The Meatzza!

You will just love this, especially as it tastes so good and instead of a crust, it has a meatball-ingredient base with all the pizza qualities.  You could even try it with an Italian sausagemeat base too. It doesn’t get much better than this. Thank you Nigella Lawson.

Serves 4 to 6

1 lb ground lamb
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp breadcrumbs or quick cooking oatmeal, but not the instant one
3 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 clove garlic, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
butter, for greasing
1 x 14oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp garlic flavored oil
1 tsp dried oregano
4 oz fresh mozzarella (not buffalo) halved then sliced
a few fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 425 F

In a large bowl, using your hands, combine the lamb, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs or oatmeal, parsley and eggs. Grate in (or mince and add) the garlic and add some salt and pepper.
Do not over work it, just lightly mix together or the meat will become compacted and dense.

Butter a shallow, round baking pan of about 11 inches in diameter and turn the meat into it, pressing the mixture lightly with your fingers to cover the bottom as if the seasoned ground meat were your pizza crust.

Make sure you’ve drained as much runny liquid as possible from the can of diced tomatoes, then mix the tomato with the garlic flavored oil, oregano and some salt and pepper and spread, using a rubber spatula, lightly on top of the meat base.
Arrange the mozzarella slices on top then put in the oven for about 25 minutes, by which time the meat should be cooked through and lightly set and the mozzarella melted.

Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes, then adorn with some of the fresh basil leaves and bring it to the table before cutting into wedges, like a pizza.



Roasted pesto, parmesan vegetable traybake

Yesterday, I did another traybake. I was on my own so decided to cut up a whole pile of vegetables, toss them with a container of pesto sauce from Trader Joes, lots of garlic, and when they were 3/4 through with the roasting, I threw at least half a container of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over everything and roasted it till it was all melted and browned.
It was divine and so healthy!

Preheat oven to 350 F


 You can choose whatever is in your fridge, but I used;
3 leeks, sliced into 1 inch slices
1lb Brussel Sprouts, trimmed
1/2 large cauliflower broken into florets
2 large red onions, cubed into 1 “ pieces
2 Delicata squash, unpeeled and cubed into 1” pieces
2 zucchini, cut into 1 “ slices

6 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 container Trader Joes pesto sauce (8oz)
6 oz (at least) grated Parmigano Reggiano

Put all the vegetables into a very large bowl then season well and add the garlic and pesto sauce.

Mix together well with your hands and tip all the contents out onto a large baking tray with shallow sides, like the one in the picture.

Roast the vegetables for 25 mins then turn all the vegetables to avoid burning and continue to roast for another 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with plenty of grated cheese and return to oven, turning the oven up to 400F for another 15 to 20 minutes until toasty and melted.

Serve on it’s own, or with a salad


Double stuffed butternut squash

What is even better than stuffed baked potatoes? These!
Butternut squash is mashed with lots of cheese and bacon, then stuffed back into the squash and baked to make this gorgeous and comforting dish

Serves 4 but can easily be doubled

2 butternut squash (1 1/2 to 2 lbs each
Extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
1lb bacon
2 to 3 cups very sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup good parmesan cheese, grated and divided
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 tsp dried rubbed sage
1 tsp dried thyme
thinly sliced green onions

Preheat the oven to 425 F
Halve each butternut squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil then season with salt and pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.
Roast just until tender, about 35 to 40 mins. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
Decrease the oven temperature to 375 F

Cut the bacon into small pieces, then cook in a skillet until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.

When the squash is cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving about 1/4” around the edges to keep the squash intact.
Mash the squash flesh with 1 1/2 cups of the cheddar, 1/2 cup of the parmesan, all of the ricotta, sage and thyme.
Add in half of the bacon, season and stir to combine.
Stuff the squash shells with the mashed squash.
Top with the remaining cheddar cheese and parmesan.
Bake until heated through and the cheese on top has melted, about 20 minutes.
Garnish with the green onions and remaining bacon


Chicken, sausage and whatever you have in the fridge traybake.

This is the most simple, stunning dish you can have in your repertoire. You can throw it together in minutes and let it roast and caramelize for about 45 minutes and your whole meal is on one roasting dish.

All you need is a very large bowl, at least 16” diameter (great to have anyway) and a large shallow baking tray, minimum 16” x 12” x 1”

The other day I was working and we only had 1 hour before needing to be downtown for a concert.
I took out my large bowl and started to throw stuff into it, tossed it all in olive oil and fresh herbs, some salt and pepper and spices and threw it all onto the baking tray, tossed it in the oven and 45 minutes later, we had a really stunning meal.

You can vary the meat and vegetables according to what you have in your imagination/fridge

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 350 F

1 lb organic boneless, skinless chicken thigh, each cut into 3 chunks (Don’t use breast, as it gets too dry)
1lb of sausage you like, chorizo, Sweet Italian, Spicy Italian, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 large onions, red or white, cut into 1 inch chunks
As many cloves of garlic as you want, peeled, and half of them crushed and half of them left whole
A yellow, red and/or orange pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 lb cherry tomatoes, some halved, the others left whole
3 zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 eggplant, cut into 1 inch chunks
8 oz baby crimini mushrooms,
8 oz Brussel sprouts, halved
1/2 butternut squash, or 2 cups in 1” cubes
Very small potatoes, or cut up ones, as they need to cook till tender

Throw all this into the large bowl and toss together with;

1 tsp paprika, sweet, hot or smoked, depending on your preference
2 good handfuls fresh basil, torn
A good amount of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp dried oregano, or any other herb you fancy
Some dried chile, if you like a kick
Liberally glug in some really good olive oil, at least 1/4 cup

Mix it all together well so everything is well coated and then tip everything out onto the large roasting tray. Shake till it’s evenly distributed, then put into the oven until it’s starting to get browned and beginning to singe at the edges.
Remove from the oven, taste and re-season.

