Category Archives: pizza

Product Review: Domino’s Pizza Gourmet Range

Recently, I was invited to review Domino’s new gourmet pizza range. As I love pizza and can have moments of complete and utter laziness when it comes to cooking, we do order pizza home delivery occasionally in our house. In my opinion, it will never beat home-made pizza but when you just want an easy night in front of the TV, it is ideal for a treat.

For our pizza feast, we invited my sister and her boyfriend round as they are great pizza lovers too and will never turn down a takeaway. After much decision making, we ordered:

1x Triple Bonanza deal:

  • Large (13.5″) Four Seasons
  • Large (10 slices) Meatilicious
  • Large (10 slices) Americano

2x Twisted Dough Balls Cheese & Herb

1x Gourmet Garlic Bread

1x Small (6 slices) Original Cheese & Tomato

2x Domino’s Cookies

1x 500mL tub Ben & Jerry’s – Chocolate Fudge Brownie

1x 500mL tub Ben & Jerry’s – Cookie Dough

The total cost of our order came to £66.40 which I know is quite expensive but we did get loads of pizza and lots of dessert too.

The new Gourmet range consists of three pizzas called the Firenze, Florentine and Rustica. The Firenze is topped with Ventricina Salami, Pepperoni and Peruvian Roquito Peppers and the Florentine is topped with Baby Spinach, SunBlush Baby Plum Tomatoes and Greek Feta Cheese while the Rustica is topped with Chicken breast strips, smoked bacon rashers, baby spinach and SunBlush baby plum tomatoes. All the pizzas come on a thin crust base. As I could not decide which pizza I wanted to try, I had the Four Seasons pizza which includes a quarter each of the Firenze, Florentine and Rustica, with a quarter Sunblush baby tomatoes. I was very impressed with the Four Seasons Pizza. It was very fresh tasting and full of flavour. One disappointing aspect for me was that it seemed a bit dry and needed a bit more sauce or something to liven it up.

We were very impressed with the dough balls and the gourmet garlic bread. They were both full of cheesy garlic deliciousness. Once we got to the last dough ball, I did think a fight was going to break out over who got it but fortunately that didn’t happen. Stuart and my sister’s boyfriend both loved their pizzas as you can see, they had already started tucking into them before I took the photos.  I have secret obsession with Domino’s cookies which are freshly baked as you order them and although they look small and unimpressive for the price tag, I can ensure that they are worth every penny!

We ordered at about 8.15pm on a Saturday night via their website and our order turned up within the hour. Unfortunately, half our order was forgotten (basically the ice cream and the cookies) but once we alerted them to the fact, the delivery driver was back within 20 minutes with the rest of our order and a complimentary garlic bread for the inconvenience.

Overall, we were very impressed with Domino’s pizzas and their delivery service. We will most certainly use them again, especially when my next cookie fix strikes! :-)

Disclosure: I was invited to order from Domino’s and review their new Gourmet Range. Our pizza feast was complimentary, however all opinions are my own. 

Go Green Week Cookery Demonstration

Next week is Go Green Week (7-14th February) which  is a student action week set up by People and Planet to raise awareness of climate change. This year’s theme is ‘Love Your Future, Love Your Climate’, as it falls so close to Valentine’s Day.  What does this have to do with food I hear you ask?

Well, it is estimated that halving your meat and dairy consumption could take 10% off each person’s Carbon footprint. (Source: People and Planet) To encourage  students to eat more local fruit and vegetables, I have been asked by the University of Worcester (where I work) to do a cookery demonstration to students and staff showing them what they cook with our fantastic local fruit and vegetables.

This has made me quite nervous as it is my first ever live solo cookery demonstration.  I do not have other people around me, like when I did the Masterchef Experience at the BBC Good Food Show here and here, and I do not have the ability to edit, like I did when I made my first cookery video a couple of weeks ago.  However, I have decided to give it ago and I will be making (with fruit and vegetables kindly supplied by Worcester Produce) the following:

  • Vegetable Curry and Naan Bread
  • Roman style Vegetable Pizzas
  • Caramel Apple Meringues

I am hoping that someone will be able to video the event for me so that you can all see the demonstration too.  I will be putting my recipes and pictures up as soon as I can after the event. If you would like to more information about what else the University of Worcester is doing to celebrate Go Green Week, please see here. If anyone has any tips for doing cookery demonstrations that would help a complete novice, it would be greatly apperciated.

