The inspiration for this blog post comes from Hails at Coffee Helps, and her list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. This list is pretty inspirational, if you think about it. It’s an excellent way to boost self esteem, to tick off all those things you’ve always wanted to do but never got around to doing. Ticking things off is always therapeutic… that feeling of There! I did it! I’m not such a waster after all!… is pretty satisfying, especially if the task was particularly tough.
A sample of Hails’ list might look like this:
4. Record one thing a day that has made me happy, for thirty (not necessarily consecutive) days. (Underway at http://itjustmakesmehappy.wordpress.com (1/30))
16. Smile at absolutely everyone I meet for a week. (0/1)
28. Climb a tree. (0/1)
49. Read at least five classic novels from this list, including one by Dickens. (0/5)
61. Learn how to say hello in 50 different languages. (Underway at http://boutye.wordpress.com (8/50))
73. Milk a cow. (0/1)
But the one that caught my eye was No. 42:
Make pizza from scratch. (0/1)
If you’re a fan of pizza (and who isn’t?), the best thing you can do for yourself is learn how to make one from scratch. They’re better for you, and the addition of your own blood sweat and tears makes it taste nicer than anything you’ve ever tasted before. Okay, so it’s time consuming, but after a few attempts it becomes second nature.
HOW TO MAKE PIZZA FROM SCRATCH
Preheat your oven to a medium to hot temperature.
To make the dough:
-Sift 150g flour into a bowl, and add a pinch of salt and a sachet of dried yeast (I like this stuff).
(Tip: try adding flavouring to the flour at this stage.. pinch of dried herbs, or a tsp chilli powder!)
-Stir 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the flour with a wooden spoon, blending well.
-Melt 1 teaspoon honey into a cup of warm water (sugar works just as well – yeast needs something sweet to develop doughy bubbly goodness), and gradually mix into the flour to bind it together. If the mixture becomes too sticky, add teaspoons of flour until the dough becomes manageable again.
-Extract your ball of dough from the bowl, and turn it out onto a floured board. Knead the dough for at least three minutes… think of it as being like chewing-gum… the longer you maul it, the more elastic it becomes. The dough’s elastic quality is what makes it rise when it’s baked.
-Place your kneaded dough into a bowl and cover it with clingfilm, then let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
-(Start the tomato sauce now.)
-When you come back to the dough, you should find that it’s already expanded quite a lot, at which point (and this is the most satisfying part) you can punch the dough and feel the risen air escape. Roll it out on the floured board to your required shape, and place onto a baking tray. Curl the edges around if you like, stuffing the edges with cheese is time consuming but an interesting touch! Pierce the dough several times with a knife, and bake the dough on its own until it starts to turn brown, then remove it to cool. This gives you seriously delicious crustiness.
For the tomato sauce:
-Dice up a clove of garlic, and one medium onion. Lightly fry them together in a saucepan with a little olive oil, until the onion becomes translucent.
-Throw in the contents of a can of chopped tomatoes and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add salt and pepper, and herbs like basil or oregano (or both) and maybe a bit of chilli to give it a kick. Tomatoes are very bitter by nature… if you like, add 1 tsp sugar to counteract this – the calories are worth it.
-Simmer this sauce until the liquids boil down, at which point you can blend the sauce or leave it as it is. Happily, by the time your sauce is ready, the dough should be risen and ready for rolling.
For the topping:
This part is up to you, and whatever tickles your Nancy. Some suggestions are:
-Chopped mushrooms, lightly fried chicken pieces, diced peppers, olives, pepperoni slices, sweetcorn, cubed ham, sliced tomatoes, diced avocado… be inventive! I once fried cubes of lamb’s liver in a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and added it to the topping and it was feckin’ lovely.
-Cheese: 100g grated cheddar does the job nicely, but the addition of fresh Mozzarella is gorgeous, as are slices of Brie.
This is a whole lot of recipe and I know it looks quite daunting, but when you get into the stride of preparation it’s very easy. Knock the dough together and place it into a covered bowl and while it’s rising, make the tomato sauce. When the dough has risen, roll it out, score it and bake it to form a good crust, then remove to cool. Smother the base with tomato sauce, your toppings of choice, and a good layer of cheese, then bake the pizza until the cheese has melted and begun to brown. (Usually 15 minutes)