slow-cooker) is a revelation. I’ve used the load and leave section a lot more – but there’s something for every cook.

Many of the recipes I tend to create just require the slow cooker. With this book even the load and leave recipes sometimes require a little more. For example the boston beans need to be boiled first and onions fried. It’s to produce the best results and flavor but it’s something to note. The book does include calorie counts. Some are very reasonable but I know there are corners that could be cut if you wanted to make the recipes more low-cal. (Which I have done.)

What I really like, is how this book has stretched my knowledge of what you can cook in a slow-cooker. The cavolo nero, goats cheese and sun dried tomato frittata for example. Or the strawberry cheese-cake, it’s quite exciting to be able to use the slow cooker for more that soups/stews.

Favourite recipes include pork with stuffed apples and new clam chowder. Both are wonderful.

Final Thoughts

This book is fantastic for newbie slow-cooker chefs or more experienced home-cooks. I loved how this book stretched my repertoire. It’s made me a better cook and helped me get more out of my slow-cooker.

The Slow Cooker Solution (Go slow and eat well.)

The Slow Cooker Solution (Go slow and eat well.)

The Slow Cooker Solution (Go slow and eat well.)

 

I love Tzatziki.

With eggs, with vegetables for dipping, slopped onto soup. I find it’s a great way of creating flavour contrasts. I wanted to make a Tzatziki chicken recipe that was healthy(ish,) and could be eaten for breakfast/brunch. Or just as easily stacked in lunch boxes for a satisfying afternoon meal. This is what I came up with.

Tzatziki Chicken Pittas

Put in your trolley

50g Greek yogurt

50g Mayo

cucumber, grated (about 2 inches long)

lemon wedge (ready to be squeezed.)

3 sprigs fresh dill, chopped

garlic powder (if you have any hanging about.)

salt and black pepper, freshly cracked

To Serve

Pitta Bread (I chose a seeded one from Sainsburys and they are delicious.)

An egg

Hot Sauce (Franks is good.)

2 Chicken Thighs, sliced and warmed (seasoned with salt and pepper.)

Step One

Pre-heat the oven to 200C and pop in the thighs. Bake for 20 minutes then check if cooked. Slice open one of the thighs, or poke with a cooking skewer. Take the chicken out of the oven, chill and shred. You could use deli meat instead or pre-cooked chicken but I had these hanging around.

Step Two

I haven’t added the exactly measurements for the Greek yogurt/mayo because you could make a massive bowl of this and store it in the fridge all week. Or you could just make one serving. But this is basically a good 50 g of each. But you do you.

Once you’ve added them together, grate the cucumber into the bowl and squeeze in a lemon wedge. Add the chopped dill and a sprinkling of the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Do this to your personal taste.

Step Three

Fill a saucepan with water and boil the water. Add the egg and cook for the desired time. I think hard-boiled works better here. So 7ish minutes. Once the egg has cooked, drain the saucepan and refill with cold water. Peel and slice.

Step Four

Toast the pitta bread, mix the chicken and the tzatziki and stuff. Pop the egg on top and then drizzle with hot sauce. Oh my – delicious.

Numbers if you’re bothered

You could add lots of extras to this. Advocado, onion and tomato if you wish. I kept it the recipe here and it came to 350ish calories. Add some hula hoops, a tangerine or two and it’s the perfect lunchtime option.

Recommended Reading

I recommend reading Charlie Breaker book number one. It’s a hard, smashing, book with a gritty main character and a great sense of storytelling. You can read my review here.

Tzatziki Chicken Pittas

Tzatziki Chicken Pittas

Tzatziki Chicken Pittas

Another recipe post today. Starring Salmon Pâté (and Quark)

Now before you ask Quark is a type of fresh dairy product made by warming soured milk. Yes it sounds a little gross, but mixed in with something else, it’s a brilliant low fat alternative for cheese. Perfect for making into dips and Pate. I learnt about quark from Slimming World instagrammers. They appeared to be using it for creamy pasta, or lasagne. I found a recipe for salmon pate and thought I would give it a go. And it is A-OKAY. Recipe below.

This is a really simple recipe, good as a spread on Ryvitas or toast for lunch, in a sandwich or as a dip with crudités. Perfect.

Healthy Salmon Pâté (using Quark)

Put in your trolley 

(Makes 2-4 servings.)

200g skinless and boneless salmon

200g quark

Good pinch of dried chilli flakes or other spicy seasoning

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped parsley or coriander (optional)

salt and ground black pepper to taste

Step One

Cook the salmon in the oven at 200c. Should only take 15 ish minutes but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overcook. Nothing worse than over cooked salmon. Allow to cook and then chop up into the same sized chunks.

Step Two

I tend to put all of the ingredients in the blender to make a smooth mixture. But you could mash up with a fork if you prefer something a little coarser. Either way, add all the ingredients into the blender and then blend until the preferred consistency. Check to adjust the seasoning and then blend again.

Numbers (if you’re bothered.)

This works out at about 150cals a portion. You can double or triple it if you want to take to work one day, or could use different fish to add different flavours. I’ve added capers before to add saltiness and red pepper also!

Recommended Reading

I recommend reading All the missing girls by Megan Miranda – a creepy, claustrophobic but brilliant book. 

Healthy Salmon Pâté (using Quark)

Healthy Salmon Pâté (using Quark)