Hakuna Frittata

Hakuna Frittata

Picture this; I’m 5 or so years old, I’m adorable, I’m in my Rainbows pinny and I’m just dying to get my cooking badge because society has already spoon fed me the idea that I need to learn how to cook on account of the fact that I’m a girl (an adorable girl, don’t forget).

We made frittata with some red peppers, onion and ham. I have no clue how it tasted, but I’ll never forget the excitement of actually helping to cook something. We had chopped things and mixed things, we were like the fucking sorcerers on Blue Peter!

The beauty of the Hakuna Frittata is that it really does mean no worries (unless you burn yourself but that’s an iss-YOU not an iss-me). Raid the fridge, use everything, use hardly anything at all, either way you end up with a quick and easy meal with the added benefit of feeling cheffy as fuck while you use the broil setting on your oven. The list below is what I tend to need to use up, chop and change ingredients as you need.

From an idea born in St. Lawrence’s church hall in Eastcote, now come to life in your own kitchen. You lucky bugger.

What you need:

  • 6 large eggs (free range because we’re not dicks, are we?)
  • 100g ‘Nduja (any other protein, if you want to use one, will work too)
  • 175g Broccoli florets, halved or quartered (depending on their size)
  • 70g frozen peas
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • Handful of chopped, frozen spinach
  • 1 tbsp rose Harissa
  • Meltable cheese of your choice for topping

What to do:

Get a large, non-stick frying pan that can also go in the oven (no melting handles here, baby) and place it on a medium heat to get up to temperature, in the meantime you can prep your veg.

Once the pan is ready, add a glug of any cooking oil you have, followed by the onion and a pinch of salt. Cover and let soften for about 5-10 minutes.

While that’s happening, crack your eggs into a bowl and beat them, season and stir in the Harissa.

Once the onion is soft, add in your ‘Nduja and break it up with a spatula; stir it together with the onion and watch that shit dance *sniff* it’s just so beautiful. After a few minutes, turn your heat up to a medium/high to add your pepper and broccoli. Leave that for about 5 minutes, or until you start to see the tips of the florets catch a little. Turn your heat back to medium (lest you burn some shit).

Now we get to that ‘cheffy as fuck’ bit, so buckle up sports fans.

Turn your broiler on to the bloody hot setting and arrange your rack (excuse me) in the middle of the oven (the handle on my pan tilts up slightly so I need to account for that, you do what you need). Stir in your peas, and now pour in the egg/harissa mixture and give a quick tilt of the pan to make sure everyone’s tucked in. Leave it on the top cooking for a few minutes, or until you see the sides of the frittata set.

Adorn with the shards of frozen spinach and the cheesy goodness of your choice, pop under the broiler, shut the door and sit and watch it obsessively to pretend your on your own little episode of Masterchef.

We’re looking for the egg to puff up and the cheese to melt and start turning a beautiful golden brown; think JLO, not Donatella.

GET AN OVEN MITT ON YOU ABSOLUTE DONKEY (obligatory message as I often forget that the handle of the pan is now hotter than all hell).

Grab a large plate, place it over the top of the pan and do a quick prayer as you flip the pan and plate upside down to turn out the frittata onto the plate; it will come out upside down. Then do another hail Mary as you flip it back onto a cutting board, right side up (I like a meal with a certain amount of peril, fun no?).

There you have it; the Hakuna Frittata. It means no worries, unless you burn it, burn yourself or you drop it on the floor.

Slice, serve, follow the bouncing ball, munch, enjoy.

Love Language: Chicken and Waffles

Love Language: Chicken and Waffles

I’m consciously avoiding perfecting fried chicken at home for two reasons; firstly, I’m lucky to get away with my life when working an oven let alone a vat of hot oil. Secondly, my blood pressure won’t be able to keep up with my adoration for perfection.

My middle ground is a buffalo style breaded, oven baked chicken thigh that is so fucking *chefs kiss*.

Maketh them up, chucketh in the freezer, and cooketh at a whim (pls over-pronounce the ‘h’ in that k thanks).

Cockadoodledo, bitches.