Please do not forget that I am having a give-away of a Forman and Field hamper, which you can receive in time for Valentine’s Day. More information is here.

Happy Cooking! :-)

24 Carrots Farmers Market

Yesterday, it was the 24 Carrots Farmer’s Market in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham. The market is a monthly event that is organised by the Jewellery Quarter’s Residents Association and it brings in producers from Birmingham and beyond to sell their wares to the local residents. I found out about the market last month at the Midlands Food Bloggers Meet Up when Brian from 24 Carrots came and told us all about it. Louise from Comida Y Vida and I could not resist the chance to go and meet local Midlands food producers and purchase some goodies from them.

One of our fellow Midlands Food Blogger’s, Tom from Loaf was going to be there too selling lovely pizzas from his travelling wood fired pizza oven. However, Tom had a disaster when his oven broke on his way to the market. You can read all about it here on his blog and see a picture of the damaged oven. It was a massive shame and everyone was looking forward to pizzas to lunch. I hope he can get the oven fixed and be able to attend the next one. However, all was not lost, Tom set up an impromptu underground  pizza takeaway from his house last night to use up his 20kg of pizza dough and toppings that he had prepared for the market and I believe it was a success. Well done Tom! :-)

Another friend of mine had a stall at the market and that was Mary from Kiss Me Cupcakes, who I did a cupcake course with not so long ago. It was great to see her and get to eat her lovely cupcakes, without having to make them first! I brought a box of six home with me and am slowing eating them.

Our next stop was Squisito Deli which had the most amazing display on the stall. Sara had done a fantastic job. It just looked beautiful. Everything was freshly made by them including a variety of Italian breads, sausages, smoked spices and garlic. It was foodie heaven! Louise and I left with full bags of ciabatta, focaccia, sausages, oak smoked garlic, herbs and spices.

We then went to More Cocoa for the best hot chocolate we had ever had. It was delicious and freshly made straight in front of us. I brought some chocolate so that I could make at home myself. I do not normally like hot chocolate but I loved this one.

Over at Hincley’s Bakery Louise brought some spelt bread and I brought a Butalump. A soft buttery loaf that was perfect with bacon sandwiches this morning. I brought the bacon from Woodhouse Farm which has a traditional butchery and smoke-house. The bacon was thick and very yummy.

The market even had live entertainment from a band called McScraggy and The Suits. They were really good and gave a party atmosphere to the market. Louise and I had a fabulous time at the market and we would like to thank everyone at 24 Carrots and the stall holders who made our time so enjoyable. We will be back again soon! The dates for the last two markets of the year are Saturday 20th November and Saturday 18th December. We hope to see you there.

Until next time,

Happy Cooking! :-)

PS: See Louise’s post about the farmers market here

Fresh From The Oven: Pizza Napoletana

This month’s Fresh From The Oven challenge was chosen by  Lauren from Coffee Muffins and I was very relieved when I discovered she had chosen Pizza Napoletana for us to bake. Pizza is one of my favourite things and is something I make quite regularly so this was the first Fresh From the Oven challenge that I did not feel nervous about. The recipe below is from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. The only thing I do not normally do is leave my dough in the fridge overnight to prove so cooking this pizza recipe took a bit more planning and preparation than my usual pizza recipe. Lauren had suggested that we try and attempt to do a pizza toss but I decided I was not brave enough for that. I topped my pizza with a home-made tomato sauce, chorizo, ham, cheddar and mozzarella cheese with a good sprinkling of Italian herb seasoning and lots of black pepper. Overall, I was quite impressed with this recipe and I intend to make it again soon.

