hazelnut chocolate chip cookie pizza

There's just more to love about a cookie pizza.
There’s just more to love about a cookie pizza.

Cronuts. Duffins. Dagels. Bruffins. I’m not sure what it is about hybrid bakery products that I find so amusing, but whenever I see them – the cheeky yet artful blending of the best of two beloved classics and some reckless portmanteau assigned – I giggle like a schoolgirl. Sure, they’re classics for a reason… but weren’t rules made to be broken?

With that in mind, let me introduce you to the pizzcuit.

chocolate chip pizza cookie
The latest bakery hybrid.

 

The pizzcuit is a rather delightful combination of glorious crumbly cookie and the harmonious shape of a pizza. Baked in a large circle and cut into slices, the pizzcuit is a family cookie. And by that I mean it’s sweet and nutty and special and made for sharing.

There’s a cup of oats in this cookie, which makes the edges chewy and a little crisp, and the centre stays fudgy and moreish. I haven’t strayed too far from the original recipe except to choose hazelnuts over walnuts and a different type of dark sugar – and I’ll admit it took me two goes to get this right!

So here’s what I learned:

  • Be careful about how you chop your chocolate. Too fine and you don’t get those satisfying chocolate chunks; too large and the cookie won’t hold together properly. 1cm chunks is as large as you should go.
  • Use a pizza tray or the bottom of a cake mould. It’s possible to shape a perfect circle with your hands, but it won’t stay perfect for long when it goes in the oven. This cookie spreads at least a good 2cm in every direction.
  • It’s super hard to resist eating a warm cookie, so you should definitely split the dough into 2 batches and make smaller pizzas so you can dive in right away and still have something to show the guests the next day. Or you can make one large pizza cookie and feel smug about your self-control, don’t mind me.
Anyone for a slice?
Anyone for a slice?

Hazelnut chocolate chip cookie pizza
¾ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
6 tbsps butter
1/3 cup muscovado sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup oats
¾ cup dark chocolate, chopped
½ cup hazelnuts

Sift the flour, salt and baking soda together in a large bowl.

In a saucepan, melt the butter on low. Remove from heat and stir in the sugars.

When slightly cool, whisk in the egg and vanilla.

Pour into the flour mixture and combine with a wooden spoon.

Stir in the oats, dark chocolate and nuts

Spoon the batter onto a pizza tray lined with baking paper, then shape into a neat circle. Bake for 20 minutes at 190C, allow to cool for 5 minutes on the tray and then slide onto wire rack to cool for another 10 minutes.

Cut into slices and serve with glasses of (almond) milk.

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spiced lamb sausage rolls

Lamb sausage rolls.
Lamb sausage rolls.

Oh Australia. Did you think I’d forgotten you?

One of the stranger quirks about being an expat is that you begin to hold national holidays even dearer to your heart than you would if you were actually living in the country. Where once you might have rolled your eyes at the prolific display of Southern Cross memorabilia and smirked at the plethora of green-and-gold boxing kangaroos, you instead find yourself looking at akubras with a certain fondness and tearfully googling the Australian flag.

It’s weird, yes. But it’s true.

Make these whenever you feel homesick.
Make these whenever you feel homesick.

I have trouble defining Australian cuisine, but there are generally a few things that come to mind: ANZAC biscuits, lamingtons, meat pies and sausage rolls. These stalwarts are often coloured by the irresistible compulsion to incorporate flavours from other cuisines – something fittingly characteristic of a nation inhabited by so many different cultures. And so we have chilli meat pies, barbecued curry prawns, pandan lamingtons and nutella pavlovas. I love it. If we are going to mend global fences, reach out to each other and live well together, I think it starts with food.

So in the spirit of Australia Day, I thought I’d make something quintessentially Aussie with a little twist. A while ago I found this wildly successful adana kebab recipe and to my delight it makes an excellent sausage roll, too. Lightly spicy, exotic yet familiar, these sausage rolls are my homage to the country I still call home.

Happy Australia Day, folks!

The familiar meets the exotic.
The familiar meets the exotic.

