Thursday, 8 May 2008

Spelty shroomy pizza

My posts are all backwards at the moment, but I wanted to write about my wonderful new desk, and then it was such a nice day that I wanted to write about my salad, but now I’m going to go back to last weekend. It was a bank holiday and we went up to Leeds to see Munchkin Gramps et al, get my desk, and go to a school reunion. My old school was having a last open weekend before merging with the boys’ school and moving up to their site. Dogophile Vegan Nurse and I were best friends at school and we met up to go back together, accompanied by a tolerant Scientist. It was lovely to see the school again, reminisce about the horrors of physics and wonder that our old lockers are still there. In the evening we met up with some other old school friends for a meal and had a really good evening. Nobody had changed much at all – apart from the fact that lots of them are now mothers! Hopefully it won’t be another 14 years before we all see each other again…

The next morning DVN and I got up early and went to the Leeds farmers’ market. DVN had promised much, but it delivered – I was almost deliriously excited at how big it was. Her favourite vegetable stall wasn’t there, but there was so much else that we didn’t miss it too much. One of my favourite stalls was a herb one – did you know you can get chocolate flavoured mint? I was sorely tempted but was worried about getting it home intact. I was tempted by lots of breads and cakes, but in the end bought some lovely soda bread, some rock cakes and a crème brulee for The Scientist, and some beautiful mini cupcakes as a thank you for having us present for Munchkin Gramps and family. We drooled over various other baked goods, but were keen to get back to our own kitchens and try to recreate them rather than buy. We did, however, go a bit OTT when we saw some fancy mushrooms. We bought some field and some Portobello ones which we shared out between us, and DVN got a medley box which she very kindly shared too. We went home with mushroom plans aplenty, and even managed to miss having to help get my desk down the stairs.

The night we got back I made a delicious mushroom stroganoff (The Scientist had had a large pub lunch so was eating toast), based on a recipe from Veganomicon, which I had on some of my soda bread. The next day for lunch I had grilled mushrooms on toasted soda bread. The day after that I had my lovely salad, and last night, I went for a mushroom pizza. I’ve been reading about different types of wholegrains in my Wholegrains diet miracle book, and decided that spelt was a bit of a winner. It’s high in protein, soluble fibre (good for lowering blood cholesterol) and riboflavin (which can reduce the frequency of migraines). It’s low in gluten, though not gluten free. There was a recipe for wholegrain pizza dough in the book, so I gave that a go using spelt flour. I also made a back-up dough with white flour, just in case The Scientist didn’t want to be experimented on. The two recipes were very similar, although the spelt one used a bit more water. I put mixed mushrooms, goats cheese, sunflower seeds and rocket on my spelt one, and The Scientist substituted cured ham instead of the shrooms on his.

Spelty yeast monster dwarfs inferior strangely non-rising white flour dough

For plain and simple comfort food, his white flour base was probably the winner. For a nuttier, more wholesome taste though, mine was ahead, and I was really pleased with it. The Scientist tried a corner with no mushrooms on it and also gave it a thumbs up. I’ll let him have one of his own next time! I’ve been slowly improving my pizza dough making skills, and this time I combined several earlier tweaks: I made sure that the baking sheets were hot, and then coated them in a bit of cornmeal to help the dough crisp up, and I also made several smaller pizzas rather than one larger one each, as the bigger ones are sometimes a bit soggy in the middle. It seems to be working!

Lots of the ingredients in this meal are rich in calcium, and I’m sending my spelty shroomy pizza over to Susan of Food Blogga for her ‘Beautiful Bones’ osteoporosis awareness event. Osteoporosis is a disease particularly prevalent among women, and results in weak bones. Susan suffers from it herself, and has posted lots of amazingly tasty-sounding recipes which are high in calcium. The goat’s cheese, the spelt and the seeds in my pizza are all good foods to help bone density. I have several more spelt recipes stored up to try, so we’ll be revisiting this little super-grain (and keeping our bones healthy too, I hope)!

