Restaurant Review: Mother LDN, Battersea

If you know me, you’ll know I LOVE a good pizza. I mean, what’s not to love?! Yummy filling carbs, hot melted cheese, endless topping combos. Anyone who doesn’t enjoy pizza is highly suspicious if you ask me…

Rather a long time ago now we headed over to try a new pizza joint over in Battersea. The first UK restaurant from the rather trendy Danish chain, it’s set under the train-tracks in what is supposedly an up and coming area. I’m not a fan of the area, finding it bland and soulless, and indeed I’m clearly not the only one – the restaurant was pretty empty for a Friday night.

It could be the rather strange and wacky pizza topping combos putting people off. Sure, there’s the usual Margherita, but there’s also Nick Says It’s Good (mozzarella, cauliflower, green olives, anchovies, capers, chili, pecorino cheese) and David Says It’s Even Better (tomato, mozzarella, spicy spring broccoli and soft salame). Perhaps not a family friendly restaurant, and with a massive bar and drinks offering I get the impression they were hoping to be drawing bigger and more exuberant crowds anyway.

But onto the pizzas.

Out of a choice of 3 (!) tomato-free pizzas, I couldn’t resist the lure of cheesy carbs on carbs and so promptly placed an order for Burning Love. Made up of mozzarella, potatoes, fried onions, and røget spæk this pizza was insanely rich and decadent. In fact, I’m pretty sure this one wins the title of the first pizza I’ve admitted complete defeat over with a quarter still to go. The potatoes are well cooked, just soft enough to add creaminess, but with enough bite to prevent the whole pizza from being soggy. The onions added much needed sweetness. The cheese was plentiful, stringy and tasty. If anything, I’d say the spæk (ham) was almost unnecessary.

The pizza dough is made with saltwater, supposedly resulting in a tastier and healthier base than usual. Whilst I have no idea whether the healthier claim is true, I can say the base was certainly more flavourful that others I’ve tried. However it also had quite an odd texture – noticeably drier (though not crisp) than other sourdough pizzas. A few weeks on and I still can’t decide whether or not I liked it…

W’s pizza (something involving lots of tomatoes and the same spæk) seemed to go down well – it disappeared rather quickly, although like me he was unsure about the base. And it’s all about that base…

There was nothing *wrong* with Mother LDN, nothing at all. But equally it wasn’t as special as I was hoping for. The pizzas weren’t particularly memorable, the atmosphere a little flat, the service slow. Sure, it was tasty (but show me bread, cheese and potatoes thrown together that aren’t tasty!) but I wouldn’t rush back. That said, I have several VERY good pizza places virtually on my doorstep…

Have you visited Mother LDN? Where’s your favourite pizza restaurant?

Recipe: My Ultimate Homemade Pizza Base

I love me a pizza. Franco Manca is becoming a date-night favourite when I meet W from his studio, and having The Dynamo a whopping 3 minute walk away is down-right dangerous. The good news? I’ve finally perfected my perfect at-home pizza base. Not only does it taste great, it’s super easy to make, fitting in around our schedule and making homemade pizza all too easy on a work night.

 photo Pizza Dough_zpswwofx8v6.jpgIt does “take a while” but in all honesty there’s hardly any hands-on work. The vast majority of the time involves bunging it in the fridge and forgetting about it – the actual prep you could do in the morning or (if you’re more sleep-inclined) the night before. If you want to me majorly organised then you could even go as far as part-cooking the bases in advance and freezing. Now that’s given me the idea of holding a pizza party…

The slow-rise is essential for creating an almost sourdough-flavoured base. It’s puffed up, slightly crisp on the base, and soft and chewy. This is not your takeaway American-style base, it’s not ‘deep-pan’ and it’s not ‘thin and crispy.’ It’s proper, pillowy, Italian homemade pizza. Maybe not ovely authentic, but it tastes good and fits in with my lifestyle. Basically, it’s a big thumbs up from me. Here I’ve showcased two toppings. One is my Spicy Lamb, perfect for leftover Sunday roast meat. The second is a fresher take on my Black Pudding & Goat’s cheese, using less meat, more cheese and a little courgette to lighten things up. Leaving the black-pudding off and going courgette+cheese (+fresh basil if I have any) is also super good. And my go-to comfort food pizza option? Red pepper pesto and chorizo slices is always a winner!

