Weekend Cooking: Pizza Fridays (or any days)

It’s all the preschool’s fault (Ok maybe it is the caterer’s fault). Not a Friday goes by without my kids asking for pizza.

My kids go to preschool in the morning and I pick them up at noon. They don’t eat lunch at school but most of their classmates do. Many of my 3yo’s classmates bring their own lunch and when picking up Caellum from his classroom I’ve seen such a variety of lunches. One kid always eats dumplings/gyoza and nothing but that. Another usually has chicken nuggets and milk. I’ve seen a kid with rice and a big pile of black fungus. And some really cute bentos too (a couple of his classmates are Japanese). There’s a lot of rice dishes because this preschool is a Mandarin-English bilingual school so a lot of the kids are Asian or mixed. Mostly Chinese (in that I am including Taiwan, China, Chinese-American etc) but there are also Japanese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Filipino and Indian. But one thing all these kids love is Pizza Friday. And my kids, though they don’t eat lunch at preschool, always talk about Pizza Friday.

One Thursday morning, while getting the kids ready for school, I asked 3yo if I should make pizza today. And he told me very seriously, no, tomorrow. Pizza Friday!!

Every Friday they tell me it is Pizza Friday. Every Friday, as they leave their classes, the pizza comes in and the teachers dish it out.

My typical order at blaze has artichokes, roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, blue cheese and a meat or two

Nothing wrong with that of course, I LOVE PIZZA too. I especially love those fast-fired pizza places like Blaze and Pieology where you can choose whatever toppings you want for your very own pizza, and you get it within 10 minutes. The best kind of pizza for hungry littles who can choose their own favourite toppings.

But really, the best pizza is the kind you make at home.

(And that is where I am getting to here, the cooking part, thanks for your patience).

I’ve talked about pizza making here before but that’s because I just love it!

Smitten Kitchen’s pizza recipe was the one that convinced me I could make pizza at home. She emphasized that pizzas can be baked on a baking sheet and it doesn’t necessarily have to be round.

I rely  most  on her rushed dough recipe (it’s in her book but she’s also got a lazy pizza dough recipe online). It uses quite a bit of yeast to hasten the rising process and thus is doable for a quick weekday dinner. She also has a longer overnight dough recipe but I find that dough from the fridge requires a lot of resting to come to room temp before it can be adequately stretched. I also just attempted the no-knead pizza dough but found it a little bit too sticky and despite adding lots of flour to the dough, countertop, hands etc I spent far too much time stretching it out. It is incredibly easy to put together but does require planning ahead, as all morning-knead breads do, because of its 18h resting time.

I also am fond of Smitten Kitchen’s pizza sauce. Open a can of tomatoes (I use chopped tomatoes), strain it – that is, I pour it into a sieve and let it sit for a while. A lot of liquid emerges, and that would really thin your sauce if you don’t get rid of it. So strain strain strain! Add a chopped garlic clove, season it, a bit of Italian herbs, a splash of red wine and a bit of sugar to brighten it up. Then blitz with an immersion blender. It’s fresh and tomato-y and does not need cooking. Also prob a lot less sugar than commercial versions.

And now for the toppings! I love how varied pizzas can be. I’ve had Japanese-style pizzas with unagi (eel) and mayo (!), dessert pizzas, and a local pizza place here is known for their cheeseburger pizzas and Philly cheesesteak pizzas.

Here are the toppings we’ve had so far
Proteins:

Ham (chopped leftover Christmas ham)
Salami/pepperoni/prosciutto/parma ham or your favourite cured meat
Meatballs
Bacon (while the oven preheats, pop your bacon onto a foil-lined baking tray and let it cook)
Leftover rotisserie chicken (not fond of chicken on pizza but it’s a good way of getting rid of leftovers!)
Hot dogs (sliced)
Eggs (well I’ve not done this myself but I love eggs on pizza!)

Other stuff
Zucchini
Broccoli (sliced thin)
Cauliflower (sliced thin and roasted in the preheating oven)
Pineapple slices
Olives, sliced. I’m fond of kalamata but black olives work great too
Red peppers, sliced
Brussels sprouts, sliced thin
Corn
Cilantro
Basil
Mushrooms (my 5yo hates mushrooms though!)
Cherry tomatoes
Spinach

Stuff I would like to try on homemade pizzas

Artichokes
Asparagus
Kale
Pumpkin/sweet potato (thinly sliced)

And of course there’s the cheese. Typically I do a mix of whatever I have in the fridge there’s usually cheddar and sometimes parmesan and I always buy a block of low-moisture mozzarella when I’m making pizza. But at Blaze and Pieology, I like to add blue cheese, sometimes feta or their softer mozzarella (although that tends to make for a soggier pizza).

Things I don’t like on my pizza
Onions
Green peppers
Italian sausage
Seafood

What are your favourite pizza toppings ?

 

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Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Weekend Cooking: Pizza pizza!

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My experimenting in the kitchen continues. This time with pizza.

One was a conventional Hawaiian style pizza, with slices of canned pineapples and ham.

The other was salami and mushrooms, with the mushrooms were a mix of king oyster (or is it called king trumpet? Either way, they can be found at Asian supermarkets and are great in hotpots and other soupy things and also in vegetable stirfries. I might try them with spaghetti next time), shiitake and brown.

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The third was thinly chopped cauliflower (there were some lovely specimens at the weekend farmers market) with crispy bacon. I wasn’t quite sure how cauliflower would work on a pizza but it turned out well. The trick I think is to cook the cauliflower a little first, to get some of the moisture out, i.e. no soggy pizzas. So after crisping the chopped bacon in the frying pan, I caramelised some thinly sliced shallots in the unhealthily delicious bacon oil and then tossed in the cauliflower with a bit of salt and pepper and cooked it for a few minutes. So onto the pizza dough went the sauce, then the cauliflower and bacon and a mix of cheddar and mozzarella. Bake in your oven’s hottest temp for about 10-12 minutes or so (depending on the temperature – and I reckon, depending on how thinly you roll out your dough? I could be wrong but I like a very thin-crust pizza and a crisp bottom). And just after you remove the pizza from the oven, scatter on top a handful of finely chopped spring onions.

Once again I used Smitten Kitchen’s last-minute pizza dough recipe, using 1/3 whole meal flour and 2/3 bread flour (or you could just use all-purpose flour). And her pizza sauce recipe too, essentially blending up a can of tomatoes with some minced garlic, a splash of red wine vinegar and sugar, Italian herbs, salt and pepper. Both recipes are in the cookbook (and maybe online too?).

So with this successful cauliflower pizza first, I’m constantly wondering what else would taste good on pizzas! Broccoli? I love oven roasted broccoli and I can imagine that it would be similar-ish to the cauliflower pizza. Brussels sprouts? We are recent converts to Brussels sprouts here and can’t seem to get enough of it. I think thinly slicing them might work. Smitten Kitchen also has a thinly sliced asparagus pizza which sounds amazing.

In Singapore, I’ve even had a desert ‘pizza’, which was spread with nutella and had fruits as toppings. No cheese that is! And there are even Japanese-style pizzerias too. Unagi pizza anyone?

What toppings do you like on your pizzas? What kinds of unusual pizzas have you had?

 

 

weekendcooking

Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs