Homemade pizza! Yum yum yum

I love pizza, and I love cheese!  What I do not love is tomato sauce, and pizza restaurants that do not look at me funny when I ask for pizza with no tomato sauce are few and far between.  Also, making pizza at home is lots of fun- we are always in fits of giggles by the end, trying to make the dough flat in a pizza shape (next time we’ve decided we are going to give up on the attempt to make them round, and deliberately shape them like countries- mine was accidentally Australia last time).

The recipe I’ve previously used for pizza dough is Jamie Oliver’s, although I do find that I a) am incapable of mixing it on the work surface as he suggests and revert to a bowl because I am too scared that I will make a more enormous mess than I usually do, which is saying something, and b) require more flour (or less water?) than he suggests.  The last time we made pizza, though, I gleefully purchased the dough from the wonderful Mark’s Bread (which also has a Jamie Oliver connection, as I understand they feature in his new book) and it was delicious.

I have also developed my own alternative sauce, which is a bit of a faff, but very worth it.  As Mark said, “If I wasn’t eating my own pizza, I would be happy to eat yours”.  The most effusive of compliments, I think you’ll agree.  It is a more refined version of the sauce I described in my last pizza post here.

Meg’s non-tomato pizza base

1/2 tub ricotta (say, 5-6 heaping tablespoons? not very scientific with this bit)
1 large clove garlic
lots of salt and pepper
handful chopped parsley

equipment:
tea strainer (i.e. a miniature strainer/sieve)
small bowl
patience

Having discovered that if I just mixed up a ricotta-based sauce straight from the tub, it was a bit watery on the pizza, I decided (uncharacteristically) to add an additional cooking step and try and drain the ricotta before using it.  And, it worked.  Very well.

So, spoon the ricotta into the tea strainer and balance it over the small bowl.  Stick this in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably longer, and swear death unto anyone who tips it over.  You could do this with muslin as well, but I don’t have any, so.

Once your ricotta is suitably drained, very finely chop or mince the garlic, roughly chop the parsley, and mix in with the ricotta.  You might need to persuade the person you are sleeping next to that night to have some too, as it is VERY garlicky.  Season generously with salt and pepper, and there you go.

Spread onto the pizza base, top with mozzarella and/or whatever else you fancy, and stick  in the oven until the base is cooked and the top is bubbling (10-15 minutes?).

See what I mean about a vague resemblance to Australia?  It looks boring, but tastes really nice I promise.  And anyway, it was exactly what I fancied that evening, which is the whole point of homemade pizza.

Mark’s kitchen-sink pizza. There’s even more stuff under the cheese, if you can believe it.

Salad, pizza and chocolate peanut butter cup experimentation

I have been doing a bit of foodie experimenting recently, inspired by all the yummy shops around the corner from me in Clifton.  Not least of these is Reg the Veg, an excellent greengrocer who sells all sorts of delicious vegetabley things.  We’ve had asparagus recently, and I have also been captivated by watercress, which I love.

I made a salad for dinner the other day which consisted of salad leaves (chiefly the aforementioned watercress, but it’s a bit powerful on its own so I mixed it in with some spinach leaves and red oak lettuce), blanched green beans and broccoli, topped with grilled halloumi and softish-boiled eggs which I cooled for a bit and then peeled and chopped up.  It was very tasty, with some bits of garlic toast to munch on as well.

Oh yes, and radishes. Crunch crunch.

I also made pizza.  Not being a fan of tomato sauce, eating pizza in restaurants is often a bit frustrating, as if I ask for no tomato sauce the staff usually look at me as if I’ve sprouted an extra head.  So sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t, but I always wish I could just go into the kitchen and put what I like on the pizza with no funny looks.

I used Jamie Oliver’s pizza dough recipe, although I halved the amounts as there were only two of us.  Even so, it made lots.

Aside from some issues getting the pizzas onto their trays and into the oven (actually owning suitable trays would be a start- I think the trick to a crispy base is to put the tray directly onto something that’s been pre-heating in the oven, like a pizza stone or an oven tray, so I was trying to achieve that and there was a bit too much juggling of raw pizza dough as a result) they came out beautifully.  Mine has a base of ricotta cheese mixed with garlic and parsley and salt, topped with mozzarella, parmesan, rosemary and more parsley, and Mark’s has a base of tomato puree mixed with garlic, parsley, salt and a bit of water to make a sauce, topped with mozzarella, spicy salami, and parsley.   I think next time I might strain the ricotta a bit before making the sauce, but that’s just quibbling really.

I also made Ashley English’s chocolate peanut butter cups (recipe here) which tasted sublime, but were a little unprepossessing in appearance, chiefly because I didn’t have lining papers so made my own with greaseproof paper.  Do try them if you’re so inclined- they are scrumptious.