Tag: pizza

Hearty Hogmanay Haggis & Baked Bean Pizza

Traditional Scottish/Italian fare with a baked bean twist.

Chop half a small onion and fry gently in a little butter.

Next, break up a generous slice of pre-cooked haggis from Rob’s in Dandenong, mix with the onion and combine with a small tin of baked beans before plastering the mixture evenly over your  home-made pizza base. Call me a snob but you can’t go wrong with Heinz Baked Beanz.

Cover with an equal mix of grated cheddar and Mozzarella, then finished off with a good pinch of mixed/Italian herbs.

Cook in the oven as you would any less exotic pizza and Robert’s your uncle!

Slice, serve and wash down with your favourite Scotch.

There is a fun bonus if you wait until after the kids have finished before listing the ingredients in haggis…..

 

haggis pizza
Haggis and Baked Bean Pizza

 

 

It’s a Baked Bean Pizza But Not as we Know it

If there is a more heinous crime than serving short measures (of beer), it has to be chucking fruit on a bloody pizza.

What a tart!

Pineapple is a prime example of when culinary creativity meets Mr. Stupid Bollocks. Coming in a close second with ways to totally bastardize an otherwise perfectly good pizza, is the desire to load it with meat. But just to clarify, it’s not simply the addition of meat, it’s the apparent need to stack so much of it on. You may as well rip the horns off a cow, shove your ball of dough up its backside and call that a pizza.

Other than ham or perhaps pepperoni, I don’t understand why anyone would saddle the humble pizza with lumps of assorted animal flesh. Don’t get me wrong, I love a steak as much as the next carnivore but the humble pizza is, in my humble opinion, simply not the place for it, it never was and there’s probably a rule about it somewhere.

One exception to the rule however, should be using minted lamb sausage meat with baked beans! Please, control your retching and hear me out.

Not really my pizza!

Do yourselves a favour and buy a shit-load of minted-lamb sausages from the butcher in Strath Village. His web site is bloody awful but his snags are great. Treat yourself to bangers and mash one night but save one or two sausages for the pizza.

Chop and gently fry a small red onion in a little butter and a teaspoon of honey. Squeeze the meat out of the skins and add to the pan, making sure it’s well broken down. I use a potato masher for this. Add ground or crushed black pepper if you are so inclined.

Chuck in 1/3 tin of baked beans and mix together. There’s no need to cook the beans, we’re just making sure everything is well mixed.

Spread your tomato sauce thinly over your dough. You can skip this stage if you like, especially if your meat and beans mixture is quite wet.

Spread your sausage meat and baked bean topping evenly over your pizza base, top with mozzarella and a good pinch of mixed herbs and wack it in the oven until it starts to brown.

I kid ye not, it’s delicious but very, very rich. I only managed a small slice but the great thing is that I can have another slice for lunch and another for supper! There may even be some left over for breakfast!

 

9th Feb is International Pizza Day!

Believe it or not, and I prefer to believe, tomorrow (February 9th) is International Pizza Day!

Have a look at my simple pizza dough recipe or my first ever effort in the shape of Australia!

I’m sure that many would upchuck at the thought of baked bean pizza but take my word for it, it is awesome. The boffins over at Heinz were obviously on to something when they came up with the frozen one.

heinz baked bean pizza
Mmmm…Heinz Baked Bean Pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is even a Facebook page dedicated to ‘Bring Back Heinz Baked Bean Pizzas‘!!

These days my kids go wild for my own homemade version. It’s not complicated and any baked beans will do. Spread over your tomato sauce or just tomato paste if you prefer, and top with cheese. The bulk of the cheese is simply cheddar of one sort or another but you can finish it off with a little mozzarella if you like. Sprinkle some mixed herbs over if you like and voila!

So if it’s not baked bean pizza, what’s your favourite?

[poll id=”2“]

 

 

 

 

Super simple pizza dough recipe

Several people have asked for my pizza recipe and while I often jot it onto a piece of paper for them, posting the ‘official’ version here might reassure them that ‘it really is that simple’. It certainly can be simple if you want it to be but there is a whole Interwebthingy strewn with debate, research, long versions, short versions, hints, tips and recipes from the pure and simple to the cluttered, chaotic and downright unnecessary.  If you’re looking for a tomato sauce recipe, you won’t find it in this post but I will certainly cover it soon…

Ham and cheese pizza
Ham and cheese pizza

This is my version of a simple dough which is identical to so many out there. It was a starting point for experimentation, trial and error and my own search for great tasting pizza. I’m not saying it’s great by any high gluten stretch of the imagination and I’m not saying there aren’t better recipes out there but it’s a quick and simple version that could whet your appetite and launch you on your own quest for the Holy Grail of pizza.

