- Food & Drink
This pizza is almost entirely made out of cheese
Eating out in London in the 21st century can be summed up in 1 word: burgers. The time of burgers began in 2001, when Gourmet Burger Kitchen opened in Battersea and introduced greasy-chopped South Londoners to fully traceable beef, the perverse delights of combining beetroot and pineapple and the social thrill of paying a tenner for burger and chips.
Londoners, fond of ostentatiously democratised food, eating with their hands and fried potatoes dunked in ketchup, discovered a love for burgers that could not be controlled. Restaurants with an American diner aesthetic and a wine list mostly made up of craft beers rolled out across the boroughs. Fancier joints finessed burgers with foie gras, less fancy joints went with chorizo and Cheddar, and in a car park in Peckham a man in a van created lunchtime queues.
The time of the loose meat sandwich was upon us, and in the heat of 2013 2 more burger joints opened up: Shake Shack and Five Guys. People queued for 2 hours to get a burger from Five Guys on their opening day. 2 grim hours standing on Covent Garden’s hot, grey pavements in order to eat a burger. This, combined with Jamie Oliver opening a pop-up diner in Piccadilly, can mean only 1 thing: burgers are over.
In a town where 8 million people live crushed face to armpit, the illusion of exclusivity is key. When so many people know about a restaurant opening that you have to wait 120 minutes in the street with a Travel John in your pocket in case of emergencies, then that restaurant is too popular to be cool. It’s time for the next easy to order, easy to eat food to take its place at the head of the fashion pack. And for the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to suggest that food is pizza.
I’m basing this declaration of fashionableness on 3 things: number 1) I like pizza. And if I like it, then it must be on trend because I am so consistently ahead of the curve that I didn’t realise curves existed until last summer. I thought life was just 1 long straight road of being effortlessly zeitgeisty.
Number 2) there are several pizza restaurants opening up at the moment. Homeslice has trundled its wood-fired oven from Hackney to Soho and Pizza Pilgrims will soon be gracing Dean Street with their sourdough crusts (in the meantime, Forza Win is covering the East End in flour and Aperol). Like burgers creeping into the centre of town from South of the River, these new Soho pizzerias are the glossy end result of a trend that began in the backstreets of Brixton.
Number 3) I needed an introduction to this recipe for pizza made with a cauliflower crust and announcing the death of burgers seemed as good an intro as any. I could’ve gone for an obvious bit of chitchat about paleo diets, low carb eating and why cauliflower is a wonder vegetable, but where’s the interest in that?
So, eat pizza. Either a nice wheaty pizza in a restaurant with a furnace for an oven or a cauliflower based one at home with a beaker of booze.
3 cheese pizza with a cauliflower crust
Serves 2 with side salads or 1 person with an incredible capacity for cheese
1 head of cauliflower, approximately 500g, broken into florets
125g manchego cheese, grated
1 medium egg
A few torn basil leaves
Passata, mozzarella, Parmesan and basil, to top
1 Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C/fan oven 180°C. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat.
2 Blitz the cauliflower in a food processor to make ‘rice’ – it should look finely chopped but not smooth. Add to a pan of boiling water and simmer for 4 minutes.
3 Drain, tip into a clean tea towel and wring to squeeze out as much water as possible. Place in a bowl and add the manchego, egg and torn basil. Season well and stir to make a dough.
4 Take the baking tray out of the oven and line with baking parchment. Place the dough on the parchment and pat down into a round with your hands. Bake for 20–30 minutes or until golden and firm.
5 Smear a few spoonfuls of passata over the pizza base and top with torn mozzarella and grated Parmesan. Return to the oven and bake for a further 20–30 minutes or until golden, bubbling and crusty. Scatter with fresh basil leaves and serve.