Monthly Archives: September 2014

Cauliflower-crust pizza (gluten free)

I am not a fan of food, which, under the umbrella of ‘being healthy’, pretends to be something else and in so doing, delivers only disappointment. Courgette strips instead of pasta, yoghurt when you really need cream, vegetables in cake (which I admit can sometimes work)..cauliflower instead of pizza…

This isn’t anything like a pizza. I warn you now. But if, as I do, you like to have a lunch with a ‘base’ and lots of veg then this is a really good, gluten-free, wheat-free and tasty (yes really) offering. To me, it didn’t taste like cauliflower at all, more like a lovely parmesan crust. My partner was a veggie for 20 years; he views such things with deep suspicion, having been offered beans, made into the shape of a lacklustre burger for many years. But he was impressed and delighted.

I got the recipe from Delicious Magazine (no link because it doesn’t appear to be online), and I’ve halved the ingredients to make it ideal for two, for lunch. I followed the recipe topping but obviously you can add whatever you want. We happened to have some pesto made by my eldest (she makes it better than I do, taking it off me and saying “here Mummy, let me show you”. I love how she is confident like this). You could, feasibly, leave the pesto out and add a drizzle of olive oil or chilli oil, or just, you know, BUY SOME.

225g cauliflower florets
1 medium egg
75g ground almonds
25g grated parmesan
salt and pepper
1 courgette
2 slices of Parma ham
120g ricotta
Pesto and mint to serve

Heat the oven to 200C and put in a large baking sheet. Now, put the florets in a food processor and blitz so it looks like cous cous. Put in a bowl and add the egg (which you have lightly beaten), ground almonds, parmesan and a bit of salt and pepper (not too much salt as the parmesan is also salty). Stir together.

On a piece of baking parchment, spoon out two portions. I sort of shaped it by hand, into two round shapes. It was easy, no rolling and although the mixture is wet and you think it won’t work, it does.

When you’ve done this, take out the baking sheet (which will be hot!) and gently slide the baking parchment onto the baking sheet. Cook for about 20 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. Check after 15 minutes.

Whilst that’s cooking, slice the courgette into ribbons.

When the bases are cooked, take out and keeping them on the baking sheet, scatter over the ricotta, courgette and ham. Cook for another five minutes and then, spoon a bit of pesto and scatter some mint leaves atop.

2016 update: I just love this dish. What I tend to do is spread a thin layer of chilli jam/caramelised onion/chorizo jam over the base, then layer on the courgette and ricotta but also add (ssssh) some slices of chorizo, which I love. This really is tasty! When it’s cooked I drizzle on some olive oil (extra virgin).

 

 

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My meatloaf

My mother’s meatloaf is the stuff of legend. In the past, whenever we had meatloaf at my house my children would look up, all eyelashes and downy cheeks and say “is this Nonna’s meatloaf?” and I would have to say that no, no it wasn’t, it was mummy’s. And they would look down and  eat it, making approving, encouraging noises but they would know, and I would know, that it wasn’t comparable. Every meatloaf I’ve tried, until this one, was just not right.

The thing about my mother’s meatloaf is that she minces her own meat, so it’s silky smooth and sublime. I like my meatloaf like I like my sausages: not coarse. I want it to be an easy transaction. And all the meatloaves I’d made before were too coarse, too dry, trying too hard.

Last year I bought Donna Hay’s Simple dinners, from whence this recipe comes.  It’s a great book. Her recipes are genuinely tasty, pretty healthy, made from a clever combination of not too many ingredients and easy to follow. She is, to my mind, just about the best cookery writer of the day (for meals ‘n’ stuff. Dan Lepard is still my man for bread). I’ve adapted it here because I’ve been making this meatloaf for over a year now and I’ve made it my own: I’ve adapted it slightly to suit our needs.

As such, this is now my meatloaf recipe, in that it’s the one I use as my go-to meatloaf recipe. I can’t imagine it will ever be made better by anyone else’s meatloaf recipe. Except, naturally, my mum’s.

(What I also love about it is, if you make this for a Sunday lunch, and it’s very good at Sunday lunch, you can make it in advance or the day before, keep it in the fridge and put it straight in the oven. Just give it 5-10 mins more in the oven at the lower temperature i.e. the first round of cooking.)

This is great served with the usual stuff, but I particularly like it with mash for a real comfort, fork-only meal.

You need:

a packet of thinly sliced pancetta, about 20 slices

110g breadcrumbs

60ml milk

400g rose-veal mince (all veal sold in Europe is non-crated, but I only buy higher welfare British veal, if you are not sure, substitute beef mince)

500g free range pork mince (I never, ever buy any other sort of pork)

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

1 large egg

a tablespoon of thyme leaves, stripped from the stem

salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

What you do:

Oven on to 160C if you intend to cook it straight away. Get a loaf tin which is about 22cm by 8cm and line the bottom with the pancetta (line across the width, not length if you follow). If you imagine that the meatloaf will be turned upside down on serving, this will be the top of it. Don’t sweat it if you don’t have enough pancetta to cover the whole bottom/sides, and ditto if you have a bit too much, I also line the side/sides not just the bottom. If you have very long slices then don’t worry, you can just overlap them when the tin is full of the mince. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Because I rarely have properly stale bread, and even if I did I hate grating bread (my mum always, always has properly stale bread which she grates), I put some day or so old bread into a food processor and whizz it up. Take it out then pour the milk over it and give it a little stir.

Now, what I do to make it all super smooth is this. I put the milky breadcrumbss back into the food processor with all the mince, the mustard,the thyme leaves and the egg. Add a bit of salt and black pepper. And then I whizz it all in the food processor. It comes out looking like awful meat slurry.

Don’t worry. You know it’s not.

Now, pack this into the loaf tin. It will seem like too much but keep the faith, pack it in, press it down, tuck over any overhanging pancetta slices if you have them. Then, either put in the oven or cover with cling film and put in the fridge for a day or so (obviously not over what the sell-by date of the meat is).

When you are ready to cook it put it in the preheated 160C oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until the meat is just cooked through. (If you’ve had it in the fridge then increase this time to 35-40 minutes maybe a tad longer, use your common sense.)

Now, take it out and onto a baking tray, invert the meatloaf. Obviously the tin will be hot so take care with oven gloves, etc. Onto the inverted meatloaf brush with the maple syrup. Turn oven up to 180C and now bake for 15-20 minutes.

Serve. It’s delicious.