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Following on from my original post about Pizza Bases last year, here is a good idea for a speedy pizza and one I will be using regularly.  It substitutes ready bought pitta breads as pizza bases.  The original recipe suggested that the pittas could be divided in two for an extra crispy pizza, layering toppings on rough side.  I found this proved too difficult.  I ended up with two halves of different thicknesses, one of which was far too thin.  An uncut pitta is perfectly adequate as a base.   The suggestion was that round pittas could be used if available, but I could not track any down: oval was fine.  Some supermarkets sell very small pitta breads which would be idea served at a buffet.

The original recipe came from Red magazine, August 2008 issue, in an article giving suggestions for picnic food.  It is ideal as a light snack, either cold as they suggest, or hot straight from the oven with salad for a summer light meal.  I used a simple mozzarella and tomato topping, adding slices of mushroom and red pepper, but any other favourite toppings could be used: fresh tomato, ham, tuna, prawns are all popular.  The original recipe first spread on a layer of tomato puree but I used my home made Tomato Relish – recipe to follow very soon.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Pitta Pizzas
(Makes 6)

Olive oil, a little to brush over and to pour on top of each pitta pizza
6 pitta breads, white or brown
½tsp Tomato puree, evenly smeared, per pitta
   or
2tsp Tomato Relish (or similar) per pitta
Two pinches of Italian mixed herbs/pizza herbs per pizza
2 x 125g Mozzarella Balls cut into thin slices
Black pepper
Torn fresh Basil leaves
Slices of Mushroom, 2-4 per pitta pizza (optional)
Thin slices of Red Pepper, about 2 per pitta pizza (optional)

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4.

2.  Place the breads on a baking tray and smear lightly with a little olive oil, going right to the edges.

3.  Smear on a layer of tomato puree (do not go right to the edge as it will blacken if not covered).  Alternatively spread on tomato relish.  Sprinkle lightly with Italian or pizza herbs.

4.  If using mushroom, red pepper or other ingredients equally divide these between the bases.

5.  Drain the cheese well and blot with some kitchen towel to remove excess moisture.  Cut into thin slices.

6.  Sprinkle lightly with more Italian or pizza herbs and a little black pepper.

7.  Drizzle with olive oil.

8.  Bake in the oven for 10mins and serve with salad

Alternative toppings:

Potato, Fontina & fresh Thyme
120g waxy new potato, cooked & sliced
80g fontina or taleggio cheese, thinly sliced
1tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt

Onion Chutney, Goat’s Cheese & Rosemary
2tbsp onion chutney
80g goat’s cheese, crumbled
1tbsp freshly chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Sea salt

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This pizza topping uses both smoked and fresh salmon, which combines beautifully with the creaminess of the avocado augmented by a few spoonfuls of crème fraîche.  It is very simple to put together, especially if you have some ready made tomato topping in the freezer and, if you are short of time, use the quick to make scone base.  As previously, I substituted a chopped cornichon gherkin for capers, the very small quantity of tart vinegary taste successfully cut through the richness of the other ingredients: I must remember to buy some capers!  If you do not have chives, you can use the green leaves from a spring onion, finely cut.  I left out the wine suggested in the original recipe as I did not have any to hand and do not think it was missed.

This recipe, originally titled Salmon & Avocado Pizza , was adapted from a book I found in the library, Cooking with Salmon, the King of Fish by Jane Bamforth.  (I felt it was helpful to note the use of both fresh & smoked salmon, hence the title change.) There are more very tasty looking ideas in this book and I hope to be able to try others before I return it.  I have posted the recipes for the Pizza base and tomato sauce already. 