I will not be taking part in the next Fresh From The Oven challenge due to work commitments so I would like to wish good luck  to everyone for the next one. Many thanks to Lauren for choosing this month’s challenge.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Pizza Napoletana

From Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

The recipe amounts make 6 9-12 inch pizzas, which I think is rather a lot, even if you can keep the dough in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months! I made a third of the recipe, which was enough for two perfectly sized individual pizzas. The amounts for 1/3 quantities are given in brackets.

  • 4 1/2 cups or 20.25 ounces (6.75 ounces) of unbleached high-gluten bread flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons or 0.44 ounces (0.14 ounces) of salt
  • 1 teaspoon or 0.11 ounces (1/3 tsp) of instant yeast (if using active dry yeast you will need to increase this by 25%)
  • 1/4 cup or 2 ounces (0.67 ounces) of olive or vegetable oil, optional
  • 1 3/4 cups or 14 ounces (4.67 ounces) of ice cold water

Method

  1. Stir together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a large bowl. With a large metal spoon (I used a wooden spoon and it didn’t seem to make any difference) stir in the oil and water until all the flour is absorbed. To do by hand, you need to stir with one hand and turn the bowl in the opposite direction with your other hand. You need to do this for 5 to 7 minutes, occasionally changing the direction as to really help develop the gluten. This method of mixing is actually quite a difficult task, sort of like rubbing your tummy while tapping your head, but as long as you are mixing the dough it should work out ok.  To do in a mixer, make sure you are using the dough hook attachment and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes. Either way you mix you should end up with a smooth dough which is a little sticky. It should clear the sides of the bowl but not the bottom. If it isn’t clearing the sides then add a little more flour and mix again. If it clears the bottom then add a couple of drops of water, and mix again. The finished dough should be springy, elastic and sticky but not tacky. If you use a thermometer it should register somewhere between 50 to 55 oF.
  2. Now prepare a sheet pan with baking parchment and spray oil. Flour your counter and remove the dough on to the counter. Using a metal dough scraper (or your hands) create 6 equals sized pieces of dough. (I only made 2 using my 1/3 ingredients).
  3. Flour your hands and shape each into a ball, if your hands stick add more flour and try again. Place each ball onto your sheet pan, spray each piece of dough with oil. Once all pieces of dough are on the tray, enclose it in a food-grade bag and pop it into the fridge. Because I was only making a small quantity of dough, I didn’t use a tray at all, I just added each ball to a food-grade bag which I had sprayed the insides with oil. Then popped each bag into the fridge.
  4. The next day a couple of hours before you want to cook them remove the dough from the fridge. Dust your counter with flour (and your hands) then spray oil on top. Place each ball on the counter and then gently press each into a flat disc about 1/2 inch thick. Top each with a little flour and oil and cover with another bag. Let rest for 2 hours.
  5. At least 45 minutes before cooking put on your oven on at it’s maximum temperature (mine goes up to 250 oC, which worked ok) up to 800oF. If you have a baking stone put it in the oven now. If you don’t have a stone then you can use a normal baking sheet, just don’t preheat it first.
  6. Now comes the tricky part to stretch out your dough, dust your peel or sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Coat your hands in flour including the backs and your knuckles. Gently lay the dough on to the top of your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion. As it starts to spread out you can move to the full toss method (flinging it above your head and hoping it doesn’t fall on the floor – good luck!). If it sticks to your hands at any point lay it out flat and redust your hands, continue stretching until it is the desired width. With my dough I found it really hard to stretch my dough this way (as it kept tearing) so I stretched it gently on a well floured work surface. You can also roll it out using a rolling pin, but this isn’t quite such a good method for working with the dough. Once you have reached the desired width place the stretched dough on the peel or baking sheet.
  7. Now you can top it as you wish. Now that your oven should have preheated, transfer the pizza to your oven. It should only take between 8 and 10 minutes to cook. You might want to turn it 180 degrees after 2 minutes, if you think it might over cook on one side.

