Monday, September 17

A pizza cake!

Pardon the bad pun, but this tip will make handling homemade pizzas a piece of cake.

I have always found that getting a home-made pizza into a hot oven and onto a hot pizza stone is a bit of a struggle.

Simply get yourself a box of baking parchment, also known as silicone paper. Cut a piece a few inches larger than your proposed pizza, and simply roll the dough out on top of the paper. When you have finished adding the toppings, simply slide the entire thing, paper and all, onto your pizza stone or baking sheet. Lifting it out is also a doddle.

Pizza dough.
(This will make enough dough for two pizzas. If you only want one, freeze half for next time...)

12oz strong bread flour
7.5fl oz tepid water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon easy blend dried yeast.

In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients together well.

Add the olive oil to the water, then pour half into a well in the centre of the flour.Stir to incorporate, adding more liquid until the mixture coheres. (You may need to add more liquid, depending on your flour, but try not to get it over wet and sticky.)

Knead to a ball in the bowl, then drop it onto a clean worktop. Knead by stretching the dough away from you with the heel of your hand, then gather back in, turn by a quarter and repeat. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes, until the dough is elastic, and bounces back when pressed.

Cover the dough with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise until doubled in size, probably an hour or so.

When nearly doubled, put oven on to pre-heat at gas 8, 230C.

When doubled in size, knead gently for a minute to flatten the dough.

Cut in half, and roll each piece out into a circle about 10 or 12 inches across. Do this directly onto the baking parchment.

All that remains then is to spread the dough with a smear of good quality tomato puree or well-reduced homemade tomato sauce, then add your favourite toppings. Yesterday's was halved cherry tomatoes, chorizo sausage and mozzarella.

Slide your pizza onto a baking stone or oven tray, and bake towards the top of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Lovely.

P.S. The idea for the parchment paper came from a most excellent book by Tom Norrington-Davies, Cupboard Love. It's full of good ideas, and realistic suggestions for after-work cooking.

Sunday, September 16

You say Tomayto, I Say Tomarto

Although our tomato crops are not as impressive as some, we are approaching a modest glut at the moment. We have only grown tumbling tomatoes this year, but we have plenty of plants. Tomatoes are peeking out from all corners.

I have to confess that we are not the world's greatest salad eaters, and I always think that toms taste better cooked, even baby ones.

One of the nicest ways of making a star out of them is on top of a freshly baked pizza base, with some basil torn over just before serving...

I'll post the recipe tomorrow, along with a tip that made my day when I read it!

Thursday, September 13

The Battle of The Bulge

Two glorious weeks of sitting by the sea or the pool with a cold drink in hand are taking their toll. My waistline has started to take full advantage of my "Comfort Fit" jeans.

Work is still exhausting, and we are chasing our tails doing umpteen things at the same time.

I know I should be getting more exercise, but at the moment the 45 minute walk to work is about my limit, and I'm not doing that every day either...

My Learned friend Welsh Dog has decided to start a new blog which may serve as a shining beacon of inspiration to us all. I suggest you point your browser over to Fat man On A Diet.

After a hard days work there is nothing better than relaxing and reading about someone else literally slogging away on a treadmill.

As Mark Twain said, "I love hard work... I could watch people do it all day long!"

Sunday, September 9

What A Gray Day!

My "last Published" column when I log-in says August 26th. It seems like even longer.

Culture shock seems to be the best explanation. Seasonal Affective Disorder struck as soon as our plane opened its doors at Gatwick Airport. Everything and every place seemed so gray. And Dreary. And Tiring.

No energy to blog. Sorry!

As usual at this time of year, my working days over the last two weeks have been filled with getting our library ready to go for this year's intake of students. Tomorrow is when it all kicks off.

We are going to be short staffed, and at half-four on Friday afternoon we heard that our IT department had shafted us big time had last minute problems which mean all our plans for inductions etc will need to be re-drawn.

Problem solving is what we do best. Probably because we get lots of practice.