Book Club Dinner | Homemade Pizza | Chicken & Mango Salad | Quinoa Tabbouleh | Caramel Slice & Chocolate

April 08, 2014

Recent Book Club Hosting

Recently, it was my turn to host Book Club dinner. This is a yearly event (as we have 7 ladies in our club and try to meet up every 6-8 weeks).  It always takes a fair bit of planning and organisation.  We have a variety of diet tolerances in our group - paleo, gluten free, health conscious and those that eat everything. So the big question is always - how to please and accommodate everyone's needs and preferences!!

I promised my book club the recipes for some of my dishes and decided to publish it on The Gift Loft blog, as well. If anyone needs inspiration for their book club or next dinner party, then these recipes may be helpful.

Dinner Menu

  • Nibbles: The Herb & Spice Mill Honey Roasted Cashews; Black Peppered Peanuts: & Bombay Mix - all nibbles we sell in The Gift Loft Food Hampers.  Place in individual small dip bowls and have some freshly sliced celery and, optional, The Herb & Spice Mill famous gluten free dip to scoop.
  • Main:  Homemade Pizza, made three ways; Chicken, Baby Spinach Leaves & Mango Salad (gluten free); Quinoa Tabbouleh (gluten free).
  • Dessert: Caramel Slice; Devonport Chocolates Chocolate Truffle Slice (gluten free, egg free).

Homemade Pizza

After trying many pizza base recipes, this one is my favourite. It works every time and is light and crisp.


(Makes 3 large pizzas)

1 Tbsp dried yeast;

2 tsp castor sugar;

1 1/3 cup lukewarm water (not too hot - about blood temperature);

3 cups flour - preferably, use High Grade Flour (available in the flour section of your supermarket);

1 tsp salt;

1 Tbsp olive oil.

  1. Mix yeast and sugar together and add the water. Mix slightly, cover the bowl (I use tinfoil but a dry tea towel is also good) and leave for about 10 minutes in a warm area. If it is freezing cold, then pop in the oven at about 10 degC (about as low as the oven temperature will go);
  2. In the meantime, mix the flour and salt together.
  3. When the yeast mixture has risen and is frothy, pour into the flour mixture and add the oil. Mix together, firstly with a spoon or fork, and then, with your hands to form a dough.
  4. Place the dough on a floured surface (the kitchen bench is ideal).  Knead the dough with your hands for about 6-7 minutes, until the dough becomes more elastic. Use sprinkles of flour through out this process to prevent the dough sticking to the bench.
  5. Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover (use a tea towel - I use the tinfoil I used before). Place in a warm place for about 30 minutes, until the dough has at least doubled in size.
  6. Cut the dough into 3 portions and roll each one out to fit a large pizza tray (or, use a pizza stone, according to the pizza stone instructions).
  7. Add your tomato sauce to the top of the pizza base, spread evenly, (see recipe below, or use a store bought one) and toppings of your choice (see below for some suggested options).
  8. Bake at 220 degC for 20 minutes.  My oven only fits 2 pizzas at a time so rotate the pizzas half way through cooking. Add the third pizza to cook after the other two pizzas have been cooked.
  9. Cut into pieces and serve immediately.

Tomato Sauce for Pizza

Chop an onion and a clove (or two) of garlic, finely.  Place in a saucepan and fry gently with a splash of olive oil until it  becomes clear. Add a tin of plain, whole or chopped tomatoes (any brand will do, or, use fresh tomatoes). Stir and add about 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper to taste, a sprinkle of oregano, thyme and basil (or, use freshly chopped oregano, thyme or basil).  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until it has cooked.  Remove from the heat and use a food processor or a moulinex to puree the sauce. Cool. This step can be made a day or two ahead of time, or make a double amount and freeze half of the sauce for next time.

Suggested Toppings

Pizza One: Buffalo Mozarella, in slices; Mushrooms, sliced thinly; Cheese (I like Edam and Parmesan but use your own preference).  Add fresh basil leaves once the pizza is cooked.

Pizza Two: Chorizo Sausage, sliced (salami works well, too); Capsicum, sliced thinly: Mushrooms, sliced thinly; Cheese.

Pizza Three: Cooked Bacon or Pancetta, in small pieces; Cooked Chicken; Pineapple (you can use tinned pineapple); Capsicum; Cheese.

Be as imaginative as you want or, just use what is in the fridge.  Another popular topping is Proscuitto Ham; Cheese; & Rocket Lettuce (add this once the pizza is cooked).


