allconsuming kitchen staples: pizza dough recipe

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.

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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.

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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.

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I get 8 roughly-30cm bases from this.

 
allconsuming kitchen staples: pizza dough
 
My go-to pizza dough
Author:
Serves: 6-8 bases
Ingredients
  • 20 g dry yeast
  • 30 g salt
  • 30 g sugar
  • 1 kg flour
  • 625 ml warm water
Instructions
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together with a whisk
  2. Add the water and bring it all together into a shaggy mess
  3. Tip onto a floured bench and knead for 5-10 minutes until it all comes together into a smooth dough
  4. Oil the bowl you used to mix everything together, then put the dough back in the bowl, cover and put in a warm place for about an hour.
  5. When you're ready to use it, you can either portion it out into 6-8 portions or simply rip a large handful off to then roll out.

Zucchini fritters

A fantastic vegetarian dinner option, zucchini and haloumi fritters with mint and dill.

Remember the time-consuming but delicious zucchini gratin? Jasper has been requesting it with increasing desperation over the last few weeks but I just didn’t have the emotional fortitude or stamina to go there. I’m blaming the relentless heat and humidity over these past months.

So when I saw a Neil Perry recipe for zucchini fritters on the SMH website I hoped I’d struck a middle ground. I’ve added some mint to my recipe and would encourage you to do the same.

These were an absolute sensation, heading straight to the pool room of family dinner winners. You could even make smaller ones as a finger food option. Don’t think the yoghurt sauce is optional – as is always the case when there’s a sauce on the side it lifts the meal from yum to YUM!

zucchini fritter mixture

Zucchini fritters
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A fantastic vegetarian dinner option
Author:
Serves: 18+ fritters
Ingredients
  • 1 kg zucchini, grated
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 200 g haloumi cheese, grated
  • 100 g stale white breadcrumbs
  • 1 heaped tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
For the yoghurt sauce
  • 1 cup thick Greek yoghurt
  • Grated zest from half a lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • pinch of sea salt
Instructions
For the fritters
  1. Using a food processor grate the zucchinis then toss with the salt in a colander and set in the sink to drain for an hour.
  2. Use the same grater blade to grate the haloumi which you're going to then tip into a mixing bowl
  3. Change the attachment and blitz your stale bread into fine breadcrumbs
  4. Mix the haloumi, breadcrumbs and herbs together while you wait for the zucchini
  5. In the meantime, make the yoghurt sauce by mixing the four ingredients together
  6. After an hour or so, squeeze as much liquid out of the zucchini as you can. When you think you've squeezed it all out go in for another round
  7. Mix the zucchini and the eggs in with the other ingredients
  8. You want to work quickly now
  9. Heat some oil in a pan, you want to shallow fry them, then shape the mixture into patties a bit bigger than a golf ball. You can really make them as big or as small as you like
  10. Cook for about two minutes on either side or until golden brown
  11. Serve with the yoghurt sauce.

 

 

 

Roasted sweet potato, lentil and walnut salad

A salad of spiced roasted sweet potatoes, lentils and honey roasted walnuts

So it turns out you can makes friends with salad.

Sorry Homer.

This comes from Hetty McKinnon‘s book Community: salad recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen which I cannot recommend highly enough. It was the second one I cooked and there’s about ten others I’ve tagged. (Sidenote: she is now based in Brooklyn, NYC. Blackbird, get onto it.)

They are all designed as meals which I strongly endorse. That said, I have made them also cooked a protein on the side as while the boys are now pretty good (read: great) at eating/trying everything it’s quite confronting for them to think the salad is “it”.

My main tip for this recipe is don’t think the honey-roasted walnuts are optional. They lift the salad from salad to SALAD!. BUT – when cooking them watch them like a hawk, as in every 2 minutes, tossing them every time so the ones cooking more quickly on the edge get rotated with the ones in the middle. They will burn in an instant so be vigilant. BUT – totally worth it. I also followed Hettie’s suggestion to make double so you have leftovers to snack on. A brilliant idea indeed.

And as I say with so many of my posts, make it your own:

  • Don’t like rocket, use English spinach.
  • Use herbs you love or mix it up each time to create what feels like a whole new dish.
  • Don’t even be that exacting with the measurements for the spices, just scatter them over and go for it. I’m actually not the hugest fan of cumin (stinky sports socks anyone?) so upped the cinnamon and dialed down the cumin.
  • Don’t have any sweet potato in the house? Potatoes and/or pumpkin would work a treat.
  • This would also be fantastic with some diced streaky bacon or pancetta that you throw in with the roasting sweet potato for the last 10 minutes or so.

