A traditional girls’ night at my Brummie bezzie Tara’s, follows a tried-and tested, much-loved formula.
First, we open a bottle of Prosecco, then we cut up some carrots and pitta, rip the top off a tub of hummus and dive in; then we shove a shop-bought pizza and chips in the oven (a nod to our school days). Next we get an episode of Miranda on the go. When the pizza and chips are cooked – usually burnt actually because we’ve been too busy working our way through the Prosecco to worry about silly old food – we slather the lot in vinegar and French’s yellow mustard, open another bottle of Prosecco and watch another Miranda.
But with my newfound love of making stuff, we decided to put a little spin on our ritual meal. Hello, homemade(ish) pizzas using Indian flatbreads we found in the local shop. Hello, tomato, basil and mozzarella chapati; and hiya, Spuntino-copying zucchini and chilli chapati. Also on the menu: the much-made zucchini, rocket and parmesan salad, and a healthy handful of skinny fries.
Tara was particularly excited about putting a new kitchen toy of hers to the test. The Magic Spiral is a sharp little contraption that looks a bit like a cork screw and promises to spin and slice through veggies to create a sea of flowing, pretty twirls. Our food will look so cool, we said. Didn’t quite work. The curls were too thick for the salad and two curly for the pizza, so we sliced our courgette with a potato peeler instead.
Then we set about cooking up a storm. Ingredients: Sacla tomato paste for one pizza base (cheating, I know), a block of Parmsan, a bag of mozzarella, mushrooms, chilli, courgette and basil and mint from the plants on Tara’s windowsill.
Directions: We spread one chapati with the tomato sauce, then topped that with sliced mushrooms and polite, actually not polite-at-all, clumps of mozzarella and a few basil leaves. We covered the other chapati – the white pizza – with shedloads of parmesan and mozzarella, then added the courgette, dotted some chilli across it and shredded some mint on top as a finishing touch. Then into the oven they went – where their mates the skinny fries were waiting for them.
As this whole homemade pizza-making endeavour was a bit trial and error we didn’t exactly set a timer on the pizza. Instead, we sat on the floor, peering in through the glass door of the oven like wannabe Great British Bake-Off contestants without the impressive baking creations, waiting for our cheese-topped chapatis to cook.
Ten minutes or so later they did. And so we served them up – and to make ourselves feel better about life in general, we served our handful of chips in a cool little silver bucket lined with brown paper. And then we settled down to our twist-on-a-classic with more Miranda. The result? Pretty yum actually. The thin chapatis weren’t especially crispy but weren’t soggy, were tasty, and importantly, didn’t leave us nursing food-babies like our old fave.
On the whole, we were pretty impressed with the finished results. But no way were we as impressed with the pizza as we were this: the precious result of an indiscretion between a down-on-his-luck courgette and a coquettish vegetable peeler.
(Cap: mushroom. Shoes: carrot ends. Eyes: chilli jam. Golf club: oven chip. Golf ball: frozen pea. Curls: he was born with them.)
Homemade Chapati Pizza Stats:
Kitchen cock-ups: We could have eaten more, but I’m on the Greece diet * cough *. The courgette curls may have started out as mistake, but now they are loved.
Listened to: Miranda’s hooting. And then our own. (Particularly when one scene saw her ‘conducting’ an orchestra of vegetables which she had dressed in little clothes. I had never seen this episode before so was suitably disturbed by what our shared love of making vegetable people could mean…)