Spiced lamb sausage rolls
500g lamb mince
7.5g salt (about 2 tsp)
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp sumac
1 tbsp Urfa pepper flakes
2 eggs
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 roll (375g) puff pastry

Place the mince in a large, sturdy bowl and add the salt, cumin, sumac and pepper flakes. Mix, using your hands to knead, until the mince goes tacky and starts sticking to the side of the bowl.

Add 1 egg and the breadcrumbs, then combine well. The final mixture should be springy and slightly sticky but not wet.

Chill the mince for at least an hour.

Take out the mince and divide it into 8 portions, then shape them into logs.

Wrap the logs in the puff pastry, overlapping the fold slightly. Score three times with a sharp knife, brush with beaten egg and bake in a 200C oven for 25-30 minutes.

chicken & chorizo stew

Chicken and chorizo stew.
Chicken and chorizo stew.

Happy New Year everybody!

I spent the holiday break in Australia and although friends here warned me that it was freezing, it was a shock to step off the plane and discover just what they meant. For London is frosty beyond memory; it’s really really cold. It’s the kind of chill you’re not even sure how to handle, because doing anything other than the bare minimum involves a trip outside, which means getting dressed, and that requires a superhuman act of bravery.

Fortunately, there’s winter food to console us during the colder months, and we seek to ward off the chill with steaming bowls of something comforting. At this time of year, it’s all about cooking for warmth and ease – nothing fussy or fancy, just simple good food that invokes the memory of sunshine.

The ultimate winter dinner.
The ultimate winter dinner.

This stew combines aromatic chorizo with the gentle heat of chilli and the comforting graininess of butter beans. It’s perfect for nights like these!

Chicken and chorizo stew
6 chicken thighs
100g chorizo
1 x 400g tin butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
2 carrots, sliced
1 capsicum, sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp chilli flakes
250ml chicken or vegetable stock
Flour, salt, pepper and mixed herbs to coat the chicken

De-skin the chorizo and pull it into pieces. Fry gently in a non-stick pan and remove to a large baking dish, keeping the oil in the pan.

Season the flour with salt, pepper and mixed herbs. Coat the chicken in the flour and brown in the chorizo oil. Add the browned chicken to the baking dish.

Prepare the rest of the ingredients and add to the baking dish. Place in a 200 degree oven for 1 hour and serve with sweet potato mash, kale or a crusty loaf of bread.

gluten-free lemon cookies

Lemon cookies. Just because.
Lemon cookies. Just because.

Is it cookie time again already? Well, when isn’t it?

I have a weakness for lemony desserts and lately I’ve been spending a little time indulging in the sweeter side of life. As the cooler weather sets in, traipsing through London’s streets in search of the next great party has taken a backseat to warm, intimate coffees and good conversation with friends. And how could you possibly have coffee without a little something to go on the side?

Moreish little morsels.
Moreish little morsels.

On days that start with frosty mornings and slip into rainy evenings, I like to sit on my couch with a really good book, a cup of coffee and a biscuit. The smell of lemon cookies wafts through my place, filling the air with something not unlike happiness.

Fill thy house with the scent of lemon biscuits. Go!
Fill thy house with the scent of lemon biscuits. Go!

These lemon cookies are a variation on the chocolate chip cookies I did earlier. I urge you all to bake a batch, keep warm and embrace cheerfulness. The festive season is peeking around the corner – can you feel it?

Gluten-free lemon cookies
1¼ cups almond meal
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
½ tsp vanilla extract
Zest and juice of a lemon

Mix together the almond meal, coconut, baking powder, salt and sugar. Zest the lemon and mix well, making sure there are no clumps.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until fluffy and doubled in volume, then whisk in the coconut oil, vanilla extract and lemon juice.

Add to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Place in the fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Remove the dough from the fridge and shape into flat 7cm discs. These will relax a little more than the chocolate chip cookies, so leave some room in between.

Bake for 7-10 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove and allow to cool on the tray.

These cookies should be eaten within two days. Not because they go bad or anything, but even in an airtight container they start to go soft, sticky and chewy.

honey soy salmon, kale & sweet potato mash

Salmon. It's nutritious and delicious!
Salmon. It’s nutritious and delicious!

I really ought to eat more fish.

