From Wednesday I have been hibernating. Ok, not really. But I paused triathlon training and have been resting. I have been trying to block out the fact that London Triathlon is on Sunday. I have done as much work as I could. I have been training since May 2009, and although I am only now feeling like I am getting strong enough to begin to clock the miles to do the distance, the time has come where I can’t train anymore. It is now time to do the distance, ready or not. I’m as ready as I can be, this time!
One of the things that helps me to relax is cooking. I love going into my kitchen and just making things. So this week I have been a kitchen dervish. I have been trying new recipes. Eating early. And not worrying too much about simple carbohydrates. I’ve just been enjoying the time and relaxation that I get from cooking.
Last week Charles posted a picture on Twitter of his homemade pizza.
I cheekily asked him for the recipe and for a guest post. Well, a rule for my Friday Food blogging is that I have to make the recipes that I post, to make sure that I like them. So I made Charles’s pizza recipe on Wednesday.
DH is a bit senstive to wheat, so he reluctantly agreed to a pizza night, knowing that it would be homemade he thought that might make it more tolerable. Well, this recipe was so good that he definitely exceeded his tolerance level through sheer portion size – what can I say? This is a great pizza.
One of the things I really believe in is that if you want to “eat bad” then make it yourself. This recipe requires forward planning. It involves making dough. It is perfect for a pizza night as you need to plan for it and then make sure you have your favourite toppings in the house. Which means you can be strategic about the timing, and what you have with it. Perfect for mindful eating.
It has been ages since I had pizza – and I have to thank Charles immensely for this recipe and for a great addition to my cooking ideas, especially for a treat night.
Charles’ Pizza Recipe (by Charles)
Pizza is for a cheat day. Bread and cheese can only be so healthy. Yes, you can do healthy toppings and soy cheese is good, but try and get a 4 year old to eat it. They like plain or mine just black olives so I will do one half with toppings and one half plain.
Home made pizza can be healthier and tastier with fresher ingredients, less salt and less fat.
I like to make my own dough – it is easy to do and is the base of your meal. 2 cups of water and 4 cups of flour. You have to put sugar and yeast in warm water first. I found if you double or triple the sugar to 5 tablespoons the yeast works better. I use one package of yeast. A whole wheat crust can be heavy so I use half all purpose self rising and half the other flour of my choice.
The last pizza I used a whole wheat mixed grain bread flour with the whole seeds mixed in. It’s real good and simpler than some of the other combos I have done. I have used soy flour, oat flour, azimuth, and a few others or made a combination of the above. But half all purpose makes it work. You can try it without too but I like the results I get with it.
The last thing about dough is make it early so it has a few hours to rise. Smear some olive oil on the ball in a bowl with plastic wrap and a towel over it. Punch it down a couple of times.
This is enough for 2 pizzas but if you rolled it out it might make 3 or 4.
Leftover dough keeps for days in the fridge.
Cheese… Start with a package of shredded mozzarella. Part skim is ok. This alone is fine but you can play with combos. There are many other cheeses in tubs ready to go or shred your own – even ricotta or goat cheese – but use the mozzerella as a base. This one I added shaved parmesian. Why not try something a little different each time.
Toppings: a plain pizza like this can be surprisingly good and meat never works out well. Also tomato and some toppings have a lot of water in them so be careful. Try one or two tops and half tops to get a feel for what you like or what the people eating your pizza like because you are making it more for them. I like mushroom fresh garlic and onion but leave half plain.
The sauce I like Muir chunky tomato. Feel free to try anything you want but this one is low salt and tasty.
Pizza is a cheat day food or something for the kids. Making it delicious over healthy should be your goal. It will be100 times healthier than take out. And every time you make it try something different on half.
Bake at 490° for 15 to 18 minutes but really watch it after 14 and it may need 20 but 15 is almost there. Coating the pan with olive oil will make the bottom golden brown.
Donna’s Take on Things
Ingredients – Dough
4 cups flour – following Charles’ suggestion, I used 2 cups of plain flour, 2 cups of whole wheat, and I added seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin)
2 cups warm water – do not use cold or hot water this hurts yeast activation
3 tablespoons sugar – I cut the sugar I used
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon quick acting yeast (or one packet which I think is 7g)
Follow Charles’s instructions if you knead your own dough. I am lazy and use my bread machine dough function, so I followed the order specified (liquid, salt, sugar, flour, then yeast on top), and left it. I did this first thing in the morning so that it was ready when I came home.
Now, I do not have a pizza tray or a stone, so I had to improvise. I rolled out the dough and then pre-baked on a baking tray. I baked for about 7 minutes in a very hot (225C) oven. This meant that when I baked the pizza I was able to put it straight on the oven shelves without a tray, which meant it was heated through perfectly.
I prefer to make my own sauce, rather than buy it. I found a sauce recipe on Cook’s Illustrated, and it is really simple. Here is my “simple version”…
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
handful of basil, chopped
1. Heat olive oil in pan.
2. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent – I also add salt as this stops burning in my experience.
3. Add oregano.
4. Stir in tomatoes and add sugar.
5. Cook for about 10 minutes.
6. Add basil at last minute, stir through. I prefer the taste of fresh basil so that’s why I add it at the end.
I loved the idea of homemade pizza as it meant we could use our own toppings.
Following Charles’ suggestions we used hard mozzarella as a base cheese. We also use fresh buffalo mozzarella. We loved the idea of olives, plus parma ham on top. So we did one pizza with that. The other pizza I did with mushrooms and artichokes. The artichokes were liquid-y, so this may not be the best topping but it was delicious. This second pizza I topped with salami.
We served our pizzas with rocket (arugula) – on top just like the restaurants in the UK. It made for a spicy fresh accent to the meal. I also use red pepper flakes for a bit of extra spice, but if I had green jalapeno sauce (Tabasco brand) that is lovely for a spicy pizza topping.
This was excellent. Thank you so much again Charles! Bon Appetit!