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Benvenuti al Tutti!

Welcome to Luigi's Tastes of Italy

This blog is my small dedication to Italian cooking, and is abolutely 100% free of pretentiousness, complicated ingredients, or any effort to present Italian cuisine as anything other than it really is, very simple.

Hope you enjoy reading my posts and maybe trying out some of the recipes.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza!

Pizza is a very annoying issue for me. I really want to embrace those thick based, heavy, claggy topped, modern pizza's. I really do.

I can also confess that on the rare occasions that I encounter this type of "pizza", I love eating them, with even things such as Pepperoni plastered upon them.

I know they are unhealthy. I know they are swimming in grease, and generally quite nasty, but I still eat them occasionally. Admittedly, I have to say, I sort of enjoy it.

Despite this, deep down inside me, they annoy me immensely, as being poor imposters of the real thing.

I suppose the same way that real genuine Chinese or Indian food, bares no, or little resemblance, to the stuff served up in our take-outs, the same sorry state of affairs, applies to Pizza. It is a fast food love affair with something that is knowingly quite fundamentally wrong.

Truthfully. Pizza is one of those foods, that has really evolved beyond any recognition in many parts of the world. Despite my admission of occasionally eating them. Take-out readymade Pizza in particular, is an awful thing. 

Artifical tasting bases, made far too thick, and doughy. Basically tasting as if they are made from floor sweepings and pure salt (probably, not far from the truth). 

This is then compunded further by the toppings ranging from barbecue sauces, cheddar cheese, pineapple, chicken, hams, pepperoni. I mean what is pepperoni anyway?  Aside from greasy, and probably made from some kind of meat by-product, in its murky past.  It has as much in common with real Italian Salami, as has someone from Vietnam in common with a Korean.

Those other toppings also do not belong to an Italian pizza.

OK I grant you, these Pizza's may taste nice, they may be convenient. I am not unduly knocking what is essentially a part of culture in many parts of the world.

Is it however, a real Pizza?
Would Italians recognize it as a Pizza?

The answer has to be an undisputable, No! No Way!

Far from being a relatively healthy meal, most Pizzas found in take-outs, the cheaper chain eateries, or in the frozen food aisles of supermarkets have been turned into salt laden, artery clogging affairs.  

In all honesty I would strongly urge people to avoid these, other than the rare occasional treats. Certainly never poison your children's opinion of pizza by feeding them these vile creations, as unfortunately many parents in the UK seem to enjoy doing.

Now think of a Neapolitan Pizza, a freshly base with doughy chewy edges with REAL flavour, all made using fresh ingredients. Think of a freshly made sauce with real tomatoes, or using fresh garlic, and herbs.  Think of real mozarella torn into pieces over the top. And finally think of all this being placed into an exceptionally hot, wood burning, clay oven.

Do you suppose the ever so slightly smokey (slightly burned in places) base, and beautiful fresh herby tasting topping has any similarity to the aforementioned take out variety, NOPE., Absolutely not.

However with a tiny bit of effort you can create an Italian pizza in your home. A pizza which is healthy to eat, and a million miles away from the awful ready made ones.

I grant you very few people are going to own a clay oven, and despite the fact modern home ovens are capable of reaching fairly high temperatures, it will be nowhere near hot enough. Do not despair! As however there is a trick you can use. I want to demonstrate here, that absolutely excellent results are achieveable at home. The taste is pretty close to what you could enjoy on the Amalfi coast, at a fraction of the price of a resturaunt, and as all my recipes, VERY little effort is needed.



INGREDIENTS:
(for 2 large 12" square pizza's)

SIMPLE PIZZA DOUGH:
1/2 teaspoon of fast acting dried yeast (like the stuff you would use in a breadmaker)
300g (11 ounces) Strong white flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
150ml Water

REAL PIZZA DOUGH:
2-3 tablespoon of sourdough starter
300g (11 ounces) Strong white flour
1 teaspoon of salt
100-150ml water (use as much as required to form a dough)

PIZZA SAUCE
400g best quality tomatoes

PIZZA TOPPINGS
This is a matter of conjecture, you can in theory add whatever you wish, for this example though, I am making a simple Margherita Pizza. Delicious and cheap.
1 Mozeralla ball torn into small pieces
Dozen or so Basil leaves torn up
Some Olive oil,
Freshly greated parmesan to sprinkle before baking,



METHOD:

-The Pizza Dough; OK a choice. If pressed for time you can make the simple dough recipe, or if you have fresh yeast or better yet sourdough starter I highly recommend the authentic REAL pizza dough recipe.

