Last night I found there wasn’t much in the house to base a meal around. Rather out-of-character, but explained partly, I guess, by the fact that I’m going to be away for a while soon. Looking at lots of leftover bits & pieces in the fridge, however, the answer was obvious … pizza! Only one hurdle … pizza dough.
Now, something I always appreciate receiving at Christmas is a food & recipes calendar. Don’t always get one, but three or four years ago my mother took herself off for a holiday in Sicily – the family reaction to this octogenarian statement of independence is another story – and that Christmas she gave me an Italian calendar of food & recipes … not liking to throw away anything that might be useful, at the end of the year I cut out the successful and/or appealing recipes and last night dug out the one for Neapolitan pizza. Not a very exact recipe for pizza dough, but I figured I could make up the quantities where they weren’t given. So … mixed in a bowl 1 lb white flour, an 8g sachet of dry yeast, & salt. Added about ½ litre warm water & a slosh of olive oil & left to rise. I figured it wasn’t too late to order takeaways if it didn’t work … the yeast had an expiry date of Jan 2000, after all … must add yeast to the shopping list. But rise it did, so I just turned it out onto a floured baking tray and pressed it out to a large rectangle, covered with tomato paste & sliced tomatoes, black olives, anchovies, sun-dried tomato, mozzarella, pretty well cleaning out the fridge in the process… and bunged it in the pre-heated (hot to very hot) oven. The dough did seem a little wet and rather bread-y, I couldn’t remember whether pizza bases where supposed to be thin & dry or not, and I wondered whether it’d all rise up into a brioche-like blob … half hoped it would, actually … aren’t cooking disasters more entertaining to read about than mild successes (maybe the ancient yeast saved me there)? But it turned out okay … except that I forgot to add the salt to the dough mix. Or should that be, doh!
Later, I remembered my Gabriella Rossi cookbook and found her recipe for pizza dough. A rather more sophisticated approach, with 10 minutes of kneading here, a further couple of minutes there … but I was well-satisfied with my simple effort. Which, incidentally, could have fed at least four people. So I know what I’ll be having for lunch for the next couple of days.