I’m not Ottolenghi, but: Farinata Pizza

This is a recipe inspired by Jack Monroe over at www.cookingonabootstrap.com.  Jack is one of my foodie inspirations.  I bought their book for my sister when she started at university because I reckon it’s as good as any student cookbook out there.  Jack is also a massive campaigner against poverty and LGBT rights and all round good egg.  Check them out.

When I started this blog I promised myself I wouldn’t turn into those foodie bloggers that uses loads of ridiculous ingredients that you can only buy if you live in North London. Yotam Ottolenghi’s food is beautiful to look at, but a little tricky to actually make, or that’s what I think anyway (that being said, if anyone wants to take me out to Nopi or Ottolenghi I will not stand in your way!) I love him, but I don’t want to be him.  So I was a little reticent about this post because it uses something you have to buy in the World Food aisle.  But I really don’t think this goes too far.  It’s not Za’atar.  It’s not Dukkah.

Farinata is a pancake made from gram flour (also known as Besan) which is made from ground chickpeas.  I’m fairly confident you can find it in most average sized supermarkets and a bag costs about £1.50.  I’ve used the pancake as a base for a pizza-type thing, topped with my imaginatively named Red Sauce and a little cream cheese.

The nice thing about this recipe is that because it’s made from ground chickpeas, it’s full of protein and really filling.  I packed mine out with spinach and carrot which increases the flavour and the veg content.  It can be knocked up in no time, and I actually think it might be fairly healthy.  It’s perfect for a midweek supper.

farinata pizza.jpegFarinata Pizza: no it’s not perfectly round.  But it’s real life.  And real life is full of wobbliness and wonky corners. 

Serves 1 (easily doubled if you’re cooking for more than one).

Ingredients:

Pancake bit:

  • 50g gram flour
  • 100mls milk (or water, or a mixture of the two)
  • A good pinch of salt
  • A shake of cumin
  • A shake of cayenne pepper
  • Half a carrot, finely grated
  • 2-3 handfuls spinach (or whatever you have spare)
  • Oil for frying

Red Sauce bit:

  • An onion, red or white, chopped as finely as you can.
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • A splash of vinegar, (red wine, apple cider, balsamic)
  • A tin of chopped tomatoes (I generally find that Basics/Value tinned toms are too watery, but they will still work if that’s all you have to hand)
  • A good pinch of salt
  • A good pinch of sugar

Other toppings:

  • A good dollop of cream cheese, or if you’re feeling fancy you could try goat’s cheese.
  • Anything you fancy – grilled peppers, sauteed mushrooms, steamed courgette ribbons.

Method:

  • Ideally the batter for the pancake needs to sit for 30mins before you cook it, so start by making this.  (If you don’t have 30 mins, leave it for as long as you can and then cook according to the instructions.  It will be ok.  Jack Monroe says so.)
  • Pop your spinach in a large frying pan with a tablespoon of water.  Over a medium high heat, cook until the spinach is completely wilted.  Remove from the pan and put on a chopping.  Chop up the wilted spinach, ready to add to the batter.
  • Mix the gram flour with a little milk/water to make a paste.
  • Add the rest of the liquid.
  • Add the cumin, cayenne and salt and give it all a good beat with a fork.
  • Leave to stand for 30 mins and then stir in your chopped, wilted spinach and finely grated carrot.
  • Meanwhile, make your Red Sauce:
  • Heat a glug of oil over a medium heat in a medium sized saucepan.
  • Put your finely sliced onion and garlic in the pan and turn the heat down to allow them to soften.  Do not rush your onions.
  • After about 6-7 mins they should be soft.  Add your vinegar and give a little stir.
  • Add your tomatoes, salt and sugar.
  • Turn the heat up so it comes to the boil, then turn down to simmer for about 15-20 mins.
  • Back to the pancake base:
  • After 30 mins of standing, heat a glug of oil in a frying pan to a medium heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, pour your batter into the frying pan and squiggle it around the pan so it covers the base evenly.
  • After about 4-5 minutes, the underneath should be cooked.  Use a fish-slice or spatula to slide all the way underneath the pancake and deftly flip it over.  It should be a gorgeous golden brown.
  • After flipping, it should take a further 3 mins or so to cook the bottom.
  • Turn out onto a nice big plate.
  • Spoon as much tomato sauce onto the base as you’d like (I generally use about half the sauce for one person)
  • Spoon your other toppings (cream cheese, veg etc) on to look as artful or messy as you wish.  This is your meal.  Own it.
  • Photograph and upload to Instagram.  Or not.
  • Devour.

 

 

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Liquid Gold Slow Cooker Stock: Domestic Goddessicity with Virtually Zero Effort

Stock or bone broth is all the rage, dontchaknow.  Everyone’s talking about it.  You can get tote bags that say ‘Boil your bones’ to carry around the Farmers Market.

I never used to think it was worth it.  All that standing over a hot stove, skimming off scum.  Not able to leave the house.

And then I discovered the slow cooker method.  And it CHANGED MY LIFE.  Now I have a freezer fully stocked with the stuff, ready to whip up a risotto or sauce or soup made with MY OWN STOCK.  Like a veritable domestic goddess.

And it takes less than half an hour of actual work.