* Some crumbled feta or blue cheese can also go over everything in the last 15 minutes of cooking

You will start playing around with the flavors and ingredients, trying different combinations, vegetarian, more meat, less vegetables….  The worlds your oyster on this dish!


Creamy chicken with butternut squash and porcini

Such rich, earthy flavors with tender moist chicken and a creamy, smooth sauce.
This can be prepared the day before then popped back in the oven to heat through before your guests arrive.

Serves 4

1/2 oz pack of dried porcini mushrooms
3 1/2 lbs whole organic chicken legs or thighs (I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs which worked well)
1 lemon, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 small onion , finely chopped
10 oz butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 oz chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
10 fl oz carton heavy cream

Soak the porcini mushrooms in 1/2 pint of hot water for 30 mins.
Skin the chicken (if it isn’t already) and rub the cut side of the lemon over them.
Heat the oil in a heavy pan, large enough to hold all the chicken in one layer
Add the chicken and brown on both sides. Transfer to a heavy casserole dish with a lid.

Heat the oven to 350 F
Melt the butter in a medium pan. When it stops foaming, add the onion and 1 tsp salt, then saute until pale gold.

Meanwhile, remove the porcini from the water (saving the water) and rinse well. Pat dry and chop small. Strain the water through a sieve, stopping before the last spoonful.

Add the porcini and butternut squash pieces to the onion and saute for 5 minutes.
Add the fresh mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring frequently.
Stir in the cream, 4 – 5 tbsp of the porcini water and seasoning if you wish.
Simmer uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes until slightly reduced, then pour over the chicken.

Cover and cook in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the chicken once or twice and adding a few spoonfuls of water or chicken broth if the sauce becomes a little dry.

Spanish style chicken traybake

Another one of those great throw-everything-in-a-roasting-dish  recipes! This time, from the Hairy Bikers recipe book.

Serves 4

1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
1 large red onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into strips (optional)
1lb small potatoes, quartered lengthways
8 whole large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
8 medium tomatoes, quartered
8 oz chorizo, preferably picante, skin removed
8 large boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 heaped tsp sweet or smoked paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
Good olive oil
Ground black pepper and sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 F
Put the onions, potatoes, peppers, garlic and tomatoes in a large roasting tin and season with sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper then sprinkle lightly with olive oil
Toss everything together lightly and roast for 20 to 25 minutes

While the vegetables are cooking, skin the chorizo and cut the meat into thin slices. Set aside

Put the chicken thighs on a board and carefully slash each one 2 or 3 times with a knife. Season all over with salt and pepper and rub into the chicken.

Mix the paprika and oregano together and set aside

After 20 minutes or so, take the roasting tin out of the oven, scatter the chorizo over the vegetables and turn everything a couple of times.

Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and chorizo and sprinkle with the paprika and oregano.
Season with a little salt and black pepper, sprinkle the chicken pieces with a little olive oil and return to the oven for 40 to 50 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

There are so many variations to this recipe and you certainly don’t have to stick to the quantities of this recipe. Use you imagination!

Baked potato skins mac and cheese

Utterly decadent, rich and satisfying for the whole family. All it needs is a green salad.
This comes from a fellow food blogger called “A Spicy Perspective”

Serves 8

24 oz baby potatoes
2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 lb elbow macaroni
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup sour cream
1 1/3 lbs shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
10 oz cream cheese, divided
12 oz bacon, fried and crumbled, divided
1 cup chopped green onions, divided
Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp of oil.
Salt and pepper liberally and shake the pan a little to coat them with oil. Roast for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Then set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted water, according to the package instructions.
Drain and set aside in a colander.

Using the same pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook the roux (butter-flour) for 1 minutes.
Then whisk in the milk and add the sour cream and 8 oz cream cheese. Bring to a simmer and whisk until the mixture is thick and smooth

Add 1lb shredded cheddar and whisk until smooth. Then add a dash or two of cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the cooked macaroni, 2/3 crumbled bacon and 2/3 cup green onions into the cheese sauce. Stir to coat.

Pour the macaroni into a deep 9 by 13 inch baking dish and set aside.

For the potato skins recipe;
Preheat the oven to broil. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. carefully scoop out most of the flesh, leaving just a little potato attached to the skin. Reserve the crumbled potato flesh.

Brush the potato skins with oil. With the remaining 2 oz of cream cheese, place a scant 1/2 tsp dollop of cream cheese in each potato skin.

Sprinkle the crumbled potato over the mac and cheese then arrange the potato skins over the top.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 lb shredded cheese over the potato skins and add pepper to taste.

For creamy mac and cheese;  place the dish in the oven under the broiler for 2 to3 minutes, watch carefully though. You want the cheese to melt and the tops to toast, but not burn

For a more traditional firm dish; turn the oven to 400 F and bake for 20 mins until the tops are golden.

Once out of the oven, sprinkle the remaining green onions and bacon over the top and serve warm.