Recipe: Bread Machine Pizza Dough


The Complete Bread Machine Cookbook had been in my Amazon Wishlist for a few years but I never got around to buying it, probably because I don’t use my other bread machine cookbooks that much and didn’t see the point in buying another one just to not use that one much either. But when I saw it in a local charity shop a couple of weeks ago for just £1, I thought I might as well buy it.


I’m really glad I bought it, as it includes a recipe for the best pizza dough I’ve made in a bread machine.

According to the blurb at the front of the dough chapter, it says it may be necessary to leave the dough in the bucket to carry on rising, even after the programme has finished, until it reaches almost to the top and/or doubles in size. As I’d halved the original recipe (if you don’t want to halve it and haven’t got a lot of people to feed, you can freeze the other half of the dough), I didn’t know how much further it would rise, but I left it in the bucket for another twenty minutes or so after the programme has finished and I think it rose a bit more.

You’ll see in the instructions below (no. 6) that it says to roll the dough out and put in a tin, then spread with tomato puree or passata, then covering with oiled paper and putting in the fridge. I didn’t bother with this bit but just – after kneading the dough – covered it with some oiled baking paper and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then I rolled it out and covered it with tomato sauce (make your own with a tin of chopped tomatoes and herbs) and my favourite toppings of olives, mushrooms, red pepper, mozzarella, Cheddar and chilli flakes.

Bread Machine Pizza Dough (makes enough for 2 large pizzas)
(taken from The Complete Bread Machine Cookbook)

275ml water
2 tbsp olive oil
450g strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp caster sugar
7g sachet instant or fast-acting yeast

  1. Pour the water into the breadmaker bucket, then add the oil and half the flour.
  2. Sprinkle with the salt and sugar.
  3. Cover with the remaining flour and mound the yeast into the centre.
  4. Fit the bucket into the breadmaker and set to the dough programme.
  5. When ready, remove the dough from the bucket and quickly knead on a floured surface.
  6. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a round large enough to fit two 25-30 cm/10-12 in well-greased pizza tins, gently pulling and stretching the dough to fit. Pinch up the edges all round to make a lip, then spread with the tomato puree or passata.
  7. Cover with oiled paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  8. Cover with your favourite toppings and bake for 20-25 minutes at 220C/gas mark 7 until the pizzas are well risen and the cheese is bubbling.

What are your favourite pizza toppings?

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Review: VonShef Soup Maker: Update

I said yesterday I’d give the VonShef Soup Maker another go, so I used it today to make a batch of red pepper soup.

Just like last time, when I plugged it in, it was lifeless and could only be revived by giving it a whack on its side. And again, it only started doing something after I’d randomly pressed all the buttons, except this time it decided my soup needed 35 minutes instead of 30. I left it alone during the 35 minutes and let it do its thing, especially as I wanted to know if it would automatically blend the soup at the end. It didn’t. It switched itself onto standby and only blended when I turned it back on again and rotated the dial a bit. The only positive thing I can say about the soup maker is that it blends ridiculously quickly.

I’m going to tell Domu to come and take their almost useless machine back.


Soup Maker Red Pepper Soup (serves 4)

3 red peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 large potato, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
900ml stock
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper

  1. Put all the ingredients in the soup maker.
  2. Whack the soup maker on the side to bring it to life.
  3. Press all the buttons until it starts to do something.
  4. At the end, turn it back on and turn the dial and blend the soup.
  5. Contact Domu and tell them to come and take back their stupid machine.
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Slow Cooked Bean, Potato & Cheese Stew

Slow cooked bean, potato and cheese stew


Cheese on top of a stew? Weird. But this is a Mexican-inspired stew and Mexicans put cheese on top of everything, don’t they? Mexican restaurants do anyway which, apart from the silly moustaches which I believe are compulsory to grow, would be a good reason to move to Mexico.

If, however, you have no immediate plans to move to Mexico, you could make this stew instead.

Slow Cooked Bean, Potato & Cheese Stew (serves 4)
(taken from The Skinny Slow Cooker Vegetarian Recipe Book)

1 400g tin sweetcorn
1 400g tin mixed beans
1 red pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
500ml passata
1 tsp each cumin and coriander
75g grated cheddar cheese
150g potatoes, diced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker except the cheese. Combine well, then sprinkle the cheese on top. Season, cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Serve with flat bread/pitta bread and sour cream.

