Category Archives: Italian

Pizza Express at Home

 

Pizza, Done

 

 

I decided earlier I’d like to try and make Dough Balls, the kind you get at Pizza Express with the Garlic Butter. Then I decided I may as well go the whole hog & try to make some Pizza as well. I say try as my previous attempts at making Pizza or Bread haven’t gone very well. I think I am impatient and I suppose this isn’t a good trait when you are kneading dough!

Got a Dough Ball in the Oven

The last (and first) thing I tried to bake here was Hot Cross Buns, as they don’t seem to be available here. They turned out like rocks, you could have smashed a whole green house with the tray of them, I think my Yeast was past its use by date!

The plan was to take the Dogs out for an afternoon walk & then start making the dough but we now have to do an airport run so I am leaving the whole dough experiment till tomorrow.

One thing has annoyed me, I found this link (below) ‘Exclusive Pizza Express Recipe’. I am going to use their dough recipe, maybe with a couple of tweaks and also the advice for shaping the pizza sounds useful, however, their Tomato Sauce recipe is totally wrong.. You only have to compare it to the ingredients you can find online for one of their Pizza Express At Home Pizzas and you can see for yourself! I don’t know why they bother to give a recipe and call it exclusive, as though they are telling you a secret and then deliberately give you a recipe that isn’t like what they use on their own pizza..

The Times Sauce- After the blender- No Thanks

Rant over! I have made their Tomato Sauce just to be fair, and I won’t be using it on my Pizza, I will be saving it to put on a pasta one day for lunch and using my own recipe for the Tomato Base Sauce.. PS They don’t tell you to blend it, but since when did their sauce have huge chunks of onion, tomato & garlic in? Hmmm..

Ingredients (Serves 2)

For Pizza Dough

See link below

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/recipes/article7017727.ece

For Tomato Pizza Base Sauce

My Pizza Base Sauce

 

  • 250g Tomato Passata (Sieved Tomatoes)
  • 1 Plum Tomato (From a Can) plus 2 Tbs of its Juice
  • 2 Tbs Tomato Puree
  • 5 Fresh Basil Leaves, Chopped Finely or 1 tsp Dried Basil
  • 1 Tsp Sugar
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Method

For Tomato Base Sauce

  1. Place all ingredients in a pan
  2. Mash up the Plum Tomato & stir well
  3. Bring to the boil and then simmer for approx 25 mins until you have a very thick sauce
  4. Leave to one side to cool

Beginning

End

Kitchen Helper

 

So assuming you have your dough ready after following the recipe link- you can now get it ready for baking! Personally I turned my oven up as high as it would go (gas Mark 9) and left it to preheat for over 30 minutes.. I actually found it quite easy to roll the dough out & to keep it thin. I have noticed a lot of people saying on line that their Pizza Base springs back and won’t stay stretched out, if this happens you should leave the dough to rest again for 20 minutes and then have another go! One thing I could NOT do was get the edge to curl in the way the Pizza Express ones do, annoying but I suppose practise makes perfect..

 

Roll up Roll up

 

 

  • Then you need to spoon some Tomato Sauce on, you need to put a decent amount on as some will dry out during cooking, but not so much that it will be soggy.
  • Then you need to put your cubes of Mozarella Cheese over the top. What toppings you choose is up to you! I used a Pepperoni, Jalapeno (from a jar), some White Onion and some Green Bell Pepper.
  • Finally a sprinkle of Oregano, Black Pepper & a drizzle of Olive Oil.
  • Place it directly onto your oven rack & cook for 10 minutes (or until it looks nice & brown!)

 

Pizza Ready for Oven

 

 

 

Pizza after Oven

 

 

For the Dough Balls

  • The Pizza Dough recipe makes 2 Pizzas or 1 Pizza & 6 Dough Balls..
  • Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough but instead of shaping into two balls which will become Pizza, shape into 6 balls which become Dough Balls!
  • Once again I put my oven at its highest setting & baked the Dough Balls on a tray for just over 5 minutes (until turning golden)
  • Serve with Garlic Bread

 

Dough Balls

 

 

 

Garlic Butter for Dough Balls

 

 

NB

Problems I had!

I have now made this dough 3 times- the first time I started making it when I noticed the Flour looked a bit off colour, it wasn’t PURE white so I made that batch but also opened some other Flour (remember I am in a foreign country and I tend to go by the pictures for purchases!) this was Snow White so I made a second batch with that. The first batch barely rose at all, the second (really white) batch rose lots. So I think if you are a novice baker use a White Flour, don’t try to experiment with other flours until you understand the dough a bit better. I used the White dough to make the Pizza & the Off  White (pictured top Dough Ball) to make Dough Balls and they both turned out well- if anything the Pizza was too thin! I don’t have pictures as I was otherwise occupied (having a strop).