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 300g strong white bread flour
  • 6g salt
  • 3g dried yeast
  • 200ml water (warm, but not too hot)

 photo Ultimate Homemade Pizza Dough 2_zpstz8qclr6.jpgPut the flour, salt and yeast into a large bowl, and then pour in 150ml of warm water. Stir the wateruntil a rough ball forms, then bring it together with your hands. The dough will be sticky, and you will get messy and annoyed with it. Sorry!

Knead the dough. I like to alternate between normal kneading and stretching it in the air, over and over again. You should end up with a smooth, not-so-sticky dough after around 10 minutes. Once you get to this (or even before if you feel like your arms are about to fall off, or you need to run and get to work on time) place the into a clean and well-floured bowl, cover the bowl with clingfilm and throw in the fridge.

After around 10 hours (i.e. when you get in from work), the dough should have doubled in size. Gently press all the air out of the dough using your hands, adding in a little flour if it’s still super-sticky. Split into two, and on a floured work surface press out a section of the dough into a rough circle. I tend to do this by hand rather than use a rolling pin (mainly to save on the washing up) – again I tend to do it up in the air, letting the weight of the dough stretch it out. Lay the dough on a floured surface and then begin to work on the second piece. After this, the first will have had chance to rest, you can stretch it again – you want super-thin sections, but also a thicker ‘crust’ around the edge. Repeat with the second piece.

Heat up a large, dry non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, and then carefully lay in one pizza base at a time. Cook the bases for 2-3 minute per side. Each side of the base should be a pale biege colour, with a few dark brown spots – I cook at a slightly lower temperature for longer just to get the base a little crispier, but if you prefer a stronger “wood-fired” flavour and texture then cook for less over a high heat. Repeat for the other base.

Add on any toppings, and then cook the pizzas for 5-7 minutes in an oven at 220 degrees. I’ve discovered that 1tbsp of creme fraiche mixed with black pepper and a small amount of parmesan makes for a divine topping, but for these black-pudding pizzas I simply spread with goat’s cheese to form a ‘sauce.’ You definitely don’t want the toppings to outshine the base here!

 photo Ultimate Homemade Pizza Dough 1_zpsaecak4qz.jpgAnd that’s is, perfect homemade pizza for two. Multiply up the quantities for more, freeze half of the dough (either shaped and part-cooked or just as it is) or one. And if you’re holding a pizza party? Part-cook, stack with greaseproof and keep in an air-tight container until the evening – then serve with a vast array of toppings. I’m thinking different pestos, meats, veg, maybe even the mac’n’cheese pizza topping I came across recently…

What’s your favourite pizza topping? Are you a fan of homemade pizza?

Recipe: Black Pudding & Goats Cheese Pizza

Being allergic to tomatoes means finding pizza recipes can be a bit of a trial, all too often white pizzas can be a bit heavy, overly cheese or (particularly if pesto is used) way too greasy. Franco Manca has satisifed my craving for a fresh, lighter, summery topping, but I wanted something a bit more ‘dirty’, something that wouldn’t make me feel left out when eating next to my sister’s double pepperoni.

 photo Black Pudding and Goats Cheese White Pizza 6_zpsuxsgkjtd.jpg photo Black Pudding and Goats Cheese White Pizza 5_zps16hlavsa.jpgAnd this is it. This, guys, is my new favourite pizza. It’s meaty, it’s carby, it tastes properly bad for you. It’s exactly what a pizza should be. Made on a proper base (none of the faffing around with cauliflower!) it is the perfect pizza for sitting in front of a movie – we first made this whilst attempting to watch all the Harry Potters in a weekend. We failed, but had fun trying! It also goes really, really well with a good side salad. Crispy leaves, fresh spinach, crunch red chicory, these all cut through the richness well. The chicory was a bit of a revelation for me, actually, now I can’t get enough of the stuff. It seems to make my salads just a little more autumnal, something I’m loving right now. I’m still torn between lighter summery food, and bowls of comforting stodge. Give me a few weeks and I’ll be addicted to stew and dumplings again…

