Saturday, 28 January 2017


Deliciously Ella Quinoa Pizza Crust


Ingredients: ¾ mug quinoa, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs, sprinkling of chilli flakes, olive oil, salt, 2 tablespoons tomato puree, a dozen cherry tomatoes, a dozen black olives, and a few artichokes from a jar.

Time taken: Five minutes prep the night before. Then 45 mins to make and cook.

Evening readers,

And congratulations on having made it to the final weekend in January! To those of you powering on with health kicks and marathon training and Dry January and Veganuary, and whatever else you’re possibly putting yourselves through… I salute you! Power on, you warriors, you’re doing a really top job.

As I write, cosied up in loungewear, it’s Saturday night in Sheffield. There’s wine in my glass and a hot water bottle inside my top. Slumdog Millionaire is showing on TV – a film that will always be great, in my eyes. How strange it is to see the Dev Patel of nearly a decade ago, in Slumdog, now that he’s all grown up and starring in Lion, as a tousled man giant.

Have you made it to the cinema to see Lion, yet, readers? Or any of the other fab awards-nominated films that are screening at the moment?? I hope you have, readers, and you’ve been to see something really good! I’m loving the cinema at the moment, as an escape from the cold and dark winter nights.

And an escape from the 9-5, in general! So simple to lose motivation at this time of year, when Christmas is a distant memory, and yet somehow we still have ages to last until Spring comes calling. BUT the bright colours, piano fingers and wicked dance moves of La La Land. The rock bottom bravery in Manchester by the Sea. The search for home in Lion. All the feel good belters in Sing.. so many fab films to get you through.

I hope you’re doing okay, readers, and that the cold isn’t getting you down. You’ve got to keep on keeping on. Run a bath, light a candle, wear tights under your jeans. Jazz up your hot drink selection with some new herbal teas – why not? Invest in a fancier hand cream. Rub Vaseline on your nose, if needs be. Set a summertime photo as your phone wallpaper.

There isn’t long left of January and hopefully we’ve seen the worst of it now. You have to hope. And February will, no doubt, bring many wonderful things and fabulous times. Great tasting food and copious wine. Laughing with friends and catching some top films at the cinema. Films they’ll still be playing on tv in ten years!

Readers, February will be great. I know. But, if you still have hope for the end of January and you’re thinking… why not send this month out with a bang??? I have just the recipe. This week’s Recipe of the Week is one from my Deliciously Ella cook book – for Quinoa Pizza Crust – which I debuted this week as a tasty treat tea, one evening after work.

Basically, you want to eat pizza but don’t want the guilt afterwards? And you want to eat something that isn’t too heavy, and will give you energy?? Unlike regular pizza. SO.. you make homemade cheese-free pizza, with a base that’s a special invention of the very delicious Ella, made mainly from the classiest of grains – quinoa.

To do this, though, you need TWO THINGS. Along with the ingredients (duh) you also need a cake tin with the kind of bottom that pushes up and out. And you need a real-sized blender – not a smaller smoothie maker. Not to exaggerate, readers, but this equipment is of upmost importance when it comes to this recipe.

I’ll explain. I attempted the recipe without those two things and I cooked myself, basically, an Italian stuffing. A tasty but crumbly, messy plateful, of grainy goodness. Didn’t have the blender – so my crust mix didn’t stick together properly. And, didn’t think to use my push out cake tin – so couldn’t serve up the pizza in slices. More of a slag heap.

I will stress, though, that despite the ultimate failings of my quinoa pizza this week – it tasted good. I was inspired to try this recipe after an impassioned talk from by cousin, KatieKat, about the great potential of healthy pizza recipes. But me and quinoa have had a rocky history. This is the first time I’ve ever eaten quinoa and found it to be swallowable.

More than swallowable, even, quite the tasty tea. Tempted to try something new and healthy and take a chance a quinoa pizza crust?? You’ll never know until you try! Here’s how you can whip up one quinoa-based pizza, in just 10 easy steps…

1.     The night before you’d like to eat your pizza, before you go to bed, pour your ¾ mug of quinoa into a mixing bowl and cover with a few centimetres of water. Wrap your bowl with some foil or clingfilm, and leave to rest somewhere it won’t be disturbed.
2.     Then, on the night of pizza, pour yourself a glass of vino and set some smooth tunes playing. Heat your oven to 200C.
3.     Use a sieve to drain away any water left in the quinoa bowl and then spoon your quinoa into a blender, with the apple cider vinegar, herbs, chilli flakes and salt.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: As mentioned previously, don’t try to do this in a smoothie maker. Just don’t.

4.     Blend for a few minutes until a smooth dough forms – according to Ella it should look a bit like a pancake mix.
5.     Grease the bottom and sides of your cake tin with a bit of oil, and spoon in your pizza crust mix.
6.     Podge the mix down so that it fills the bottom of your tin, and then carefully transport the tin into the oven to bake for a quarter of an hour.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: As also mentioned, in my prelude to this recipe, I strongly advise you use a cake tin where you can push the bottom of the tin up and out. Otherwise, you’ve podged that mix down and got it good and stuck.

7.     While the crust is crusting up, take this time to prepare your toppings. Chop your cherry tomatoes in half, chop your olives in half, and chop your artichokes into smaller chunks. Dance around in great anticipation of pizza.
8.     Once your base is firm, safely take your pizza crust out of the oven and spread tomato puree on top to cover.
9.     Decorate artistically with your toppings, and return to the oven to cook for another quarter of an hour. Clear up your mess and get those dishes washed!
10.  Once your pizza looks and smells unavoidably edible, gingerly lift it out of the oven and turn the oven off. Pop the base of your cake tin up and out, and use a spatula to shimmy your pizza onto a plate. Cut up into pizza slices and tuck in!

And that, readers, is all there is to it. So long as you know at least a day in advance that you’re going to need pizza in your life. And you’re disciplined enough to get some quinoa grains soaking – instead of picking up the phone and dialling your local takeaway – then this a really interesting recipe to have a shot at.

Don't be all greasy.. be like Ella!

If you haven’t tried cooking with quinoa before, or you have but haven’t been convinced by the taste or the texture of the grain, then this recipe could be a turning point for you and quinoa! Because pizza makes everything great, doesn’t it?? Pizza = life.

Readers, wrap up warm. You keep on keeping on. And eat pizza, quinoa-style, as February nears.

Blend safely,


Give it a go! Quinoa Pizza (before it fell apart)

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