My go-to pizza dough recipe that is as forgiving as the sun is hot.
There are eleventy gagillion pizza doughs out there and all of them probably work equally well. This is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe I have been making for more than a decade. You can make paper thin crusts with it or thicker doughyer (so a word) ones if you prefer.
Recently we’ve been getting more fancy with our pizzas, thoroughly pricking it all over with a fork, brushing it with oil, and topping with some sweet grape tomatoes. Into the hottest oven your oven will go until its clearly bronzed, pull it out, squish the tomatoes flat, drape over some prosciutto and rocket and let sit for a wee while so the meat and greens can wilt.
Similarly, another pizza bianco – brush oil over your flattened dough, top with some roasted cubes of pumpkin or sweet potato (I do this while the dough is proofing so the kitchen is warm from oven) and again maybe some tomatoes or sliced red onion. Bake, then pull out of the oven and dot over some goats cheese or ricotta and greens.
Finally, another one – brush the base with oil then cover with finely sliced mushrooms – and I mean cover generously – and dot over some crumbled blue cheese then cook. Heaven.
Anyway, this is meant to be about the dough not the toppings!
This dough is very forgiving. Sometimes I barely knead it, sometimes I think I over-knead it but it still comes up trumps. Basically operate on the mindset that once it’s smooth and has come together it’s done.
Quick and easy steamed buns to serve with pork or stir-fries
The first time I saw this recipe I refused to believe it was so easy. It comes from Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals book and I’ve used it time and time again. He creates a great chicken dim sum recipe with them but the buns were a bigger hit than the chicken in my house. There’s a great cucumber pickle he served with it though which I’ve put below.
The main thing to remember with these is to not over mix them. Jamie does it in a food processor (for speed basically) but I generally do it by hand because washing a food processor is a bastard of a thing I actively try to avoid.
Think of it – loosely – like a scone dough. Bring it together, form a log, portion it and voila!
A delicious version of cheese and bacon (or ham) rolls where you’ll produce an entire batch for about the cost of two in the shops.
The bread renaissance is still in full flight over here and this is the pinnacle. I use grated cheddar cheese and thick strips of ham (I buy it like that from the deli, you can get the cubes if you so wish) in equal quantities and learnt quickly to pile it on top of the bread – too little and it doesn’t produce the best result. I’ve made it with the beer no knead bread and the straight no knead variety.
No knead cheese and bacon rolls
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups water (and a splash more)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry yeast
Mix it all together until a shaggy mess (don’t try and make it look pretty, just make sure it’s all combined) then cover and leave for 8 to 18 hours (I’ve left it as long as 24 and it still works a treat)
Turn it out onto a floured bench and turn it in on itself about 8 times – as in look at the dough on the bench, bring the top of the dough to the middle, the bottom up to the middle, the sides into the middle and then do it again.
Break the dough into as many rolls as you like – 8 big ones if you want to replicate those of certain bread chains, 12 if you want a more reasonable number and 18 if you want delicious 3 bite wonders.
Shape them into nice round balls and place on a baking paper lined tray and cover loosely with either a damp tea-towel or glad wrap and set aside for 2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 220C and mix together 220g grated cheddar cheese and shredded or cubed ham – I use this quantity over 18 rolls. I suspect you wouldn’t need so much if you’re doing big rolls
Take a big pinch of the cheese and ham mix and press it into the tops of each of the rolls. Don’t worry about fall off, that makes the yummy crunchy bits around the base of the roll. And then, once you’ve done each roll, spread any left overs as you see fit.
Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. You want some darker charred bits, golden crunchy bits and melty goodness.
Two recipes for hot cross buns, one traditional and one using a no knead bread approach. Take your pick!
My beautiful friend, fellow breeder of boys and blogger Ruth (of Gourmet Girlfriend fame) has been responsible for a renaissance of no knead bread making. Seriously, check out #ggbreadrevolution on instagram to see all the bready goodness.
Of course this is doing nothing for my current carb binging due to life stress but at least it’s homemade I guess.
Anyway, I’ve been using my fail-safe no knead bread recipe from the esteemed Joe and have been experimenting.
Because hot cross buns involve fruit and spices, which inhibit rising agents in dough, most hot cross buns are in a bread base more like a brioche using milk and butter in the dough.
I’ve given you two recipes here – a fantastic traditional one and the no knead, so knock yourselves out!
Sydney summers are a trigger event for me which I attribute to being born in December 1972. It held the dubious honour of being the hottest month on record as well as host to the hottest Australian day on record. That is, until yesterday. Yesterday the national average temperature was 40.3THOUSAND degrees Celsius. At the moment weather forecasters in Australia are talking about a DOME OF HEAT which is COVERING THE ENTIRE CONTINENT. Just writing that sentence caused me to stop, shake out my hands, take a deep breath and reassure myself I am not going to die. (SHE LIES! DEATH IS IMMINENT)
There are not enough words for me to adequately express my comprehensive dissatisfaction with the concept and reality of summer. The word itself is a fine example of latin, greek, gaelic and chinese derivatives coming together as not one of them could generate a word off their own bat to truly describe a three month period that delivered sweat, chaffing and clothing with inadequate skin coverage. It is unacceptable.
As we approach summerhell Australians have a competition to see which broadcaster or media outlet will use the phrase “tinderbox” first. We have a record of savage bushfires which are remembered decades later with a reverence normally reserved for the horse race, remembrance and invasion day. It was Tasmania’s turn last week with more than 100 houses razed and 100 people still unaccounted for. One death is too many due to a bushfire but Tasmania is not a big state. Such loss is profound.