 

 

 

 

The short way down

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 8 tbsp of warm water
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Mix and knead for several minutes. Oil the inside of a bowl with a little olive oil or spray. Drop the ball of dough in and cover with Glad wrap or a damp cloth and leave somewhere warm. Leave to rise for a couple of hours or until it nearly doubles in size.

Punch the dough down in the centre and roll out on to a floured surface while the oven heats up to about 240° C. Add your tomato sauce and favourite toppings and bake for about 10 t0 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Top tip!

Once your dough is rolled out to the required size and thickness, transfer to a tray or other flat surface covered with semolina or cornmeal. This will enable the topped and finished pizza to easily slide off when you transfer it to the oven.

The long way ’round

For those partial to the convoluted, the following might satisfy your appetite. It’s the same simple recipe, just long-winded.

Doh!

Flour – Strong baker’s flour is best but I often use the super-cheap supermarket homebrand. You can also buy specific bread and pizza flour such as the Anchor brand (for those of us in Australia) but generally, a strong, high protein, plain flour is what you’re after. High protein means higher elasticity and a better rise. Get King Arthur Bread flour if you can find it.

Salt – Good old fashioned table salt. A possibly interesting variation might be to use rock salt for an added crunchy suprise but until I find the salt shaker empty, I might just leave the rock for other recipes and emergencies.

Olive oil – I add a tablespoon of olive oil to the warm water and sometimes drizzle lightly over simple pizzas. A drop or two should be used to line the bowl to prevent sticking during the rise. The spray version is quite handy for this.

Water – 8 tablespoons of warm water should be a guide but 9 shouldn’t harm. If the dough isn’t slightly sticky add minute quantities and continue kneading. It should pull away from the bowl but just stick the bottom as you knead. Conversely, if it’s too wet, sticking to both hands and the bowl, simply sprinkle small quantities of flour. Apparently, an acceptable dough should stretch nicely without cracking.

Yeast – A level teaspoon of ordinary bakers yeast is sufficient for this recipe but this is one ingredient that you don’t necessarily double up on when making larger quantities. I believe this equates to a sachet of the common brands found in any supermarket. During your quest for the perfect pizza, yeast becomes very important but we’ll talk about that another time.

Mixing

Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl. I use a hand whisk to disperse thoroughly. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water and olive oil.

Use a fork and mix until mostly combined. This saves getting all gooed up. Then again, so does using an electric mixer with dough hooks.  Now use a floured hand to knead the dough. I find, as many do, that the kneading process is quite relaxing. It’s also a more socially acceptable means of developing a strong right hand but I digress. This should be done for several minutes before covering and leaving in a warm place to rise. I usually use Glad wrap instead of a traditional damp cloth.

The Rise

There is much debate concerning ingredients, methods and temperatures etc and the length and size of the dough rise is no exception but if I’m in a hurry, I’ll roll it out whenever I damn please.

Many will say that you must wait until it doubles in size and there are arguments for overnight rising but as this is supposed to be a super simple recipe, leave it until it has risen by about 50-75%, usually between 1 and 2 hours. I have even kept dough covered in the fridge for days before using it and if you find regular kneading a chore, or the size of your kneading arm grows to the embarrassing proportions of Popeye, make up a batch, divide into single pizza balls, rub with olive oil, seal in Glad wrap or sandwich bags and throw in the freezer for a rainy day. Once solid, they can be dropped into a sock to manufacture a formidable weapon against burglars, door-to-door salesmen and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The roll

Once your dough has risen enough, dump it out onto a clean floured surface and punch the centre to expel the air. You can use your fist to start spreading the dough outwards. Purists will say you should use just your fingers to manipulate and stretch the dough to the required size and shape but this takes time. Personally, I more often than not use a medium sized empty jam jar. Starting from the middle, gently and evenly roll the dough outwards but avoid rolling the edge. Leaving a slightly thicker rim will result in a lovely crunchy hand hold and prevent hot goey ingredients from sliding off.