- There a host of methods of doing this mixing business, you can do this by hand, in a food processor, or even in a breadmaker as we do. Essentially you mix together all the ingredients, knead for ten-fifteen minutes ball up and allow for leaving the dough in a warm place to "prove" for around 20-30 minutes if using right away but preferably, for REAL dough you need to rest for 24-48 hours. Basically you want the dough to develop character and flavour. Once done, you can prepare your topping sauce as in the next step.

-Whizz/pulse in a food processor (or with a hand blender) the tomatoes until relatively smooth. Prepare the rest of the toppings, put to one side.

-Once all your ingredients are ready, preheat a grill. And a heavy bottomed frying pan with no oil on a high heat setting. It is important you heat your pan until it is VERY hot. You can obviously use a real pizza oven. 

-Next stretch and work each ball seperately as needed, so that they form a very thin base but with a cornicone (deeper crust at edge), and will fit into whatever pan your using.  Use your best judgement, but it should feel very thin in the middle, and the edges should be a bit thicker maybe an inch.

-Now drop one of the Pizza bases into the hot pan, leave for a few minutes.  Then quickly smear over your sauce (not too much, not to wet), and finally add the toppings, waste as little time as you can, aim to get the pizza under the grill as quick as you can. Hotter and quicker you work, the better.

-After about 2-3 minutes baking in that hot grill, your pizza will be ready. I like it slightly charred, but obviously use your judgement. The beauty of baking at a high temp in the pan, means that the base will be well done, but the crusts will be cooked but still pliable, chewy and tasty.


SERVING SUGGESTION:
In the pictures below, you can see my Margharita, enjoyed with a nice ale.  Albeit the thinness of the base is not obvious, you can take my word for it, it was. Another thing worth mentioning again, is don't add to much sauce, or to many wet toppings, or you will get a soggy bottom. And who wants that!


And my other half having more "sophicasted" tastes than my own peasant ways, wanted slices of fresh tomato, black olives, red onion, and some capers on hers.

All in all, this took under one hour to make!  Not bad!

Keep in mind that these are best eaten hot. Enjoy!

11 comments:

Erica said...

The pizza looks great! Thank you for sharing the dough and sauce recipes.

Donna said...

"Certainly never poison children by feeding them these vile creations, as unfortunately many parents in the UK seem to enjoy doing."

That was the best line, in the history of food blogging! I was laughing hysterically. You are correct in so many ways.

If you think its bad in the UK then don't come to the US. When we lived in the South. Toddlers are raised eating Lard. Pure fat. Sick, Sick. It isn't as bad in NYC as it was down there, but people still feed their children too much junk.

Mari said...

Wow that looks great! I love your girlfriend's slices minus the capers =)

another great recipe! Thanks for sharing

literarygeek said...

I much prefer thin-based pizza with lots of yummy, healthy things on top, like olives and anchovies! Most people don't seem to share my preference though!

Tania said...

I love pizza (margherita) too much! Tomato, mozzarella and olive oil are simple ingredients but pizza is very tasty!

Velva said...

I had to smile while reading your lament on the modern fast-food pizza. I can avoid frozen pizzas and the major greasy pepperoni and cheese...Certainly, no problem avoiding pineapple and ham (yuck). However, a good quality hand tossed New York or Chicago pizza...never. Also, I would never say no to a healthy and delicious slice of pizza that you offered. Your pizza looks really good.

Merry Christmas to you your family!

Joanne said...

So I definitely have been known to put very strange toppings on my pizza. But I am all about homemade over storebought. Storebought pizza just has no flavor...it is usually just a pool of grease! My children will not be eating it.

Your pizza, on the other hand, looks fantastic! The dough sounds amazing...best part of the pizza for sure.

Kim said...

Both your crust and the pizza look terrific! I wish I could get a real wood burning oven in my house, wouldn't that be great! In the meantime, I have to settle for cooking them at 500F in my oven. I love pizza night.

Ann Minard said...

This looks great! My Dad is from Naples, Italy and he used to make homemade pizza every Saturday and his looked just like this the shape and all!

Rich said...

Dr. Oetker Ristorante has teamed up with wine guru Jilly Goolden to find the perfect wine matches for their delicious pizza range!

The wine guide is available for download on the new www.pizzaforpassione.com microsite along with a new blog exploring the brands passion for pizza, ingredients and Italy.

If you need anymore information or images, just contact ristorante@brazenpr.com.

Shu Han said...

I went to Rome in June and had the most amazing pizza. Done right, I don't think it's unhealthy at all! plus italians have the reputation for having great health and great bods so I'm sure it's not the pizza;) I'll bookmark your recipe and try it out myself one day, though I must admit I'm abit scared to attempt this ><

http://mummyicancook.blogspot.com/2011/06/when-in-rome-eat-as-romans-eat.html

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