Monday, May 09, 2011

Springing into Action

Here is a recipe for pizza dough. Traditonally a very strong flour would be used (called Italian 00), but 'plain' white (or brown) could be used if you have nothing stronger.
Pizza Dough: makes 4
1 lb (500g)white flour (pref strong)
2 tsp salt
1 x 15g sachet easy-blend yeast
5 tblsp olive oil (pref extra V)
5 fl oz (150ml) warm water
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and stir in the yeast. Add the oil and rub into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. The stir in the water to make a dough.
Gather together into a ball, and then tip out onto a floured board and knead for five minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Put into a polybag or cover with clingfilm and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into four and roll each out to about an 8" (20cm)dia. circle. The idea is to roll the dough out fairly thinly - as this is the way the Italians like their pizzas - 'thin crust'. If you prefer yours thicker, then either make one pizza to share or four smaller individual ones.
Lay the pizzas on baking trays, then spead with tomato 'pizza sauce', and top with what you will, then bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 20 minutes.

Was it yesterday there was a mention of left-over pastry? But whatever, did forget to mention that it is worth using the 'cheffy' trick of lining a flan dish with enough pastry to allow it to overlap and hang over the sides by at least half an inch or so. This prevents the pastry shrinking as it cooks.
Myself now always do this when baking a flan case 'blind' and don't remove the overhang until the filling has been cooked Usually a quiche).
Just slide a knife flat along the rim and the surplus pastry is shaved off. !What a waste!! you make think, but not at all. As it has double cooked (first blind than while the filling is cooked) it turns a lovely golden brown and when tasted is very like a biscuit, and so perfect for crushing down, adding a little sugar and melted butter and used to make the base for a cheesecake. So I now store all the cooked pastry trimmings for this purpose.

This next recipe is 'almost a pizza', but using pastry as a base. Well it ends up looking like a pizza, but in truth is more a roasted vegetable 'frittata' baked like a quiche. Should I give it a new name? Frizziche perhaps.
Don't be put off by the lengthy 'method', basically all it is is a baked pastry case filled with roasted veggies held together with a 'custard'. As you can choose any colourful veggies that 'roast well', and up to a point any 'melting cheese', once you've 'had a read' you won't find any difficulty making it.
Piled High Flan:
11 oz short-crust pastry
1 each red and yellow pepper, seeds removed
4 fl oz (100ml) olive oil
1 medium aubergine, diced
2 small courgettes, diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 each red and yellow bell pepper, seeds removed
few fresh thyme leaves
4 oz (100g)ricotta cheese
4 oz (100g) feta cheese
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 eggs
7 fl oz (200ml) double cream
salt and pepper
Begin by rolling the pastry to line a 9" (23cm) loose-bottom flan tin, allowing enough to give a good 'overhang', line with baking parchment (also overlapping), fill with baking beans and bake 'blind' for 25 minutes (230C, gas 8), then remove beans and paper and return case to oven for a further 10 minutes to dry out base. Then remove and leave to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, put the seeded peppers into a roasting pan, drizzle with a little of the oil and put on the top shelf of the oven, then after 12 minutes, add the aubergine, cook for a further 10 minutes, then add the courgette and potato, stirring everything gently together. Cook for a further 10 minutes by which time everything should be cooked. Remove ths skin from the peppers if you wish (it may have turned black) or leave it on and then cut the peppers into chunks.
Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 170C, gas 3.
While the veggies are roasting, put 2 tblsp of the oil in a frying pan and saute the onions with a little salt. Continue frying very gently for half an hour until the onions have turned deep brown, and are soft and sweet (almost an onion 'marmalade'.
Spread the onion over the base of the pastry case, and top with the roasted vegetables, don't press them down firmly, they need to be 'loose'.
Sprinkle the top with the thyme leaves, then place 'dots' (aka small chunks) of both cheeses on top of the veggies, and then top these (or push into any gaps) the halved tomatoes (cut side up).
Beat together the eggs and cream with seasoning to taste, then carefully pour this into (not over) the contents of the flan dish, the idea being that the 'custard' flows between the veggies and the tomatoes and cheese stay 'visible'.
Give a gentl shake to settle the custard and remove air bubbles, then place in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until set and golden on top.
After removing from oven, allow to rest for 10 minutes before shaving off excess pastry. Place the tin on top of a jar (or something narrower than the tin) so that the base is pushed up and easily removed. Leave the 'tart' on the base as this makes for easy cutting when serving.