What you’ll need:

For the chicken:

  • 10 chicken thighs, boneless (I prefer skin on as it gets extra crispy and omggggg)
  • 120g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g breadcrumbs
  • 55g panko breadcrumbs
  • 55g cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp lemon peel (I have dried, fresh zest will also work)
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp chili powder of your choice (I love ground Calabrian chili, but regular chili powder or anything other variety you love will work well).
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the waffles:

  • Box waffle mix because I’LL DO WHAT I LIKE THANK YOU VERY MUCH KAREN

To Serve:

  • Maple syrup
  • Hot sauce of choice

What to do:

Take your chicken thighs and pat them dry with kitchen towel before putting them to one side.

You’re about to get yourself an assembly line that’ll put Wonka to shame.

Get three dishes that’ll hold at least one or two thighs. In the first one, add your flour and season it. The second gets the eggs, beaten. The third, your breading mix (everything under the chicken list from the breadcrumbs down). I like to use a big mixing bowl for this last one.

Mix it WELL because trust me karma will find a way to let you be the first one to figure out that you didn’t mix in that chili powder properly.

At the end of your three steps, add a tray that’ll fit into your freezer (or the tray you intend to bake these on), and line it with parchment.

Lastly, before embarking on your dredging journey you’ll want to make extra sure that you can differentiate between your right hand and your left hand (although after all the alone time we’ve been getting lately I’m sure you know them well). Designate one hand your dry hand, and the other, your wet hand (a little on the nose?)

Your dry hand will pass your chicken thigh to the flour and will coat it before dropping it into the egg. Your wet hand takes over to coat it in the egg, and then allows any excess to drip off the thigh before dropping it in the breading mix where your dry hand will tag back in and make sure that the thigh is totally and unutterably embellished with your breadcrumbs. When done, lay the thigh on the baking tray and don’t stop ’till you get enough.

If I have breading left, I like to double dredge a few thighs to use it up by dipping in egg again then more breadcrumbs. If you don’t use it, please lose it because salmonella isn’t cute on anyone.

At this point, I typically freeze them and then bag them up. Whenever you want to cook them, preheat your oven to 400F. Once up to temperature, drizzle both sides of the chicken with some oil and bung in the oven (I prefer to cook them close to the bottom). Fresh, they’ll cook in 20 mins (be sure to flip at 15) and frozen will take around half an hour (also don’t forget to flip).

In this time, prepare your hedonistic box waffle mix and WAFFLE TO IT BABY. Keep the waffles to one side, and once the waffles are ready and the chicken is cooked, turn the oven off and transfer the waffles to the tray with the chicken; toppity tip; use the waffles to mop up the chickeny goodness left in the pan. We’ve come this far, don’t let me down now.

When your inner demons are screaming for this meal, plate up a waffle with a chicken thigh on top. Now drown the fucker in maple syrup and your favourite hot sauce (this is a Valentina’s household. Any hot sauce that’s also a drag queen is the sauce for me).

Now grab a beer and have a private moment with both hands and the beauty they created.

Plunge, munch, enjoy.

Biccies 101

Biccies 101

I reckon I’ve embraced my Canadian life well; I love watching hockey, I would never fuck with the Maple mafia and I always have a stash of some sort of edible around.

But hot, strong tea with a splash of milk still runs through my veins and there must be a biscuit to go with it (as such is British law). Be it a choccy biccy, a digestive or a shortbread, I’ll never choose a favourite. These are my babies, how very dare you.

We can thank my Grandparents for my love of all biscuits great and small. I think we can also thank them for the genetics that gave me depression and asthma but lets just start with the food mkay?

I aim to run the full gambit on biscuit recipes; here we are with shortbread, probably the simplest kind. Easy as shit and done two ways to please at least two of your multiple personalities; chocolate chip, and lemon with cardamom.

What you need:

  • 300g of all purpose flour
  • 200g of butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 100g sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 a lemon of zest
  • 1.5 tsp of cardamom (if you’ve got pods, 10 of them with seeds ground fine)
  • 50g semi sweet mini chocolate chips

What to do:

Mix your flour, sugar and butter into a large bowl (if you need cup measurements then I suggest you google the conversions or you know, get with the program and weigh out your damn ingredients). Using your dainty little fingertips, rub the butter into the flour and sugar mix. Be sure to avoid using your palms as we’re going to have to handle this dough a fair amount and if you faff around with it too much now, you’ll be rolling out half melted butter and you’ll cry.