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Smoky bean chimichangas (vegan)


The Meat Eater looked at his plate and said ‘what is it?’ ‘A chimichanga’, I said. He said that didn’t really tell him much so I explained it was a tortilla filled with kale and beans and peppers and he relaxed a little.

When I got to the ‘carefully fold up the sides of the tortillas to make parcels’ bit, I thought it was going to be a disaster (you should see me trying to wrap presents) but, yay, they came out perfectly.

I served them with plain rice and a tomato salsa.

Smoky bean chimichangas (serves 4)
(Taken from
Vegan – 100 Every Day Recipes)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced
1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
400g canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for frying
150g kale, shredded
Juice of 1 orange
4 large soft tortillas
salt and pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat. Fry the onions and peppers for 10-12 minutes, or until the onions are translucent but the peppers are still quite firm. Stir in the drained beans and chilli powder, cook for a further minute, then remove from the heat.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a small wok over a high heat. Stir-fry the shredded kale with the orange juice for 4 minutes, or until wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide the cooked kale between the tortillas, making a neat pile in the middle of each flatbread. Top the greens with a layer of the bean mixture. Then carefully fold up the sides of the tortillas to make parcels.
  4. Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the chimichanga parcels briefly on both sides (starting with the side where the folds are visible) until crisp and golden.

Tomato salsa
(Taken from
BBC Good Food website)

4-6 medium tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 – 1/2 medium red onion, very finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
Small splash of white wine vinegar
Squeeze of lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and leave in the fridge until it’s served.

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Red peppers stuffed with vegetarian haggis and mushrooms


My local farm shop’s great. I asked Andy, the owner, on Facebook if he had any portobello mushrooms in and he said no, but he’d get some for me in the morning. I said great, I’ll be in then.

So, I went down there the next day and he said he couldn’t get any, so I flounced off to Tesco.

Actually, I didn’t flounce off to Tesco; I buy all (well, most) of my veg from the farm shop and so I used some initiative, had a look round the shop, spotted the peppers and thought aha! I will stuff some peppers instead.

I stuffed them with Macsween’s vegetarian haggis and mushrooms and they were flipping delicious.

Macsween’s vegetarian haggis is vegan, so if you want to veganise this, just leave out the cheese.

Red peppers stuffed with vegetarian haggis and mushrooms (serves 2)

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 red peppers, deseeded
1 pack Macsween’s microwave vegetarian haggis, chopped (no need to heat first)
100g mushrooms, chopped
65g cheddar, grated

  1. Cook the peppers in the oven at 190C for about 20 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, fry the mushrooms and garlic until cooked
  3. Add the vegetarian haggis and most of the cheese
  4. Stuff the peppers with the haggis/mushroom/cheese mixture
  5. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese
  6. Return to the oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling
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Baked bean sandwich filling cheese toastie

baked-bean-sandwich-fillingI love gimmicks. I saw this Princes Baked Bean Sandwich Filling on the shelf in Sainsbury’s and as it was only 39p – despite The Meat Eater’s protestations – thought I’d give it a go.

It’s made of baked beans (you’d guessed that though, hadn’t you?), red peppers and red kidney beans and although the picture on the jar has fully formed beans on it, in real life, the beans and peppers are mushed up.

I made a baked bean sandwich filling and cheese toastie but found the baked bean filling sickly, although I did spread it on thickly, so maybe that’s why.


A good gimmick, but not something I want to eat again.

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Linda McCartney Vegetarian Burgers with a Peppered Mushroom Melt


I seem to have become a bit of a Linda McCartney fan-girl recently and now I’ve tried the Linda McCartney Vegetarian Burgers with a Peppered Mushroom Melt, I reckon they’ll be popped into the shopping basket each week along with the Fish Free Scampi.

The Meat Eater wanted his burger in a bun with all the trimmings, while I was fine having it on its own, but I’m glad he persuaded me otherwise, as this burger was absolutely delicious.