100_4347 Double Salmon & Avocado Pizza

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Double Salmon & Avocado Pizza (on Scone Base)
(Serves 3-4)

1 quantity of pizza base using basic recipe – I used Scone (biscuit) base
⅓ quantity of Tomato Sauce using basic recipe

Topping
150g/50z salmon fillet or pieces
120ml/4fl ozs dry white wine or water
115g/4ozs grated mozzarella cheese
1 small avocado, halved, stoned (pitted), peeled and cubed
10ml/2tsp lemon juice
30ml/2tbsp low fat crème fraîche or sour cream
75g/3ozs smoked salmon, cut into pieces (use offcuts – from supermarket ’Value’ range)
15ml/1tbsp drained bottled capers or 1 small cornichon gherkin, finely chopped
30ml/2tbsp chopped fresh chives
1tbsp olive oil

1.  Roll or press out the dough making a 25cm/10inch circle directly onto your greased pizza pan.  Push up the edge a little with your fingers to make a rim.

2.  Pre-heat oven to 200oC (190oc Fan oven)/400oF/Gas 4

3. Place the salmon in apan and cover with water (or use wine as in the original recipe).   Bring to the boil, take  off the heat, cover and leave to cool.  The fish will continue to cook while cooling.  (Reserve the liquid as stock.  Can be frozen for future use.)  Flake the fish carefully removing the bones. 

4.  Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the pizza base going almost to the edge but keeping within the rim you have made. Sprinkle over half of the mozzarella and bake in the oven for 10minutes.

5.  Chop the avocado and toss in the lemon juice to prevent it from going black.

6.  Spoon the crème fraîche over the pizza followed by the two types of salmon, avocado, capers/chopped cornichon and the remaining mozzarella. Season with black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

7.  Bake for a further 10 minutes until the pizza is crisp and golden brown.

8.  Sprinkle over the chives and serve immediately with a simple green salad.

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With its sprinkling of crunchy toasted almonds and hint of nutmeg this vegetarian pizza is just a bit special and would make a lovely lunch dish to enjoy with a vegetarian friend.  I like the combination of spinach with cheese (usually in a sauce) that makes any dish ‘Florentine’ style (from Florence in Italy), especially if combined with egg. Our local pizza takeaway produces a ‘Florentine Pizza’ I have always liked and which has just one raw egg cracked on top. This started me thinking and therefore the major change I have made to this recipe is, rather than using slices of hard boiled egg which I felt could get over dry and possibly even burn, to break raw eggs into wells I had made with the back of a spoon in the spinach. The eggs cooked through easily in the cooking time and none had runny centres.

Non-vegetarian alternatives: For die-hard meat lovers there is no reason why you could not add some diced bacon, or even serve it with a rasher or two, which would be good  served as brunch.  Another idea to try would be to top the pizza with some uncooked flaked smoked haddock, another well known ‘Florentine’ combination.

The basic idea I have adapted for this recipe comes from Step-by-step Pizzas by Wendy Lee, a great book with everything you need to know including making basic pizza bases and preparing the Tomato Sauce topping plus a large number of different pizza recipes.

100_4059 Pizza Florentine

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Pizza Florentine
(Serves 2-4)

1 quantity of pizza base using basic recipe – I used Potato base
⅓ quantity of Tomato Sauce using basic recipe
2ozs Parmesan cheese, grated
175g/6ozs fresh Spinach leaves
1 small red onion
2tbsp olive oil
¼- ½tsp freshly grated nutmeg
15g/½oz fresh white breadcrumbs
60g/2ozs Emmental cheese (or Jarlsberg/Gruyere/Mozzarella/Cheddar)
2tbsp flaked (slivered) almonds
olive oil for drizzling
2-4 eggs (one egg per person)
Salt & Pepper

1.  Mix the Parmesan cheese with the potato mixture, if you are making a potato base pizza.

2.  Roll or press out the dough making a 25cm/10inch circle directly onto your greased pizza pan.  Push up the edge a little with your fingers to make a rim.

3.  Pre-heat oven to 200oC (190oc Fan oven)/400oF/Gas 4

4.  Remove the stalks from the spinach and wash thoroughly shaking off as much water as possible.

5.  Fry onion gently in the olive oil for 5minutes until softened.  Add the spinach and fry briefly until just wilted.  Drain off any excess liquid produced.

4. Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the pizza base going almost to the edge but keeping within the rim you have made.  Cover with a layer of onion and spinach mixture and then evenly sprinkle over the nutmeg.

5. Make a slight indentation in the spinach topping for each egg, making sure that they are evenly spaced.  Be careful not to push through the pizza base.  Gently break an egg into each indent.

6. Evenly sprinkle over breadcrumbs, cheese and slivered almonds. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season.

6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 18-20minutes until the edge of the pizza is crisp and golden.

7. Transfer to a warmed serving plate. Serve immediately with salad.

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Chicken Satay in its spicy peanut butter based sauce is a definite winner in our house and makes a great topping for a pizza.  The original recipe used cooked chicken but you could cook an 8oz chicken breast under the grill or in the microwave, cool and then add to the marinade if you don’t have chicken leftovers.  You can vary the amount of chilli used as well to suit the level of heat you like and even substitute chilli powder or flakes for a fresh chilli.  I keep fresh chillis (red & green) in the freezer.  You need to split them with a knife and scrape out the white seeds before chopping finely ready for use.  Be careful not to touch your eyes and to wash your hands carefully after handling!

This recipe comes from Step-by-Step Pizzas by Wendy Lee, a great book with everything you need to know including making basic pizza bases and preparing the Tomato Sauce topping plus a large number of different pizza recipes.

100_4015 Chicken Satay Pizza

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Chicken Satay Pizza
(Serves 2-4)

1 quantity of pizza base using basic recipe – I used Bread (yeast) base
quantity of Tomato Sauce using basic recipe
2tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1tbsp lime juice
1tbsp light soy sauce
3tbsp milk
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed/chopped very finely
175/60zs cooked chicken
3/4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
60g/2ozs Mozarella cheese, grated
olive oil for drizzling
salt & pepper

1.  Mix together the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, milk, chilli and garlic in a bowl.  Add the chicken pieces, stir until well covered and leave to marinade in a cool place for at least 20 minutes – longer if you can to allow the flavours to develop.

2.  Roll out the dough making a 25cm/10inch circle on a lightly floured surface.  Place on a greased baking tin or pizza pan.  Push up the edge a little with your fingers to make a rim.

3.  Pre-heat oven to 200oC (190oc Fan oven)/400oF/Gas 4

4. Spread the tomato sauce evenly over going almost to the edge but keeping within the rim you have made.

5. Arrange the chopped spring onion, then the chicken pieces and the peanut sauce evenly over the tomato sauce.

6. Sprinkle on the cheese. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season.

6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 18-20minutes until the edge of the pizza is crisp and golden.

7. Transfer to a warmed serving plate. Serve immediately with salad or, as the original recipe suggests, a simple vegetable stir fry which can be quickly cooked while the pizza is in the oven.

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The term ‘Marinara’ as a pasta sauce does not usually refer to the use of fish or other seafood, I know, but rather that it was served to mariners (fishermen).  I probably ought to change my title to reflect this mistake, but this was the name given in the original recipe so I have continued to use it.  This is unashamedly a seafood pizza and any mixture of fish can be used as a topping.  Bags of mixed frozen seafood are available from the supermarket – usually a mixture of small prawns, calamari/squid and mussels.  You can substitute or augment as you wish, though I am not sure I would use white, smoked or very oily fish, though pilchards might be good. You could also make this with just one variety of fish, for example prawns or salmon. This time I used half a tin of tuna, a small piece of salmon, about six crab sticks and a dozen medium sized prawns. I also used finely chopped gherkin for a similar mild pickled flavour as I had no capers and would do this again.  As for the olives, I always put them on as I love them as they make a dish look attractive but they all end up on my plate as nobody else in our house likes them!

The basic idea I have adapted for this recipe comes from Step-by-step Pizzas by Wendy Lee, a great book with everything you need to know including making basic pizza bases and preparing the Tomato Sauce topping plus a large number of different pizza recipes.

