Sunday, July 18, 2010

Home delivery

There aren't many things I think I can make better than, or even equal to, a restaurant. What I have discovered though, is something that I really have fun doing, I can completely customise and is also not too bad eating for the amount spent.

Pizza. If I could, I would probably make it with a super thin, crisp base with a just a few simple, quality ingredients: prosciutto and rocket, or bocconcini and basil. But I'm not quite there on the base yet. I used a recipe out of Pete Evans' 'My Grill' cookbook, thinking that if they're anything like Hugo's pizzas, that'll do.

The most fun part has to be the yeast stage of the dough: first, the bubbly, pungent mix and then mixing in flour for the first prove. Call it scientific curiosity or childish awe - I love waiting for the yeast to do its thing for an airy, sticky ball of dough.

First prove of pizza dough

I also love how recipes call for a punch to knock the air out of the dough - for getting some internalised aggression out in the kitchen (nah, it's all fairies and rainbows in me). And if you're up for a workout, I think kneading dough is worthwhile although one really needs to make sure that the work space is the right height. And it's definitely not a sit down job.

And as for toppings, here's the problem I've come across. Having pizza out, you're usually restricted on toppings for a number of reasons: set topping combinations; cost; what the base can physically handle; and fear of getting looks of horror and disgust when the chef/waiter/whoever discovers you're a complete and utter hog.

This all goes out the window at home: there are no rules; you can have whatever you can afford at the supermarket; if your excessive toppings fall off onto the ground, you can apply the three-second rule; and the only person judging will be yourself and whoever you're feeding - and surely they won't mind.

Field mushroom and cherry tomato topping

While I adore button mushrooms on most occasions, I must seriously recommend field mushies as a pizza topping. The intensified flavour as well as the greater coverage on top give it a clear advantage, although if they're not available, I'm still quite happy with buttons - perhaps tossed with garlic and parsley in a pan before adding.

Cherry tomatoes add a healthy, sweet and juicy element; furthering the red colour scheme on top of the tomato passata used sparingly on the base so that it has a chance at getting crisp.

Field mushroom,cherry tomato, rocket pizza

As can be seen, lashings of mozzarella cheese was added (cheese fiend, after all) along with seasoning and a few leaves of rocket for greenery and freshness (to say nothing of the ongoing rocket addiction).

To cut, we removed the entire pizza from the tray - well floured so as to not stick - and just chucked it on a chopping board; rather than risking tray or knife damage by doing it on the tray. I haven't got a pizza cutter, but I rather like the cutting and serving on a wooden board.

Now for your close-up...

The cheese had gotten to a perfectly browned appearance with the stringy texture to match. All it takes is camping out in front of the oven watching the cheese melt and bubble for a handful of minutes (I forget how many - I was too enthralled by watching cheese melt). Hopefully, if the base is thin enough and the oven hot enough, the base should cook through in the same matter of minutes.

Another trick was to heat the pizza tray before getting the dough base on it, though this is a little trickier and potentially dangerous if you decide to really push that cheese into the pizza.

Chorizo, caramelised Spanish onion, chilli and sage pizza

Caramelised onions add an extra dimension as a pizza topping and while some preparation is required compared to raw onion, the bonus is no onion breath. This topping combination is inspired by one of the favourites down at GPO at No.1 Martin Place, but with so much more of everything bar chilli flakes. The sage was in the lonely in the fridge, so on it went.

Two pizzas for two, with leftovers for breakfast pizza, all washed down with one of the delightful Firestick shirazs from the Hunter Valley trip weeks earlier - tutto buonissimo!

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