This week I chatted to the lovely Curtis Stone who is back in Australia to launch his cooking range into Coles stores. One of the really exciting new cookware tools he has developed is a handy pizza stone, which is the perfect platform for making healthy gluten free pizzas.
What’s interesting about using the stone is that it prevents you from getting a doughy result underneath and because you heat it up in the oven before-hand, it crisps up the base of the pizza by holding in and then dispersing the heat, making it crunchy on the bottom and giving you a melt in the mouth softness on top. It’s affordable too and for just over $20 you can make your own healthy wood-burning-oven like pizza without breaking the bank.
So how does it work?
-the pizza stone is pre-heated in the oven
-the dough gets a jolt of heat when it hits the stone
-the heat of the base helps the pizza cook quicker and cooks the dough through
-to get a crisp crust without a stone you need to cook the pizza longer, which usually means hard crust and overcooked toppings
-Pizza stones are also great for making homemade breads, heating up flatbreads and preparing pita!
I asked Curtis a few questions about what he’s been up to since he was last in Australia.
How's your trip back to Oz been?
Fun so far, I’ve just spent the last couple of days acclimatizing my wife Lindsay and baby boy Hudson to the weather and the culture here. It’s been so fantastic to be able to spend time with cousins and grandma! They’ve all been having such a great time getting to know each other.
What do you miss about being home?
I really miss my family and I also miss our Aussie sense of humour. Sometimes in America I tell a joke and they don’t really get it or they think I’m being a bit strange, we’re used to a ribbing kind of humour in Oz and I like it so it’s great to be back and get a sense of that and have a laugh and a joke.
What made you decide to become a chef?
From a really early age I‘ve always loved to eat and food is on my priority list. Ok so the truth is sometimes I like to eat off other peoples plates! That’s how much I love food. I feel so fortunate and lucky to have been able to follow my passion and work with food.
What’s the healthiest dish you like to cook?
Depends on the season really but at the moment we are in summer, so raw ingredients such as salad, kale, asparagus, grilled veggies, avocados with a bit of sherry vinaigrette is filling my plate right now. The addition of avocado makes the dressing so creamy if you mush it up. Granted it’s not the prettiest salad but it tastes amazing.
I’ve just released a kid’s recipe book and I know you have a little boy, do you make all of Hudson's food and what does he like to eat?
Lindsay and I both cook for him and he just loves seafood, he really enjoys eating proteins so when I watch him eat he likes to eat his salmon first and then he’ll eat his veggies afterwards. It’s been a really interesting journey becoming a parent and trying to figure out his taste buds.
What's the best thing about being a dad?
Watching the development of Hudson has been incredible. I also enjoy seeing Lindsay interact with him too.
I read that you were instrumental in getting more ethical products onto the shelves in Coles, such as sow stall free pork and no added hormone beef tell us a little bit about that and has it been a hard process?
Yes it has been a very big food project that I’m very passionate about and have been working with Coles for a long period of time to make positive changes. We are working on continuing to have locally sourced seasonal fruit and vegetables in store and as much Australian produce as possible. Coles currently source 96% of their fruit and vegetables from Australian farmers. We are also trying to educate consumers to eat and shop seasonally so for example there isn’t a demand for cherries out of season whereby they would need to be purchased from overseas. The ethical and sustainable meat products that we have introduced has involved a massive restructure of the whole industry and we are working together to bring about big scale change. It involves talking to farmers about different ways that they can build their infrastructure and put an animal’s welfare as a priority, but as you know, major change does take time to implement.
So tell me a bit about your new pizza stone, why did you decide to create it?
I really want to empower people to cook at home and make it easy for them to do so. I am also working with Coles to bring a new product each month into stores, there’s going to be a wok soon and a roasting dish which is easy to use and affordable.
What's your favourite pizza recipe and do you have a healthy version?
My favourite pizza is a homemade one which would have artichokes, olives, Portobello mushrooms, I made one this morning with ingredients that were on their last legs seasonally, may as well use them up whilst they are there!
The Curtis Stone Everyday Pizza Stone is available at Coles stores from September 18th, 2013 for $21.70.
For a deliciously healthy gluten free pizza try this one with a cauliflower crust.