Boujee tip of the day! I keep a small jar of used vanilla pods and sugar; over time the sugar is flavoured by the vanilla and you’re left with vanilla sugar (yes bitch). I used 50g of vanilla sugar in this recipe, and 50g of regular but don’t panic if you’re not high maintenance like moi; this will taste brilliant without that added dose of fancy.

When the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, take half of it into a separate bowl. For those of us with a scale, your mix is around 600g, so 300g in each bowl IS indeed half WOW MATHS RIGHT I KNOW.

In one bowl tip your chocolate chips, and in the other, your lemon zest and cardamom. Mix each up and choose one to work with first. We need to make this floury mess into a dough, so start squeezing it together with your hands. The heat in your palms will now help us to make this into an actual dough. Start squeezing (not kneading because bitch we’re not baking bread). You’ll notice it starts to hold up the more you squeeze, and eventually you’ll be able to tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out to around a 1/2cm thick.

Cut these buggers into whatever shape you like; I have a round ravioli stamp that works well but you do you, I ain’t the shape police. When you’ve cut them out, lay them onto a lined baking tray and prick the surface of each one with a fork a few times to make sure they don’t rise up too much.

Once you’ve done this for all of your dough (other flavour included), put them in the fridge on their trays by balancing them on top of some cans of things and a box off eggs and pray that’s good enough. They’ll need to chill out for about 20 minutes so start heating the oven up to 340F.

After the chill time and when your oven is ready, sprinkle the biscuits with some more sugar and bake for about 15-20 minutes. You’ll notice them starting to turn a very light golden brown when they’re done. Bring them out of the oven and leave them on the tray to cool for a good 10 minutes or so before inhaling them.

Chief, you just made biscuits. Actual biscuits (I’m looking at you, ‘murica).

Pop the kettle on, brew, dunk, munch, enjoy.

Double Trouble Pizza Dough

Double Trouble Pizza Dough

I’ve been known to take a six hour round trip journey on a dodgy bus to a market town for nothing else than fantastic pizza. Several times.

Once I brought an extra back to my hostel and popped it in my fridge to enjoy in the wee, not-so-sober hours. Some fucker ate it and let’s just say his eating days are over.

This pizza is just as good and doesn’t involve felonies. It also makes 2 pizzas worth of dough (hence the clickbait name).

Bon app├ętit.

What you need:

  • 500g of 00 flour
  • 15g of dry, active yeast
  • 4g of sugar
  • 4g of salt
  • 325ml warm water
  • 1tbsp of olive oil

What to do:

Start by pouring your water into the bowl you intend to mix in; add the sugar and yeast. Give it a little stir to dissolve the sugar and walk away for a few moments to let the yeast bubble and bloom. Pour a G&T or something (and that’s an order. Unless you’re not into that, then get some water and stay hydrated, amigo).

Once blooming, add your flour, salt and olive oil. If you’re a lazy ho like me you’ll pop this in the mixer with a dough hook attachment and let that bugger run for about 5 minutes. If you’re more of the “I’ve got to work this off” type of person (welcome! we’re talking about carbs) knead the dough on a floured surface for about ten minutes until the dough is soft, supple and ready for action.

Lightly oil the bowl and pop the dough back in, making sure it’s lightly coated in the olive oil to prevent it from sticking everywhere and ruining your life. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (I additionally use an elastic band around the lip of the bowl to keep the wrap sealed) and let rise for about an hour. Be sure to put it somewhere that is completely in the way of not only yourself, but everyone else. Nothing screams “I’m a boujee kitchen queen” more than leaving your shit everywhere for people to deal with.

