Pizza Dough

I haven’t been able to find 00 flour (or much flour at all actually in during this pandemic), so I have adjusted the below to all purpose flour. It better times , or if you are lucky enough to have fancy flour at home , you can use 400g of 00 and 100 grams semolina flour which will give you a much finer dough.

  • 500 grams all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp active yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

I used my kitchen aid mixer for the next steps, but if you like to get your hands dirty – jump right in where the mixer would do it’s thing,

In a jug or glass measure, add 325ml of warm water and the 1tsp of yeast. Combine and let sit for a few minutes.

Measure the flour and salt into the mixer bowl and combine well. If you are doing this by hand, you can mound the flour onto a clean surface and make a well in the middle. Add the water to the well and using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.

if using your mixer, you can power on low with the dough hook and start to add the yeast mixture slowly, until you have a nice smooth ball of dough.

Place the ball of dough in a bowl that is lightly coated with olive oil (I used the same bowl I mixed in) and rub a small amount of oil on top of it. Cover the bowl with a cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.

when the dough is ready, place it onto a lightly floured surface and knead it around to push the air out with your hands. The dough is ready to be used, or you can wrap it in plastic and store in an air tight container in the freezer until you are ready to make the pizzas. This amount of dough will make about 4 medium pizzas.

It’s a good idea to roll the pizzas out about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to cook them. Roll the dough out into rough circles, about 0.5cm thick and you are ready to top with whatever you fancy. When you cook them, the oven should be about 500C without triggering the broil. 12-15 minutes will do the trick or when the crust is golden brown.

Kale Chips

We are in weird times. My latest objective is working around the clock to make sure that absolutely no fresh food that I can get my hands on will go to waste.

I have been very lucky to accept large bags of prepped kale and since I haven’t had a trip to the grocery store in two weeks for any junk food – well, what better use for this than kale chips! (all the taste of junk and all the goodness of kale).

This recipe calls for about 3 – 4 bunches of kale. You can use flat dinosaur kale as shown here, but I also like the winter curly kale best as I find it holds the cheesy, cashew goodness in it’s folds.

I dehydrate my chips in an excalibur dehydrator, but I realize most people won’t have access to this. You can also do kale chips in the oven which I will outline below.

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºF. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. Wash the kale and pat dry.
  3. Remove the stems by tearing kale off into large, palm-sized leaves and place in a large bowl.
  4. In a food processor or high-powered blender, make the cheese sauce by processing the remaining ingredients (not the kale) together until smooth. This may take a few minutes and you may need to scrape the sides of your food processor or blender during this step.
  5. Add the sauce to the bowl of kale leaves and massage kale and sauce together until leaves are evenly coated. I really get in there and break down the leaves
  6. Spread the kale in a single layer on two large baking sheets (or on dehydrator trays if using a dehydrator)
  7. Bake for 1 hour. Flip and bake for another 30-40 minutes or until dry and crispy.
  8. Cool and store in an airtight container.

In these strange time you can also use up things that you may have in your pantry. I did another batch with a jar of sundried tomatoes instead of the roasted peppers. Feel free to experiment with the flavours.

Enjoy! I guarantee these won’t last long!

Hand Sanitizer

This is a highly in demand item these days and you will be lucky to find any on a chemist shelf. If you can find rubbing alcohol and aloe gel however, you are in luck; you can make your own hand sanitizer in two minutes. Easy peasy.

What you will need:

  • 2/3 Cup Rubbing Alcohol
  • 1/3 Cup Aloe Vera Gel (you can usually find this in the suntan lotion section but even better if you have an aloe plant handy)
  • essential oils for fragrance, anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities
  • a squeeze bottle or jar to store the finished product

I have two large aloe vera plants at home. One two foot tentacle was about 1/3 of a cup. Cut the branch, and remove the skin. Add to a blender or food processor.

Add 2/3 cup of rubbing alcohol, and about 30 drops of essential oils. I was lucky to have “Immune” on hand which is a combination of

  • eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus)
  • myrtle (myrtus communis)
  • pine needle (pinus sylvestris)
  • lemon (citrus limonum)
  • tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia)
  • myrrh (commiphora myrrha)
  • thymus vulgaris

One of my favourite antibacterial blends. Not only does it smell amazing, but it is also working to destroy the germs on your hands and in the air.

Oh! And a special thank you to Aunty Viv in England for posting this recipe to begin with! Let’s all be responsible and kill this thing so we can get back to our lives!

Sourdough Starter

When you are self isolating at home during these very unsettling times, you can take the time you would normally spend in commuting to do some of the things around the house that have been on your list for a while. I took this opportunity to start a sourdough starter – not only because of my love for sourdough bread, but also in the event that we may not have access to grocery stores if a mandatory stay at home order is given.

Sourdough is the perfect staple because of it’s nutritional content. Prebiotics are a type of indigestible fiber that keep your gut healthy by feeding the good bacteria, called probiotics, that live there. The presence of prebiotics in sourdough is thought to make it easier to digest than many other breads and the presence of probiotic cultures have shown to increase vitamin and mineral absorption. The probiotics themselves don’t survive the baking process, but the lactic acid bacteria produced during fermentation remains and provides the benefits. The presence of lactic acid bacteria in sourdough has shown to also contain antioxidant benefits, safeguarding your body against illness. The perfect recipe for these strange times!

