A while ago, I took Zoe to a pizza-making class at our local farmers’ market. Surrounded by other kids piling on different toppings, Zoe made a very simple pizza, using just pineapple and ham. I asked her whether she wanted to add peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, or anything else, but she was very clear that she only wanted to add the two ingredients. Of course, it’s a much-loved combination with kids but I was surprised that she didn’t go for the peppers or mushrooms as well. As she munched her way through it – very happily – it led me to think about the beauty of using just a few ingredients in dishes. At home, I often cook very simple meals – baking fish, for example, in olive oil, or grilling meat, and serving it with steamed veggies and salad. If you use good quality (preferably organic) ingredients, you can enjoy every mouthful of pure, unadulterated food.
So it makes sense that you can apply the same idea to pizza. This weekend I tried out Zoe’s combo and it was great. Peter, especially, loved it. Long live the good, simple classics!
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, citrus-free
Serves 2 Preparation time 25 minutes, plus 30 minutes resting Cooking time 15 minutes
- 6 tbsp passata
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 220g/7¾oz tinned pineapple, drained and cut into chunks
- 50g/1¾oz Parma ham, thinly sliced
- 30–60g/1–2¼oz/⅓–⅔ cup soya cheese, shaved
- 85g/3oz/scant ½ cup brown rice flour, plus extra for rolling the dough
- 85g/3oz/¾ cup gram flour
- 30g/1¼oz/¼ cup maize flour
- scant ½ tsp xanthan gum
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried active yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- To make the pizza dough, sift the flours, xanthan gum and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and, using a metal whisk, mix thoroughly. Add the oil and mix in. Pour in 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup warm water and, using either a wooden spoon or your hands, mix to form a soft dough. Alternatively, sift the flours, xanthan gum and salt into a food processor. Add the yeast and blend to mix together. Add the oil and blend well. Add 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup warm water, a little at a time, and continue blending to form a soft dough. Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover with cling film and leave to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Turn the dough out again onto a lightly floured surface and knead a little, then shape it into a ball. Flatten the dough slightly, roll it out into a large circle about 5mm/¼in thick and neaten the edge, using a sharp knife, if you like. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.
- Put the passata and tomato purée in a bowl and mix well, then spread it over the pizza base and sprinkle with the pineapple and ham. Bake for 12 minutes until the base is starting to turn brown and the tomato sauce is bubbling. Remove the pizza from the oven and scatter the cheese over the top, then return to the oven for 3–4 minutes until the cheese has started to melt. Serve immediately.
This gorgeous fruit salad comes from spice master John Gregory’s Smith‘s book, Mighty Spice. Inspired by his travels around the world, John wrote the cookbook to show how you can use spices to add amazing flavours – including spicy, zingy, fiery and tangy – as well as delicious aromas. Instead of having to use a whole load of different spices, John uses a total of only 25 spices – and a maximum of only 5 spices for each recipe. And there’s a wonderful selection of dishes from all over the world. Brilliant!
This recipe literally took no time at all to prepare. I cheated (!) and bought a pre-prepared tropical fruit salad. So I simply made the syrup and mixed it into the papaya, pineapple, mango and passion fruit. So easy. And the flavours here are stunning – a combination of fiery chilli, zesty lime juice, and sweet, aromatic cinnamon and star anise – all mixed into the different fruit flavours. We ate this after a beef stir-fry, making the whole meal a fantastic mix of tastes and aromas. It’s wonderful to find new inspiration for fruit and this is fast becoming a new favourite in our house!
gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, soya-free, nut-free, seed-free
Serves 4 Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 10 minutes
- 90g/3¼oz/heaped ⅓ cup caster sugar
- 5cm/2in cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- ¼ tsp chilli flakes
- juice of 2 limes
- seeds and pulp of 3 passion fruit
- 1 mango, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
- ½ pineapple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 papaya, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
- Put the sugar, cinnamon, star anise and chilli flakes into a large pan with 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Stir continuously for 1 minute, or until all the sugar has dissolved, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, shaking the pan occasionally, for 10 minutes until the liquid has reduced to a thin syrup. Transfer the syrup to a mixing bowl and set aside to cool. Remove the cinnamon to stop its flavour overpowering the dressing, but reserve for decoration.
- Once the syrup has cooled, pour in the lime juice and passion fruit and mix well. Add the mango, pineapple and papaya, then toss together so that the spicy, sweet-sour flavours of the dressing coat the fruit. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
I went to Pho in Wardour Street this week and had a delicious lunch. Pho is pronounced “fuh” and is Vietnam’s national dish. Often referred to as the “soul of the nation”, it’s a noodle soup dish that is made with rice noodles and various ingredients such as steak, meatballs, chicken, prawns, tofu or veggies and then served with lime, coriander, beansprouts and chillies that you add yourself. Apparently Pho originated in Hanoi and, as it travelled south through Vietnam, it developed subtle traits distinctive to the various regions, becoming influenced by the Chinese flavours in the North and then taking on more herbs, greens and chillies in the South.
I shared the Goi Cuon Tom (Prawn Rice Paper Rolls) with Peanut Sauce and Nem Nuong (Pork & Lemongrass Meatballs) with Nuoc Cham as a starter. I like Rice Paper Rolls to have more herbs in them but they were lovely and the meatballs were great – with lots of lemongrass flavour. Then I had the Bun Tom Hue (Hot & Spicy Prawn Pho) and it was utterly delicious. Fiery and fresh with great flavours. Pho prides itself on their fresh ingredients and deservedly so – the coriander leaves and beansprouts, which can all too often look and taste limp, were wonderfully fresh. And I had a deliciously fresh Pineapple, Apple & Mint juice with it all.
There’s a great range to chose from and everything bar the Bun Noodles, Pho Xao and Banana Fritters is all gluten-free (and you can request gluten-free Bun Noodles and Pho Xao) but you do need to make sure you avoid extra hoi sin, ginger soy or soy sauce. And, of course, it’s all dairy-free. The staff are lovely – and the place is great. You can also order Pho to Go. The Pho Noodle Soup comes in 3 separate containers so that it’s at its freshest when you eat it. You add the noodles to the stock cup, then add the onion, beansprouts and topping and then the toppings – the spring onion, herbs, chilli and lime. Excellent!