Back to the pizza! Yes, it’s rich, but not overwelmingly so. Using creme fraiche as a base keeps it fresh, and the black pudding has just the right level of crispiness to give it an extra texture. Mozzarella gives it a classic ‘pizza’ feel whilst goats cheese adds both tang and compliments the ‘funkiness’ of the black pudding. It’s meaty, slightly spicy, cheesy, indulgent. Delicious.

 photo Black Pudding and Goats Cheese White Pizza 2_zpsebhrfq6g.jpg photo Black Pudding and Goats Cheese White Pizza 3_zps23m1corj.jpgIngredients (for 2)

  • 2 large pizza bases
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and slice in half
  • 2 large tablespoons of creme fraiche
  • 1 pinch each black pepper and dried thyme
  • 2 handfuls grated mozzarella
  • 50g black pudding, skin removed and sliced
  • 100g soft goats cheese

Rub the pizza base with the cut side of the garlic. In a small bowl, mix the creme fraiche with the pepper and thyme – add a tiny bit of olive oil to loosen if you like. Spread over the base. Scatter over the mozzerella, crumble over the black pudding (try to get the pieces small – it helps them get crispy, and slightly burnt black pudding is heavenly), dollop over small spoons of the goats cheese. Pop into a very hot (220C minimum) oven for around 10 minutes, then slice and devour. W recommends topping with chicory just after baking if you don’t fancy a full salad.

 photo Black Pudding and Goats Cheese White Pizza 1_zpsnq2hdkre.jpg photo Black Pudding and Goats Cheese White Pizza 4_zpsv7okd4jo.jpgWe ‘cheated’ here and used good quality ready-made bases. Mainly because we didn’t want to disturb our movie time, but also because I tend to make my homemade bases more soft and sourdough-y and I’m not too sure that would work as well here. The crisp crunch is definitely needed! However I do have another pizza recipe coming your way soon, with my perfected base and a lighter veggie topping – so pizza fans keep your eyes peeled!

Are you a pizza lover? What’s your favourite topping? I used to love a good pepperoni before my tomato allergy took hold! Ever had a white pizza?

Recipe: Cauliflower Pizza

Yep, the person who “doesn’t jump on foodie bandwagons” jumped on probably the biggest one of the last year. Admittedly I’m a little late to the party, but cauliflower pizza has been doing the rounds on most of the healthier food blogs.

 photo 2cc7c627-4994-4676-bfa0-ad9cf0fa3fc8_zpsvf0obofp.jpgEssentially it cuts out most of the carbs involved with a pizza, with the crust being made of cauliflower, egg and cheese. I was sceptical to say the least. One, I don’t like cauliflower. Two, I REALLY like pizza. Three, if I can’t have tomato on my pizza I’ll damn well have everything else as normal, thank you very much. But I had a lot of cauliflower left from my mac’n’cheese (no idea why I picked up the biggest one Morrison’s had) so decided to give it a go.

It wasn’t a bad decision. The pizza tasted pretty good. I could tell it wasn’t a normal pizza base, but it didn’t taste of cauliflower. I could pick it up no problem. It tasted fine. I actually enjoyed the ends of the crust. I didn’t spend the rest of the night feeling bloated. In a nutshell, I’d make it again.

 photo 45be56a3-6a1d-4290-b4e9-0c90d4dd4cb6_zpsvykur3wf.jpgIf you love pizza but hate the bloatedness it brings, are intolerant to flour, or just fancy eating less carbs, I honestly recommend giving this a go.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole cauliflower. Mine was missing around 5 florets, but it was a monster of a cauliflower
  • 1 egg
  • 1 handful of grated mozarella
  • 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan
  • Seasoning – Italian seasoning works really well here
  • Normal pizza toppings – I went for my trusty Pepper & Almond pesto, red chillies, chorizo and more mozarella

