Alright, so I thought it’s about time you lot were all introduced to the possibly genetic and very likely environmental cause of my total inability to leave a cook book alone, and my weakness for spending hours thinking about, looking at and experimenting with food. This is a double-recipe I’ve taken from my mum, Joanna, who is basically otherwise known as the black-belt lord master of catering.
My mum knocks out a blindingly good supper for ten with one hand behind her back, one eye on a BBC drama and our rottweiler hanging around her ankles. She will have two hundred cupcakes, bars, muffins, biscuits and slices ready for a hundred-fifty head celebration, three hours ahead of time, and still make a chili con carne for her kids before she trucks out to host it. I watched this documentary last night, and found myself readily able to empathize with Jiro’s sons – it’s no wonder why!
This happens in our house three out of four weekends. Yeah, I know – amazing, right? It’s a deadly idea that makes good food that much easier to access for two meals instead of one. The heart of the concept is to make enough dough to cover for pizza bases and bread. I should note that my mum nearly wouldn’t let me post this, as, in her words, “I can’t give you a recipe! The ingredients change every time!” Despite this, I managed to get one good combination out of her for the purposes of writing this out – it is as follows:
2pm, Saturday: Make Dough
Combine (We use a Kitchen-Aid):
500g Organic Whole Meal Spelt Flour
500g Organic Strong White Flour
250g Organic Coarse Maize Meal
2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Generous Pinch Sea Salt
1 Sachet Yeast
500 – 600 Mls Hot Water
Very energetically stir (in a large mixing bowl) or Kitchen-Aid this Mixture for approximately seven minutes, until the dough is coming away from the sides of the bowl. Once that’s happened, put the bowl aside and cover it with a tea towel.
6pm, Saturday: Make Pizza for Four
Small Jar Red Pesto & 1/2 Tube Tomato Paste, Combined
1 White Onion, Chopped
250g White Mild Cheddar, Grated
Selection of Raw Chopped Vegetables & Fruit, to Taste & Preference
Selection of Cold Meats/Beans/Fish, to Taste & Preference
Fresh or Dried Herbs & Spices, to Taste & Preference
1. Preheat your oven to 220 celsius (fan). Drop the dough out of your bowl onto a clean work surface dusted with plain flour, and knock it around with your hands – act like you’re beating it up! Split into two balls. Set one dough ball aside. Take the other half of the mixture, form it into a rough oblong and then cut that oblong into four.
2. Grab a rolling pin. Re-flour your worktop and roll out each of the quarters of the oblong to a flat circle. Presto – you have your pizza bases! These will make a thin, slight yet intensely good bread for the pizza base, wonderfully light and firm at base with a crisp edge. They’ll also make a much lower calorie pizza than you’d perhaps have come to expect from shop bought or take out varieties – because the base is so fine and slight, we’re talking 700 – 850 calories for an entire, ready-to-go pizza (provided you don’t superload your tops!)
3. Place each base on a baking tray. Spoon a dollop of the pesto tomato mix onto each and spread very thinly, so that you don’t soak the dough – it’ll look like less than you think you need, but trust me, this turns out just fine. Sprinkle with chopped onion, and then add whatever toppings you like. I love canned tuna and broccoli florets, or baked beans; my little sister likes apples and grapes; my brothers dig chorizo, beef, barbecue chicken and ham. Sliced red pepper, mushrooms and sweetcorn also feature frequently! Finish with a sprinkle of grated cheese on each. Try paprika, herbes de provence, chili powder, parsley or spinach leaves as toppers. Keep to a set of three ‘main’ flavours at most, and you won’t go wrong.
4. Place two pizzas in at a time, one on the top shelf and one on the middle. After ten minutes, swap their shelf places and bake for a further five minutes before plating, cutting and serving. Heaven. (And they make really good breakfast leftovers, too…)
9 am, Sunday: Make Bread
1. Preheat your oven to 250 Celsius (fan). Grab that remaining dough half and place it on a baking tray. Form it into a long, even oblong. Score across the top with a knife, four times. Let it sit for at least an hour like that – longer if it’s particularly cold in your kitchen. After that, straight into the oven on the top shelf for nine minutes. When your times goes, reduce the temperature to 220 Celsius and move the bread to the middle oven shelf for a further thirteen minutes. You will know the loaf is ready if it sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom. Take out, wrap in clean tea towel and leave to cool.
1 pm, Sunday: Serve Lunch