We used to have our Saturday routine down pat – a slow rise, followed by a family gym session, then somewhere yummy for lunch.
Sometimes we picked one of the amazing gastropubs we live near, other times it was our favourite Thai restaurant, Giggling Squid, or the nine-year-old’s eternally first choice – pizza!
Of course, lockdown has left us with only one option – our kitchen.
At first, I mourned the loss of our weekly lunch treat, but then something very strange happened – out of necessity I started making more food more at home… and I realised I didn’t hate it. In fact, quite the opposite – I was (and I never thought I’d say this about cooking) kind of enjoying it.
Added to that, it was saving us loads of money AND it was more nutritious too.
So it was a triple win.
But I still missed my eat-out meals, so I’ve been thrilled to see some of my favourite restaurants release the secrets to some of their most popular dishes to get us through lockdown. Here are some of my eat-at-home restaurant recipes:
I’ll be real; I love the pizza at Pizza Express but their dough balls are something else. Hot and pillowy and smeared with delicious garlic butter; I could easily pile them up high on my plate – like a three dimensional pyramid – and eat them for my starter, main AND dessert.
The girls love them too, so imagine our collective glee to discover step-by-step instructions on how to make them on a special #HomemadeFavourites page of restaurant recipes you can make at home.
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For this week’s #HomemadeFavourites we’re going to remind you how to make our iconic Dough Balls, this time the Doppio serving, perfect for sharing (or not). We’re also going to let you in on Peter’s secret Pesto recipe too. You’ll need… For the dough: 150ml Warm water 1tsp Sugar 15g Fresh yeast or 2 level teaspoons of dry yeast 225g Plain flour (plus extra for working) 1.5tsp Salt 2tbsp Extra virgin olive oil For Peter’s Pesto: 75g fresh basil leaves 25g pine kernels 25g grated pecorino (if you don’t have this you can double the parmesan) 25g parmesan 200ml extra virgin olive oil 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped Salt & pepper 25g of unsalted butter Recipe will be released on our stories and at pizzaexpress.com/homemade-favourites on Sunday #Recipe #PizzaExpress
Set up once it became clear the restaurants would be out of bounds for some time, the page is an Aladdin’s Cave of their most treasured dishes. In addition to their famous dough balls you’ll also find a selection of their favourite pizzas (which you can make entirely from scratch, or by adding extra ingredients to one of their supermarket Margherita oven pizzas), and their mouthwatering pasta favourite, Pollo Pesto.
Another restaurant taking pity on its pizza-starved regulars is Zizzi, which has kindly released some ‘how to’ videos of restaurant recipes you can make at home, including their iconic Arancini balls, Piccante Rustica pizza (my favourite from their entire menu) and King Prawn Linguine. My mouth is literally watering thinking about it.
McDonald’s was one of the first food establishments to reopen, but breakfast hasn’t returned quite yet. If you can’t wait a moment longer for one of their Sausage and Egg McMuffins you can make your own at home, as the team behind the Golden Arches have allowed us mere mortals to view their sacred recipe card. They’ve even tagged their hash brown recipe on at the end – bonus!
Unfortunately, their secret special sauce recipe hasn’t been released… at least, not officially... a quick Google and you’ll find a bunch of recipes for authentic homemade McDonald’s special sauce, which the fast food company has quietly hinted are pretty close to the original 1967 formula.
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If it’s heat you’re missing the most, Nando’s have generously laid on a spread of recipes, all centred around their infamous PERi-PERi hot sauce. Choose from a spicy selection that includes their staple wings and thighs, as well as dishes like PERi-PERi Lasagne and Creamy Chicken Pasta.
When you’re tucked up at home, old-fashioned comfort food is sometimes all you need. Pret aren’t just the sandwich maestros, they also have range of yummy eat-at-home restaurant recipes, including this flavour-packed Mac & Cheese. Check out their #PretRecipeBook for other delicious dishes, such as their Mozzarella & Tomato Croissant and their infamous Dark Chocolate Vegan Cookies.
Let’s face it – a trip to Ikea is as much about the Swedish Meatballs as it is about the furniture. While the stores themselves are open for socially distanced browsing it maybe some time before meatballs are back on the menu, so you might like to follow IKEA’s (not-so) secret recipe to get your fix until the world returns to normal.
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Healthy brekkies are great and all that, but sometimes you just need something a little more… down to earth. Greggs, the nation’s favourite bakery chain has tentatively started reopening again, but while the doors were still firmly shut they offered up a couple of their classics, including their creamy chicken bake.
Easily made at home with just a couple of ingredients, this flaky pastry is the ultimate (slightly naughty but highly satisfying) belly warming treat.
So, there you go – some of my favourite eat-at-home restaurant recipes to tide you over. While I don’t pretend to make these dishes as deliciously as the professionals, it’s a yummy compromise to keep us fed and happy until lockdown is a distant memory.