So next time you make a Boursin Roast Chicken, why not save the bones and make this? Soon you can have a freezer stocked with liquid gold too.  And feel like a domestic goddess.

I usually pop the stock on after a Sunday lunch to give it a good 4 hours or so on high power, then turn it down to low when I go to bed and leave it on low until I get back from work the following day.  That gives it about 20 hrs in the slow cooker.  I think it needs a good 12 hours in total, and I am of a view that the longer you cook it the better the stock, but if you’re time limited just cook it overnight.

stock

 

makes about 1.6 litres of stock.

  • A roast chicken carcass, stripped of all its meat (save that for any number of left over chicken recipes.) (Any really dry or chewy looking bits of meat can go in the stock for extra flavour)
  • One white onion, skin left on for colour, halved.
  • 1-2 sticks of celery, rinsed of any grit.
  • 1-2 carrots, scrubbed but not peeled.
  • 2 litres cold water (or as much as you can get in the slow cooker)

Nice additions, but by no means essential:

  • other left over veggies (leek tops, cabbage – NOT potatoes.)
  • Parsley sprigs
  • a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.  (The Hemsley sisters claim that this helps to break down the bones so it releases their flavour and goodness better.  I have absolutely no idea if this is actually the case, but it doesn’t effect the taste of the stock and the Hemsley’s are absolutely beautiful, so it clearly isn’t doing them any harm…)
  • 6 pepper corns.
  • 3-4 raw garlic cloves.
  • 2-3 bay leaves.

Method:

  • Put all of the above in your slow cooker. Put the lid on the slow cooker.
  • Turn the slow cooker on high for about 4 hours.
  • Turn it down low for a further 8 – 16 hrs, depending on how long you have and what your schedule is like.
  • Once you have decided your stock has had sufficient time, turn the slow cooker off and let the straining begin!
  • I use a ladle and pour the stock through a sieve into a big mixing bowl, squidging the bones and veg in the sieve with the ladle to get all the liquid out.
  • I usually strain it again through a sieve into a measuring jug.
  • Pour into freezer bags.  (I usually portion out 500 mls per bag as this seems to be about right for most recipes.
  • HANDY HINT FOR FILLING FREEZER BAGS WITH HOT LIQUID:  stand the freezer bag up in a pint glass, folding the sides over the rim of the glass.
  • Leave the stock to cool and then lie it flat in the freezer (takes up less space that way.
  • When I need the stock I either take it out a few hours before hand and leave it to defrost, or cut away the freezer bag and put the giant stock ice cube in a sauce pan and defrost over a low heat.
  • Now you’re a domestic goddess. Well done.

 

A Bowlful of Dreams: Sweet Potato, Lentil and Spinach Dhal

When I’m feeling a bit rubbishy I want a bowl full of something bright to look at, fragrant to smell and bursting with bold flavours to taste.  And if it’s chock full of veg and low fat protein then that’s a bonus. There is one meal that ticks all those boxes: A Bowlful of Dreams.

And it can be in a bowl and in your belly in about 25 minutes.

So if you’re feeling a little below par and need something to lift you up then maybe try this.

 

dhal2.jpeg

 

Serves 2, easily doubled.  Reheats nicely if stored in the fridge for 3 days.

Ingredients:

  • A glug of oil
  • One onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 -1 red chilli (start small! You can always add more later!)
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 2tsp garam masala
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 100g red lentils
  • 500mls hot stock (veg is fine, but if you have some chicken stock that needs using, you could do so here)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • As much handfuls of spinach as you can spare (about half a bag)

Nice bonus ingredients (the recipe will totally work without these, but they sort of elevate it if you have them to hand):

  • 2 tsp butter
  • juice of half a lime
  • a handful of coriander leaves.

Method:

  • Heat a glug of oil in a medium sized pan.
  • Finely chop your onion, garlic and chilli and add to the pan, turning the heat down nice and low.  Allow the onions to soften for about 5 minutes.
  • Chop your sweet potato.  (I rarely bother to peel mine, but you can if you choose.  If there are any ‘hairy bits’ on the sweet potato then do chop these off as they are touch to eat.)
  • Add your spices, stirring through the onion/garlic/chilli.
  • Add your lentils and chopped sweet potatoes.  Stir it all together so the spices and oil coats the lentils and sweet potatoes.
  • Pour the hot stock in and add the tbsp tomato puree, giving it all a good stir.
  • Bring to the boil, then pop a lid on the pan and turn the heat right down again.
  • Leave covered, stirring periodically (as lentils can catch really easily on the bottom of the pan), for about 15 minutes.
  • Check that the lentils and sweet potato are soft and ready to eat.
  • Throw in your spinach and stir through until it’s wilted.
  • Now you can add your bonus bits, if you want to.
  • Check for consistency and flavour.  If it’s too watery you can simply leave the dhal to bubble very gently on the hob with the lid off to reduce down a bit.  Depending on whether you’ve used stock cubes or homemade stock, you might want to add a little salt to really make the flavours sing.  Not spicy enough?  Add a little more chilli, cayenne pepper or even a bit of Tabasco to give it some kick.
  • Serve in deep bowls with a dollop of yoghurt, mango chutney and rice or naan (or both! I won’t tell anyone!).  I generally find this is a meal best eaten on the sofa, in your PJ’s, whilst watching something questionable on telly.  But that’s just me…