Friday, March 5, 2010

Fabulous Friday Pizzas!

One thing I have learnt over the last week is- never wear ballet flats in the rain- big mistake, I mean huge! It has been raining in Queensland over the past week, so much so rivers are forming where they shouldn't, fields are turning into lakes and.... well it is impossible to do anything outside. I parked my car on Monday night and jumped out stepping right into what seemed to be a newly formed sea! I was drenched- soaked to the bone. My spirit was damaged, as were my shoes (which still have not recovered from the drowning) so for the rest of the week I have tried to stay out of the rain. As soon as the rain starts and the temperatures drop I can feel the kitchen beckoning me- it is my only retreat to this wild weather! Nothing makes me feel better than to put on some Norah Jones get a hot cup of green tea, cosy up and start cooking! Today was a day for homey comfort food- the type of cooking that makes you forget the worries of the world, sometimes only rich flavorful food will do- and today that food was  pizza!

To make a good pizza, really you need homemade pizza base (one that is light, fluffy and crispy), a rich pizza sauce and quality toppings. You really have to make the base by hand- trust me it makes the world of difference! Making pizza base is quite an easy thing to do, and it can be quite relaxing, the kneading could help anyone work out the stresses of life! The amount of dough makes enough for 2 good sized pizzas (each would feed 3 very hungry people) you could also double the recipe if you are ravenous or simply have lots of mouths feed.

The tomato sauce is such a cooking basic- while I used it for the pizza base, any left over’s can be popped in the freezer. It also tastes great tossed through pasta with some grated parmesan on top; it is a very versatile staple. When I make pizza I like to make a tandoori chicken with lime yogurt and coriander, and a pancetta, potato, mozzarella and basil- both very different, but very very yummy! The best thing about making pizza is you can get creative- pretty much put on it what you - it is a safe place for experimentation.


Pizza Sauce

  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

  • 2 ½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt

  • Cracked pepper

  • 2 cloves of garlic

In a saucepan cook the tomatoes over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and turn the heat right down to a gentle simmer and simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and has thickened. Remove from the heat.

Pizza Base

• 7g of yeast (one sachet)

• 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

• 500g of strong flour

• 2 teaspoons salt

• 300ml of luke warm water

Pour the water into a bowl, sprinkle the dry yeast in and whisk with a form until all the yeast is dissolved (the water will become milky), then add the olive oil, mix and set aside.

In a separate bowl mix the flour and salt together. With a hand mixer with the dough hooks attached mix the flour on a low speed gradually adding the liquid containing the yeast- I usually leave 1 or 2 teaspoons in order to help to fold in the remaining flour that might have been left behind- also this ensures that the dough does not become too wet, you can always add more if needed. Continue kneading the dough on a low speed for 15 to 20 minutes- or you can knead by hand on a lightly floured surface. After the dough has become smooth and springy, knead for 1 minute by hand.

Place the dough in a large bowl that has been lightly brushed in oil (this will stop the dough sticking to the sides) then brush the top of the dough lightly to stop a dry crust forming and cover with a damp tea towel or cling film. Place the bowl in a warm place or in a very low oven for about 1 hour- the dough will then have become very light and airy and should have doubled in size.

Take the dough out and knead for 1 or 2 minutes on a lightly floured surface- this is called knocking back the dough and helps to get rid of excess air. Turn the oven to 230 degrees celsius to preheat for the pizzas.

Separate the dough out into 2 large portions, or alternatively you can make 4 smaller individual pizzas. Flatten the dough out with your hands as best you can, then using a large rolling pin roll out the dough into the shape of your choice (circle or rectangle is the easiest). Try to get the dough to a thickness of about 3 mm as it will rise when cooking- if the dough is too thick at this stage when cooked the base will become quite thick and will not have as much crunch.

Spread the base with the tomato sauce using the back of a spoon.

Chicken Tandoori, with lime yoghurt and coriander

• 2 chicken breasts- I like to use a BBQ chicken for this as it is easy and the meat remains tender after being cooked in the oven

• ½ of a red onion very thinly sliced

• 1 vine ripened tomato

• 1 tablespoon of tandoori paste- can use less if you do not like it hot

• 2 ½ tablespoons of natural yogurt

• 1 lime

• Grated Cheese

• Handful of fresh coriander

Shred the chicken and mix with 1 tablespoon of yogurt and Tandoori paste and set aside. Can add more yogurt if you do not want the chicken to be too hot.

Top the pizza with the sliced onion then the slices of tomato. I usually put the grated cheese on at this stage as I find that it helps the ingredients to stay put when cooking. Then top with the chicken and you can sprinkle a little more cheese on top if you like.

Put the pizza in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the base has puffed and crisp. Finally mix the left over yogurt with half of a lime and drizzle over pizza, top with the coriander and serve with extra lime wedges.

Pancetta, Potato, Mozzarella and Basil

• 5 slices of pancetta

• 1 small potato thinly sliced

• Mozzarella

• Handful of torn basil

Lightly fry the potato until just cooked through, place on paper towels to remove excess oil. Once oil has been removed from potato place on the pizza base, top with torn pancetta and fill in the gaps with slices of the mozzarella. Like the chicken pizza, cook in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the base has puffed and crisp. Remove from the oven and top with torn basil and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I am a fellow Nigella-er (unepetitefemme) and I thought I would pop over and see what you were about. I was very pleasantly surprised! Your pictures are gorgeous as wells as your recipes. Your writing style is very nice too. I'm looking forward to your next post!

    Happy Saturday,