Day 4 dawned, and I am starting to get slightly concerned at the dwindling cereal stocks, especially the children’s cereals which are almost empty. By some miracle, they have just started taking to eating bran flakes. They think they are ‘Daddys Shreddies’ and I have yet to put them straight. I think I can just about stretch it out for another few days.
We have for some time now been having a ‘Pizza Night’ at least once a month at home. It’s not the fastest meal to prepare, as you have to allow time for the dough to rise, and to do a little prep for the toppings, but if you have a dough hook for your mixer, and a dishwasher to clear up, its easy, very cheap, and quite a lot of fun. With the money you save on the cost of eating out, you can have a bottle of wine (or discount fizz), buy in some dessert, rent a movie, and still have a stack of change compared to the usual bill you would face in a pizza restaurant. In fact, if you are feeding a crowd, and don’t mind spending a bit of time in the kitchen while they are there, this has to be one of the cheapest meals you can make. And once you have tried the home-made variety, the ready to heat or takeaway version can never be considered as anything other than the poor relation.
There is of course the faster method of making pizza that I have referred to in Pizza Pronto. But if you want dough balls too, you are going to have to make the dough. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, this is nothing much more than weighing and adding some ingredients together and allowing the mixer to do the work. You have to leave it for about an hour to rise then knock it back and you are ready to go. In fact, I have quite often made the dough first thing, then covered it in oiled cling film and left it in the fridge all day to do a slow rise, then it is ready to go just when you need it. At the moment, I tend to employ the recipe and method provided by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (HFW) in his book River Cottage Everyday. Most of the ‘celebrity’ chefs offer a version of pizza dough. I have followed a few recipes, and I have found that there is not a lot between them taste wise, so try one out and see how you like it.
Dough Balls are a must in this house, although they should perhaps more accurately be described as dough shapes when the children have a hand in the preparation. These are a great way to get the children involved, as the worst that can happen is you have a few odd shapes.
I generally make a double portion of HFW’s dough, as we are quite greedy, and any leftovers can go in the freezer. We probably use about half a portion of the dough for the dough balls. While they are cooking in the oven we make the garlic butter. If your butter isnt soft, try it for a minute on defrost in the microwave, keeping a close eye on it. Mash in some pre chopped garlic from the freezer (to taste, but as a guide I use about 3 tsps for 1/2 packet of butter)
For the sauce, heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a pan, gently fry a dessertspoon of the garlic, a tsp of salt flakes and sugar, and add a 500ml carton of passata. Simmer for 5 mins. Sauce is ready
A few tips
- Pre-heat the oven and get it as hot as you can
- Roll out the dough as thin as possible.
- Place dough on pizza stone or baking tray before adding toppings. Or you have no hope at all of transferring the topped pizza without it collapsing or turning into a Calzone
- Go easy on the sauce. Less is more. More is a soggy, not so nice pizza.
- Scatter your toppings. Dont crowd the pizza. Too much and the base wont cook.
- Drizzle with a little oil before you bake. It does make a difference.
I just love making these, as it’s the perfect opportunity to clear out the fridge of all those odds and ends that look like they will never find a home. A couple of slices of salami, some cheese drying out around the edges. The end of a jar of chutney. Today we had the following combos
- Tomato sauce and mozzarella
- Spinach with Dolcelatte and Walnuts
- Red onion chutney with feta and aubergine
- Tomato sauce, feta and aubergine
Thanks to the unexpected warm end to the day, and the equally unexpected appearance of Mr Mummyinahurry at the children’s tea time, we were able to eat these in the garden. I am convinced that everything tastes better when you eat it in the sunshine.
Day 4 Summary
As a result of my week of thrift, we have completely run out of rice cakes and breadsticks, the after-school snack of choice in this house. The completely unexpected upside of this has been a sudden interest in carrots from the children. Yes carrots. Which they ate reluctantly yesterday because nothing else was on offer. Today when I offered carrots after school I was greeted with shrieks of delight, only previously heard in conjunction with the words ‘crisps’ or ‘chocolate’. These are the same carrots that I have served up several times a week for the past few months that have always been rejected. Well I never!