West Midlands Foodie Blogger Meet Up

Image by Wendy from Peters Yard

As I am sure I have told you a few times before, I am a member of the UK Food Bloggers Association. On the UKFBA I have set up a group for West Midlands based food bloggers which currently has 25 members. Last Saturday, we held the first of what I am hoping will be many meet ups at Loaf’s HQ (otherwise known as Tom’s (Director of Loaf) house  in Cotteridge, Birmingham. Along with Tom and myself, Charlene of No Love Sincerer, Louise of Comida y Vida and Wendy, one of the Managing Director’s of Peters Yard all came to join in the fun.

We started with introductions and how we had all got into blogging and then we got tucked into the food. For our starter, Wendy had brought some Peters Yard crispbreads which she served simply with butter and the most fabulous goats cheese from Brockhall Farm in Shropshire. The crispbreads were fantastic;  so crisp, crunchy and full of flavour, unlike any other crispbread I had ever tasted. The goats cheese, that is made fresh everyday by Sarah complimented it beautifully as it was really rich and creamy. The perfect contrast to the crispbread.

Image from Peters Yard

Once we had munched our way through a large pile of the crispbreads and goats cheese, it was time to get down to the serious business of our main course. Tom has a wood burning oven in his garden and we used it to make pizzas. Tom had prepared the dough before we arrived and he showed us how to roll it out the dough and put in on a board, to go into the oven. we each made our own pizza with whatever toppings we wanted and then Tom showed us how to get the pizza into the wood fired oven correctly. I nearly tipped mine into the oven and turned it into a ball so Tom had to step in and lend a hand. We all shared each other pizzas and talked about food, life and blogging.

After eating our pizzas, which were honestly the best I have ever tasted. They were so quick to cook too. They only took 2 minutes in the oven as it was so hot, we went back inside and tucked into pudding. I brought along, one of my family’s favourites, Rocky Road (recipe here), Louise brought along some carrot cake (recipe here) and Charlene brought some home-made scones that were so delicious, you would never of known that she had never made them before. The scones were served Tom’s home-made hedgerow jelly that complimented them beautifully. We then toasted to the success of our first meet up, with a glass or two of lovely Spanish red wine that was kindly donated by Louise.  We discussed the future of the West Midlands foodie bloggers group and we decided to turn it into a Midlands group for all the foodie bloggers in West, East, North and South Midlands. So if you live in any of these areas or on the borders and would like to join us, please do. The link to the group is on top of the page. I am also going to create a Facebook group to compliment the group on the UKFBA so I can update people on news more easier. I will let you all know once I have set this group up.

If you would like to know what Louise and Charlene thought of the event, please see their posts here and here. I would like to thank everyone for coming and especially thank Tom for agreeing to host. I would like to thank Wendy for supplying us all with a sample of crispbreads to take home with us. I have been eating them all week at work for lunch. Thank you all again and I cannot wait for our next meet up in the summer. :-)

And the Winner is…


Last week, Jo’s Kitchen reached the great milestone of being one year old and I decided to celebrate it with a giveaway of two cookbooks. The two cookbooks are ‘Maze – The Cookbook’ by Jason Atherton and ‘Chicken and Other Birds’ by John Torode. In total, there were 36 valid entries into the competition and I used random.org to randomly generate the winning comment number. (See image above)  I am now pleased to announce the winner of the two cookbooks is Susan Mann. Susan, if you can please email joskitchen@hotmail.co.uk with your address and I will post the cookbooks to you sometime over the weekend.  Thank you to all who left lovely comments celebrating my blog birthday.

Until next time, Happy Cooking! :-)

Christmas Cooking

Hello Everyone. Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas with lots of lovely food and drink. I did and I have some good news to tell you as well. Stuart and I are now engaged. He proposed to me on Christmas morning. We are going out tonight for a meal at The Fountain At Clent (where I went a couple of weeks ago with the girls) to celebrate it. We have not set a date or anything yet but I will keep you all informed, I promise.

Anyway, back to the food. This year, I did not have to cook Christmas dinner which was a relief. We all went round to my Auntie Ann’s and she did a fantastic job. Well done Ann and thank you for your hard work. Christmas dinner was great! :-) Instead, we had everyone round to ours on Boxing Day and I did Hot Roast Pork sandwiches, with stuffing, homemade apple sauce and gravy. I did not take any pictures of the main event, I am afraid, it was a bit crazy, however, I have some pictures of other things I made to go with the pork sandwiches.

