I am a big fan of pizza. I love it. In fact I would say it is my favourite food. But I am not talking about the kind that comes in a cardboard box, delivered by some 16 year old, who is trying to pay off his first car. I am talking about the kind of pizza that is made of fresh ingredients, the type of pizza you make yourself. Gourmet pizza. Gourmet pizza can seem like a lot of hard work, most people see pizza as a lazy food that you order when you are feeling too tired to cook. Well I want to change that perception. I want to get you thinking that pizza, is not lazy food, but a delicious meal you can cook for your self.
What makes a good pizza recipe?
Pizza is something that is very subjective. What might be my favourite pizza, might sound disgusting to you. The way I try to think of it is that if you love a food, then you can probably make a great pizza out of that food. For example, I love smoked salmon. I find it particularly tasty on a bagel with some cream cheese, pesto, and tomato. I took that concept and designed a smoked salmon pizza. The recipe involves cooking a thin base with pesto on top and adding all the other ingredients on top cold after. It is super tasty, and my favourite, however you have probably never heard of it before. That's the great thing about gourmet pizza. You can get creative with the foods you love.
What about pizza bases?
There is a range of different types of pizza bases ranging from thin and crispy, to thick and puffy. I am a fan of the thin and crispy as I don't like to full up on the base. You can buy pre-made pizza bases from most major super markets, but I wouldn't recommend it. They are normally too thick, and tasteless. The real reward comes from making your own. You can make it by hand, just make sure you have some yeast, you can also use a bread maker. It does take a while to make bases, as the yeast has to rise in the dough.
How to cook your pizza?
Ok, so I have sold you on the concept, but you don't know about cooking. Cooking pizza is just like cooking anything else. There are some accessories you can buy to make your cooking experience even better. My favourite is a cooking stone (or pizza brick), which is basically a flat stone manufactured specifically for cooking pizza. As the stone holds heat well it makes fantastic bases. If you are just cooking your pizza on a cooking tray, I recommend cooking the base for a short time before adding ingredients, otherwise there can be disasters where your ingredients are cooked, and your base is still doughy and uncooked.
Any other tips?
Ok, so you are ready to go. What else do I have to share with you? Firstly, as with any great cooking, fresh ingredients or using the correct ingredients is crucial. Sure you can make a great pizza out of leftovers in the fridge, but you can make an outstanding pizza worthy of any high street restaurant out of the best ingredients. My last advice would be to get creative. If ham and cheese is your thing then go to Pizza Hut or Dominos. My gourmet pizzas have some crazy ingredients in them; chicken, curry powder and yogurt may not sound like a nice meal, but they make a damn good pizza.
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