Last week when I did a final shop before deciding to stay home, the shelves at the store were very bare due to the amount of panic out there. The only flour I could find was at London Drugs and is a basic unbleached all purpose flour. I normally would look for something organic and a bit better quality, but unfortunately the options I normally have are not available right now.

You can start your starter with any kind of flour as it’s the wild yeast in the flour that starts the ferment. All purpose is probably the most predictable, but if you do a quick search on line you will find numerous articles on mixing rye or whole wheat into the batch. Making the starter takes about 6-9 days. You know it is ready when it is 100% predictable in it’s behaviour. then is when you are ready to make bread.

One thing you do want to keep in mind is to always use glass containers during this process. Metal can affect the ferment and plastic can contain harmful bacteria if it is scratched. Always wash your utensils and keep your working area clean. The second thing to note is that chlorine can inhibit the fermentation process. For this reason, I run some water into a jug and let it sit out overnight. Chlorine will evaporate off and the water will be safe to use the next day.

Day 1. Mix 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup of water in a glass bowl until the batter is smooth. You can cover this bowl with a tea towel or you can transfer it to a clean mason jar with a loose lid. Let the mix rest for 24 hours at a temperature of about 26-30C out of direct sunlight. It’s the time of year I am also germinating seeds for my garden, so I was able to place my starter on the seedling mat to keep it at this temperature. Another good spot would be on top of the fridge.

Day 2. After 24 hours, mix up another 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup water. Remove 1/2 of the rested mixture from the mason jar and mix it into the new fresh flour mixture. Discard the other half. Clean the jar and pour in the refreshed mixture, then follow the resting procedure from day 1, letting the mixture rest at 26-30C for another 24 hours out of direct sunlight. On day 2 I actually saw signs of fermentation by bubbles in my starter. You may or may not see this at this early stage. Stick to the routine and it will happen!

Day 3-5. Repeat the process from days 1 and 2, removing half the starter mix each day and mixing in a fresh 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup water to feed what you have in the mason. Removing half of the starter is important (although may seem wasteful) but for this first week unfortunately it is mandatory. If you don’t discard half the starter, you will end the process with a starter that is not mature enough to leven your bread. But don’t worry! By day 4 you should be able to use some of this discarded “young” starter to make pancakes or cookies.

Day 6 & 7. By this time, each day you should have seen your starter rise and fall in the 24 hour time period. We are almost ready to make bread! On day 6 and 7 you are going to feed the starter the same way you have up until now, but every 12 hours instead of every 24. If your starter has not yet become somewhat predictable, you may want to continue with the 24 hour rest until such a time that you have a more predictable rise and fall. If your kitchen is a bit cooler, you may need a bit more time, but if you have seen the action, then now is the time to move on to a 12 hour feeding schedule for the next two days.

Day 8. Bread day. if you are seeing a very predictable rise and fall of the starter, it’s time to put the starter into action. And also any time you are removing starter from now on, it can be used to make bread, cookies, english muffins, pancakes etc.

After you have reached the mature date of your starter you will need to maintain it to keep it alive. There are several maintenance routines out there if you say only bake once a week, or if you are in the kitchen more often. This article is a good one to understand how to maintain your starter going forward.

I don’t bake often, but when I do, it’s making good quality and nutritions product such as sourdough bread. Happy baking and enjoy!

Cauliflower & Chipotle Sausage Rotini

The past 5 days have been interesting and actually frightening times.  COVID-19 has put us into self quarantine. It has been an opportunity to take stock of what’s in the cupboard and the fridge and put some thought into how to make what’s in the house stretch for as long as we may be asked to stay in our homes and away from the grocery store.   

The first thing to consider is the fresh food I have in the house.  What will keep and what needs to be used.  I have a beautiful organic cauliflower in my veg drawer and with some pantry supplies, I’m putting together an Alfredo Rotini with Cauliflower and Sausage.

  • 250 g pasta. I used rotini
  • 1/2 Large head of cauliflower
  • 2 plant based sausages
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cups cashews, soaked
  • 1 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups broth, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grapeseed or olive oil

Boil salted water for the pasta and cook until el dente. In the meantime, prepare the rest of the recipe.

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil, until onions are softened. Place the soaked cashews, sautéed onion, garlic, nutritional yeast, and vegetable broth in a high speed blender.  Blend until smooth.

Add another 2 tbsp of olive or grapeseed oil to the pan and sauté the cauliflower until slightly crispy but not soft. Add the cashew mixture to the pan and bring up the heat until the sauce starts to simmer. Simmer on medium until the sauce begins to thicken.

Cut the sausage into 1 cm cubes. In a separate pan, fry the sausage until crispy. I used The Very Good Butchers Smokin’ Bangers. The Taco Stuffer could also work well here.

Add the cooked pasta to the cauliflower and cream and turn down the heat. The starch in the pasta will thicken the sauce quickly. Toss toss to coat all the pasta. Remove from the heat and stir in the crispy sausage.

Serve up a nice portion into a pasta bowl and enjoy the creamy, alfredo-ey comfort. Mmmmmmmm….