So third time lucky & I used my White Flour to make up a batch today, it didn’t rise as well as last time I don’t know why (any suggestions?) I think maybe I didn’t knead it long enough, despite doing it for the same length of time (2 songs on my IPod) somehow it didn’t feel the same (hindsight, a great thing). The rolling went just as well, the dough didn’t shrink back etc, my issue is the Oven.. The racks in my oven have huge gaps in between, so I had to start the Pizza off on a tray till it firmed up a bit & then place it directly onto the rack (for some reason this pizza was smaller than the last one which was fine on the rack!) This meant it wasn’t AS crispy as last time but it was thin & crispy so I can’t complain.

I need work on getting the edge bit right.. But overall it went well & if nothing else I think I will make Dough Balls quite often 🙂

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Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole with Garlic Bread

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (Big Slow Cooker!)

A really easy recipe that’s good for using up all the vegetables I find at the bottom of the fridge, sometimes I’ll add some Leek or Tomatoes that are past using in a salad or sandwich, you could add some cubes of potato, peas, sweetcorn the list is endless really..

Staple Ingredients- Onion, Carrot, Celery

Ingredients (Serves 2)

For The Casserole 
  • 4 Good Quality Sausages (I use Pork but I’m sure Beef or Chicken would work equally well) Chopped into 3 or 4 pieces
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Rosemary, Leaves Chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Sliced
  • 1 Dried Chilli, Chopped Finely (or 1tsp Dried Chilli Flakes)
  • 2 Carrots, Washed & Chopped (as fine or rough as you like!)
  • 1 Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Celery Stick, Chopped (as you see fit!)
  • 1 x 400g/14oz Tinned Beans (of your choice) Borlotti, Kidney, Butter Beans etc , Drained and Rinsed
  • 1 x 400g/14oz Tinned Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 Tbs Tomato Puree
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 400ml/14fl oz Stock (to suit your choice of Sausage) Chicken/Pork/Beef etc
  • 1 Cup Red Wine (optional)

Omit chilli if you dislike spicy food! It is quite hot..

Chop Chop!

For The Garlic Bread

  • Crusty Bread, Sliced (I do 2 each)
  • 50 Grams Salted Butter
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 Tsp Fresh Parsley, Finely Chopped

Keep me in The Freezer!

Method

I used to start off heating Olive Oil & frying the Sausages (whole) adding the garlic, herbs, chilli, onions, celery, carrot, beans, tomatoes, stock, seasoning then leaving for about 30 mins to simmer..

There were 4 in The Bed & the Little One said 'Roll over'

Now I throw all the ingredients into the Slow Cooker & leave to cook on Low for approx 6 hrs (or until the Carrots are done). It’ll cook in about 2.5 hrs on High! Then you can leave it on Warm & its perfect if people can’t all sit down to eat at the same time. I also chop the sausages up now before cooking or you could fish them out before serving & do this- it just makes more sense than having a Whole Sausage in a bowl with a fork and spoon, who’s bright idea was that anyway..

The only difference I can see with using the Slow Cooker  is that A. Its healthier- you don’t have to use any Oil or Fry anything & B. Its easier

Family Sized

For the Garlic Bread- leave your Butter to soften to room temperature, mix in the Garlic & Parsley and put in the fridge till you needed- personally I like to SEE some garlic butter before it totally melts, but if you don’t leave it out of the fridge & it will melt in seconds. Toast the Bread just before serving (the Casserole will be hot enough to sit in a warmed bowl for a few minutes!) & smear on as much Garlic Butter as you like just don’t go out on a date afterwards..

No Lost Boys round here!

Lovely Garnish!


NB

If you decide to add any delicate vegetables such as Green Beans (like me) either add these half way through cooking, add them ready cooked at the end OR add Frozen ones half an hour before serving.. Otherwise they will be all limp & grey rather than bright green! I put the Tinned Beans in both at the beginning & near the end- it just depends how solid they are, if they are already turning to mush in the can I would put them in at the end, save them breaking up too much.. after all they only need warming through,someone else cooked them for you..

I finished mine of with a few drops of Pesto (hand made- it was already in the fridge!) and a garnish of Fresh Coriander (the only Herb I had left 😦 ) but it looks nice with some Flat Leaf Parsley also. Everything looks nicer with a bit of Garnish, humans included

Hey Pesto!

 

 

 

 

For the Compost Heap

  

Pretty Rosemary Flowers

Useful Rosemary Flowers!

I left the Rosemary Flowers on a shelf over night & Lo and Behold I now have about 15 Rosemary Seeds! How exciting (you can tell I’m not very bright when it comes to gardening) I shall be going straight back to clump of Rosemary in the ‘Wagon Wheel’ area of the garden & picking all of those flowers..  And I thought I’d just use them for Garnish! Doh..