Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pizza Time!

Last Sunday we made pizza. Well, I made pizza.

Denise, our friend, came over for the weekend, and I was very happy I could cook something completely "from scratch" for her.

In the morning, in a plastic bowl, I placed a glass of warm water (hand temperature) and stirred a sachet of Tesco Dried Yeast in it. In the same bowl, I added a spoon of sugar, to help the raining process.

I usually put dough in plastic bowls as it seems to me it raises better. Metal or ceramic bowls never helped me succeed in my "dough raising" experiments :D

The next step was stirring in the flour. Obviously, the single glass of water will not be enough, so have another glass at hand, filled with warm water. You will probably not need it all.

I weighed 750 grams of flour and stirred them in the yeast, slowly, adding a small bit of water every now and then. The result should be a ball of dough, or something similar to that.

When you feel you have added enough water (make sure you don't add too much, otherwise the dough will be too sticky) remove the dough from the bowl and quickly work it on the kitchen top. If the mixture seems sticky, add some flour on the kitchen top and fold it slowly into the dough. Make a nicer ball out of it and, with a kitchen knife, make a cross cut on the top, so to aid the raising process.

Now you can put the dough back in the plastic bowl and place it in a warm spot in the kitchen, away from drafts, covered with a clean cotton cloth. After a few hours you will have a beautiful bowl, full of raised dough. It's a wonderful feeling, lifting the cloth and finding your work has paid off...

At this stage, you need to heat the oven at roughly 200 degrees Celsius.

Take out the rolling pin and cut about a third of your dough with a knife. Take a piece of oven baking paper and sprinkle some flour on it. Place the dough piece in the middle and start rolling!

When you have the desired shape and thickness (I personally like my pizza quite thin), get a fork and put holes all over the pizza base.

Now you're ready to place your favourite toppings on it.

I usually put a mixture of tomato sauce and salt to start, making sure the sauce does not touch the borders of the base. On top of the sauce you can put mozzarella cheese and have a Margherita, or anything you may like: mushrooms, ham, peppers... 

The right place for mozzarella is at the very top. So after you have put on the pizza whatever you want, top it with mozzarella cheese.

Place your pizza in the oven, you will see how easy it is to do so with the baking paper underneath, and that ensures nothing gets burned.

Take the pizza out of the oven when the crust is well cooked and enjoy!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Roasted Peppers Sottolio

I went a few days ago to the local Aldi. I found out they had peppers on special offer. Needless to say, I bought 20 peppers.

Once home, I needed a project, an idea... I searched around, even tried to ask my dog... They I was hit by a flashback: the smell of freshly roasted peppers in the summer, after a long day working to bottle the tomatoes with my parents...

I was delighted! I turned to my mum for advice, as I usually do when it comes to cooking. She told me I could roast peppers on the barbeque... "Well, Ma'," I said "It's raining over here!"

"Then roast them in the pan!"

She's brilliant, I always say that. So I did. While cooking our regular dinner, I put on a non stick pan, turned the hob to the maximum and put in 7 peppers. Just washed them and dried them with a towel. Not cut, not seeded, just as they are when you buy them.  

I was turning them every now and then, while cooking our pasta for the evening. I turn them 5 times tops. Their skin must turn black, the skin has to basically burn, only then I turn them, and offer another of the pepper's side to the heat.

I kept turning peppers and adding more, as soon as one of them was ready to go in the bowl. So I roasted 20 peppers, put them in a bowl and covered them with a glass lid.

The next day, again after the day's work and while cooking dinner, I opened the peppers, removed all the seeds and the skin and sliced them longwise, in stripes.

I put the sliced peppers again in the bowls, added some salt and olive oil, just to dress, and some garlic cloves. All of these is to the taste, so I am not giving any measurements.

I left the peppers in the fridge for another night and another day, always covered with the glass lid.

The next day, they were ready to be transferred in the jar. I covered them with olive oil and put the jar in the fridge. It looks like the Jamaican flag. Every time I open my fridge I see this colorful jar, full of love, and smile.

20 peppers became a jar of 1.5 litres full of goodness!

These peppers will now last for a while. Every time we have meat in in our plates, I'll put the jar on the table, and I have a side dish ready! I love canning and preserving for this reason... because I work all day outside the house, when I come home I wanna spend time with my son and my husband, I don't wanna be cooking for hours on end, but neither I want to feed my family stuff that comes from a box...

So the perfect solution for me is to do these kind of "operations": cooking once, involve my son in the whole process and then enjoy the fruit of our work for the next few months.