I remember the first time I had pizza- not the kind served for school lunches (ew!), but pizza served in a restaurant called The Chicago Pizza Pie factory’, which was based in Hanover square in London.
At that point I was adamant ‘cheese-hater’ so it was quite q challenge to be enthusiastic.
They served a deep pan pizza, with a doughy base. It was a revelation to me. I’d never experienced those flavours before. They also served garlic bread and garlic mushrooms, a real awakening of my taste buds! The weird thing was that I was on a date. Why so much garlic?! At the time I had quite a small appetite, so carried my precious box back home. It made a great breakfast. I don’t think my Mum was impressed though!
Gradually pizzas have become very popular, available in many restaurants as well as supermarkets, and have really become the go-to meal when time is short.
Before I stopped eating gluten, I regularly made pizza from scratch at home. I really enjoyed the process and it meant that everyone could choose his or her own toppings.
Largely because our local supermarket had stopped stocking frozen gluten free pizzas. I decided to try to make pizza again, but using gluten free ingredients.
I looked at a lot of recipes and found one in a book called ‘Seriously Good Gluten Free Cooking’ by Phil Vickery (a UK chef – not the rugby player!). I’d had the book for ages, but hadn’t used any of the recipes. It really is a great book with plenty of information about celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and some really delicious looking recipes.
Gluten Free Flour Mix (makes more than you need for this recipe- store the leftover flour in an airtight container for up to 6 months)
300g fine cornmeal
500g rice flour
Gluten Free Pizza Base
1 tsp. sugar
14g Easy Blend Dried Yeast
300g Gluten Free Flour Mix (see above)
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 level teaspoon gluten free baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Whatever you want as long as they’re gluten free!
- Dissolve the sugar in 150ml of the warm water. Stir in the yeast and mix well. Set aside for 5 minutes, until the yeast has frothed up.
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6
- Place the flour mix, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the yeast and liquid along with the oil and mix well.
- Gradually add the remaining water. Mix thoroughly until you have a smooth, slightly wet dough.
- Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes (the airing cupboard is ideal or your kitchen if it is warm enough).
- Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
- Once it has risen, divide dough into to equally sized balls.
- Place one ball on each baking sheet, cover with a second sheet of baking parchment and flatten each to form a 20cm circle.
- Bake for 8 – 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and add the toppings of your choice.
- Return the pizzas to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and the cheese is bubbling.
- Serve immediately.
Sometimes a dish is so good that it remains in your memory forever, either for the occasion, the company or the food itself.
Quite a number of years ago, to celebrate a ‘big’ birthday (I fail to recognize which one!), I was fortunate enough to dine at The Dining Room, a Reigate based restaurant owned by Tony Tobin. What really stuck in my mind about the meal (apart from the fact that my husband had a broken nose and was sporting a black eye, following a game of rugby that afternoon!) was the starter of scallops served with a beautiful tomato based sauce. I had never eaten scallops before, so I didn’t know what to expect.
They were truly delicious and I’ve remembered them ever since. I can’t actually remember the rest of the meal- just the scallops.
For one reason or another the opportunity to return to The Dining Room has never arisen.
My opportunity to have some of Tony Tobin’s scallops was presented to me at the Oxted Food and Drink Festival. Although there were some other gluten free choices available, there was no other choice for me! I wanted to see whether they lived up to my memory.
They were seared to perfection and were served with tiny potato cakes and delicate stir-fried vegetables. It was sublime. The scallops were so tender, they could almost melt in your mouth and the potato cakes and vegetables added a great contrast of textures.
If you ever visit The Dining Room in Reigate, order the scallops, you wont be disappointed!
What better way to spend a summers day, relaxing in the sunshine, enjoying delicious food and drink, a game of cricket being played close by. How quintessentially English.
Food festivals are popping up everywhere, and a new foodie destination this year was The Oxted Food and Drink Festival, held right in the centre of town in the park.
Unlike some similar events, the tickets were reasonably priced and children went free. Included in the VIP admission price was a glass of Prosecco, Strawberries and access to the VIP tent, so you could enjoy your lunch in comfort.
There were plenty of food stalls to chose from and a good selection of items if you couldn’t have gluten. One of the lovely organisers, Nelly gave me some suggestions of gluten free choices (I contacted her prior to the event, via Facebook). It was a fantastic afternoon; a great family activity and I can’t wait to go back next year!