100_3554 Pizza Marinara

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Pizza Marinara
(Serves 2-4)

1 quantity of pizza base using basic recipe – I used Scone (biscuit) base
⅓ quantity of Tomato Sauce using basic recipe
250-300g/8-10ozs mixed fish (defrosted frozen seafood cocktail, tuna, salmon, prawns, seafood sticks…)
1 tbsp capers or substitute 1 tbsp chopped cornichon gherkin
1 small yellow pepper (chopped)
1 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram (if available)
½ tsp dried oregano
60g/2ozs grated Mozzarella cheese (or similar – needs to melt easily)
½oz grated Parmesan cheese
12 pitted black olives
olive oil for drizzling
salt & pepper
Sprig of fresh marjoram or oregano to garnish

1.  Roll out the dough making a 25cm/10inch circle on a lightly floured surface.  Place on a greased baking tin or pizza pan.  Push up the edge a little with your fingers to make a rim.

2.  Pre-heat oven to 200oC (190oC Fan oven)/400oF/Gas 4

3.  Spread the tomato sauce evenly over going almost to the edge but keeping within the rim you have made.

4.  Arrange the fish, capers and yellow pepper evenly on top of the sauce.

5.  Sprinkle over the herbs and cheeses.  Arrange the olives on top.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and season.

6.  Bake in the pre-heated oven for 18-20minutes until the edge of the pizza is crisp and golden.

7.  Transfer to a warmed serving plate and garnish with a sprig of fresh marjoram if available.  Serve immediately with salad.

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Tomato sauce is simple and versatile: delicious as a base for a  pasta sauce or served alongside sausages or chops. This recipe will serve 3-4 people as a sauce or can be used as a topping for three pizzas. It can be frozen in pizza size topping portions for later use.  You can add a chilli with the onion for a more spicy flavour. 

The recipe comes (slightly adapted) from my favourite pizza book: Step-by-step Pizzas by Wendy Lee.

100_3525 Pizza tomato sauce

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Tomato Sauce
(Serves 3-4 or enough for three pizzas serving 2-4 people each)

1 large onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp olive oil
400g tin of plum tomatoes
4tbsp tomato purée
½tsp sugar
1tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper

1. Fry the onion and garlic gently in the oil for 5 minutes until softened but not browned. (If you would like a spicy sauce add a finely chopped deseeded chilli or chilli powder to taste. Spices such as cumin or coriander could also be used.)

2. Chop the tomatoes and add them to the pan with the tomato purée, sugar, oregano, bay leaf and seasoning. Stir well.

3. Bring to the boil and cover.
For Sauce to accompany Pasta or Meat: simmer gently for 5-10minutes until desired thickness (pouring or spooning) adding a little water if necessary.
For Pizza topping: simmer gently for 20minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce is fairly thick.

4. Remove the bay leaf and season to taste. Leave to cool completely before using. If you are making just one pizza the remaining two portions will keep in the fridge for up to a week but should be date labelled and frozen if you wish to keep them longer.

Find a pizza base recipe
Find a pizza topping recipe

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There are several ways of making Pizza base. The traditional base is a bread dough made with yeast but there are alternatives which can come in very useful when time is short. In all cases the quantities given are for a base of about 25cm/10inches which feeds 2-4 people.

These recipes have come from my favourite pizza book Step-by-step Pizzas by Wendy Lee.

Find a Pizza Tomato Sauce Topping Recipe
Find a pizza topping recipe or look under ‘Pizza’ in A-Z index

100_4010 Chicken Satay Pizza on Dough Base

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com Chicken Satay Pizza on Bread (Yeast) Dough Base

Bread (Yeast) Dough Base
(Makes 1 x 25cm/10inch base)

15g/½oz fresh yeast 0r 1tsp dried or 1xsachet easy blend yeast
90ml/3½fl oz tepid water
½tsp sugar (not needed if using sachet easy blend yeast)
1tbsp olive oil
175g/6oz plain flour (white or wholemeal)
1tsp salt

1a. Fresh yeast: combine the with the water and sugar in a bowl and leave mix to rest in a warm place for 10-15 mins until frothy on surface. Stir in oil. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in yeast liquid.

