Friday, 1 February 2013

Friday Night Slice...

The great thing about pizza, and this will come as no bombshell if you have ever read a  delivery menu, is that anything goes. From traditional margarita, or the potato, cream and bacon creation eaten whilst skiing at new year (definite carb-on-carb action going on there..) to my very favourite University staple of ground lamb, aubergine and feta (yup, moussaka pizza please,) thin, crispy, or even deep, soft bases have become the ultimate canvas for kitchen creativity. The ideal way to use up the weird and wonderful goodies left in the fridge at the end of the week, or perhaps just another excuse to indulge your sweet tooth (pizza smothered in Nutella and banana has, of late, become a definite, if slightly sickly, yes..) the pizza is King.  And long may it reign...

Originating in Naples, pizza is now rolled out all over the world, the ultimate fast food, universally loved and endlessly supplied by pizzerias on almost every corner, kneading, cheese scattering and stone baking to order. London alone has embraced Pizza culture to the mozzarella tearing max, with pizza focused rooftop supper clubs in Bethnal Green, two ping-pong and pizza bars (a combination that I never knew I needed but now seems to go together like tea and toast), haunts selling only cornmeal based pies, along with all the usual chainy suspects, keeping the capital  in endless supply.

But there is no wonder that pizza is so deliciously popular. It is the perfect snack on the go, can be rustled up in a flash and has been known to encourage even the worst of sharers (mentioning no names, but I am referring to my boyfriend) to delve in for a communal slice. It is the ultimate fast food and we love it; so much so that there is even a real-life blog dedicated solely to pictures of  famous people eating pizza. Anyone for Beyonce scoffing a margarita? Mrs Obama with an American hot? And no, this time I don't mean Barack...

So, as there is no better Friday night treat, excluding a real-life rendition of Magic Mike in your living room, or perhaps winning the euro-millions, than a big slice of delicious homemade pizza, washed down with an even bigger glass of (preferably not-homemade) wine, what better recipe to offer you this fine evening.

Loaded with amazing, vibrant toppings, scattered with beautifully fragrant basil, lemon zest and strewn with melting mozzarella that glistens like a baby-oiled Channing Tatum (on the mind, clearly) there is nothing not to like about pizza, and these ones in particular. With thin and crispy bases, a sweet and punchy tomato sauce and a world of toppings to choose from, Friday nights in are back to their best after a cold, grey January; particularly if you have some tasty leftovers ready and waiting in the fridge.

On this occasion, my favourite place in the house held a bounty of goodies, to the point that I actually lost a beer in some kind of bottle rack black hole that has only just turned up a week later...But anyway, thankfully not everything in the fridge went the same way, and I did manage to produce some treats from the depths, ready to adorn my pizzas. Cue slicing of Chorizo  marinating of prawns, ribbonning of courgettes and of course dripping the juice from a bag of mozzarella, Hansel and Gretel style, all the way from the sink to the oven. An unavoidable feature of pizza making, but worth it all the same.

So after mopping the floor with your sock, get the rolling pin ready, flour scattered and oven on, STAT. Lets see if we can knock these beauties out before the end of Silent Witness. I want something slightly more tasty than a cushion to hide behind this week..

 Friday-Night Pizza

Obviously, this is not a solely Friday specific recipe, roll away whatever the occasion, and be creative with the toppings...I adapted the traditional American Hot with what I had; chorizo, peppers, chilli, paprika and goats cheese, which ended up being more of a Spanish creation, whilst the combination of garlicky prawns, courgette ribbons, cherry tomatoes and lemon creme fraiche was a real winner too. And the yumminess doesn't end there, raid the fridge and just go for it!

Pizza Dough (makes 3 thin 14x10 inch pizzas)

300g strong bread flour
1x7g sachet fast-action yeast
1 heaped teaspoon salt
3 tbsp olive oil
175ml warm water

Tomato Sauce

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tin tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp oregano (dried or freshly chopped)
1 tbsp tomato puree

Garlicky Prawn, Courgette and Creme Fraiche Topping
1 pack king prawns
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
Half a courgette, ribbonned using a peeler
Creme Fraiche
Fresh basil leaves, lemon zest and shaved parmesan, to serve

Spanish  Hot Topping
Half a chorizo, sliced
Half a red, orange or yellow pepper, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 red chilli, sliced
100g soft goats cheese
1 tsp paprika
Rocket and parmesan shavings, to serve

Preheat the oven to 240°c.

First of all, or even a day or so in advance, I usually crack on with the tomato sauce, leaving it to bubble away until the toppings and base are ready (although, obviously put it in the fridge if you are making it in advance...There is only so much bubbling it can do!)
In a saucepan, fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients, season and allow to reduce to a thick sauce. If you are in a rush, you can always use ready made sauce, or just tomato puree, but this is delish!

While the sauce is cooking, make the dough. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and yeast. Make a well in the centre and add the oil and water, mixing together with a wooden spoon to combine.
At this stage, if you haven't just painted your Friday night nails, get your hands in there and bring everything together to form a ball.
Turn out on to a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes by hand, thinking of your bingo-wings at all times.
Divide into 3 balls, roll out very thinly into whatever shape you fancy, before transferring to an oiled baking tray. Cover with cling film until needed

If making the prawn pizza, I like to marinate the prawns in the juice and zest of half a lemon, the garlic and salt and pepper. I also mix the creme fraiche with some lemon zest and juice and season, but keep it simple if you are short of time.

When almost ready to eat, with open beers and something good on the telly, spread the sauce on the pizza bases, arrange your chosen toppings and cheese, season, and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the bases are lightly browned and crispy.

Scatter over the basil, parmesan, lemon zest or rocket accordingly and dig in!

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