I was also very chuffed yesterday to discover that my cousin Pauly has been reading my blog (hello!). He’s on the lookout for simple-yet-impressive student dinner party food, and I say: what could be more impressive than home-made pizza?! The white flour dough recipe below doesn’t need any rising time, and you can posh it up by using fancy toppings. You could fit three in the oven at one time and keep them coming out as people share them. And for dessert, I’d recommend the chocolate and chestnut mousse I made for seder – v quick, v tasty and v decadent!

Spelty shroomy pizza (adapted from Wholegrain diet miracle)

Serves 6 [I halved it and then froze half of the dough]

1 sachet (7g) easy-blend dried yeast
About 550g wholegrain flour plus extra for kneading [spelt, in my case]
Oil cooking spray
1 ½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
¼ tsp fine sea salt

Toppings of your choice (I used tomato sauce, mixed mushrooms, rocket, goat’s cheese and sunflower seeds)

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the yeast and 315ml warm water. Leave to stand for 10 mins or until the yeast softens. In a large bowl, add the flour. Make a well in the centre and pour the yeast mixture into the well. Stir vigorously with a spoon until smooth. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand for 8 mins or until smooth and slightly springy. Rub the dough with half a tbsp of oil. Place in a large bowl. Cover tightly with cling film and let the dough rise for 1 ½ hours.

Preheat the oven to 240C/475F/Gas 9. Coat a large ovenproof non-stick tin or pizza tin with oil cooking spray. Add salt to the dough and knead to distribute the salt and form a dough ball. Press the dough ball into a 35cm round in the tin [I just rolled it out into an oblong which would fit on the baking tray].

Top the pizza with sauce and toppings (I just used tinned tomatoes which I seasoned with basil and oregano, and cut the others directly onto the pizza.). Bake for 10 mins or until the pizza dough is brown and crisp.

Regular (but very tasty) white pizza dough for people who don’t like being experimented on
(from Good Food magazine)

Serves 4 (makes 2 pizzas)

300g strong bread flour [I’ve seen (and used) other pizza recipes which use regular plain flour if that’s all you have in a student kitchen!]
1 tsp instant yeast [the kind you get in a little tub or sachets]
1 tsp salt
1tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

Tomato sauce and toppings of your choice

Put the flour in a large bowl and stir in the yeast and salt. Make a well, pour in 200ml warm water and the olive oil [I warm tap water in the microwave. It should be warm but not so hot you can’t comfortably put your finger in it]. Bring together with a wooden spoon until you have a soft, fairly wet dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 mins until smooth. Cover with a tea towel and set aside. You can leave the dough to rise if you like but it’s not essential for a thin crust.

Roll out the dough into two rounds. The dough needs to be very thin as it will rise in the oven. Lift the rounds onto two floured baking sheets. [You get a crispier base if you let the baking sheets heat up in the oven in advance]

Top with sauce and toppings and bake 8-10 mins at 240C/Gas 8.


Johanna said...

this looks great - I have been wondering what to do with all my spelt flour that is lurking in my pantry. Oh and glad you enjoyed your school reunion - the very idea gives me the horrors!

Ilana said...

i can report that the mini cupcakes were very yummy especially the pink ones :)

yummm, mushrooms....

i made a cake to take for dinner tonight! very proud, it looks fine (altho my sugar was quite hard and i didn't have the muscle power to pound it all out so there may be some surprise sugar abscesses within :)

it was a lemon sponge with lemon curd sandwiching material...

I (ES) x

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Hi Lysy,
I never thought to add spelt to dough, but thanks to you, I have a fantastically calcium-rich and healthy recipe! I love pizza, any and all kinds, so this is right up my alley.

Thanks so much for joining in Beautiful Bones.


Anonymous said...

A mention! I'll let you know if I give the pizzas a go...
Pauly x

Ricki said...

Love the look of this! I do a non-yeast spelt pizza crust (because I have a dread fear of cooking w/ yeast)--maybe this will the the recipe to change my mind!

Your reunion sounds like fun--I'm looking at a 30 years next spring--yikes!! (Something tells me we WON'T be able to say we haven't changed all that much!) ;)