Wheat Free Pizza

Pizza is yet another of my guilty treats (there are so many…) and I, along with many of my friends, was really pleased by the recent opening of the Cornish Pizza Company in the village where I live.  If you live in a large town or city you probably won’t appreciate this but when you live rurally quality take away food nearly always requires a substantial drive and the food is often cold by time you get it home.

But not everyone who enjoys pizza can get away with eating the wheat base – lots of people avoid wheat for medical reasons or because of a mild intolerance or indeed because they are on a low carb diet for weight loss.

So when I saw this cauliflower based pizza base I decided to try it out – if I can get a pizza hit and add to my 5 a day then it’s definitely worth experimenting.

The base is made from mashed cauliflower, grated mozzarella and basil, all bound together with some egg.  Once baked it becomes firm and stable and the cheese browns nicely giving it that wonderful cooked cheese hit that you really want from a pizza.  You can then add the topping of your choice as you would with any other base.

I have to say I loved this pizza – it was tasty and moreish but if it had a slight downside (very slight) it is that you really need to eat it with a knife and fork – the base is not quite stiff enough to be able to pick a slice up in your fingers without a laundry disaster.

The cauliflower base is so tasty that I am also going to make it again in tiny portions because I think it will make a really good vehicle for all sorts of dips or even as a canape base.

Ingredients

Base

1 medium / large Cauliflower

250g Mozzarella – grated (don’t buy pre-grated if you can help it – it’s much less “rubbery” if you buy fresh and grate it yoursef)

2 Eggs – lightly whisked

A small handfull of basil leaves, shredded.

Topping

Whatever you like to put on your pizza!  I used:

1 Red Onion – sauteed

3 or 4 Mushrooms – sliced and sauteed

Small Plum Tomatoes, halved.

10-12 Slices of Pepperoni

Some torn up, left over Mozzarella

A few torn Basil Leaves.

Method

Makes 2 8″ / 20cm Pizzas

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C / 400 F / Gas Mark 6

Chop up the cauliflower and steam until just cooked.  Set aside to cool and then grate into a sieve over a bowl.  Squeeze out as much water as you can and discard the water.  Put the cauliflower into the now dry bowl, add the grated mozzarella, the shredded basil leaves and the eggs and stir it all together.

Lightly grease a non-stick baking sheet (it really needs to be non-stick) – you may need two sheets.  Spoon the cauliflower mixture into two piles on the sheet(s) and flatten into rough circles approximately 8″ / 20cm in diameter and 1/4 ” / 5mm deep.  If you want to be neater you can use the outer ring of a springform cake tin as a guide.

Place the tray(s) in the top of the oven for 12 – 15 minutes.  I like the crispy bits round the edge that come from longer cooking – if you do too keep an eye on it after 12 mins and leave it until it looks brown and bubbly.

 

Remove the pizza bases from the oven and add the topping of your choice. You can use a traditional tomato sauce but I like the freshness that comes from lightly roasted fresh tomatoes – particularly in the summer when they are home grown.

Return to the oven for 5 minutes until the topping is heated through and any cheese is melting nicely. Serve with a green salad.

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Irish Stew

This recipe uses neck of lamb which is a really tasty cheap cut but it needs long slow cooking.  Your stock also needs lots of flavour so make your own if you can – a stock cube really doesn’t do it.  I like to leave the potatoes in big chunks and maybe mash them into the gravy (which is quite thin) with my fork if we don’t have guests.  Alternatively you can slice them more thinly and they will thicken the gravy as it cooks. If you use a mix of floury and waxy potatoes you will get the best of both worlds.

Serve with a dark, iron rich vegetable such as spring cabbage or cavolo nero.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1kg of boned neck of lamb

1 litre Stock

1kg Potatoes

1kg Carrots

2 onions

A few sprigs of fresh thyme

Method

Cut the lamb into large chunks.

Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks.

Peel the carrots and cut into slightly smaller pieces.

Slice the onions.

Brown the lamb in a large frying pan in a tablespoon of oil – don’t overcrowd the pan.

Put the stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until needed.

Remove the meat from the frying pan and set aside. Lightly brown the onions in the frying pan (there’s no need to clean it first).

Now Either:

Add the lamb, carrots, onions and a few sprigs of thyme to the pan of stock, cover tightly and stew over as low a heat as possible until the potatoes and carrots are cooked and the meat is tender (approximately 1 hour).

Or:

Put the lamb, carrots and onions into a large casserole dish.  Tuck in a few sprigs of thyme.

Arrange the potatoes on top and pour over the stock until just the tops of the potatoes are visible.  Cover tightly with a lid and cook in a low oven (150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2) for 2 hours.

You could also make this in a slow cooker.

Janet and John eat Thai Food

Janet and John in this case are two of our favourite people. Janet first met Martin over 30 years ago when he was a sixth form student and she was a newly qualified teacher. A shared love of art and photography at school grew into a firm friendship beyond that point. When I came into Martin’s life, Janet came as part of the package – an older, more worldly-wise role model for the gauche teenager I was at the time. Many years later Janet met John; a delightful Cornish man with a gentle soul and an enviable understanding of all things mechanical.

Over the years we have shared births and deaths, triumphs and tribulations and one of us has always managed to be strong when the other has needed us to be.

Our families – we have 7 children between us – have also shared many memorable meals including Christmas dinner in a pub in February (the earliest we could get together) complete with tree and presents and party hats and accompanied by some very confused locals trying to have a quiet pint. We had an Easter Sunday meal where Janet served up the food but kept mysteriously disappearing only to be replaced by a silent – and slightly disturbing – white rabbit. Janet never did see that rabbit… We thoroughly enjoyed a Lord of the Rings inspired meal prior to watching all three films back to back, I seem to remember that we ate Lembas bread and honeycakes of Beorn amongst other things. But my personal favourite was a Mad Hatter’s tea party where we had to change seats and plates and engage in general mayhem. I think the children (all now adults) despair of us.

Somehow, over the last couple of years, life has conspired to make it difficult to find time to catch up so we decided that, as February 29th was an extra day, a free day, we would use it wisely and get together for dinner. As I was working during the day I needed to cook something quick and easy but still special enough for these special friends. There being no children to annoy I settled on good, tasty non-gimmicky Thai food.

The first time I ever ate Thai food was with Janet and John in a little, back street restaurant in Newquay.  I can’t remember what it was called and I doubt I would be able to find it again (assuming it is still there) but I do remember the fresh, vibrant flavours and the lightness of the food.

Since then I have cooked lots of Thai inspired food and have eaten in a number of Thai or Eastern fusion restaurants but, having never been to Thailand, I cannot vouch for the authenticity of my flavours. I can, however, tell you that I love them. Maybe you can try them for yourselves and let me know what you think.

We ate Satay chicken, Thai green curry with cod and a mango and ginger sorbet. The sorbet is probably not even vaguely authentic but I am not a fan of Thai desserts which tend to be dense and milky and oversweet but I really enjoy something light and refreshing after spicy food.

I can’t remember where the original recipes came from but they have all been tweeked and changed over the years so this is what I cook now. Feel free to experiment if you like it hotter or more garlicky etc. The most important thing is that you have fun and enjoy eating it.

Satay Chicken Recipe

Thai Green Curry Recipe

Mango and Ginger Sorbet Recipe