Pizza nite! (and calzones too)

Pizza nite was always a happy evening, usually starring mother’s pastry pizzas – more to say about them soon. With the weather here generally awful, and a second lockdown in force, sometimes it is hard to be upbeat. But today the sun shone and my neighbour and I had a much needed walk across the heath. Coming home in the twilight it seemed a good idea to start kneading some dough.

The only hard thing here is not drinking all the beer before the pizzas come out of the oven.

Ingredients:

  • For enough dough to make a large pizza and two calzones: Up to 500g pasta flour, 20-40ml olive oil, warm water, 15g live yeast, one tsp honey. A small bunch of thyme leaves.
  • For the tomato sauce: 4 largish golden tomatoes, one small red onion, a clove of garlic, dried Anaheim chili, a little thyme, olive oil, salt and ground pepper.
  • For the pizza: 50g sliced ready to eat salami, 50-75g mozzarella, black olives
  • For the calzones: 3 or 4 mushrooms, a handful or two of spinach leaves, 50-75g mozzarella plus assorted other cheese (fontina, parmesan, brie are all good)

Method: I have used pasta flour here because I find it more digestible, but any flour is fine. Make the dough using the method here, incorporating the finely chopped thyme leaves.

To make the golden tomato sauce, sauté sliced tomatoes, chili flakes and onion in a little oil, along with a few thyme leaves. Cook very slowly and by the time the dough has risen for the first time the sauce should be thick. Leave to cool. Then lightly cook sliced mushrooms in a non- stick pan, adding chopped and dried fresh spinach after a few minutes. While cooling stir in a handful of diced parmesan.

After the dough has risen twice, knock it down and roll out/stretch out a thin sheet which fits your baking tray. Line the tray with baking paper and lay the dough gently on top. Spread tomato sauce thinly over the surface, leaving plenty of gaps. Arrange salami slices neatly over the sauce, then a few olives, then the mozzarella, either broken or sliced. A little parmesan is good here too. Leave for 15 minutes, then cook in a hot oven for 10-20 minutes (check after 10).

Meanwhile, roll out 2 circles of dough, each of approximately 20 cm diameter. Brush them very lightly with tomato sauce. Mix the remainder of the sauce with the mushrooms. Place a few spoonfuls on one side of each circle. Add more cheese as above, fold the empty side over the filled one and crimp. Brush with milk and oil. When the pizza comes out of the oven, put the calzones in and watch after 10 minutes, as before. Turn them over carefully when the tops are cooked for another few minutes, so that they are an even colour.

Pizza, calzones, salad, beer. Italian sunshine stored up for November.

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