Roasted sweet potato, lentil and walnut salad
 
Spiced roasted sweet potato tossed with lentils and honey-roasted walnuts with a sweet viniagrette
Author:
Ingredients
For the sweet potatoes
  • 3 sweet potatoes (around 2kgs) cut into 2cm cubes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tins lentils, drained (I used 1 but could easily have used two) (McKinnon uses 250g Puy lentils which she cooks for 20 minutes and then drains)
  • 1 cup fresh herbs (suggestions: mint, parsley, coriander, chives, dill, tarragon)
  • Baby rocket - around 2 cups but just go on sight
  • 50 g shaved parmesan
For the vinaigrette
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
For the honey-roasted walnuts
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 cups walnuts
Instructions
For the sweet potatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 200C
  2. Combine potatoes with spices and olive oil and season well
  3. Roast for 20-30 minutes
For the vinaigrette
  1. Combine everything in a jar and give a good shake
For the walnuts
  1. Combine the honey and spices and add some water to make a thick paste (I made this in the height of a Sydney summer so the honey was very runny and I found I didn't really need to add the water.)
  2. Toss the walnuts with the mix then spread on a baking tray lined with baking paper (less mess)
  3. Roast for 15 minutes or until the walnuts are crunchy and almost dry (Keep your eye on them and keep turn them every two minutes or so the ensure they cook evenly and don't burn. I basically work on the principal that once they had good colour they were done.)
To bring together
  1. (Because McKinnon's recipe cooks the lentils (rather than using tinned) I poured lentils, liquid and all into a bowl and cooked for a minute in the microwave to heat them up.) Then:
  2. Combine the vinaigrette with the lentils
  3. Combine the sweet potatoes, lentils (and therefore vinaigrette), half the herbs and rocket
  4. Scatter over the walnuts, remaining herbs and parmesan

 

Onward!

When good food fails to live up to my exacting standards

Last week I made an #everyfuckingnight dinner that was largely inedible. I know, I’ll show myself out.

It had all the makings of a great dinner. Loads of veggies, fresh egg noodles, garlic, ginger, you get the drift.

Grover even cut up all the vegetables.

Things started going awry when I ignored the cooking instructions on the pack of egg noodles (bring a pot of water to the boil, add the noodles, boil for 1 minute (where they lost me), drain and then use). Who boils something for one minute? What a waste of time and water.

Instead, I boiled the kettle and poured (probably the equivalent amount I would have used in the saucepan) water over the noodles thinking, I’ll just let it sit in that for a couple of minutes. I know you know where this is heading. Over-cooked gluggy noodles which we all tried to talk-up. “They’ll be fine,” was the resounding cry with a somewhat tremulous edge.

Then there was the sauce, which we followed to the letter. Hoisin, soy, cornflour, stock. But this is where it went wrong because stupidly I didn’t taste it. In the NOT MY FAULT category however was the fact the amounts shown on the video were noticeably different than what was given in the written form. I should have gone with what was on the video.

Anyway, what resulted was a red hot mess of over-cooked noodles, overpowering sauce and a (rare) cooking disaster.

Let’s now take a moment to give thanks for my foresight to have a couple of packets of dumplings in the freezer.

 

Onward!

Sticky pork spare ribs

Oh my lordy be, these sticky pork spare ribs are good. I reckon you could also do it to a whole piece of pork belly or to American style ribs, even beef ribs and get a sensational result.

There is a two step cooking process so you’re probably not making this on a school night but don’t let me stop you. We had it a couple of nights ago and there were leftovers (unheard of) (they were DELICIOUS cold too) but I’m already hankering for them again. I’ll going to experiment with different cuts of meat so I’ll keep you posted.

Asian pork spare ribs for #everyfuckingnight. What's on your plate?
Asian pork spare ribs for #everyfuckingnight. What’s on your plate?

Sticky pork spare ribs
 
A spicy sticky recipe for Chinese pork spare ribs
Author:
Ingredients
  • 12 Chinese pork spare ribs (these seem to be slightly different everywhere I get them, but they strips generally without a bone in them but sometimes a little bit of bone in them. Isn't that helpful. I now just get them at the Asian butcher because I figure it's gotta be right from there.)
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 slices ginger
Marinade
  • 1 cup kecap manis (a thick sweet soy sauce, most supermarkets now stock it)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes (it sounds like a lot and the result is spicy but not mind-blowingly so, and that's on my palate which doesn't tolerate stupidly spicy food. Oscar also eats them and he is a no go zone for spicy food. Weird huh.)
  • 2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
Instructions
  1. Pop the pork, star anise and ginger into a saucepan and cover with cold water
  2. Bring it to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes
  3. While the pork is cooking make the marinade by mixing it all together
  4. Preheat your oven to 180C
  5. Line 1-2 baking trays with baking paper
  6. Drain the ribs and lie them flat on the trays
  7. Using a pastry brush liberally cover the pork in the marinade on both sides
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, turning half way and basting with any left over marinade when the mood takes you (sometimes I completely forget the basting and guess what, still delicious!)
  9. Serve with steamed greens and rice
  10. Eat until your arteries clog.

 

Onward!