Once doubled in size, punch the dough down to deflate it and tip it out on to, yet again, a floured surface and give it a little knead just to bring it together. At this point, cut it in half to form two dough balls; I wrap one back up in the plastic wrap and freeze it as these defrost brilliantly. The other can sit aside while you prepare your crown jewels to top it with. Once your toppings are ready, take the dough and stretch it out nice and thinly onto your baking tray (lined with parchment might I suggest, and sprinkled with some semolina if you have any? What’s that, a rogue ingredient not in the list? ARE YOU MAD WOMAN).

Toppings vary in this house; sometimes it’s a simple margherita, other times a spicy buffalo chicken, but on this occasion it was a garish pepperoni that won the vote. Most of the time, my sauce is simply some good, organic tomato paste that I mix with oregano, chilli flakes, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sugar. I always microplane some Parmesan over the base before adding the rest of the cheese (that I refuse to grate as grating cheese is one of the few kitchen tasks that I loathe).

Let’s be honest with each other, pizza toppings are controversial and I’m not here how to tell you to live your life. Do your thing, let your freak flag fly and whenever you’re done that, bake the pizza at 425F for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and your crust is lightly golden and looking good enough to eat (because guess what it’s there for?).

Give it a few minutes before you hack it into incredible uneven slices.

All that’s left is to take that drink and a couple of slices over to my heated blanket and watch Drag Race and there’s nothing you bitches can do to stop me.

Devour, munch, enjoy.

(bloody hell that’s good) Wonton Soup

(bloody hell that’s good) Wonton Soup

I took a ten year hiatus from soup.

I was fed soup (mostly an oily broth with potatoes etc floating in it) for about three months straight but that’s not what started the hiatus. It was the day that I was morosely hungover and was taken to a local market for something to ‘cure it’. In front of me was placed a cloudy bowl of broth and as I raised the spoon out of the deep something else came out first.

A chicken foot.

Now I know that they give fantastic flavour to any dish, and I’m a great believer that if you’re going to cook with meat it’s best to respect that sacrifice and use as much of the animal as possible.

But on that day I was not fucking having it.

If this wonton soup spackled over the trauma of that memory for me, it’ll at least make you smile. It’s bloody good. And for the record this is NOT a “traditional” or “authentic” recipe and if authentic tradition is what you’re looking for, bitch you’re at the wrong blog.

What you need:

  • Wontons:
  • 1lb ground pork
  • 1tbsp ginger, grated (approx. 1″ piece)
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1tbsp chili flakes
  • 2 tsp five spice
  • 1 tsp porcini powder (if you can’t find this, no big deal)
  • 1 stock cube (I use no sodium chicken ones; you do you, chief)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 pack of wonton wrappers
  • Cooking broth:
  • handful dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 stock cube
  • Flavour bomb:
  • 1 tsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • .5 tsp sesame oil
  • .5 tsp shaoxing cooking wine
  • 1tsp rice vinegar
  • 1tsp spicy chili crisp (or if you’re an animal like moi, a lot more)
  • Veggies:
  • Bok Choy, thinly sliced
  • Spring onions, thinly sliced

What to do:

Before you do anything else, chuck the mushrooms and the stock cube in a saucepan and top with about 4 cups of water from the kettle. The longer you can leave the mushrooms to steep, the deeper flavour you’ll get out of them. Leave this to the side while you get the rest going.

Believe it or not, to make wonton soup you need wontons so here we go:

Combine all the wonton ingredients in a bowl (except the wrappers, you muppet) and mix th-ou-rough-ly. The more you mix, the better your mixture will bind and it’ll soon become sticky.

Next, get your wrappers out and begin filling, folding and sealing these bad boys. You’ll need only about two teaspoons of pork mix per wonton, and some water nearby that you’ll use as a glue of sorts (by dipping a finger in and just running it along the edges of the wrappers. There are about five thousand ways to wrap wontons so I suggest looking for different methods that you like best. I watched the video below and used the second method shown:

For the record, yes there are also a thousand videos on YouTube about this; 56 seconds was all the patience I had at the time but if you have more, go find another one. I aint yo’ mamma.

As you make them, place them on a tray lined with parchment and when the tray is full and you’ve used up all your mixture, shove it precariously in the freezer and hope to god you don’t hear everything crash down when you shut the door. You’ll be making far more wontons than you need, so freezing them all is the most efficient way to go as they cook up a treat straight from frozen.

