After I just finished school I spend a few weeks in the Provence, France. Sounds like a lot good food and fine wine. Unfortunately I had an empty purse and the head full of adventures. So I borrowed a tent, a small gas burner and as much canned ravioli as I could pay for and made me on the way. Until this point I really loved canned ravioli…
A few days later I spend some of my little money and bought a pizza, sat down on the beach on a stone and as I moved my backside into a better position the pizza fell off and landed (off course!) up-side down in the sand. I was nearly crying, this was the first good meal since over a week. I still remember the fresh tomatoes, capers, anchovies and black olives. Back at home I told everyone I shorten my vacation because of the weather but the truth is I was starving. There is nothing romantic and adventurous about making vacation without your parents, trying to behave as an adult, if you really consider to eat a sand crusted pizza. On the other side it was an amazing vacation.
Pizza is still one of my favorite food, one reason might be the versatility. Someone told me pizza had been invented to put leftover on it, times had been rough and it was a cheap and delicious method to cook what they got.
The options are endless pasta, eggs, meat, fish and veggies combined with every kind of sauce you like, don’t just stuck with tomato sauce. And think about the cheese! There is even a wide range of crust you can choose of: thin hand-tossed style, Chicago style, bread crust. Be creative the possibilities are endless.
best pizza crust
Adapted from Diana Henry “Plenty”
makes 2 x 12 inch pizza or one baking sheet
for the dough
1 1/4 teaspoon dried yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
250 g / 1 3/4 cups bread flour
280 g / 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
slug of olive oil
Make a sponge in small bowl: stir the yeast, 2 tablespoon flour and 3 tablespoon water until you got a smooth paste. cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Make sure your bowl is big enough for soaring bubbles.
Put all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl, add the sponge and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth, this works great with a stand mixer.
Place the dough into a clean bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size or 1 1/2 hours, a longer rise will improve the flavor.
Meanwhile prepare the toppings.You have to consider that the toppings has to cook, without burning or still being raw in 15 minutes. Put the pizza stone into the oven (if you want to use one) or line your baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with olive oil. A cast iron pan is also a great pizza pan. Preheat the oven to 260 C / 500 F.
On a floured work surface knead the dough for 2 minutes. Depending on your pan you divide the dough into two and roll or dimple with your fingertips starting at the center and working outwards.
Evenly scatter your toppings on the crust and bake for 15 minutes. Please be very carefully while handling the hot oven!
Remember not to load up too much on your pizza or you will not end up with a crispy crust.
olive oil for drizzle, thinly sliced red onions or diced garlic, about 10 fresh thyme springs (less if you use dried herbs), 250 g / 9 oz. goat cheese or feta, 6 medium red beets (roast while oven preheats: wrap in foil, stick with a fork to test doneness, takes about 30 minutes), salt and pepper, 3 tablespoon capers
Sprinkle with the capers after 10 minutes, they will burn very easily.
some other suggestions from Diana Henry “Plenty”
spinach, zucchini, ricotta and Parmesan cheese
roasted pumpkin, spinach and fontina cheese
Here are some more or look what you find in your pantry like the Italians do.