Monday, 18 April 2011

lunch for two

To many, cooking a meal for two should be a fairly simple task, but to a lousy cook like me, it is as challenging as cooking for ten. My everyday lunch has to be something that is easily put together otherwise I will be so tempted to just settle for a takeaway. I always zero in for dishes that meet my 3Ms...minimal preparation, minimal cooking which leads to minimal cleaning. The reality is, not many dishes could fall exactly under this category. As a result, I keep going back to the same old dishes week after week.

Pizza happens to be my children's all time favourite. I am sure they will not get sick of it even if I were to make them a pizza every week. However, making pizza from scratch requires time...and a bit more effort than cooking a pot of fish porridge. I could have made the pizza dough in advance and freeze them, but so far I have not done it. I really have yet to accept the idea of stocking up on frozen food. My freezer compartment remains quite empty most of the time.

It was by chance I 'discovered' a quick way to make a pizza while I was writing an email to a blogger pal. I didn't wait too long before I put my idea into actions.

Here's my short-cut version of a homemade pizza. I am sure it is nothing new to many of you. Instead of making the pizza dough from scratch, I made do with store bought loaf bread. The only difference is, I used this local brand, Gardenia focaccia loaf instead of square sandwich loaf. This store bought focaccia is really tasty and delicious on its own...great for making homemade deli subs (see here), and it is the first time I thought of using is as a pizza base. Why didn't I think of that??

I sliced the loaf horizontally into two, spread some meat sauce (minced beef cooked with some chopped onions and ready made tomatoe-based pasta sauce...very much like cooking a simple bolognese sauce) and topped it with mozzarella cheese before popping it into the oven. The meal was prepared under 15 minutes...with minimal preparation, cooking, and cleaning. 

While the cheese was melting away in the oven, my younger child came home from school. I opened the door and just like every other day, I was greeted with a great smile from a very sweaty, dirty looking boy. The next moment, he let out a little squeal, "I smell pizza!"

Thanks to the wonderful aroma of the focaccia loaf, it really smells like pizza whenever I toast the bread in the oven, I attribute it to the generous use of herbs in making this bread.

It was a very satisfying meal for the two of us as it was almost like eating a pan pizza. I was a little surprised when my boy, who is a small eater, helped himself to 5 slices. Either he was very hungry that day, or he loves nothing but pizza ;)


Charmaine said...

Great idea to use focaccia bread as a base. I will try doing this for lunch one of these days :-) Thanks!

Photographer Leia said...

I had never thought of using focaccia bread for pizza crust. What a great idea.

Anonymous said...

I would Definitely try it one of these days too :). Jane

Anonymous said...

great idea my kids and I love the Gardenia Foccacia bread, next time I will use it to make pizza, btw your description of your younger child sounds exactly like my younger child (a boy as well) when he comes home from school, yes a sweaty dirty looking one as well LOL!

Orange Juice

Christine said...


Your pizza looks so delicious. I always admire your baking episodes. The results always look so pretty and as if made by a pro! :-) I've been reading your blog for quite a while for inspiration and will always check your blog for cakes' recipes.



shaz said...

I posted a recipe for baked chicken nuggets which I think requires minimal prep, cooking and clean up. if you are interested :) thanks for sharing your quick lunch solution. 

mj said...

Hi hhb, yr pizza looked so appetising... Yr recipe 4 thick crust pizza is my family's favourite meal on more relaxed friday evenings :-)

Edith said...

hahaha your little one sounded like my big boy. When it comes to pizza, he can actually walloped all by himself!

sherlyn said...

I like your 3M .. it is also what I aim to do, esp for lunch, where it only serves two fussy eater and one rubbish bin (me, when they cannot finish their share, I have to eat them)

I will certainly try this soon... and really .. like one of the comments - very pro pizza. :-)

Unknown said...

holy wow, what cheesy wonderfulness is this! LOVE it, looks divine

Bhua said...

Hi hub,

You didn't give any comment on your new oven? I am intending to buy the exactly the same model as yours. Read some review that 3d hot air doesn't give an even browning. Is that true? I need to decide by end of this week.

The Experimental Cook said...

I use Kontos Naan as pizza base. The longish shape fits well in the toaster :D

Lisa H. said...

Your pizza is tempting me early in the morning *sigh with a smile* :D
I am the 3M kind of person too...
On lazy days.. I would resort to using lebanese bread as my dough

happy-bowl said...

u r so innovative, nice way to fill the kids with a wholesome meal.

Happy Homebaker said...