Chicken, Baby Spinach Leaves & Mango Salad

This suits a gluten free diet, the health conscious and anyone wanting a really tasty, fresh salad.

Chicken Marinade

Juice of 1 lemon;

Grated fresh ginger;

1 clove garlic, crushed;

2 Tbsp fish sauce;

1/4 cup soy sauce;

Salt & pepper;

2 Tbsp brown sugar (if you do not use sugar, use honey, instead);

2-3 Tbsp chopped coriander.

Marinate tenderloins overnight, preferably (at least 2 hours, minimum).  Place in an oven tray with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes on 180 deg C, until the chicken is cooked in the middle. Cool.


Bowl of baby spinach leaves, washed;

1 Mango, sliced in strips;

1 Avocado, sliced;

1 Spring onion, sliced thinly;

Cooked Chicken tenderloins (see above);

Lightly toasted 75g bag of almond slices (toss in a fry pan with a splash of olive oil. Toss constantly or they will burn. Remove from heat as soon as they start to turn golden. Cool.).

Mix the ingredients together.  Add some more fresh, chopped coriander, if you wish. For gluten tolerant people, add some crispy noodles to the top at the last minute.

Dressing: 1 part olive oil to 2 parts balsamic vinegar; salt & pepper to taste; 1 Tbsp whole grain mustard.  Mix together.

 Quinoa Tabbouleh

Gluten free and full of amazing nutrients.

1 cup quinoa;

1 tsp salt

500 mls cold water

Place the quinoa & salt in the cold water in a saucepan bring to boil, simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain in a sieve.

Mix the cooked quinoa with half a chopped telegraph cucumber; 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes; 1 cup of chopped parsley; 1 spring onion (optional).

Dressing: Juice of 1 lemon; 1/4 cup olive oil; 1/4 tsp sugar (or honey); salt & pepper. Mix and pour over the salad.

 Caramel Crumble Slice

Recipe from Annabel Langbein "A Free Range Life" Magazine, 2013.

 200g butter, at room temperature;

1/2 cup castor sugar;

1 tsp vanilla extract;

2 1/2 cups flour;

1 tsp baking powder.

Caramel Filling: 400g can condensed milk; 100g butter; 2 Tbsp golden syrup.

Preheat oven to 160 degC and line a medium (30x24 cm) sponge roll tin with baking paper.

Cream butter, sugar & vanilla until pale and fluffy.  Stir in the flour and baking powder to form a soft dough. Press two thirds of the mixture into the prepared tray.

Caramel Filling: heat the condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a small pot until the butter is fully melted. Pour over the slice.

Crumble the remaining base mixture over the top and bake until golden brown and set (30-35 minutes - mine took 25 minutes).

Allow to cool and slice. Makes about 30 pieces.

 Serving Suggestion for Dessert: Slices and Chocolate are so much easier for dessert than dishing up a pudding or tart.  Have the slice all ready to pop on a stylish plate, slice up the Devonport Chocolates Truffle Slice - this is gluten free, egg free and absolutely delicious.  We sell Hokey Pokey; Berry Crush; Hazelnut & Plain with "Happy Birthday" or "Thank You" messages written on them with white chocolate - the perfect host or hostess gift on arrival at your dinner party!

Check out the beautiful and stylish General Eclectic Platter, shown in the Caramel Slice photo, above. The perfect gift for her, a mother or for yourself - at a great value price of only $20.  We also sell the, very popular, Diva Set which includes the cake stand, platter and 2 mugs. A lovely mother's day gift! See our Mother's Day Collection for more inspiring gift ideas.

Watch this space for a delicious, very rich but super healthy chocolate slice - gluten free, paleo friendly, all natural (and, so far, loved by everyone who tastes it, despite it being healthy!!). Recipe coming soon to the Recipe Blog.

Also in Recipes

Homemade Christmas Mince Tarts
Homemade Christmas Mince Tarts

November 19, 2018

Delicious homemade Christmas Fruit Mince Tarts. The BEST recipe with perfect sweet short crust pastry. A Christmas gift idea for men & women, a teacher or neighbour. A Xmas present for mum and dad.

Continue Reading

Gluten Free Shortbread Biscuits
Gluten Free Shortbread Biscuits

July 27, 2018

Continue Reading

Mother's Day Berry & Hazelnut Cake with White Chocolate Ganache
Mother's Day Berry & Hazelnut Cake with White Chocolate Ganache

April 29, 2018

Continue Reading