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Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Pizza

Firstly, a big cheer cheer to Morgue for the Linky.

Every week before we go shopping, we make a menu and try to stick to it. It was partly our desire to reduce the amount of red meat we were eating, but also a way of cutting down on having excess food in the fridge and freezer and never knowing what we were going to eat when I got home from work. So the menu became a habit, and it has been a Good Thing.

Of course, sometimes there are deviations, like yesterday's. We also allow a little flexibility, depending on what might happen to be on special at the supermarket. Long story short, tomorrow's plan for fish became roast pork (hanging out for that already), and tonight's soup with fresh bread turned into pizza. I felt a tiny pang of guilt when deciding to make pizza after having FnC last night, but reminded myself that home-made pizza is much healthier than the bought stuff. Honest.

There's one thing that makes this an easy Friday night feed, and that is a breadmaker. I only ever use the breadmaker to mix up dough, and I use the same recipe for bread, buns, or pizza dough. If you don't have a breadmaker, you can always do it the old-fashioned way (it's worked for hundreds of years, after all), or you can ask for one for your next flatwarming/wedding/birthday/christmas/mother's day/father's day present.

So whether you machine it or massage it, here's the basic recipe:

300g Hi-Grade Flour,
200g Semolina Flour,
2 T Surebake Yeast,
1 T Sugar,
1 t Salt,
315mls tepid water (should be warm to the touch, a bit cooler than you might wash your hands under).

Optionally, you can add in a T of dried mixed herbs or about 3 T of chopped fresh herbs, or a T of Paprika, or a 1/8 cup of raisins and a bit of freshly ground nutmeg and cinnamon. Do this right at the start, not when the mixer beeps as suggested. In my experience waiting for the beep tends to leave the extras unmixed.

Putting it together:

The next most important thing you can have for good pizza is a pizza stone. There are good ones available commercially, but you can also get a plain ceramic tile from a tile shop that should do that same thing. Make sure its not glazed, about 15mm thick, and big enough to hold the size of pizza you want to cook. (PS: the author hereby admits no responsibility for instances of exploding tiles based on this information. Blog advice should not replace the wisdom of a true professional.)

Once the dough is done, remove it from the pan and place it on a floured bench. Preheat the oven to 200c, placing one tray about 1/3 of the way up. Place your pizza stone or pizza tray in the oven to heat up too. With a long sharp knife cut the dough into 2, or 3 or 4, depending on how many you'd like and how big you'd like to cook them. We cook two big ones, but you might like to do little ones for the kids, or whatever. Then the fun bit: Rolling out the dough. With floured hands, push the dough outwards from the centre, turning with every action so that the dough spreads evenly. It should press down to about 1cm high. Toss it if you like, and add extra flour if it feels too damp or sticks to the bench.
What I then do to make life easy is rip off a piece of baking paper and place it on a large chopping board, big enough for the pizza. Place your dough on the paper and spread with a light coat of olive oil. If you like, crush a clove of garlic with a knife and rub it over the dough as well. Nom nom. We use pre-made pizza sauce, spreading about 1/2 a pottle over one pizza. As time allows, I'll investigate a home-made sauce. It can't be that hard, can it?
What you add for toppings is then up to you. We tend towards the less is more theory. We were in NY a few years ago, and it is the next best place in the world to Italy to see how pizza should be. Our favourite toppings tend to be a sprinkle of chopped salami with fresh chopped tomato, or simply ripped basil leaves, or chopped red onion.
Then the cheese, with a good grate of Parmesan and pepper.
I make one pizza at a time, otherwise the second pizza goes soggy waiting to go into the oven. Unless you've got one of those super wide ovens, I only ever cook one at a time, because if you try cooking them 2 high then one won't cook on the bottom, while the other doesn't brown on the top. And swapping them over doesn't seem to alleviate this. So pull your hot stone/tray from the oven and slide the baking paper with its pizza on and pop it straight back in for 20 mins.
When the first pizza has about 10 mins to go, start on the second one, repeating the process and juggling the pizzas across chopping boards and the hot stone.
Slice and eat. Nom nom.

Oh, and if you'd like to make this a healthier option, try putting a little salad on the side.

Things to look forward to: Roast Pork!!


Giffy said...

Hi Dan! I see a link to my honey ginger biscuits. Are you going to try making them? They are seriously easy, because I love one-bowl baking :)

I used to do home-made pizza back in NZ and I love it. It is yummier than bought, I think. I was lazy though and would just buy pre-made bases from Woolworths. We liked to have smoked chicken, brie, cream cheese, spring onion on ours (not necessarily the healthiest of ingredients. Sometimes we would put a swirl of Satay sauce on top! (Depending on what was in fridge/pantry).

I've heard that a scone base is also good, and keep meaning to try that.

Because this year I am on my OE in Ireland and don't want to be lugging lots of stuff back to NZ in Dec, I won't invest in a Pizza stone, but I think i will do so when we get back to NZ.

Also, talking of things that are good to request for wedding etc. We got a slow cooker for our wedding. So. Good. Extra handy if you want to eat *as soon* as you get home from work as there are several meals you can prep the night before, keep in fridge overnight, put on slowcooker as you head out the door. Come home to delicious smell and warm food (we really liked doing baked potatoes like this. Stews and soups are also fab).

This comment is really long! :)

Dan said...

I'm trying to convince my wife to make them - she does the baking, I do the cooking!

my favourite topping has to be chicken, cranberry and brie. its been done, I know, but its still good.

also, berries and ricotta on a spiced dough base makes for a beautiful dessert.

we've been talking about getting a slowcooker for ages. it hasn't been essential, but it would be handy.

morgue said...

Total slow cooker convert over here, too. They are quite the awesome.

lbs said...

I have recently been introduced to the slow cooker too, and love it. Made chicken casserole in it one day, it was awesome.