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Cauliflower pizza

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So another way of doing pizza!

The cauliflower is an extraordinarily versatile vegetable.  For too many years I only ever thought about it as cauliflower cheese.  But since I’ve been low carbing, I’ve discovered just how many different dishes it can be used in.  I have to confess, though, that when I first heard that you could make pizza out of cauliflower, I really wasn’t convinced!  Eventually, though, I gave it a try. And even though it wasn’t perfect the first time, I could really see the potential.

Making pizza out of cauliflower is more time-consuming that just ordering out, or buying a ready-made one.  But if you’re a committed low carber, and you want pizza, it’s not half bad!

Here’s what you do:

Ingredients for the base

One cauliflower
One ball of mozzarella
50g Parmesan
One egg

Here’s how to make it.

Step one:

– Cut the leaves off the cauliflower, and then cut it into florets
– In a food processor, blitz the florets until they’re the consistency of couscous
– Tip this into a microwave-safe bowl, cover, and microwave on high for 8 minutes
– Set aside and let it cool
– Whilst it’s cooling, grate the cheeses

Step two:

– When it’s cooled, tip the cauliflower onto a clean tea towel or muslin, pull all the corners together, twist and then squeeze so that you’re getting all the moisture out of the cauliflower.  It will release a surprising amount of liquid!  Keep going until you’ve got as much moisture out as you can
– Put the cauliflower into a large bowl, add the grated cheeses and the egg.  Season with black pepper.  Mix together with your hands and press it together into a ball

Step three:

If you have a pizza stone, this is good to use.  Otherwise, a heavy baking tray is fine.  (Non-stick is preferable)  Put the oven on, at around 200 (fan)

– Tip the cauliflower mixture on to the stone/tray, and using your fingers, press it out into a round, as evenly as possible
– Bake it in the oven for around 10-15 minutes until it’s browned.  You’re aiming to cook it, but also dry it out.
– After this time, if you can, turn it over so that you can also cook the other side.  If it’s stuck a bit, turn the oven off, but put the base back in for another 10-15 minutes.  You’re aiming to dry it out rather than cook it much more.

It should look like this:

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Then you’re ready to add your toppings.

This is what I did:

Tomato sauce

One carton of chopped tomatoes (I used Sainsbury’s Basics)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt/black pepper
2 cloves of garlic

How to make it:

– In a medium sized saucepan, heat the olive oil
– Add the tomatoes, and bring to the boil
– Season with the salt and pepper
– Simmer until reduced and thickened (takes about 10 minutes)
– Add the garlic, finely chopped, or crushed in a garlic press

Allow this to cool before you top the cauliflower base.

What you then add to the pizza is up to you.  I used:

– two shallots, finely sliced
– one red chilli, sliced
– pepperoni
– black olives
– slices of mozzarella (one ball)
– a good shake of dried oregano

It looked like this before it went in the oven:

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Bake for around 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the shallots are sufficiently cooked.

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Before serving, garnish with some leaves of fresh basil.

And enjoy!

Hopefully it is dry/cooked enough for you to be able to pick up a slice; but if it’s a bit soggy in the middle, don’t worry.  It still tastes like pizza, and it’s really satisfying!

An office lunch – using the microwave: Creamy Pesto Turkey

It’s hard sorting out lunch at work.

If I’m really organised, I take stuff in that’s leftover from the night before, but that’s not always possible.

Near us in the office we have a Sainsbury’s Local and a Pret a Manger.  I like Pret as much as the next man, but their range of low carb options is pretty limited and hasn’t changed much over the last few months – and they’re not the cheapest option if you’re buying from there everyday.

Sainsbury’s at least has a wider selection of food, but frankly, once you’ve ignored all the biscuits, cakes, chocolate and sandwiches there really isn’t much left for a low carber.  All the available ready meals and most of their pre-prepared salads contain carbs in one form or another.  And that’s before you have to discard all the low fat options as well!

There is always the wherewithal to put together an interesting salad, as they have a reasonable range of fresh veg, cooked meats and fish, and cheese, but I don’t always fancy salad.  Especially not when it’s cold.  But cooking at work is limited, as there’s only a microwave.

So I’ve developed a basic repertoire of things I can cook in the microwave.  Today was turkey in a creamy pesto sauce, which I ate with some salad and mange tout.  No photos, as I was too hungry and wolfed it down before I even thought about that!

Here’s what I used:

2 turkey breast steaks (packs of four are currently on offer!), which I sliced up roughly
About a half an ounce of butter
A tablespoon of full fat cream cheese
A large teaspoon of green pesto
salt and black pepper

And this is what I did:

Put the butter in a bowl and heat on high for 10-20 seconds until it’s melted

Add the sliced turkey, season and stir; cook on high for 1 minute

Add the cream cheese and pesto, then cover the bowl with a plate and cook for another 2 minutes on high

Let it sit for a while, as this allows the meat to relax, and makes it more tender

To cook the mange tout:

Rinse them under cold running water, drain, and then put into a separate bowl; season

Cook on high for no more than a minute

This makes quite a lot of lovely creamy sauce, so it would also work well with vegetables rather than salad.  But it was very satisfying – plenty of fat, protein-rich and low in carbs.  What’s not to like?!

The aim of this blog

There are a million and one blogs about low carbing.  Probably.

However, many of them are American sites, so they use cup measurements, which I just can’t get on with.

Or, they use weird ingredients that mean you have to go to some health food shop, or buy some weird protein powder or thickening agent.

My plan with this blog is to post recipes based on everyday ingredients, that you can buy in any supermarket.  The only exception I will make here is to include recipes using Shirataki noodles.  These are a brilliant noodle substitute and a passable pasta substitution in extremis.  They’re Japanese, and made from the konjac yam (nothing to do with the yams we may have in our supermarkets!)  If you have an Asian supermarket near you, you may be able to find them there.

Here’s a piece from Wikipaedia about them:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirataki_noodles

If you don’t have an Asian supermarket close by, you can also buy them on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Shirataki-Noodles-Pack-of-5/dp/B002CENRLG

They’re fantastic in noodle soups, and as I’ve just come back from a (work) trip to Vietnam, I shall be experimenting to see if I can make a passable Pho with them.

But I promise this is the only ‘weird’ ingredient I will be using.

Tomorrow’s recipe will be meatballs in tomato sauce.  So tune in then!

Living a Low Carb Life

It can be difficult switching from the way we’re encouraged to eat towards a low or lower carb diet.

We’re encouraged to base our diet on carbohydrates, and fat (of any kind) is vilified.  Eating on the go is even more difficult – just have a look at what’s available on any high street or in any railway station – carbs, carbs and more carbs!

So when people decide to follow a low carb diet, it can be difficult.

It can be difficult if you’re reliant on pre-prepared foods or ready meals, because most of these are also based around carbs.

It can be difficult if you don’t want to eat differently from the rest of your family.

And there’s often a perception that it can be expensive.  After all, isn’t the Atkins diet all about living off steak, cream and bacon?*

So my blog aims to help show that it doesn’t have to be difficult.  Nor does it have to be expensive.  Whilst I may not post daily, the idea is to blog my meals and food, at home, on the go and eating out, so show how it’s possible to make your diet a lower carb one.

* No it isn’t.  But hey, where’s the newsworthy story in reporting that?!