I tell myself things like this on a regular basis. Fish is delicious – tender, light yet filling and full of delicate flavour – and it’s good for you, too; packed full of vitamins, protein and omega 3s, fish is rightfully known as brain food. It’s the heart-healthy meat that can be farmed sustainably and your body will love you for it.

But just between you and me, I may be a wee bit – scared – of cooking fish. I mean, it has this reputation, doesn’t it? It’s fiddly, it falls apart not just on your fork but also in the pan, or sticks with a stubbornness that only a determined spatula can overcome. It cooks unevenly. It can turn dry and tough. When you cook fish you’re taking the chance that it all may come to a ruinous, nightmarish mess resulting in pasta and sauce for dinner.

honey and soy salmon
honey and soy salmon, served with a gingery kale and sweet potato mash.

Worry not, friends. The dense, tender flesh of salmon stands up to flavours well, is significantly less likely to fall apart and is much more forgiving than your average fish when it comes to cooking times. Its high fatty acid content means it’s unlikely to dry out, and most importantly it makes for wonderful eating. If you’re at all wary about cooking fish, salmon’s where you start.

Honey and soy, two things I always have in the cupboard, make an excellent marinade for the salmon, highlighting its natural sweetness. To balance this, I’ve added ginger and garlic to the kale – yet another so-good-for-you-it’s-hard-to-believe ingredient. Kale is nutrient-rich, high in calcium, fibre and iron, not to mention vitamins C and K.

And please, let us not have me begin waxing lyrical about sweet potato again. Suffice it to say that a good bed of buttery sweet potato mash completes this delicious and nutritious feelgood trinity.

oh, that sweet potato.
oh, that sweet potato.

Make the most of the last rays of the summer sun – or indeed, welcome spring as they are back in Oz. Enjoy!

Honey soy salmon with ginger kale and sweet potato mash
For the salmon:
2 salmon fillets
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp light soy sauce
For the kale:
100g kale
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated OR garlic oil
For the sweet potato mash:
500g sweet potatoes
25g butter

Mix the honey and soy together and pour over the salmon fillets. You can do this the night before and store them in a ziplock bag, or marinate 30 minutes before you start.

Peel and wash the sweet potatoes, then cut into large chunks and boil in a pot until soft (this takes around 20 minutes depending on the size of your chunks). Drain and add the butter before mashing, then cover and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan and add the grated ginger and garlic. For low-FODMAPpers, leave out the garlic and use garlic oil.

Add the kale and fry gently until the leaves go glossy and dark green – this should only take about 2-3 minutes.

Heat oil in a pan (the same one, if you like!) and then add the salmon, skin-side down. Fry for 4 minutes, taking care the honey isn’t burning the skin. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes.

oatmeal with almond milk

oatmeal with almond milk
A delicious bowl of oatmeal with almond milk.

My beautiful sister is a medical doctor, yoga teacher and busy business owner who, in addition to being an all-round nice person and a luxury handbag addict, runs a holistic health programme based on a blend of science and Eastern philosophy. Through the process of thought, movement, physical care and spiritual nourishment, the Global Goddess Project aims to encourage people to live healthier, more fulfilling lives.

And what could be a better way to begin that life than with oatmeal?

breakfast oatmeal
It takes just five minutes to make oatmeal.

Oatmeal is one of those beloved breakfast stalwarts you probably grew up with. On cold wintry days before the house had quite lost its chill, I would shiver my way into the kitchen and scant minutes later, sink into a pile of oats that warmed me from the inside out. It was not quite enough to make up for the fact that I was no longer snuggled under my doona, but it was a comforting consolation.

oats
Hay there. Remember us?

If you need further motivation to embrace oatmeal, just think about the fact that oats are one of the best foods you could possibly eat. Oats are high in insoluble and soluble fibre, including a specific type of soluble fibre called beta-glucans, which are proven to lower LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. They’re low-GI, which means they are digested slowly and are an excellent choice for diabetics.

Oh, and they’re naturally gluten-free. More oats for everyone, I say!

If you’re looking for a breakfast that you can have on a detox, low-stress or immunity-boosting diet, look no further. The almond milk makes it dairy-free and the blueberries, which are high in vitamins C and K as well as cancer-fighting flavonoids, are tasty as well as being extremely good for you.

