Saturday, 10 July 2010


So often what we need is right in front of us. So often our cravings take us to eating that which is unhealthy. The unhealthiness is not of function of the food, but the process and processing that takes place in making the mass produced variety of it...think burger, think kabob, think chicken and chips. Do they all need to be unhealthy, are they by nature unhealthy....NO.

I need pizza. Not the cardboard and canned variety so often seen across my present city, but a healthy one with home grown veggies and a bit of flavour. I live in the U.K.. Don't get me wrong, I love London and its amazing farmers markets, the bounty of seasonal food, the temperate climate. But pizza....NO. Not a fan of the things that pass for pizza here.

I crave thin crust, I crave a bit of homemade sauce. I crave it now. What I crave often leads to late night bad food choices here in London, but this pizza craving is so easily taken care of.

We are talking about flat bread pizza. No fiddling around with rising doughs... just quick simple kneading dough since i need pizza!!!! Flat breads can be made in a pan, in your oven, or as we do on the BBQ. Combined with a BBQ inspired sauce and some cheese and you have pizza faster than it takes for your family to decide on a pizza to order and have it delivered!!!


200g ( roughly 1 and 2/3 cups) strong whole-wheat flour

200g (roughly 1 and 2/3 cup) strong white flour

2 pinch salt

60ml ( 1/4 cup) olive oil

240ml (1 cup)water

1T dried mixed herbs


  1. Heat pyramid pile of coals in your BBQ and continue recipe (Do not cook over BBQ till coals are glowing grey and you have flattened the pyramid out, banking coals to one side to create a high and low heat area in your BBQ area so you can control your cooking).
  2. Sift flours into bowl, add salt, and make a well in the middle.
  3. Add oil and water into the “well” and slowly incorporate into dry ingredients.
  4. Shape dough into a soft (not sticky) ball, adding bit of water or flour as necessary.
  5. Knead on floured surface (or in mixer with dough hook) till smooth and elastic (5 minutes)
  6. Let rest for 30 minutes (if you have the time and are not in a pizza frenzy as i can be).
  7. Roll out ½ cm/ 1/4 inch thick.
  8. Clean and oil the grill rack.
  9. Place dough on BBQ for 30 seconds to 1 minute till lightly browned on one side.
  10. Flip dough over to uncooked side, quickly brush with sauce and toppings, and cook covered for 30 seconds to one more minute.


For softer pizza: Place toppings on pizza once dough is placed on BBQ during step 9.

For indoor pizza, crank up your oven to 200 Celsius ( 400 F) and cook with same method albeit a longer cooking time.

Funky summer pizza: roast whole beet root bulbs with fennel seeds, splash of olive oil, and dash of balsamic vinegar. When finished, peel and puree. Saute the beet root greens. On your flat bread pizza spread the beet sauce, layer the greens and then sprinkle with Stilton cheese...

Having a curry, make some of this flatbread pizza better known as Chapatis!!!

Are you gluten free...easy, sub gluten free flour and add a teaspoon of xantham gum to the liquid mix.

Toppings...come on of course use the grill...meatballs, portabella's, courgettes, name it...

We almost forgot the easiest sauce ever....on the grill while you are rolling out your dough place a half dozen halved tomatoes ( a splash of olive oil and a crack of black pepper never hurts), and one large onion...cook till charred and soft. Puree this with a garlic clove, a couple tablespoons of tomato paste ( puree) and some fresh herbs...DONE and ready for the BBQ again!!!

So the truth of the matter is in summer, its hot ( okay warm here in London) and I seem to crave real flame focused food. Often beer induced, charcoal crusted cooking outside on the BBQ. No pots to wash, no pans to clean up, just me and the BBQ cooking everything from sauce to dough, side dishes to desserts ( have you marinated a peach ever with lime and lime zest and grilled it??? Try it and serve with some Greek style yogurt with mint!!!!) Crank up the heat and enjoy the BBQ now, today, before the air turns chilly and your cravings turn to the hearty fare of winter....


After the fourth of July has passed and its shocking lack of festivities here in London...I started thinking about "American" foods and my brain turned to thoughts of sustainable food staples from other times and places.
Humble foods like Bangladeshi dahl with rice (see blog post from June 2009) or Malian peanut sauce with millet ( see blog post august 2009). Simple, tasty and good old fashion black beans came to mind and all their south of the border convoluted and maladapted influences made me really hungry. The end result was me making one of my favorite summer comfort beans served simply with tortillas, salsa and guacamole.