Now, this might be a low-carb pizza, but it takes pretty much the same amount of work as making a reugular pizza. I found it made hell of a lot more mess too…

 photo 860aa3a7-26a2-4d3f-8f47-78701b250a8b_zpsqrvbqb8x.jpg photo d158d1ca-35be-496b-a59f-7f8631893838_zpsjh2711i0.jpg photo 9558b367-935c-4c4c-9cb8-de63f6428002_zpsbogbqxya.jpgFirst up, blitz your cauliflower florets in a processor until you have ‘rice.’ Apparently you could also grate it, but I wouldn’t have the patience. Tip into a bowl, cover with cling-film and microwave for 3 minutes. Allow to cool (learn from my mistakes!), tip into a clean tea towel and wring out all of the moisture. I got a huge amount of water out of my cauliflower.

 photo 8897c228-bf27-4153-a2cb-6cded76af906_zpsvypvzmi6.jpg photo c7b23605-6bfe-421a-9fc2-b3dee843a371_zpsghbqitnu.jpg photo 7fa758e1-193e-4e99-b4e6-7ee078c83eaa_zpsvynnhzlo.jpgTip the dried cauliflower into a large bowl, check it’s cool (though if the squezing hasn’t burnt your hands you’re probably fine), and add the egg, cheese and seasoning. Mix well with your hands

Tip out onto a tray lined with greaseproof and pat into a pizza base shape. It looks impossibly crumbly but it will come together. Bake at 200C for 25 minutes, until golden brown and starting to crisp.

 photo 79535e87-def2-46af-bfc3-5ea112aeafe7_zpskbwb6w5b.jpg photo a950863a-acaa-4f6d-ad9f-f0748085308d_zpswptkffzg.jpgAdd your toppings and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes (again, learn from my mistakes. It falls apart if you try to slice straight away). Slice up and enjoy just as you would any pizza!

I’m planning on making mini bases and freezing at some point soon too – if I’m willing to make it again that says a LOT about a cauliflower recipe! PS: I’ve done a fair few cauliflower recipes recently. It may seem like some kind of sponsored series, but I assure you it’s not. I’m just forcing myself to try out more veg!
 photo 88c7b886-a54a-449e-a284-54712b08b39d_zps9qhqqkb6.jpg

Have your made a cauliflower pizza base before? What’s your favourite pizza topping?

 

Restaurant Review: Tomato-Free Pizza @ Pizza Pilgrims

I’ve slowly come to terms with my allergy, and I’m pretty much okay with it all now. Sure, there are evenings where I wish I could dial Dominoes, and I still crave a BBQ sauce (that’s this summer’s challenge!). I’ve gotten used to what I can and can’t eat and have my go-to alternatives. What I really, really hate is having to let restaurants know, having to dissect the menu before I eat out to find out if there’s actually anything suitable – because even the tiniest amount hidden in a sauce can affect me.

 photo 572f2043-ed51-49d6-83ab-f13920999b91_zpsopxtpfyw.jpgI got really excited when Pizza Express launched two white pizzas last season. Only to realise their bechamel sauce contains tomato powder. I think one of them is still suitable, but still. Then I saw a few instagram shots featuring Pizza Pilgrims, noticed a few white pizzas floating about, and promptly told W that we were off for a date-lunch…

 photo 0db576aa-ae9d-4e9d-b20d-bd91b25bf3a6_zpsex0yzs68.jpg photo 2ab553f3-a794-4011-8cf4-367d40046bbc_zpsmvqakaqd.jpgI ordered the Portobello Mushroom and Truffle Oil, and it was immense. Juicy, but still nutty with a good bite, mushrooms where fresh and full of flavour, and the truffle oil added something extra which elevated the pizza from a standard pizza to a delicious treat. The cheese was gooey, the base fluffy, light and well-flavoured. I’d have preferred a slightly thicker and more robust base as I like to be ladylike and shove a pizza wedge into my mouth with my hands, but that’s just me…As far as tomato-free pizzas go, I think Pizza Pilgrims have it down.

 photo 0c365d70-cf39-4235-b9e8-efc7bad6bd20_zpsxstursud.jpgW went for tomato-overload with the Nduja, which he seemed to enjoy. I was just a hugely happy girl that my pizza craving had been sorted – with several branches across London, I know I’ll definitely be hitting Pizza Pilgrims again for a tomato-free pizza hit! We paid for our own meal, and Pizza Pilgrims didn’t know I was planning to review…though the camera may have given it away…

Where’s the best pizza you’ve eaten? I suppose I’d better learn to say ‘allergic to tomatoes’ in Italian ready for my holiday!

