I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to pizza. You can’t go wrong with the perfect margherita. The one place I’ll make an exception for is Gjelina in Los Angeles, which serves interesting toppings such as guanciale, green olive and Fresno chilli, as well as little dishes of dried chilli, Parmesan and thyme seasoning that you can spike your pizza with.
To me, though, soggy pizza that’s delivered in a cardboard box that seems to infuse what’s inside with its unappetising flavour just won’t do. No, pizza is best served still sizzling, so once in a while it’s fun to have a pizza party and get everyone involved in creating their own combinations.
Basic dough recipe
Makes 1 quantity of pizza dough
300g/10oz strong white flour, plus extra to dust
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
Put the flour in a large bowl with the salt and yeast. Make a well in the centre of the flour, pour in the olive oil, honey and 180ml-200ml/6fl oz-7fl oz of tepid water and bring together to form a soft dough. Tip on to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes. Put into an oiled bowl and cover until it doubles in size. Punch the air out of the dough with your fists then shape and proceed with the individual recipe methods.
Bill’s lamb ‘lahmacun’
This is inspired by the Turkish pizza joints you find in Sydney, where you start with a selection of mezze and then move on to Middle Eastern-style toppings.
Makes 2 large pizzas
1 quantity pizza dough
6 tbsp Turkish pepper sauce
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
250g/8oz lean minced lamb
1 tbsp sumac
2 tsp cumin
Olive oil, to drizzle
4 spring onions, chopped
Small bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped
100g/3 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Lemon wedges, to serve
Preheat the oven to 240C/475F/Gas 9. Put a couple of large baking sheets into the oven to get hot. Divide the dough in half, roll each half out into a large, thin circle about 25cm in diameter on a lightly dusted surface then transfer on to the hot baking sheets.
Mix the spicy pepper sauce with the oil and lamb. Spread this over the bases. Sprinkle with the sumac and cumin and a drizzle of oil. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the base is crisp and the mince is cooked through.
Remove from the oven, scatter over the spring onions, parsley and feta and serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon.
This was one of my signature dishes (if you can call it a dish) as an earnestly foodie 19-year-old. I’d make it at least once a week when I had friends coming over. Bless.
1 quantity pizza dough
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
8 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 sprigs thyme, leaves only
60g/2 oz can anchovy fillets in oil, drained
Handful pitted black olives, torn
Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a low heat, cook the onions for 10-15 minutes or until really soft and light-golden. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Preheat oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Lightly grease a 33cm x 23cm baking tray. Roll the dough on a surface dusted with semolina to a large rectangle slightly bigger than your baking tray. Lift the dough on to the tray and pull and push it into place with your fingers until it fills the surface of the tray, keeping it rough and rustic. Cover the dough with the soft onions then scatter over the anchovy fillets and olives. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the dough is cooked through. Cut into rough sections and serve immediately.
A modern take on pizza bianca – which there are quite a range of different versions of anyway. The crème fraîche and ricotta give it that indulgent edge so you don’t miss the gooey cheese and tomato.
1 quantity pizza dough
150g/5oz crème fraîche
150g/5oz ricotta, crumbled
10 slices Parma ham
4 ripe figs, chopped
Big handful rocket
Peppery olive oil, to drizzle
Preheat oven to 240C/475F/Gas 9. Place a couple of large baking sheets into the oven to heat up. Divide the dough in half, roll each half out into a large thin circle about 30cm in diameter on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to the hot baking sheets.
Spread each base with half the crème fraîche, dot over the ricotta and lay the Parma ham on top of this. Scatter with figs then bake for 10-12 minutes or until the base is cooked through. Remove from the oven, scatter over the rocket and drizzle with some good-quality peppery olive oil before serving.
Copyright 2012, independent.co.uk
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