First off a belated Happy Christmas and New Year. With all the time off work you'd think one would have a lot of time to blog but it just doesn't work that way, we're here now though.
I've been known to frequent the occasional food chat forum and over time you notice that the same threads pop up again and again. One such thread, well type of thread anyway, is the discussion of the correct way to cook something. When a thread such as this pops up you tend to get two distinct camps (no middle of the road here), the traditional is the right and only way crowd and the folk should be free to stick what they want in it and still call it carbonara crowd. I'm generally in the first camp, carbonara has no cream in it, if you want to make an egg, cream, pancetta and parmesan sauce so be it but don't call it carbonara. As well as being a carbonara purist I'm also no fan of hypocrisy and think if you have a belief then you go the whole hog with it and don't exhibit contradictory behaviour somewhere along the line.
Herein lies the problem. Tonight my better half is off with her female friends and so my Saturday night is free but I don't want to get drunk or spend money. As such I'm stuck at home and have decided to cook. A friend mentioned seafood with rice earlier on and so I was going to go with that but then the thought of some seafood on a pizza popped into my mind and no pilaf, paella or risotto was ever going to budge it. Off I went to Sainsbury and started to fill the trolley: I got some king prawns and some squid; some tomatoes and some basil; and then, even though I know that the proper way to eat your seafood pizza allows no cheese, I headed to the cheese aisle and grabbed a ball of mozzarella.
I know it goes against everything I've ever thought or said about carbonara and hypocrisy but I just needed the stringiness and chew from the melted cheese and a base of nothing but bread and tomato just wasn't going to suffice. Maybe I should calm down on the cream in their carbonara brigade from now on.
Anyway, on to the recipe, this isn't from a book and I just made it up as I went along tonight, it looked good and, more importantly, tasted great though. Result.
Seafood Pizza, for me (or maybe 2 folk).
180gr flour, all strong or half strong half typo 00
1 ts dried yeast
1/2 ts salt
Glug of olive oil
1 can of tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
Pinch each of fennel seeds and chili flakes
200gr of squid, if prepared then less
150gr of raw prawns
Ball of mozzarella
TB of capers
First thing is to make the base, simply add everything together into a bowl, mix into a dough and then knead till smooth. I didn't use to agree but I think making a pizza dough really is that simple. The one thing to bear in mind is the dough should be wet to start off with. From what I can see the main mistake folk make when attempting bread making is to have too dry a dough and starting from that base kneading is always going to be an effort. Get a nice moist dough and it may be a bit sticky at first but it will be easy to stretch and after a couple of minutes it will come together into a nice smooth and soft dough. Once kneaded stick into and oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for an hour or three.
I think pizza stones are great and so an hour before I'm intending to cook the pizza I stick the pizza stone on the top shelf of the oven, turn the oven up to full (fan off if possible) and let it all heat up. If you haven't got one then a heavy metal baking tray should work too, it probably won't need the full hour of heating though.
For the sauce simply chop the garlic and soften in the oil with the fennel seeds and chili flakes. Once softened add the tomatoes, season well and simmer for a while, an hour maybe, till nice and thick.
For the toppings just prepare the squid into 5cm odd pieces, rinse the capers and chop the mozzarella up. I like to blot as much liquid from everything as I can using some kitchen roll as one of the biggest problems I find when making pizzas at home is too much liquid on the pizza after cooking.
Once everything's ready roll the dough out, take the pizza stone out the oven (I find it's easier to take the shelf as well), put the dough on the stone then top as quickly as possible before sticking it back into the top of the oven and cooking for 6 - 8 mins. Once cooked I take the stone and pizza out the oven and leave it to rest for a few minutes so any excess liquid can be absorbed back into the pizza.
The only thing left to do is to slice and eat - as I have just done.