2 slices of bacon, fine diced
1 carrot, peeled and fine dice
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and fine dice ( use extra onion if you don't have fennel)
1 stalk celery, washed and fine dice
1 onion, peeled and fine dice
1 pepper, washed and fine diced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2T tomato paste( puree)
2T cumin seeds (toasted if you can)
1 chile pepper, seeded and fine diced
1 tomato fine diced
1/2 bunch coriander, washed and separated into fine diced stems and fine diced leaves
2 cans black beans ( or 2/3 cup dried and then soaked and boiled till soft)
1/2 can or bottle of beer
1 lime
2 stalks, spring onion, washed and finely diced

  1. In a sauce pot, sweat bacon over medium heat till fat renders out and bacon is crispy.
  2. Add carrot, fennel, celery, onion, pepper, bay leaf and garlic to the bacon and sweat down slowly for 10-15 minutes till soft and translucent. If pan starts to brown donate a splash of beer to it!!!
  3. Add the tomato puree and cumin seeds and cook further 3 minutes.
  4. Add chile pepper and chopped tomato and cook further five minutes.
  5. Add coriander stems and let simmer till this mixture is very dry, soft and roasty looking.
  6. Add cooked beans and beer and let simmer 20 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper if necessary, a squeeze of lime and garnish with the reserved spring onion and coriander leaves.
As I eluded to at the beginning...beans are a great staple and plentiful, and if you do your homework or care to wonder...they are very sustainable in comparison to that big old feedlot beef many think is a staple to their diet. So make them a integral part of your weekly menu is a variety of ways...
  1. Served cold and tossed on your salad and eaten with some tortilla chips,
  2. Old school London style beans on toast( maybe add 1 T molasses to the finished product)
  3. Fry up the leftover beans and mash up for refried beans
  4. Roll beans up into a burrito with rice, shredded fresh carrots and onion, salsa, and a splash of cheese
  5. Use as a healthy side dish for your grilled pork or lamb chops
  6. Serve with some grilled corn and a fresh salad
  7. Add some vegetable broth and fresh spinach to the dish and turn into a hearty healthy soup
  8. Served with salsa, guacamole and some fresh tortillas
In other words, in the immortal words from Cool Hand Luke....GET AT DEM BEANS!!!!


If you are lucky enough to be close to the sea then this is another season to enjoy. Close to London, in Cornwall and elsewhere, the sardines are coming in plump and tasty. This is what I cherish, nice local fresh and tasty fish that gives me all the omega fatty acids i need without buying a silly fish oil pill!!! Sorry, but its true, the fish cost 4 pounds for a kilo, which is ridiculously cheap, and if you buy the pills shipped in from New Zealand or wherever, they cost much more and you still need to cook yourself some dinner...I prefer to swallow my medicine one forkful at a time!!!!

So as part of a nice fresh Friday night meal all on the BBQ, as it was too hot to cook indoors,we made two fish courses...firstly, grilled/BBQ sardines with herbs and then we threw a big ole squid, some peppers, and mushrooms on the BBQ and served that with grilled feta, home made tortillas, and a salsa vinaigrette...

Below is the simple method for grilling sardines on your BBQ:

1 kg( 2 pounds) fresh sardines, gutted and rinsed ( head and tail on please)
4 T olive oil
2 sprigs green onion ( or fresh onion and garlic)
1/3 bunch coriander ( or your favorite fresh green herb)
1 lemon ( or any other citrus you desire)
salt, pepper

  1. Heat BBQ till mound of coals are grey and hot, push them to one side to form a hot side and a cooler side.
  2. While BBQ is heating, rinse sardines, pat dry and sprinkle liberally with salt.
  3. In mortar and pestle (or food processor) add chopped up green onion( stems and bulb), coriander, juice of half the lemon and 2 T olive oil...blend till rough paste.
  4. After grill is ready, rinse salt off sardines, drizzle with olive oil and fresh salt and cracked pepper.
  5. Make sure grill is clean ( with a wire brush or wad of aluminum foil!!!) and then rub some vegetable oil over grill rack to prepare for the fish.
  6. Place fish on a moderately hot section of grill and let cook for 2-3 minutes depending on sizes of fish.
  7. Flip each fish, brush with a bit more olive oil and finish cooking for 2-3 more minutes.
  8. Place on platter with fresh lemon and herb relish and serve immediately.
  1. These are small fish and the spine should pull off in one flick of your fork.
  2. Try this method with lots of fish this summer....grilling/bbq with simple fresh herbs and citrus is a great way to enjoy a hot summer.
  3. Think ahead and BBQ some veggies as well...asparagus, peppers, bok choy, tomatoes....and serve with a simple vinaigrette ( lemon, herbs, olive oil, s,p)
  4. We made fresh tortillas and often make flat breads on the grill...i will save this for an upcoming post...but any bread on the BBQ/grill with a splash of olive oil is a wonderfully easy treat!!!