Monthly Archives: March 2016

A Little Kitchen Nugget

I realised that this food blogging culinary adventure might have gone distances that perhaps we hadn’t anticipated when two distinct things happened last week.

Firstly, husband John wandered into the kitchen and tentatively enquired as to whether we might have an ‘old faithful’ for supper that evening, rather than another new foray into recipes unknown. Recognising this as a plea for some normality in a kitchen that was becoming increasingly frenetic, with recipe books strewn over most work surfaces, bags of flour and caster sugar occupying almost permanent fixtures together the food processor, whisks and remnants of previously tried dishes, I acquiesced. Cheat’s spag bol, a stalwart of days old -appearing on our table weekly before blogging – was produced that evening. Connagh, who has got used to the surprise that we call supper, was ecstatic to see this huge bowl of familiarity (not that he doesn’t enjoy all the new dishes, particularly the chocolate-based desserts). He took his bowl to the table and was poised with the freshly grated Parmesan over his supper, when he stopped, “Are you photographing this or can I just eat it?!” I’m still not sure whether to laugh or cry!

Meanwhile, the Mary Berry-inspired honeycomb ice cream definitely hit new heights (and continues to – thank you so much to those lovely people who’ve been sharing) The wee graph on my website spiked skyward, my Facebook foodie page went berserk and even the BBC liked my tweet!

So, mindful that our weekly menus need to be peppered with some ‘old faithfuls’, I continue trawling through cookery books, watching a myriad of cookery shows on television and ripping recipes from magazines. Lovin’ it!!!! (So do they really!)

Pizza!

I know that loads of people make their own pizza and I certainly should have adopted this notion given the amount that goes down in this house, but I waited until I’d been on the planet 52 years before giving it a go! I was somewhat nervous about the whole dough-making process, which flour (00 vs. strong white bread flour) and the use of yeast (and all the different types you can get). Then the advice: James Martin advocated leaving his dough overnight, Jamie Oliver said 15 minutes, Google searches came back with anything from 30 minutes to a couple of hours! So, in the end, I cobbled this recipe together and….it’s great! I’ll be doing it again but will roll out the dough a little thinner next time. This recipe is quick, easy and as ever, homemade knocks shop-bought or even delivered into touch – give it a go!

 Makes 6 – 8 medium-sized pizzas

 What you need…

 800g ‘00’ flour (I think strong white bread flour would work just as well)

200g semolina

1 level tablespoon fine sea salt

2 x 7g sachets fast action dried yeast

1 tablespoon caster sugar

650ml lukewarm water

for the tomato sauce

2 tins Italian chopped tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

½ teaspoon dried oregano

for the toppings

Go mad – put whatever you fancy on! Our choices are below

What to do…

Whop all the tomato sauce ingredients into a blender and whizz to mix together. Set aside until ready to top your pizza bases.

If you have a standalone mixer with a dough hook on it, chuck everything else in the bowl and let it do its stuff for about 5 minutes, until you can see the dough coming together. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface.

If you don’t possess one of these lovely machines, heap the flours and salt onto a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Tip the yeast, sugar and water into the well and, using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix. Keep doing this – it will go through a ‘stodgy porridge’ stage but will then start coming together as a dough.

Whichever route you took to get to this stage, now knead the dough quite assertively until you have a smooth springy soft dough – this will take about 5 minutes if you used the mixer to start with and maybe 10 minutes if you’ve done it all by hand.

Flour the top of your dough and pop it into a large, roomy bowl (I used the cleaned out mixer bowl), cover with cling film and pop it somewhere warm (I stood mine just under the radiator). Leave for 1 hour.

Dust your work surface with flour and/or semolina and then cut your dough into 6 or 8 pieces depending on whether you want medium or slightly larger pizzas. Squidge each piece into a ball and then roll out into rough circles until they are about ½ cm thick. Tear off a piece of foil slightly larger than the pizza base and spread over a little oil and then dust with flour and/or semolina. Pop the pizza base onto the foil.

Do this for each pizza base, stacking them on top of one another, each separated by an oiled and floured piece of foil. You could now cling film them and pop them in the fridge until you are ready.

When you are ready, pop a heavy baking tray on the lowest shelf of your oven and heat your oven to 250°c / 500°f / gas 9.

Apply your toppings of choice and then put the pizza in, one at a time, still on their foil, on top of the piping hot baking tray. Cook for 7 – 10 minutes until the pizza is golden and crispy (and the inevitable mozzarella is melted and bubbling).

Then, remove the pizza from the oven, leaving the baking tray in there ready to receive the next one. Your pizza will be firm so this won’t be difficult. Slide your pizza off the foil and dig in – the base will be lovely and crispy and the topping will be according to your individual taste!

What we had…

The point is, you can put whatever you fancy on, so I rummaged through the fridge and took out just about anything that I thought might work and that at least one of us liked. The joy of it then was that we built our own. Whilst the first one was cooking, the second one was being created and so on. We each created pizza specifically to appeal to our own tastes – marvellous!

I also made a garlic pizzetta to share so, in my blender I whizzed a couple of cloves of chopped garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a couple of teaspoons of dried garlic pizzetta wrosemary. Then I just brushed the oil over the top and wodged in rosemary sprigs – it was bloody lovely!

Mine: tomato sauce, mozzarella slices, a few baby spinach leaves (I would have used basil, but didn’t have any), a few slices prosciutto and a couple of chopped up sundried tomatoes. Seasoned with salt and pepper. Gorgeous!

John: tomato sauce and then what looked like a fridge-raid: chopped up chicken, prosciutto, loadsa mozzarella slices, pepperoni, chopped up sundried tomatoes.

Connagh: tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan, prosciutto, pepperoni.

Other topping suggestions, chopped ham, chorizo, sliced peppers and red onions, chillies, courgettes, anchovies, thyme…and so it goes on….

Inspired by…

James Martin initially, then Jamie Oliver and then, the yeast packet and lastly, the fridge!

How easy…

Dead easy and great fun!