While you’re waiting for them to freeze up, clean up the kitchen you animal. It’s a mess. How dare you.

Get your bowls that you’ll use to serve and pour in the flavour bomb ingredients, then add the veggies. When the wontons are cooked, we’re going to pour the cooking broth over this flavour bomby goodness and thus will start world peace with the fucking magic that we’ve made (and we’ll revel in the deep irony of the past sentence).

When the wontons are frozen, get your mushrooms out of the stock and discard (I personally find them too rubbery to use), then bring the stock to a boil. Once boiling, throw in your wontons and be sure to stir them occasionally to stop them from sticking as they cook. In about 5- 10 minutes (or when they start floating to the top), they’ll be done.

Dish up the wontons into your serving bowls and then ladle that brothy goodness over top.

I don’t think I’ve said ‘wonton’ enough here.

Slurp, wonton, munch, enjoy.

Pimp my leftover roast beef.

Pimp my leftover roast beef.

Picture it; you busted your ass making a gorgeous roast beef dinner. The meat was perfection, the veggies were divine, the gravy, oh magnificent. It’s 24 hours later and you’re stood in front of your open fridge, staring at the remnants that remain; cold, sad, uninspiring. You feel yourself reaching for your phone, the faint voice cries in your head ‘just fucking order a pizzaaaaa’.

STOP. Halt. Wait. Okay I’m the absolute first person in line for a pizza but are you really going to let this pathetic little piece of beef and his roasted veggie friends mock you like that? Sit there in defiance as they know that they’ve beaten you? Oh hell no.

Get those little bastards out of the fridge. Time to show them who’s boss. Bitches, we’re making pie. Not only are we making pie, but we’re making roast beef and veggie pie with motherfucking home made cheesy pastry now LET’S GO.

What you need:

For the pastry: see the rough puff pastry recipe.

Aged cheddar

For the pie filling:

Leftover gravy (if you don’t have this, see below)

1/4 onion, finely chopped

2tbsp butter

2tbsp flour

1-1/2 cup of stock of your choice

1tbsp lea and perrins (I refuse to list the actual sauce’s name because you’re all going to butcher the pronunciation).

Leftover veggies

Leftover beef from this recipe

Handful of frozen peas

Handful of mushrooms

What to do:

First up, make your pastry (or use some store bought puff pastry, pansy). While it’s resting in the fridge, see below.

If you’ve got enough leftover gravy to generously cover your leftovers, then pour a drink. Otherwise do the following:

Heat a pan over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil; add the onions and a pinch of salt and some pepper and then cook to soften them up. Once soft, add your butter and stir to melt, then add your flour. As you stir the flour in you’re definitely going to have a moment of ‘oh god I’ve fucked it up’ but you haven’t I promise. Things will turn clumpy, but clumpy is the goal. Clumpy, with no white flour anywhere in the pan (this will take about 30 seconds or so).

Add your stock a small splash at a time, it’ll start to loosen the clumps but stir as you go, and as you add more stock you’ll notice this turning into a thick bloody nice sauce. Once you’ve used all your stock, season the sauce some more and add the Lee and Perrins. Stir again, and get fancy with adding more flavourings and herbs if you like. Once you’re happy with the taste, pour it into a jug and set aside until you need it.

At this point, clean the pan out and put it back on the heat with some olive oil; while it warms up, chop up your mushrooms (I don’t like to chop them too fine here), and run the knife through your leftover roasted veggies too. Once the pan is hot, add the mushrooms and veggies. Season and stir every now and then; the mushrooms will start to brown a bit and the leftover veg will come back to life. After the mushrooms start to brown, throw in your peas and cook for another few minutes. Once the peas are done, take off the heat.

Now chop up your beef (in any god damn way you want because who’s the boss? YOU’RE the boss) and mix the beef, the veggie mix and the gravy all together in your pie dish. Set that mamma jamma aside while you get funky with the pastry.