In the midst of our own Hades Day yesterday I somehow mustered energy to make a proper dinner for the first time in what felt like months. I know it hasn’t been months but it occurred to me that about 80% if the boys’ diet in the last month has been Fruit Loops* and 2-minute noodles. As my mate Jane said, palm oil and sugar, the food stuffs of champions.
I instagramed the shit out of because, quite frankly, that’s what I do and if we’re NOT instagraming the shit out of dinner then did we really have dinner at all?
A lovely follower @clareanna01 left a message on the pic:
Please tell me that you made this and that you will add it to your recipe list on your blog? It’s been a sh*thouse [isn’t that adorable, she did that asterix] couple of weeks down in Tassie and for the first time since last Thurs (when the bushfires started) you’ve made me hungry.
I promised her I’d post the recipes that night and then promptly fell into a codeine induced coma (until I woke up and read from about 1am to 4am because I AM READING AGAIN, thank you Nexus table that I got for my 40th!). Nice work Kim, bring someone traumatised back to the table, make promises and then leave them hungry.
So here we go, a day late but here. A dinner for hot summer nights.
Lime and mint chicken
1kg chicken thighs, cut into strips (depending on how big they are)
1 lime, cut into rough wedges which you then, using your hands, squeeze the juice out of over the chicken and then add the rinds to the bowl
couple of garlic cloves you’ve just smashed with the side of a knife so you can lose the skins
handful of sprigs of mint you’ve roughly torn up or chopped
pinch of salt, couple of turns of the pepper grinder and a few lugs of olive oil
Get your hands in there and smoosh it all together then let it marinate for as long as you’ve got – I gave it a couple of hours in a rare moment of foresight.
Cook on the bbq until done.
I have no idea if this salad is an Australian invention. It smacks of something that Americans would go giddy over and I really don’t want it to be something this country can claim ownership of. It is NOT in the league of the lamington, the pavlova or the ANZAC biscuit although granted it is just as addictive.
It’s officially called Chang’s Noodle Salad I call it The Bogan Salad because COME ON, the ONLY salad ingredient in this is the wombok cabbage. There are shallots in it as well but let’s face it, that we’re listing that as evidence it is a salad is evidence THIS IS NOT A SALAD. What it is is a vehicle for fried noodles, toasted nuts and a dressing made of a LOT of oil, sugar and some more oil.
Hence, bogan salad.
1/2 wombok cabbages, finely shredded
125g packed slivered almonds, toasted
4 shallots, finely sliced
1 packet Chang’s fried noodles
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2tbsp soy sauce
2tsp sesame oil
Combine the “salad” ingredients in a bowl
Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t try to see if you can reduce the sugar amounts or the oil, just embrace it for what it is and don’t make it every day.
Combine and eat until your head falls off.
Jamie Oliver’s quick pickled cucumber salad
Now, there’s a cucumber salad in the same vein in both Jamie’s 30-minute and his 15-minute meals books. The 30-minute meal one is better and this is the recipe from that book.
1 telegraph cucumber that you’ve peeled into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
a thumb size piece of ginger, about 2cm – although use less depending on your love of ginger
3tbsp olive oil (I don’t bother with this at all anymore)
1tbsp soy sauce
1tsp sesame oil
fresh red chilli – if you want to
Mix the dressing stuff together – and have a taste – add a bit more soy or lime depending on how it tastes. I tend to hold back on the ginger and then add more if it needs it.
Just before you’re going to sit down to eat, toss the ribbons of cucumber in the dressing and sprinkle with coriander all fancy like.
Jamie Oliver’s 15-minute meals coconut buns
OK, I have to fess up. Someone posted a pic of these on Instagram the night before and all of the above was made basically so I could make – and eat – these. Offering up these little puppies shifts a pretty tasty but fairly normal dinner in this house to fancy, fancy, fancy, f-fancy. And look, I know I say these things are a snap and those of you less comfortable in the kitchen roll your eyes and say on the inside, like I’m ever going to make that.
You need to make these. They’re not that coconutty which I found disappointing. I suspect it’s because he uses light coconut milk but I’m really just guessing. Next time I am contemplating putting a few drops of coconut essence in as well. We shall see.
Now, Jamie whips the dough up in a food processor which is just madness. I LOVE my food processor but hate having to wash it up with a passion I normally reserve for Mythbusters. It’s a ridiculous avoidance-inducing hatred because really, it’s not that hard to wash up. I think it’s a shape thing. Let’s file this under #notsane and not mention it again.
Basically the dough is a SNAP – very similar to that I use for the spring onion (or shallots) pancakes and you can whip it up by hand in minutes without having to wash up weird food processor bowls and lids with funnels. They’re doughy – you’re going to tear a bit off, whack a bit of chicken on it with a piece of gingery vinergary cucumber and forget that it’s still 38C at 7:30pm.
400ml tin of lite coconut milk
2 tinfuls of SR flour
pinch of salt
Combine everything until it comes together and knead it slightly until it’s smooth. This is not like a bread or pizza dough, I’m talking like a minute or two. In hindsight I probably could have kneaded mine for a minute or two longer but seriously, COCONUT BUNS!
Roll it into a log, cut it into 8 pieces and roll them into balls.
Place each one inside 2 muffin cases then in an Asian steamer – I didn’t have muffin cases so just bunged them in the steamer that I’d lined with baking paper. Worked a charm.
Then steam them for about 7-8 minutes. You’ll know if they’re done by just pulling them apart slightly and seeing if they’re cooked or still doughy.
It actually feels criminal calling that a recipe.
So there you have it. The perfect dinner for hot summer nights.
*only ever purchased in the holidays and this time around conveniently on special. At last count I think we’d gone through eight boxes.