Homesick? Crank up your ovens!
Pizza – you take it for granted where you live, don’t you? Don’t you?? Well, embrace your local pizzeria and eat a slice for me while you’re at it! And, if you’re feeling adventurous you might suggest that your local delicious pizza man open up a spot over here in London. He’d have at least one loyal diner. Cry me a river, you might say, but I never knew until I couldn’t get decent pizza, what an important food group it is to me. One of the first things I ask for when I visit home is a good old-fashioned American style pizza with pepperoni and sausage, thank you very much! I’m salivating just thinking about it.
What they do make over here is the original Italian style thin crust pizza, usually served on a board for a single diner, and often topped with rocket (that’s arugula to you and me) and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s sort of like a more authentic version of the California Pizza Kitchen. Yeah, it’s good, but it’s not the same food group at all.
This week, when my husband was sick and I was tired of cooking chicken broth and changing sweated-through sheets, we ordered what they call an American style pizza from a place around the corner. Double pepperoni and black olives please (asking for Italian sausage is just a bridge too far somehow). It arrived with a soggy crust (in spite of asking for it cooked well-done), a lumpy tomato sauce and pepperoni that resembled thick cut, chewy spicy cardboard. Then I got mad that we’d paid £15 for a small, terrible, unhealthy meal, and then I got doubly mad because I remembered that I had some frozen pizza dough in the freezer and could have made one myself in the amount of time it had taken for this piece of garbage to arrive at our flat.
Now, yes, you can adorn the crust with your own toppings, but really do try the goat cheese layer on the bottom. It gives the whole thing a fantastic tangy, salty je ne sais quois. Also, for those of you who have an aversion to cooking with yeast (you know who you are), pizza dough is the perfect yeast recipe to break you in.
The following dough recipe makes enough for 3 thin crust pizzas that will each serve 2-3 people (or often just me if I need a serious pig out). Just separate into three equal size rounds once it’s risen, throw them into individual freezer bags and store in the freezer until you need them. They defrost really quickly and you can throw on whatever toppings you have on hand. Now I feel like a Gwyneth Goop wannabe, or maybe Queen Martha, but having these in your freezer really is a good thing.
250g all-purpose flour
250g bread flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
325ml warm water
In a large bowl, mix together the two flours, salt and yeast. Add the water and olive oil and mix together until a rough dough forms. Now flour your countertop and turn out the mixture and knead for 5-10 minutes until a nice smooth dough is formed.
Coat a bowl with some more oil and place the dough in it, cover with a tea towel and place somewhere warm to rise for a couple of hours.
Once it’s doubled in size, punch all the air out of it and now it’s ready to use or store, as I explained above.
log of soft goat cheese
¼ pound of bacon, cut into lardons and fried
shredded mozzarella cheese
pint of grape tomatoes, cut into quarters and marinated in a little balsamic, garlic, salt & pepper
red pepper flakes
grated parmesan all over the top
fresh basil chiffonade to finish
Heat oven to 500 degrees. Put a thin layer of polenta on your cookie sheet. Now roll out, pull, prod, and otherwise form your pizza to the thickness and shape you desire. Place it on the polenta’d cookie sheet, use a fork to make holes all over the bottom of it and bake until it’s just turning golden – about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and decorate with toppings.
|Admittedly, it doesn't lookgreat, but it tasted delicious!|
I start with a layer of goat cheese which will melt and spread nicely over the base. Now sprinkle on the bacon and tomatoes (make sure not to get much of the marinating liquid on the pizza or things will get soggy). A little pinch of red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, a grating of parmesan, and you’re ready to go back into the oven for about 10 minutes or until it all looks bubbly, brown and delicious. Sprinkle with the fresh basil and voila!