Orange juice, your boy must be playing very hard during recess...just like mine ;)

Christine, thanks for following my blog, I hope I didn't disappoint you with the recipes I posted here :)

Thanks shaz for sharing your recipe! I will love to try it, my younger kid likes chicken nuggets!

mj, thanks for trying out the recipe :) I usually make pizza from scratch during the school holidays as my kids like to help out. This is a short cut way, and it is as delicious.

Sherlyn, you must treat yourself better ok?

Happy Homebaker said...

Bhua, I have not done a review yet as I have not tested it with bakes such as bread, chiffon cakes. Here's my review based on what I have baked so far:

My previous oven is a small 20-litre tabletop tefal...there is only top heat, no other function. My review here is based on using it as a point of reference. The Bosch oven has got more functions (compared to my old tabletop)...I tried baking cookies on two trays, using the 3D hot air function they were browned least I dont have to turn the tray around half way into baking. I made two pizzas on separate racks, both browned/cooked at the same time too (even the one at the bottom was evenly cooked). The oven temperature is quite stable...unlike my previous one...which could drop by 20degC after I put in the cake. I tried roasting a chicken, it takes about 50mins to get nicely browned, whereas my previous one could take 1.5hrs. But, it was a tedious job trying to clean the oven after roasting as you need to clean the oil stains at the side walls, since it doesnt come with self cleaning function. Do note that my Bosch oven is the cheapest, most basic range, if budget is not a constraint, you may want to take a look at higher range ovens. Hope this helps.

sherlyn said...

HHB, I cannot let the food go to waste, so either I cook less and eat "rubbish" too, or eat what they have left and top up with "rubbish". hehe
perhaps when they are older? :)
Thanks for the concern.

shirley said...

Thanks for sharing the idea of using focacca bread for the pizza crust. We have an Itailan deli near by that makes some great focassa. You're right, how come we never thought of this before.

Olivia said...

Now look at what you’ve done … you have me seriously craving for a piece of this

Anonymous said...

Hi HHB, I bought the bosch oven too recently. I have not tried baking on two levels. May I know how you bake the two layers of cookies and pizza in the oven? For baking of one level of cookies, I usually put the baking tray on the wire shelf. So for two layers of baking, how you position the baking tray? Do I need to buy another wire shelf or I can just use the enamel baking tray?

Anonymous said...


I copy your idea, made the shot-cut pizza this afternoon. I am still not familiar with my oven. I followed the user manual, put the bread (on an aluminium tray) on the wire shelf, turned to gill function (III). Less than 3mins the top part of the pizza burned but the bread did not turn crispy. Pls. help as I am going to make this again tomorrow for my girl's friends.

Happy Homebaker said...

CF, I use the wire rack and the enamel tray (the drip tray). I place a baking tray on the wire rack, and place the pizza or cookies directly on the drip tray. I select the 3D hot air function, that is the one with the fan. I won't buy any wire rack as I don't need to use two trays frequently.

For the pizza, do not use the grill function, it is too hot. The grill function is more for grilling or roasting of meat, and what temperature did you select? (Do note that if you were to roast a chicken, the oil will splatter...mine got oil stains at the side walls, cant remove sad....but luckily it is black so the stain is not so obvious. I have since came up with a way to reduce the oil splatter...I line the sides of my roasting pan with alum create 'four walls' so the oil doesnt 'fly' all over.)

I use the top-and-bottom heat (without the fan) for baking this short-cut pizza. I set the temperature to 200degC. It should be ready in less than 10mins. I position the wire rack at the 2nd level(count from bottom). I use this rack position for baking cakes. Do you have an oven thermometer? It is better to use one so that you know you have pre-heated the oven to the right temperature. Hope this helps :)

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your advice.
Just confirm again, for two levels baking of cookies, which level did put your wire shelf and the enamel tray? So do I need to lay a piece of baking paper on the enamel tray?

Thanks for your tips for preventing oil splatter. Good that you let me know this.

I did not buy the oven thermometer. You mean I cannot rely on the oven pre-heat sign? Once the temperature sign go off, that is the stage where pre-heat is ready right?

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi CF, I place the enamel tray at the lowest rack position, and the wire rack at position 2 counting from the top. I line the enamel tray with parchment paper for easy cleaning. If not, maybe you need to grease to prevent the cookies from sticking.

It is best to use an oven thermometer...I dont rely on the oven pre-heat sign, especially when baking cakes, especially chiffon cakes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for responding my queries.
After hearing from you, I plan to buy an oven thermometer too. May I know where the right spot to put it in the oven is? Should it remove it after the pre-heat is done or leave it inside to continue monitoring the temperature throughout the whole baking time? If the oven's temperature is lower than the thermometer, should I increase my oven temperature accordingly or extend the baking time?