Roll the pastry out (you’ll only need about a third of what you made with the recipe; keep the rest covered in the fridge for using over the next few days). Roll out a circle about 1cm thick, and just slightly bigger than your pie tin. Before cutting it to an exact, aesthetically pleasing circle, grate your cheddar over the pastry (just enough to cover the centre part of the dough) and then fold the outside back over the cheese to cover it all up. Use the rolling pin to roll it out again (some cheese might poke through but who ever cared about that?).

Now (if needed), cut the right size circle out from your pastry. Beat an egg in a small dish and brush a little around the edges of the pastry (to help it stick to the tin) and then place the pastry, egg side down, on your pie tin (it’s okay if the filling mounds a bit and your pastry lays on top; in fact that’s best). Press the pastry on to the edge of the tin and, if you’re feeling posh, seal it more with a fork around the edges.

Since you’ve faffed around with this pastry for a while, pop the pie back in the fridge while your oven heats up to 425f.

Once the oven is ready, get the pie out and, with a paring knife, slice a few slits in the pastry (in whatever pattern you want) to allow steam to escape. Brush with the rest of the egg wash and throw it in the oven for about half an hour, or until the pastry has puffed up and is golden.

This bugger will be steaming and bubbling when you take it out so for gods sake leave it a moment before diving in.

Scoop, serve, munch, enjoy.

Roasting Up Ol’ Bessy

Roasting Up Ol’ Bessy

As a British citizen I can graciously admit that there’s not much that we do right. We’ve got issues. These shortcomings can all be forgiven with a few facts; 1) we gave you Ribena (and kept the Marmite to ourselves), 2) we gave you Queen (I guess we share that with Zanzibar) and 3) Sunday roasts.

I am the leader of the ‘make Sunday roasts a thing everywhere’ campaign because not only does it get you in the kitchen, but it gives you leftovers and if you don’t go out of your fucking mind knowing that you’ve got leftovers for the next couple of days, then you probably don’t belong here.

Roast beef was intimidating to start with (because I’d rather not eat at all than have to eat overcooked roast beef) but with a little know how, we’ll make a killer meal. There’s about 50,000 cuts of beef to choose from but I typically roast a sirloin or outside round; no real reason, it’s just what’s available at the butchers and NOT bloody expensive. When it doubt, ask the bloke behind the counter because guess what? This is kind of his thing.

Let’s get cracking.

What you need:

1.2-1.4kg cut of sirloin or outside round (it’ll feed 2 people plus a crap tonne of leftovers)

Salt/pepper

1/2 an onion

4 cloves of garlic

What to do:

You do actually need to think about timing here. You want dinner at 7? The roast needs to rest for 20 minutes- half an hour before you carve it. The roast itself needs about 1 3/4 hours to cook. I’m shit at maths so I’ll leave that to you.

An hour before you want to have the roast in the oven, get it out of the fridge. Room temperature meat is what you want here. With about 15 minutes left to go, get your oven preheating to 475f and cut your half an onion into chunks to lay in your roasting tray; this will be what your beef rests on as it cooks. Bash the crap out of your garlic cloves but leave them in their skins as you chuck them in between your beautiful onion trivet.

Now prep the meat by tying it up with butchers string (if it’s not already tied up for you; this is just to allow it to keep it’s shape while it cooks). If you need to tie it up, literally just wrap the string around the joint and tie it along the roast in a few different places.

There will most likely be a fat cap along the top of the joint; make sure it’s facing up and score it with a paring knife in a few places. Drizzle with meat with olive oil, and rub a generous mixture of salt and pepper all over the fat cap, and then all over the rest of the beef (give it some love, old Bessy here died for you so perhaps be nice to it and give it a good rub down).

Place the roast, fat cap up, on top of your onions and garlic. give one last drizzle of olive oizzle and pop it in the centre of the oven. Set your timer for 10 minutes, and once the timer has gone off, drop the oven to 275f (you won’t need to get the roast out, leave it in). Set your timer for 1 1/2 hours.

Why the hell did I make you do that? By starting this off h-o-t, we brown the beef a bit and help seal in juices. Yes, you can sear the beef in a hot pan instead before putting it in the oven but I can’t be bothered to faff around like that. This works too, sue me.

