Thursday, 6 September 2007

Balance Balance Balance

In life you need balance. You can't live on Chocolate cake and Strawberries and Ice Cream, although it would be nice.

My love for food and cooking is only half of my passion. The other side is health and nutrition. I am constantly looking for ways to incorporate healthy food into our family diet.

I will admit that my family would love it if we always had pizza and chocolate cake for dinner, but I know that they still need something better. So I try to make their favorites, just using good ingredients, and they get what they like and I feel good knowing that it is relatively healthy.

I am sure you all are aware of how expensive take out foods are, not to mention the fat content, so I thought I would include one idea to have the enjoyment of take outs without breaking the bank or the belt buckle.

A firm favorite in my home is pizza, and 3 large pizzas will cost at least R150. Last year I made it my mission to make the perfect thin crust pizza. And I will say that with the help of 2 of the world's best (and brutally honest) food critics I have success.

I admit that buying ready made bases are easy, but I have not yet found one that is even close to something that you get in a real Italian restaurant. Most pizza's I have made with these are more like open grilled cheese sandwiches. You also have no idea what they put into them to make them last that long in the freezer.

Saving time and money, while still making good quality food is something I embrace. But in saying this I have to share these wise words : " "Cost, quality and speed: pick two". This is a very true expression when making pizza. I choose cost and quality when making my pizza.

So lets start with the base.

My base recipe is simple, and by far the easiest I have seen.

To make 6 large thin crust pizzas

600g of Bread Flour. ( I use the Italian 00 flour, but normal white bread flour works perfectly)
10g packet of Yeast (I only use the Instant Yeast)
10-15ml of Salt (Don't cut this too much, bases without enough salt are terrible)
100ml of GOOD Olive Oil (I only use Frans Lamprecht's Toorwater Olive Oil)
Warm Water (Can't tell you how much, as it changes with every batch, but to start have at least 350ml ready)

Put the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and start mixing. If you are lucky enough to have a mixer with a dough hook, this is a definite plus. Add the warm water until you can get a nice firm dough. You have to knead it until it is smooth and the bowl is clean, this takes me about 10 mins with my machine. Cover the bowl in cling film and wrap in a small blanket - now go have a nap, watch the rugby or both.

When you are ready to start making your pizza, first turn your oven on the hottest setting you have, just note you don't want too much heat coming from the top, this will brown the cheese before the base is crisp. If your grill element does come on, make sure you have a baking tray between the cooking bases and the grill. I have 2 terracotta floor tiles which I warm in the oven. If you don't, just put your baking sheet in to heat up. I would advise you "invest" in tiles.

Each base uses 100g of dough.

Flour your work surface well and start rolling. My family like their pizza's very thin, but you can roll them as thick as you wish.

I then take the HOT tiles out the oven. Dust tile with flour ( the flour should turn brown) and place the base on the tile.
Spread the tomato base sauce on (see below), then add whatever toppings you fancy and finish with lots of cheese (or a little - shame poor you). On my first attempt I tried to "load" the base on the counter and then transfer it to the tile - This totally didn't work. I could not pick up it up without the whole thing folding in on itself.

Put pizza in the oven and within 15 - 20 mins you have a great pizza.

My tomato sauce base is even easier than the base -
One can of tomatoes
30ml of Basil Pesto
Salt and Pepper

Puree all these together until totally smooth, I just love my Breville for this.
Making it this way is a personal preference. I found that when I cooked the tomato sauce it was too oily.

I always make enough dough for 6 bases ( which for us is 2 meals). The remaining ½ is placed in sealed plastic bag in the freezer. Next time I just take the frozen dough out the freezer, and within 6 hours (at room temperature) it is perfect to use for your next batch.

Spend a little time on trying this, and you will have your family begging you every Saturday night for pizza.

1 comment:

vincent said...

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Jeremiah 17: 7-8

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water."

It is not your business to succeed, but to do what is right : when you have done so, the rest lies with God.
C.S. Lewis

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