Home made pizza

Pizza

Homemade pizza. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with this. The ingredients:

  • Pizza base. You can buy this pre-made from the supermarket. Please don’t, it’s awful. We have a sneaky trick to a good base. Get your bread maker to do the kneading cycle on either your own bread recipe or supermarket bread mix. So much better. And fresh. And you can claim homemade.
  • The tomato sauce. At its simplest level, this can be San Marzano tomatoes straight out of the tin, possiby warmed. Alternatively, my easy pasta sauce: heat a tin of tomatoes, a crushed garlic clove, a drizzle of good olive oil, and a small handful of chopped basil. Heat until the olive oil is blended in and the sauce is bubbling slightly.
  • Mozzarella. This can range from the supermarket’s own up to artisan burrata. There’s not much to choose here. It melts and is slightly burned. As long as it’s cheesy and stringy, you’re fine.
  • Toppings is where it gets really funky. My favourite place has the following toppings at the moment:
    • Margherita. As simple as it gets.
    • Goats cheese and chutney.
    • Pepperoni. A classic.
    • Laverbread, samphire, cockles, local artisan lardons. It’s Wales. What do you expect?
    • Nduja. A spicy, melty sausage. Very good.
    • Aubergine.
    • Very garlic.
    • Prosciutto.
  • A white, tomato-less one of some sort.
  • Equally, my favourite Pizza Express topping, the Veneziana:
    • Pine kernels, red onion, baby capers, black olives, sultanas. Such a lovely combination of sweet and savoury.
  • And finally on my list, the one that is the Marmite of pizza toppings:
    • Ham and pineapple. Do this with good artisan ham and the saltiness is offset by the slightly charred sweetness of the pineapple.

And there you have it. The werewithal to make your own pizza. For extra points, make a sourdough base!

 

Classic Bolognese/Ragù/Tomato Sauce

It was decided we would have a vegetarian dinner since we’d been having meat just a little too often, despite my O- blood group being allegedly quite meat oriented. It’s bullshit, but what the heck.

Fried Onions

We had some Quorn mince in the freezer. Quorn is not the worst thing in the world. We survived on it when my daughter went through the obligatory vegetarian phase in her teens.

I have entered arguments about what constitutes a Bolognese vs. a Ragù and this leans more to the Ragù since it has a tin of tomatoes thrown in.

Method

We start by chopping a couple of cloves of garlic and a couple of small onions. Or one large one. Fry them in olve oil until they are translucent. At this point I also like to add a chopped green pepper sometimes, I find the flavour contrast quite nice. Once that’s all done, throw in half a cup of red wine and some tomato paste and let that reduce.

Finally, throw in 1tbsp of “Italian Seasoning” herbs, a tin of chopped tomatoes and as much Quorn (100g-200g?) as you want and 1tsp of salt and pepper.

A 1/4 tsp of chilli is quite contentious in my house. I find a little heat sets off the flavour of the tomatoes quite nicely. 1tbsp of sugar is a little less contraversial.

Let this simmer for at least half an hour to reduce some of the juice from the tomatoes. What you may find is that the Quorn is a little glutinous and made the sauce a little thicker all on its own.

Tomato Sauce

The next big question is which pasta to serve it with. My answer is: it doesn’t matter. If you serve it with any of spaghetti, penne or tagliatelle, no-one is going to come after you. Just make sure it’s good pasta. Allegedly Barilla brand is the best with Napolina More importantly, apparently, is to save a couple of tbsp of the cooking water and add it back to the pasta. The gluten in the water helps the sauce stick to the pasta. I have no evidence for this!

When serving, top with fresh basil and some grated parmesan. Serve with a nice Chianti and a side salad of choice, maybe some garlic bread.

There you have it! One of my store cupboard staples.

Goulash London style and a heresy

IMG_1331

A friend said he was cooking this which immediately gave me a yearning.

First thing was that my paprika was supermarket and stale, so I ventured to the Spice Shop in Brighton, purveyor of all things herby, spicy and tasty.

Then it starts getting religious: is it a soup or a stew? Sour cream or not? Served with potatoes, rice, pasta, dumpling or some form of bread? Whose grandmother is the one true queen of goulash?

Ultimately, it seems to me at least, it boils down to distinguishing it from any other beef stew and that means NO WINE and NO tomatoes, however tempting that may be. The guardian recipe recommends faffing with green peppers, I didn’t and they were fine. Use lots of onions, they cook right down to the volume doesn’t matter. For a pound of meat, at least three, fried gently. IMG_1332

Hungarian joke: “what do you want for dinner tonight to go with your sour cream?”

Having stocked up on shiny new paprika it was disappointing to find that my caraway was dead. The end result was good enough but we both thought “needed mushrooms”.

Last night I did it again my way:

  • Put in a bunch of quartered button mushrooms
  • Used most of a bottle of red wine (Hungarian! Undrinkable!)
  • Use a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Threw in a handful of pearl barley just because
  • Bought fresh caraway seeds
  • Scored beef shin from Morrisons which was fatty, marbled and so tender.
  • I threw in some garlic at the onion frying stage
  • I put a tablespoon of flour in with three of the paprika when coating before frying. Threw the unused in anyway
  • I made herby (with Greek oregano!) dumplings

I liked mine better.