So take five minutes at the start of your day to treat yourself well. Don’t you deserve it?

oatmeal
It’s like a big hug at breakfast.

Oatmeal with almond milk
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup water
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp honey
Small handful blueberries

Place the oats and water in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring until the water has been absorbed.

Add the almond milk and cook the oatmeal for 4 minutes, or until the milk has been absorbed and it achieves a thick consistency.

Stir through the honey and blueberries. Oh, and don’t forget to soak the oatmeal pan immediately – removing hardened oatmeal is a soul-destroying experience.

A few notes about oats.
Rolled vs steel-cut: the difference here is in the process. Rolled oats are de-husked, steamed, rolled and then lightly toasted. Steel-cut oats are chopped before steaming so they retain bits of the bran layer. They’re chewier, taste nuttier, have a slightly lower GI profile and typically take longer to cook (about 30 minutes on the stovetop). You can pre-soak them overnight to reduce the cooking time if you want to use steel-cut oats.

Gluten-free: oats are naturally gluten-free, but can be cross-contaminated during growing if they’re next to wheat fields. If you’re gluten-intolerant, you can buy gluten-free oats that have been certified through growth and production as being free from gluten.

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies
Little treasures.

Cookies are one of life’s bite-sized little pleasures. I’m not even sure it matters, sometimes, what kind of cookie it is or even if it’s very good or elaborate or artisanal or experimental. On long days filled with an endless list of chores, on cranky days with befuddling annoyances, on rainy days with grey skies, what’s important is taking a minute to sit down with a cookie and a cup of tea and acknowledging that you deserve this.

You really do.

When was the last time you had a chocolate chip cookie?
When was the last time you had a chocolate chip cookie?

I’m all for weird and wonderful flavours and bold, daring culinary contortions, but sometimes I crave a very simple treat: a chocolate chip cookie. Not one laden with three kinds of chocolate and cocoa powder everywhere, either, like you’re biting into an entire Cadbury’s factory. Standard, plain chocolate chip. It’s the simple things that are often the best.

Ready to bake
Ready to bake

Of course, I couldn’t go very long without trying to find a gluten-free solution for my coeliac buddies, and happily I didn’t have to search very far: Sprouted Kitchen has crafted a wonderfully easy recipe that uses very few ingredients and makes delicious gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (the Minimalist Baker captures it beautifully here).

I’m not going to say that these cookies could possibly be better than regular cookies. But we both know that I’ll be thinking it, quietly, over here in the corner of my little kitchen.

Enjoy! xx

gluten free chocolate chip cookies
Everyone deserves these.

Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies
1¼ cups almond meal
½ cup desiccated coconut
¼ cup dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup muscovado sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
½ tsp vanilla extract

Mix together the almond meal, coconut, chocolate, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until fluffy and doubled in volume, then whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla extract.

Add to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Place in the fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Remove the dough from the fridge and shape into 7cm discs. They don’t flatten very much during cooking, so how they go into the oven is pretty much how they’ll stay. They do relax slightly, though, so make sure you leave a little room between the discs.

Bake for 7-10 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove and allow to cool on the tray.

spinach & ricotta lasagne

Warm and comforting.
Warm and comforting.

I’m not a vegetarian.

I mean it. I love meat. I celebrate spaghetti bolognese. I adore lamb shanks. I’m devoted to roast chicken. I have been known to weep with joy over a good unsmoked rasher of back bacon, damn it. Basically, if it swims or flies or roams this earth in a non-human not-too-exotic fashion, odds are I’ll have considered eating it at one point or another.

But despite my keen interest, I don’t really eat very much of it.

I know many people who belong to the ‘if it doesn’t have meat in it, it’s not a meal’ school of thought. Often, they are rightly concerned about the nutritional balance of a vegetarian lifestyle, which can lack protein, iron and magnesium if practiced incorrectly. Sometimes they approach it from a culinary perspective, because truthfully meat will add a taste and texture no other food can quite emulate. Mostly, though, the reasons have to do with a mental state; it doesn’t feel like a real meal if it doesn’t have meat in it.