I have a confession to make: I did not make the pastry and the mincemeat for the mince pies. I did not have the time to make either. Its awful I know. Pastry and I do not get on. It is the one thing I cannot make. If you have any tips, please let me know!

I have blogged about Rocky Road and Toffee on here before. Please find the posts here and here. They are great for parties and loved by kids and adults alike.

Do you still have leftovers from Christmas? I do. Here is  a couple of ways that I have used to get rid of them. First of all, is pizza. Pizza is great for using up leftover cooked meat and cheese. Just make the pizza dough (my recipe is here), put on a tomato sauce and the toppings that you want and you have a reasonably quick and simple meal for all the family.

My second way of using up leftovers is curry. In this case, I had leftover pork from Boxing Day but any leftover cooked meat will do. Just follow my recipe from here. However, when you make the curry using already cooked meat, do not add it in at the same time as you do the uncooked meat, otherwise it will fall apart and you will have no chunks of meat left in the sauce when you come to eat it. Add the meat in after you have added the tinned tomatoes and stock. Meat that has been left in the fridge can go dry (Jamie Oliver told me that on his Christmas show), however, by reheating it in the curry sauce, the meat will go moist again. I have also started cooking my curry in the oven as it requires less stirring and you don’t need to watch it as much. It is up to you though – whatever you want is fine with me.

Do you have any ideas what I can do with leftover mincemeat? What else can you do with leftovers? I would love to know.

I will be back early in the New Year with a post about my foodie goals for 2010 as there are a few thimgs I would like to learn/do.  See you next year.

Happy New Year! :-)

Bloggers Lunch at Pizza Express

Starter

A few weeks ago, Margaret (from Kitchen Delights) and I, were invited by We are Social to sample Pizza Express’s new Leggera range of starters, pizzas and deserts. The Leggera range is the lighter option of their menu featuring a pizza with hole in the middle that is filled back up with salad and options for starters and dessert. The dishes are designed to be around 500 calories and are low in saturated fat. We went to the restaurant, in Brindleyplace in Birmingham.

Margaret and I both had the same starter. We chose the ‘Crostini al Pomodoro’, which is ciabatta bread topped with tomatoes marinated in extra virgin olive oil, garlic and oregano. It was served on rocket with shavings of grana padano and balsamic syrup. We both enjoyed our starter but I found my ciabatta to be very crisp and at one point, when I tried to cut it, it flew across the table. It was quite embarrassing! Otherwise, apart from that, it was a great start to our meal.

Main

We decided to have different pizzas for our main. Margaret had ‘Margherita Leggera’ that had mozzarella with tomatoes marinated in extra virgin olive oil, garlic and oregano, topped with basil leaves on it. I had ‘Gustosa’, which had prosciutto, mozzarella and slices of Portobello mushroom with yellow peppers and thyme on it. We both agreed that pizzas were lovely, full of flavour and fresh tasting. Our only complaint was the limp appearance of the rocket salad in the middle of pizza. It just needed to be refreshed in water or something to make the whole appearance of the dish look better. I did however think it was the best pizza I have ever tasted at a pizza restaurant of any description and I will be having it again.

Desert

For dessert, Margaret stuck with the Leggera range and had ‘Sotto Zero’, which is two scoops of low fat natural frozen yoghurt topped with blackcurrants in syrup with a dark chocolate straw. I moved away from the Leggera range and had ‘Lemon Gelato’ that is lemon ice cream and it was served with a dark chocolate straw as well. The service was excellent and the waiting staff were really nice and friendly.

I would to thank We are Social for inviting Margaret and I to sample the Leggera range and I would like to say a very big thank you to Margaret as well as we had a fantastic time and talked non-stop for nearly 3 hours. It was a great day out and I would like to do it again soon.

I will be back sometime next week with tales of biggest baking challenge yet.

Happy Cooking! :-)

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