I crammed the bun full of lettuce, red pepper, tomato, gherkin, cheese, Nando’s Peri Peri Sauce and mayonnaise, but this didn’t stop the flavour of the burger coming through, nor the mushroom sauce the burger’s topped with.

My burgers were found next to the Fish Free Scampi in the chilled cabinet at Tesco and cost £2.69.

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Slow cooked Thai green curry with Quorn

There’s not really enough room for another gadget in the kitchen, but that didn’t stop me buying a slow cooker. I’d been looking at them on Amazon and hearing good things from friends so when I saw this one on the shelf in Tesco for £14, I thought I might as well give it a go.

Of course, then I also needed a cookbook, so I bought a copy of Slow Cooking for Vegetarians and tonight I made the Thai green curry with Quorn.

One thing I noticed about most of the recipes in this book is that you have to fry stuff first. Huh? I thought the whole point of a slow cooker was that you bunged everything in it, went off to do whatever it is that you do all day and, when you get back, your dinner’s ready. Not so, according to this book.

Because it was my first go at slow cooking, I wanted to do everything properly, so I followed the instructions, fried some of the ingredients first then added everything else and left it alone for a few hours. Everything came out beautifully; each vegetable and piece of Quorn soaked up the flavour of the curry paste and coconut, the carrot was wonderfully tender, the mangetout retained its bite, but the red pepper that was in there had disintegrated, leaving only a few bits of skin.

I’m looking forward to experimenting more with my slow cooker – next time though, I think I’ll just bung everything in at the same time without cooking any of it first, or is that a really bad idea?


Slow cooked Thai green curry with Quorn (serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 garlic clove, crushed
2.5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
300ml vegetable stock
100g green beans, halved crossways
2 tbsp soy sauce
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
400g/large can coconut milk
2 x 300g packets of Quorn pieces, thawed if frozen
100g courgettes, sliced
100g mangetout

  1. Preheat the slow cooker on High.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion, carrot, celery and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened but not browned.
  3. Stir in the curry paste, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the stock, beans, soy sauce and lime zest and juice. Bring just to the boil, transfer to the slow cooker and stir.
  5. Cover and cook on Low for 4-6 hours or until all the vegetables are tender. Stir in the coconut milk, Quorn, courgettes and mangetout and cook for a further 1 hour.

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Pasta with roast vegetables and tomato sauce

I’ve been eating a lot of food out of packets recently, so tonight I decided to have something healthy. There’s a farm shop local to me that sells seasonal vegetables, so I scooted down there to see what they had and made a super-healthy dish that probably contained at least 8 of my 5-a-day.


Pasta with roast vegetables and tomato sauce (serves 6)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into chunks
1 aubergine, chopped into chunks
1 courgette, thickly sliced
200g mushrooms, sliced
100g spinach
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp mixed herbs
salt and ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Place the red pepper, aubergine and courgette into a roasting tray and drizzle with some oil. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
Fry the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil for a few minutes until soft.
Add the mushrooms and leeks to the onion and fry for about 5 minutes.
Add the roasted red pepper, aubergine and courgette to the onion, mushrooms and leeks.
Add the tinned tomatoes to the vegetables and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add the mixed herbs and season to taste.
Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
Serve with pasta of your choice.

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Free & Easy Roasted Red Pepper and Birds Eye Chilli Sauce

free_and_easy_roasted_red_pepper_sauceFree & Easy Roasted Red Pepper and Birds Eye Chilli Sauce is a blend of roasted red peppers, birds eye chillies and spices in a tomato based sauce. Sounds good, yes?

Well, here are the good bits:

  • Suitable for vegetarians and vegans
  • Low fat
  • Free from wheat, gluten, dairy, soya, celery, mustard, nuts and preservatives

And here are the bad bits:

I found it bitter and without trace of any heat from chillies but this was easily remedied by covering it with Encona hot sauce and cheese.  Everything can be improved with hot sauce and cheese.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t terrible but not one I’d be rushing out to buy again, if only for the simple reason that it’s not exactly difficult to make your own tomato-based sauce.

I fried some mushrooms, courgette and garlic, added the sauce and served it with spaghetti.

sauce 001

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