1b. Dried yeast: sprinkle over surface of water and whisk until dissolved
leave mix to rest in a warm place for 10-15 mins until frothy on surface. Stir in oil. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in yeast liquid.

1c. Easy blend yeast: Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in easy blend yeast. Add water but no sugar and oil.

2. Using floured hands mix together. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5mins until smooth and elastic. (I use a large lightweight metal bowl and am able to knead this small ball of dough in the bowl.)

3. Place in a plastic bag and leave in a warm place for about 1hour or until doubled in size – the airing cupboard is a good place. (If you want to make this earlier in the day then leave to rise at room temperature. If you are making even earlier then it can be stored in the fridge where it will still rise but much slower.)

4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly (knock back) and then knead as previously 4 or 5 times more.

5. Roll out or press into a 25cm/10inch circle on a lightly greased baking sheet or pizza pan. Push up the edge a little to form a ridge to retain the filling.

100_3540 Scone Base w Pizza Marinara

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com Pizza Marinara on Scone (Biscuit) Base

Scone (Biscuit) Base
(Makes 1 x 25cm/10inch base)

175g/6ozs Self-raising flour
½ tsp salt
10g/1oz cold butter
120ml/4fl ozs cold milk (I needed about 3½fl ozs)

1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.

2. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Keeping the mixture as cold as possible with minimal handling gives a better result. Extra flavourings such as grated cheese or herbs (oregano is good) could be added at this point.
3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in nearly all the milk. Draw together quickly with a knife until you have a soft dough. Add the rest of the milk only if necessary.

4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently – turn and press with the heel of your hand 3 or 4 times only.

5. Roll out or press into a 25cm/10inch circle on a lightly greased baking sheet or pizza pan. Push up the edge a little to form a ridge to retain the filling.

100_4044 Florentine Pizza with Potato Base

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com Florentine Pizza on Potato Base

Potato Base
(Makes 1 x 25cm/10inch base)

250g/8ozs boiled potatoes
30g/1oz butter/margerine
2tbsp olive oil
125g/4oz self-raising flour
½ tsp salt

(For an extra buttery dough use 60g/2ozs butter and leave out the olive oil.)

1. If the potatoes are hot, mash, stir in butter until melted, followed by the oil, until evenly distributed throughout and leave to cool. Sift flour and salt together and stir into mashed potato to form a soft dough.

2. If the potatoes are cold, mash without adding butter. Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir flour/butter mixture into mashed potatoes to form a soft dough

3. Either roll out or press the dough into a 25cm/10inch circle on a lightly greased baking sheet or pizza pan. Push up the edge a little to form a ridge to retain the filling. This base is difficult to lift when rolled out so is better shaped, rolled out or flattened by hand directly on the sheet/pan on which it will be cooked.

4. If not required immediately then cover with cling film and chill for up to 2hrs.

5. Variations: Adding herbs, a small amount of chopped onion or spring onion, grated cheese or grated carrot to this base will add extra flavour.

*Substitute instant dried mashed potato when leftover potato is unavailable, or for speed, but keep the consistency fairly dry.

Other Bases to try

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Pitta Pizzas
Pitta breads, either left whole or split to form very thin bases.
This version topped with Tomato Relish, Red Pepper, Mozzarella Cheese & fresh Basil.

Other similar (but untried) suggestions:
Split muffins (Stotties would be good if you are in North-East England)
Split French bread stick
‘Pizzettes’ – individual pizzas using a 3inch/7.5cm cutter. (Idea from Cooking with Salmon by Jane Bamforth.

Shortcuts

Ready made bases!
Small packet of Ciabatta mix makes 2 bases
Make potato base using instant mashed potato (*see footnote to recipe above)

Variations

Combine parmesan, chopped chives or herbs with the dough

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