Once the timer has gone off, get the beef out and take the internal temperature; I look for 130-135c (for medium rare). If I’ve hit that, I scream, dance, death drop, then get the roast out of the oven and cover with foil. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes, but half an hour is best; if you’ve not hit that temperature, put it back in for another 15 minutes and check again.

I’m not going to tell you what to serve this with; I typically roast some potatoes and carrots, but do what you want. To be frank, even topping this on some good bread with tonnes of horseradish would be fucking epic. And don’t worry; we’ll be pimping up some leftovers in good time.

Carve, munch, enjoy.

Pimp my Pillsbury Pizza Dough

Pimp my Pillsbury Pizza Dough

Baking is life. Making dough is everything. The act of taking yeast, flour, salt and water and making something like pizza dough is nothing short of a fucking miracle. So when this whole covid crap kicked in, I though ‘you know what? I could get some more yeast and some bread flour; we’ll be set’.

Little did I know that the entirety of Canada has decided to work on their application videos for the Great British sodding Bake Off and there is not a scrap to be found. Anywhere. Shelves are BARE my friend, and I was left with no choice at that moment but to head to the back cooler and hang my head in shame as I pick up a roll of *gulp* Pillsbury pizza dough.

This shit is strange; the fact that you practically have to explode the package to get the stuff out should be a red flag but we’re going to press on and I will show you the mastery that it took to make a decent pizza out of this weird smelling, wet and spongy mix. Times are tough my friends.

What you need:

1 roll of Pillsbury pizza dough

Sauce: if you already have pizza sauce (or pasta sauce), use 3tbsp of that. If not:

3tbsp of Passata (strained tomatoes)

Salt/pepper

1tsp oregano

1/2tsp sugar

Toppings:

2 sausages of choice (I get pork and apple from the butchers)

1tbsp of ‘nduja (spicy pork sausage paste; sounds gross, tastes amazing).

6 thin slices of spicy salami (Soppressata is king)

incase you can’t tell, we’re going for the ‘add so much meat you can’t see the base’ method.

2 cups of grated Mozzarella

Drizzle of Balsamic vinegar

What to do:

If you look at the directions on the dough, they suggest to pre-bake and then bake again once topped for a short amount of time at a higher temperature. I prefer to keep the temperature the same and do the second bake for longer to ensure that is actually turns out like something that resembles pizza. With that being said, preheat the oven at 400f.

With an unreasonable amount of anxiety, get the dough out of the tube by popping it. Unroll it onto a lined baking tray and just stretch it out a bit more with your hands. Marvel in it’s weird smell and damp, spongy texture. If you have some semolina or cornmeal, toss some underneath the dough to help give a crispy base (I was not blessed as such). Throw it in the oven for about 5 minutes.

While the dough is in the oven, get a frying pan on medium heat and squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings and into the pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Add your ‘nduja and break it all part a little as it cooks on a medium-high heat. We want this to end up a little gnarly, a little crispy and a lot bloody delicious.

Once the dough has had its 5 minutes, take out of the oven and set aside for a moment. Mix together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl if you don’t already have a seasoned sauce at hand, taste to make sure you didn’t fuck it up and set that aside.

Once your sausage mixture has cooked and is starting to look gorgeously reddish from the ‘nduja, take off the heat. It’s time to top this mamma jamma.

Start with spooning the sauce on the base and then top with a generous and even layer of the mozzarella. Tear apart your salami and place that on the pizza next, then top with your sausage mixture. Finish with MORE cheese because we’re animals.

At this point I still wasn’t convinced that this would totally pass so I drizzled some balsamic over the pizza, taking extra care to add some to the bare dough around the edge. The balsamic I had was a golden pineapple (hello bougie) so it didn’t have a dark colour, but added a nice element of ‘huh that’s good’ to this pizza.

Bake that in the oven again until the base is browned around the edges and your cheese is gorgeously bubbling and sizzling with the fat from the meat (for me, it was around 15/20 minutes). Marvel at your work, you’ve done well my friend.

Slice, munch, enjoy.

