15 April 2014

It’s not Delivery, It’s Homemade

How many times have we opted for fast food for lunch or dinner instead of cooking? There’s no telling how much money we’ve spent on that one meal that easily becomes a few (or more) meals a week. Instead of picking up that telephone and calling for delivery pizza, get the family together and make one at home.

For the last couple of months we've had MOO Pizza on the menu every Thursday night. My family loves pizza, but to buy it costs almost half my weekly grocery budget, even buying from the local "budget" pizzeria. It's so easy to make pizza at home, and it's fast too - you can have a couple of delicious MOO pizzas ready to serve in less time than it takes to get them delivered, especially on a Thursday night.

Making pizza has become a great new family tradition for us.  We chose Thursday because it's a busy day for everyone in the household and a simple, easy and cheap dinner is always welcome.

For your MOO pizza meal, choose a day of the week when everyone can get together and enjoy the experience. You can even pretend that you are in a real Italian eatery and go all out by decorating the dining room table to resemble a pizzeria.

The best thing about homemade pizza is picking the toppings. Since it is your personal pizza, you can have as many different toppings as your heart desires. It’s a chance to raid the cabinets and the fridge to find good stuff to top your creation.

How will you prepare the crust? Now, this step can be easy or an adventure. If you wimp out and go easy, you can use an already prepared crust from the supermarket, they cost about $2.20 each, or you can buy frozen pizza bases ready to use.

But if you want to treat the family to a high time of flour and dough, whip up a batch (or two or three) of Penny Pinching pizza crust (and you'll get three for the price of one). With your own, the size of the pizza can be customized for each person in the family.

When the dough is ready, shape it into a circle of appropriate size. A handy tip is to create a rim on the dough so that the sauce won’t bubble over onto the oven rack. Now comes the fun part.  The dough is ready to be dressed to the hilt.

For the sauce, we’ll let you slide and use the store bought kind if you wish. Spread the sauce over the dough and be sure to cover it to the rim. Next, top the pizza sauce with your favourite toppings, then a sprinkling of cheese. It’s more economical to purchase a block of cheese and use a grater to slice it for pizza toppings. Those already shredded bags have only two or three cups in each which is not going to go the distance for an entire family. Besides, fresh cheese melts better.

Our favourite toppings are salami, shredded ham, shredded cooked chicken, diced onion, capsicum, olives, jalapenos, mushrooms and pineapple, oregano, baby spinach, MOO ricotta and occasionally egg. Everyone has their favourites and as they make their own they can make them just the way they like them.

We have pizza stones that bake the perfect pizza crust. They'll go in the oven and the barbecue. To keep the pizzas from sticking to the stones I sprinkle them with a little polenta, about two teaspoons. We also use baking trays, and they are lined with baking paper (that I wipe over and re-use if it's not too messy).

If you have at least two baking stones or pizza trays, you can make more than one at a time. Everyone can help to clean up while you wait for dinner to be ready. When the timer goes off, Bon ApetÍt!

And if there are leftovers, enjoy them tomorrow morning for breakfast!

Penny Pinching Pan Pizza

2 cups plain flour – 30c
2 tbsp olive oil – 30c
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp dry yeast – 5c
1 tsp sugar – 1c

Dissolve the sugar in ¼ cup of the warm water and then add the yeast. Put aside to ferment – about 5 minutes.

Process the flour and oil for a few seconds until it becomes crumbly. Add the yeast mixture and process. Slowly pour in the remaining ¾ cup water. Process until a dough ball forms. Continue processing for 30 seconds.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board, cover with a damp tea towel and let it sit for 10 minutes.

At this point you can freeze the dough in a ball to use later on or cover with a damp tea towel and let it sit for 10 minutes before pressing into a Swiss roll tin, using the palm of your hand. Try not to roll it with a rolling pin (or Marmite jar) as it toughens the dough.

Top with your favourite pizza toppings (we love tomato sauce, oregano and grated cheese and tomato sauce, slice mushrooms, pineapple pieces, sliced onion and olives topped with grated cheese). Bake in a hot oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the base is browned and the topping is bubbling nicely.

Some suggested toppings:
Tomato sauce, oregano and grated cheese – 25c, 1c, 90c
Tomato sauce, sliced mushrooms, sliced capsicum, pineapple pieces, sliced onions, slice olives and grated cheese
Tomato sauce, shredded chicken, pineapple and cheese
Tomato sauce, shredded ham and beaten egg

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  1. I don't like take away pizzas. I much prefer the taste of homemade. I normally buy focaccia bread for the base and slice it in half horizontally. If it's too thick I simply roll it with a rolling pin .

  2. I use the following as my homemade pizza sauce - works out so cheap and is really yum :)
    • First I buy Homebrand tomato paste - then I glob it out using a tablespoon, onto freezer or baking paper on oven trays - pop it in the freezer for about 2 hours, then transfer the mostly frozen globs into ziplock bags & back in the freezer. I did about 4 jars of this last year sometime and I think I still have over 5 globs left!
    • When it's pizza time, I grab a glob, put it in a small glass bowl with some warm water (maybe 2 tbs), then microwave it for about 30 seconds. Stir the mixture to incorporate the water. Once it's all mixed in, I'll add a little more water (depends how many pizzas I'm making) to get my preferred consistency, and then add a few shakes of Italian Mixed Herbs - mix it all up and there you have your pizza sauce!! It's good to mix up the herbs with the sauce while it's still warm - I think it makes it more flavourful!

  3. If time is too short to make the bases, pita bread makes a convenient substitute. You have to get the sauce fairly close to the edge to not have a large hard crust, though.

    Because we had problems with our oven at the house I grew up in, baking and especially anything involving yeast is rather a hurdle for me, so I'll try doing things properly when I have a large block of time to do so (here's hoping).

  4. Another easy pizza base is one that the chef Gabriel Gate used to make....just self raising flour and natural or greek yogurt mixed together until you have the right consistency. Roll out and top with your favourite toppings.


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