Tag Archives: martha stewart

Supper for a Song (Day 4 of The spendthrifts challenge)

21 May


Carrot and Coriander Soup with Creme Fraiche


Day 4 dawned, and I am starting to get slightly concerned at the dwindling cereal stocks, especially the children’s cereals which are almost empty.  By some miracle, they have just started taking to eating bran flakes. They think they are ‘Daddys Shreddies’ and I have yet to put them straight. I think I can just about stretch it out for another few days.   

Lunch was no effort at all as I managed to retrieve some Carrot and Coriander Soup from the freezer that I had made in February in a Martha Stewart moment , along with a couple of ready to bake rolls. 
I was more concerned about what I should make for dinner.  My daughter was having a friend over for a playdate and my usual freezer supply of meatballs and sauce had run dry. A quick stocktake last night led me to the answer. I have about 10 types of flour in the cupboards. I also have a few cans of tomatoes and passata. There is spinach and garlic in the freezer, butter, dolcelatte and feta in the fridge. The answer was obvious. Pizza. I just needed some mozzarella and maybe a topping or 2 for the grown ups.  Additional expenditure, £1.49. £1 for a large packet of Galbani Mozzarella (on offer at Sainsburys) and 49p for a large Aubergine in Lidl.  No wonder the pizza chains have done so well in the recession.  They are so cheap to make, they should blush when they present the bill.

Home made Pizza


We have for some time now been having a ‘Pizza Night’ at least once a month at home.  It’s not the fastest meal to prepare, as you have to allow time for the dough to rise, and to do a little prep for the toppings, but if you have a dough hook for your mixer, and a dishwasher to clear up, its easy, very cheap, and quite a lot of fun. With the money you save on the cost of eating out, you can have a bottle of wine (or discount fizz), buy in some dessert, rent a movie, and still have a stack of change compared to the usual bill you would face in a pizza restaurant.  In fact, if you are feeding a crowd, and don’t mind spending a bit of time in the kitchen while they are there, this has to be one of the cheapest meals you can make. And once you have tried the home-made variety, the ready to heat or takeaway version can never be considered as anything other than the poor relation.   

There is of course the faster method of making pizza that I have referred to in Pizza Pronto.  But if you want dough balls too, you are going to have to make the dough.  If you have a mixer with a dough hook, this is nothing much more than weighing and adding some ingredients together and allowing the mixer to do the work. You have to leave it for about an hour to rise then knock it back and you are ready to go.  In fact, I have quite often made the dough first thing, then covered it in oiled cling film and left it in the fridge all day to do a slow rise, then it is ready to go just when you need it. At the moment, I tend to employ the recipe and method  provided by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall  (HFW) in his book River Cottage Everyday. Most of the ‘celebrity’ chefs offer a version of pizza dough. I have followed a few recipes, and I have found that there is not a lot between them taste wise, so try one out and see how you like it.   


Dough Balls, and other shapes too!


 Dough Balls are a must in this house, although they should perhaps more accurately be described as dough shapes when the children have a hand in the preparation.  These are a great way to get the children involved, as the worst that can happen is you have a few odd shapes.  

Home made garlic butter


 I generally make a double portion of HFW’s dough, as we are quite greedy, and any leftovers can go in the freezer. We probably use about half a portion of the dough for the dough balls.  While they are cooking in the oven we make the garlic butter. If your butter isnt soft, try it for a minute on defrost in the microwave, keeping a close eye on it. Mash in some pre chopped garlic from the freezer (to taste, but as a guide I use about 3 tsps for 1/2 packet of butter)  

For the sauce, heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a pan, gently fry a dessertspoon of the garlic, a tsp of salt flakes and sugar, and add a 500ml carton of passata. Simmer for 5 mins. Sauce is ready  

 A few tips   

  • Pre-heat the oven and get it as hot as you can
  • Roll out the dough as thin as possible.
  • Place dough on pizza stone or baking tray before adding toppings. Or you have no hope at all of transferring the topped pizza without it collapsing or turning into a Calzone
  • Go easy on the sauce. Less is more. More is a soggy, not so nice pizza.
  • Scatter your toppings. Dont crowd the pizza. Too much and the base wont cook.
  • Drizzle with a little  oil before you bake. It does make a difference.