Fish-less Fish Cakes

Fish-less Fish Cakes

We’ve all been there; you’ve panic-bought a couple of extra potatoes (because THAT’S what your life indoors depends on) and you’re noticing that they’re not exactly at their prime anymore. Time to use them up, yeah?

I’ve really gotten into making these potato cakes (basically a fish cake without fish- hence the name). The beauty is that it really doesn’t take much to make them delicious; just ensure that whatever you’re mixing in is small (or chopped up that way) to ensure a sturdy, independent potato cake that don’t need no man.

Boil ’em, mash ’em, mix in some tasty shit and let’s make potato cakes.

What you need for 9 cakes:

4 yellow potatoes

3 cloves of garlic- finely chopped

2 or so handfuls of frozen peas

3″ long block of bacon (ish)- cut into little cubes or about 4 slices, chopped up small

1/4 cup of cheese- I prefer west country aged cheddar or simply something with less moisture than the typical nuclear orange stuff – shredded or cubed small

Seasonings of your choice

1 egg

About 2 cups of bread crumbs (panko are best here)

How you do it:

Firstly, get the kettle on. Make a cup of tea, you can use the rest of the water to add to the pot that your potatoes will boil in (or skip the tea part, but know that I’m judging you for it).

Peel the potatoes, and KEEP THE PEELS for gods sake; I’ve got another recipe for those (did someone say bonus snacks?). After peeling, cut the potatoes into small chunks; I typically aim for .5″-1″.

Add the potatoes to the pot, pour over the water from the kettle (topping up from the tap to cover the potatoes if need be), salt the water and bring to the boil on a medium/medium-high heat. Boil these buggers until tender, about 15 or so minutes; (stab one with a paring knife- if the potato falls off the knife and back into the water immediately, they’re good). Strain and leave aside for a moment.

Take your now empty pot, whack it back on medium heat and add your chopped up bacon- keep the pot at medium/medium low to allow the bacon to render and turn crispy (because we’ll all know if you burnt it, Barbara). I like to add a small drizzle of olive oil to help this process along.

While your bacon is cooking, tip your potatoes into a large bowl and mash the living shit out them.

Season with salt and pepper, add a generous knob of butter and a splash of milk to loosen it up a bit. Get fancy and add any other seasonings or spices that you like. Paprika would be great, red pepper flakes would be fab, Oregano would be bougie. I use a special seasoning blend from the UK because I’m high maintenance.

Once your bacon is almost done, tip in your garlic and your frozen peas. The water that releases from the peas will help to de-glaze the pan a little but if you still find you’ve got some tasty goodness stuck to the pan, throw a drizzle of Marsala in there (or another wine, or stock, whatever I’m not your mother). Take off the heat.

Tip the bacon etc into the potatoes and stir to mix, then add your cheese; taste to adjust seasoning and pretend that you’re on the Food Network.

With slightly damp hands, start making cakes (or roundish patties) out of the mix and pop on a lined baking sheet as you go; I got 9 cakes that were about 3″ wide and about .75-1″ thick but if you’re more delicate than that, make them smaller.

Once all formed, chill the cakes as you prep the egg and breadcrumbs (good luck finding space in the fridge). Just beat an egg in a shallow dish, and in a second shallow dish, dispense your breadcrumbs, season with salt, pepper and other spices and give a quick stir to mix the dry ingredients.

Get your beauties out of the fridge; with one hand, pick up a cake and lightly coat it in the egg – move it to the breadcrumbs and use your other hand to handle the cake in the breadcrumbs and back to the baking sheet (keeping this ‘one hand wet, one hand dry’ method just means less mess and I think we can all get behind that). Once all are coated, wash your god damn hands and put the cakes back in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

Place a large frying pan on medium heat; add a knob of butter and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Once melted and starting to bubble, get your cakes out of the fridge.

I only like to cook the ones that I intend to serve right then (I typically serve 1 or 2 per portion). Any extras can be wrapped and frozen at this point.

Place cakes in the heated pan and cook for a few mins per side at medium heat, or until golden on both sides. I like to place the cooked ones in a low oven to keep them warm as I prep the side (bakes beans, what else)?

Serve, munch, enjoy.