The thing is, there are plenty of compelling reasons to eat less meat: environmental sustainability, health, cost and convenience being just a few. These are all solid incentives, but surely one of the greatest motivations is vegetarian food itself; it can be so darn good. The problem is overcoming years and years of bad restaurant PR – decades of limp pasta arrabbiata and dry veggie burgers – which is not at all representative of vegetarian cuisine.

Nothing limp or dry about this.
Nothing limp or dry about this.

Me, I’m a part-time meat eater at best, and this is what I’ve learned from my casual carnivorism: if you want to eat less meat, you can’t just cook traditionally meat-based dishes and leave the meat out. You’ll always feel like something is missing, and it will be, because you crafted it with meat in mind. Instead, you have to truly celebrate vegetables. After all, what is a chicken salad without the chicken? A pile of sad-looking lettuce and a mangled tomato, that’s what. But what if you created a salad with the earthy crunch of spinach, and added sweet kernels of corn, nutty quinoa, roasted pumpkin, avocado and a scattering of pine nuts? Would you truly feel deprived?

A meal doesn’t need meat to be satisfying; to me, what matters is how you use the ingredients you choose to include. So as an enthusiastic advocate of vegetables I want to share this recipe with you; it’s delicious and filling – I think the word ‘nourishing’ would be appropriate. It warms you from the inside out, like the pasta version of a big, warm hug, and it is: a pile of vegetables, loving you back.

Make and bake. Simple and delicious!
Make and bake. Simple and delicious!

Spinach and ricotta lasagne
250g lasagne sheets
500g frozen spinach, thawed and drained
250g ricotta
Pinch of nutmeg
1 egg
1 x 125g ball of mozzarella
2 x 400g tins of canned tomatoes
1 x 400g jar of passata
1 onion
1 vegetable stock cube
Mixed herbs
Salt and pepper

Make the tomato sauce first. Chop the onion and sauté gently until translucent, then add the tomatoes, passata, stock cube and herbs. Simmer for 15 minutes and taste, adjusting the seasoning. Depending on the sharpness of the tomatoes, you might need to add ketchup or sugar.

Mix the spinach with the ricotta, egg and nutmeg. Add salt and white pepper.

Starting with a drizzle of the sauce so the lasagne sheets don’t stick to the bottom, layer the sheets, sauce and spinach mixture in an ovenproof dish.

Bake at 200C for 20 minutes, then top with the torn mozzarella ball and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.

pumpkin & cheddar frittata

It's sunshine in cake form.
It’s sunshine in cake form.

Frittatas are gloriously summery. Sweet and eggy, deliciously filling and incredibly versatile, frittatas are this lovely golden yellow that always makes me think that they’ve found a way to catch Italian sunshine and smuggle it back for the rest of us. Somehow, despite being basically a collection of eggs and odds and ends, they’re unfailingly cheerful. I challenge you to stare at a frittata and not feel uplifted by its simple goodness.

It’s pretty difficult to stray too far off the path with a frittata, even if you’re not following a recipe. They’re the kind of thing you vaguely know how to make almost instinctively, and they’re fairly forgiving, so they’re the ultimate in stress-free cookery. What’s not to love?

I love making frittatas with sweeter vegetables like pumpkin and zucchini to bring out the natural sweetness of eggs. You can serve frittatas hot or cold and they’re great accompanied by a fresh salad, beans or some quinoa.

Serve with salad and quinoa.
Serve with salad and quinoa.

Pumpkin and cheddar frittata
1 x medium butternut squash
200g cheddar cheese, half grated, half cubed
9 eggs
Small bunch of chives
Salt and pepper

Cut the butternut squash into small chunks and roast in a 200C oven for around 20 minutes, or until soft.

Take it out and remove the skin – I find it easier and faster to do after it’s been cooked, but you do lose a little more pumpkin flesh.

Chop into cubes and place into a cake tin (one that doesn’t leak is helpful!) with the cubes of cheddar.

In a bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy, then snip the chives in and add a good strong pinch of salt and white pepper. Stir in the grated cheese and pour the lot into the cake tin.

Bake in a 200C oven for 40 minutes.