The bake

Once the dough is just about there or your patience runs out, whichever is sooner, wack the oven on at 240° C. If you are using a stone, then aim for a good 20 minutes or more to heat up properly. I have heard conflicting theories on stone placement, whether it be top or bottom of the oven and it may just have been luck but I have slightly better results by placing the stone at the top of my rather crappy fan-assisted oven. You’ll have to experiment. Keep an eye on it but at this temperature, 10 minutes should do but take it out when the cheese has melted and the crust is golden brown.

There’s more

If, like me, you catch the pizza-making bug, it will not be long before you begin the quest for the ‘perfect pizza’. However, you need not look much further than Jeff Varasano’s web site. Just ask Google for ‘the perfect pizza recipe’ and Jeff’s site sits in the number one spot. I’ve scanned it numerous times to glean tips but it makes my mouth water in a particularly undignified and wholly Homer-like fashion, every time I visit. I shall have to wear a bib should I ever be lucky enough to visit his recently opened pizzeria in New York!

In the end

The key to making great pizza, in my opinion, is to keep it simple and this recipe is certainly that. By all means experiment with every step until you are satisfied. Get yourself a pizza stone, cook quicker at higher temperatures or for longer on lower, try the top of the oven as well as the lower, add grated Parmesan or mixed herbs to the dough or vary the thickness of crust. All this I will endeavor to cover another time.

All said and done, you have to enjoy what you are doing, otherwise call Domino’s!

 

The Australian Pizza

It would be pure folly to even attempt to explain the train of thought which eventually led to the Australia-shaped pizza but it was fun, if only for me.

I needed an image that I could manipulate, particularly it’s size, without losing quality. I immediately assumed that this was a job for the indomitable Photoshop with which I have little skill and even less patience to learn and so I enquired on a number of graphics-related discussion fora.

Australia shaped pizza
A pizza shaped like Australia! Struth!

The initial response was “make your own” and unsurprisingly, “Pizza Hut” received an honorary mention but eventually, the more mature creative minds offered some useful advice regarding likely candidates and methods for accomplishing the task. However, I would prefer to shave my backside with a blunt, rusty razor and slide down an embankment of nettles on my arse than get to grips with Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro or Corel Draw and not just because I can’t be arsed but more due to the expense involved to use legitimate licensed software.

According to my research, none of the umpteen pizzerias in Bendigo do an Australia-shaped pizza. It would have been simpler to order, photograph and eat. So, even though I [rolleyes]’d at the original, seemingly unhelpful fora replies, I found myself actually making my own rustic pizza. I’m glad I did.

Pizza is incredibly simple to make and there’s no reason why everyone who likes pizza, shouldn’t be able to make their own. In fact, learning to DIY will not only save you money but you’ll appreciate them more as they taste so much nicer than their commercial cousins.

The Dough

2 Cups of plain flour (bread flour if you have it)

3/4 Cup of warm water

1 tsp of salt

1 tsp sugar

2 tbls olive oil

7/8 gms yeast (usually 1 packet)

Sauce and toppings of your choice

Add yeast to warm water.

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add water and yeast mix and the olive oil. Mix and knead into a ball until slightly sticky. Add more flour too sticky or water if too dry. Little olive oil wiped around the bottom part of the bowl. Drop ball of dough in, cover with cellophane wrap and leave somewhere warm to rise.

Once risen by about 50%, remove and flatten on a lightly floured surface. If you can flatten to about 3-5 mm by hand, great. My dough was so elastic that I struggled even with a rolling pin.

Top with the sauce and your preferred toppings. Bake at 2.20 fan assisted, higher for regular.

The result might not look particularly appetizing but my children loved it!

Now, don’t forget that this produced an edible pizza, ultimately for creating the Australia shape. What it certainly has done is inspire me to learn how to make a great pizza and in due course, I will be posting updates using new dough recipes, sauces and methods, while I experiment to find my favourite combo.

There are hundreds of dough variations and a confusing amount of cooking methods but before I even begin, I am going to guess that the winner will be the humble cheese and tomato Margarita. Second place will probably go to a slightly richer calzone with pepperoni.

This is what I am aiming for…

A great looking pizza
The perfect pizza base!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, stay tuned and I will share what I find.