I just love making these, as it’s the perfect opportunity to clear out the fridge of all those odds and ends that look like they will never find a home. A couple of slices of salami, some cheese drying out around the edges. The end of a jar of chutney. Today we had the following combos   

A Pizz a Heaven!



Margherita Pizza for the kids

  • Tomato sauce and mozzarella
  • Spinach with Dolcelatte and Walnuts
  • Red onion chutney with feta and aubergine
  • Tomato sauce, feta and aubergine

Thanks to the unexpected warm end to the day, and the equally unexpected appearance of Mr Mummyinahurry at the children’s tea time, we were able to eat these in the garden. I am convinced that everything tastes better when you eat it in the sunshine.   

Day 4 Summary    

As a result of my week of thrift, we have completely run out of rice cakes and breadsticks, the after-school snack of choice in this house. The completely unexpected upside of this has been a sudden interest in carrots from the children. Yes carrots. Which they ate reluctantly yesterday because nothing else was on offer.  Today when I offered carrots after school I was greeted with shrieks of delight, only previously heard in conjunction with the words ‘crisps’ or ‘chocolate’. These are the same carrots that I have served up several times a week for the past few months that have always been rejected. Well I never!   




The five minute brownie

16 Apr

I am all about good food. But lets face it, not many of us have time to be a real Martha Stewart (and if we were, we would have staff – how nice would that be?).

Still, there are some things that have to be made well, and one of those in my book, is the chocolate brownie. I get really irritated by the over – priced sugary confections available almost everywhere that try to pass themselves off as the real deal. Often they are made as cheaply a possible, and the taste says it all.

So I save myself for a treat now and then, and of course a good way to occupy the little ones for a while.

I am afraid that I may have lured you in under false pretences with the heading of 5 minute brownie. It takes a little longer than that, but the actual effort part is about 5 minutes. There is no washing up if you have a dishwasher as you just chuck it all in and let the technology do the work.


200g best 70% cocoa chocolate you can get (within reason)

225g unsalted butter

1tsp (or a little dash) vanilla essence

90g cocoa

60g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

290g caster sugar

4 large eggs (but it will work with medium too)

Anything else you fancy putting in like walnuts, pecans, white chocolate drops etc

You will need

1 rectangular baking tray sized about 16cm x 25cm (I use a silicone one as then there is no need to grease and line it)

A cake rack for cooling (if you don’t have one the rack from your grill should do nicely)

Before I start involving the children, I usually measure things out first. I have one of those fantastic slimline add and weigh digital scales that makes the weighing things out a cinch.

Put the oven on at 180 degrees (NB know your oven – mine is 40 degrees hotter than it says on the dial – if in doubt go lower and cook for longer)

The butter and chocolate need to be melted. Most ‘chefs’ would tell you to use a double boiler. Personally I love the microwave method. Zap it for about a minute to start, then leave, then do 20 second bursts with the occasional stir. Dont over do it or the chocolate will seize (go all grainy) and you will be very sad!

Sieve the cocoa and flour and baking powder.

Add the sugar and mix again.

Add the eggs and mix.

Add warm choc/butter mix.

Place in oven for about 25 mins. It should be crispy on top but still slightly gooey with a small wobble underneath. It will still keep cooking when you take it out so be sure not to overcook it.

After 15 mins or so I turn it on to the baking tray. Now comes the difficult part. Just leave it to cool, or it may fall apart and collapse if you cut it while warm.

This doesnt last long in our house. If you have had it for a couple of days it tastes yummy warmed up in the microwave.

The five minute brownie