Recipe(s): Chorizo & Prawn Risotto and Pizza Breads with SACO Apartments*

Having lived in student halls for nine months too long (bad experience) I know just how difficult it is to cook with a dodgy oven, little space, limited food storage and below-par equipment, so when SACO contacted me about their latest challenge I couldn’t not accept. They wanted bloggers to create a two course meal for two, under £20 and only using equipment found in their holiday apartments. Got to say, those apartments are better stocked than the kitchen in my halls was! Most look pretty cool too!

 photo 2014-09-17184532_zps5ce3fe8e.jpgI decided to go for something relatively simple, something I’d cook often but with a summery twist. Plus they compensated the cost of ingredients, so I couldn’t resist splashing out on chorizo and prawns. I planned a paella, but I had the wrong type of rice, the wrong type of pan. Plus I burn things easily. Risotto it was. As for the starter, this was something born out of an accident last year when I ended up with extra mozzarella. I love it, and quite often eat it for dinner (after an office lunch at Prezzo) or cold in my lunchbox. I also wanted something that would work well alongside the risotto if timings get difficult (they often do away from home), so I’m happy to say they go together perfectly. A really yummy meal!

Now I didn’t weigh anything, and got on with it straight from work. I had two courses on the table in under an hour – so it’s a pretty quick dish. Here we go;

 photo 2014-09-17180111_zpsabd40eaf.jpgGet in, throw your bags on the floor and preheat the oven to 180C. Dice a small onion and soften in olive oil over a low heat.

 photo 2014-09-17180342_zpsa1036e17.jpg photo 2014-09-17180732_zpsce3a1551.jpgSlice a part-baked roll (one for each person) in half, spread each half with a teaspoon of red pesto, and top with slices of mozzarella. Throw in the oven, they want 15-20 minutes; keep an eye on the cheese as you don’t want it to burn.

 photo 2014-09-17181228_zpsc50c255a.jpgBy now the onions should have soften. Tip in some chorizo (I’m loving the pre-diced little packs from Sainsburys at the moment, as it means I’ll actually eat the amount before it goes off) and let it release its oils. Add sliced garlic, paprika and whatever herbs you have to hand. Stir a spoonful of the red pesto in too.

 photo 2014-09-17181533_zpse50f4d93.jpgTip in the risotto rice (150g is good for two portions) and stir constantly for two minutes. Pour 1/2 pint of boiling water into a jug, then add 1/3 of this to the pan. Stir well, cover with a lid and leave for about ten minutes.

 photo 2014-09-17184352_zpsd6264d85.jpg photo 2014-09-17184526_zps4014002a.jpgAdd another 1/3 of the stock, stir well, leave for ten minutes, then repeat. Leave the lid off for the last ten minutes, add a handful each of prawns, and stir as often as you can bear to. You want it to be slightly less wet than a usual risotto, a little more paella like.

 photo 2014-09-17183607_zps77f92627.jpg photo 2014-09-17184532_zps5ce3fe8e.jpgCheck the rice is cooked to your liking, season to perfection (is it Jamie Oliver that says that in virtually every recipe?!) and serve up.

Disclaimer: I was invited to take part and reimbursed for my ingredients. I wasn’t expected or asked to add an opinion on SACO apartments, and I’m not affiliated with them in any way. 

What do you cook on holiday?

 

Recipe: Homemade Pizza

Pizza. Definitely one of my absolute favourite foods, and one which I’ve not let my tomato allergy stop me from enjoying. White pizzas are just as popular over in Italy, and in my opinion just as delicious (plus you get extra cheese – why wouldn’t you want that?!). The lack of tomato sauce really lets the freshness of ingredients shine through; my favourite combo is a simple courgette, fresh basil and goat’s cheese mix, but adding broad beans and prosciutto is also insanely good…

 photo Pizza Dough_zpswwofx8v6.jpgPlease note that this recipe has now been updated (and, to be honest, much improved!), and can be found here along with some rather yummy topping suggestions.

Are you a fan of pizza? What’s your favourite topping?