101 Things in 1001 days: Make pizza from scratch

Good afternoon readers; since I’m a little off book reviews after the book review challenge I’ve decided to bring you a tasty 101 things in 1001 days challenge. Although my culinary skills are not poor, since I started my job I seem to have got into the habit of making the same things over and over again. Although this is no bad thing (I make a mean spag bol) I’ve decided to try and up my tried and tested recipes and add pizza to the mix. There is a reason behind it being pizza specifically but I’ll get back to that. A little side note, I was tempted to pretend that this went perfectly first time however I decided to be completely honest. This took in honesty three attempts before the pizza resembled anything edible; the first time I was so excited I forgot to add the olive oil. A more experienced cook could probably guess how important this is for making pizza but I had no idea and chucked it into my kneaded dough. Then to try and repair this I added flour; don’t do that, it won’t work. Second Bridget Jones moment came the second time when I managed to tip most of the flour out of the bowl onto the floor, over-compensated added too much flour and then couldn’t roll it out. Nightmare. However yesterday I started again and somehow managed to get it done perfectly.

The reason why I decided to specifically include pizza on the list takes me back to Silverstone Juniors aged just eight. For some reason, which I cannot for the life of me recall, one sunny afternoon the entirety of the school made pizza. There must have been an educational link somewhere but I can’t quite put my finger on it. The twenty of us in year four rolled up our sleeves, mixed the dough and kneaded it before adding our toppings and had the teacher pop them carefully in the oven. What came out was an inedible mass that when thrown out to the birds, was also refused by them. It was doughy, chewy and undercooked. When I came to write my list it suddenly pinged back into my memory and so I found a recipe and on Monday night set myself the task of making pizza.

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I took the recipe from the GoodFood website but seeing as the scales I was using weren’t working too well and I hadn’t realised we didn’t have a measuring jug there was a lot of guess work. Firstly measure out 300g of strong bread flour. I used the white variety however I assume wholemeal would work equally well. Then add a tsp of yeast, a tsp of salt and a tbsp of olive oil. Then measure out 200ml of warm water, make a well in the mound of dry ingredients and ‘bring together’ with a wooden spoon. It says at this point it should be a wet dough however mine was ridiculously sticky so I added a little more flour until it looked how I thought it should. Then you have to seriously knead the dough; I went all bake off style and started properly working it, until it looked pretty smooth. Then you have the choice of either letting it rise a little or just steaming right ahead. I left mine for a little bit, but it didn’t rise a huge amount so I’d be tempted to skip this step.

At this stage I decided to roast some yellow pepper in the oven; I couldn’t decide whether they would cook if I just put them on the top so I decided instead to roast them off in a little olive oil and salt but it depends on your toppings of choice and how well done you like your ingredients. The next tricky step is rolling it out, this dough is seriously stretchy. Not only did it keep pulling back when I stretched it out but it also wouldn’t roll into a circle. It ended up resembling a rather wonky oval however I managed to stretch it out a little and make it look a bit more circular. I also didn’t have a rolling pin which obviously made this a little more difficult. I then floured the baking tin, and popped the dough on before stretching it out a little more whilst on the tin. I squeezed on a little tomato puree and a couple of spoons of tomato passata and added salt and pepper before pushing it around the entire base of the pizza.  I took the roasted pepper from the oven, and cut up some pre-cooked bits of chicken which tasted pretty delicious. I then popped on a sprinkling of sweetcorn, some circles of mozzarella and some torn up basil leaves before placing it in the oven on a temperature of 160. I think the recipe said higher but I have a terrible habit of leaving pizza too long and it going a little burnt and I wanted to avoid this as much as possible.

Despite me being delirious that the pizza looked like it might work, it actually smelt incredibly delicious and it cooked rather evenly despite my oven being pretty time-worn and ancient. Although a little thicker on the outside and having a few holes in the bottom due to my panic that it would be too thick and wouldn’t cook well the pizza was honestly delicious. I don’t eat a huge amount of pizza; it’s not my go to choice of takeaway however it tasted so much better than the doughy deep pan pizzas that your regular takeaway has to offer and I will one hundred percent be doing this again soon.

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101 Things To Do In 1001 Day: Make Roasted Red Pepper Soup

101 things in 1001 days

Good afternoon my lovely readers, today’s post as you can see is a 1001 days post so if you’re looking for a book review you’re not going to find it here, but you will find a post about me being a culinary whizz. Well kind of. I was looking at my list of things to do and I worked out that I have to complete around three tasks a month and at the moment I am not keeping up with that and some of the bigger tasks can’t really be done over a weekend or even a month, as they need a lot of planning. So I sat down and looked at all the ones that I could do quite simply and this coming week I am going to be taking on three. I am off to Glasgow at the weekend with Mumma B which ticks off the task go somewhere in Great Britain you’ve never been before, and I am going to the midnight premiere of the new Hunger Games film (fingers crossed) next week with two of my wonderful friends.

Now this one today I actually completed about a month ago but my iPhone was broken and the photos from my old Blackberry were awful so I made it again last night with a different recipe and it tastes amazing; (well I think so anyway) So, I made roasted red pepper soup; it’s actually one of my favourites, right after Heinz tomato. For me you cannot beat that stuff, it reminds me of sick days snuggled up on the sofa, under the sick blanket (as we called it, I am sure it was riddled with disease) watching children’s films such as Barbie Rapunzel. This comes a close, close second and I now have a vat on it sitting on the side as long as neither of my house dwellers has devoured it whilst I’ve been at work.

I love cooking but I never really get round to it my life is either completely in a rush or I’m out of the house, so I’m either eating a toasted sandwich whilst furiously blogging and writing articles for the various sites I write for, or I’m out for dinner with friends, I just never MAKE the time and always think oh I’ll do it later. So after paying the water bill (I hate being an adult) I wandered around Sainsbury’s chatting away to my best friend whilst trying to remember the recipe for red pepper soup. I traipsed home with four red peppers, two carrots, an onion, stock jel thingies (yes that’s what they are) garlic, basil, chopped tomatoes, a new hand blender (last time I attempted to mash the soup as I did not own a blender, I can confirm it doesn’t work,) and a bottle of rose which is vital for cooking my mother tells me. Hair up, apron on and cooking could commence.

First I chopped up all the peppers; I must admit I don’t think I needed them all because they filled the roasting tray, splattered them with a little oil and sprinkled salt (and you should add pepper but I didn’t have any; shock) Pop them in the oven at 180. Then pour a glass of wine, following my mother’s wisdom as always. Peel the carrots, and chop them up with the onion and garlic. Then put a saucepan of water onto boil (two pints) and add the stock. I used a jelly type one rather than a cube but I don’t think it matters too much. Whack in the vegetables and boil for five minutes and then turn down to simmer for around twenty minutes. Pour another glass of wine (yes another.)The peppers should be done (don’t forget about them!) so bring them out the over and leave them to cool. The recipe said scrape off the blackened bits but mine were only a little so I left them on. Chop them up and throw them in the saucepan along with the chopped tomatoes and let it cook for another ten minutes. Blend and you’re done and dusted. The basil is for decorative purposes but I had some dried stuff that I popped in whilst it was cooking.
This soup honestly tasted delicious and it wasn’t because of the third glass of wine I promise. Definitely worth a go, I’ve popped in a link, and I don’t like celery that’s why it didn’t make it into the soup; if you were wondering. 🙂 Here’s the link: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/7685/-roasted-red-pepper-soup

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