health

A family recipe in one word and eight slices.

Elly Jean-louis

By ELLY-JEAN LOUIS

I have a confession…when Mamamia challenged me to cook one meal that could be altered to please a whole family I was baffled.

My initial thoughts were that it couldn’t be done. But then I started to think about easy meals that we cook at home when children are over or when entertaining large groups. Any guesses? One word, eight slices… Pizza.

Pizza is great because you customise each dish by omitting ingredients that fussy children don’t like and including the decadent ingredients that others may want. You can also make them healthier by modifying the thickness of the base as well as limiting the cheese (removing cheese is sacrilegious in my eyes so only do it if it’s a must).

If you have a gluten free member in your family, I have also used a gluten free base that went down a treat with the fam.

PIZZA DOUGH (makes 4 pizzas)

What you need:

1 ½  cups warm water
7g/1 sachet dried yeast
½ tsp of sugar
4 cups strong 00 flour – plain flour is fine if you can’t find 00
1 tsp salt
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing

What to do:

1. Mix the warm water, sugar and yeast in a bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes until slightly foamy. In a separate bowl, combine sifted flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the olive oil and yeast mixture gradually. Use a fork in a cutting motion to mix until a rough dough forms.

2. Use your hands to form the final dough, turn dough out onto a floured bench and knead for roughly 10 minutes until smooth.

3. Lightly grease a large clean bowl, place dough in bowl and cover with cling wrap. Set aside in a warm room or outside for 30 minutes – 1 hour until dough has doubled in size.

4. Use your fist to punch the dough down. Roll dough out into an even log then cut into four pizza portions. Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough to desired size, top with pasta sauce or tomato paste and your favourite toppings.

Punch that dough down.

GLUTEN FREE PIZZA DOUGH (makes 2)

What you need:

2 ½ cups strong gluten-free flour (gluten-free pizza flour is available at most supermarkets)
7g/1 sachet dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
2 tbs olive oil

What to do:

1. Mix the warm water, sugar and yeast in a bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes until slightly foamy. In a separate bowl, combine sifted flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the olive oil and yeast mixture gradually. Use a fork in a cutting motion to mix until a rough dough forms.

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2. Use your hands to form the final dough, turn dough out onto a floured bench (gluten free flour) and knead for roughly 10 minutes until smooth.

3. Lightly grease a large clean bowl, place dough in bowl and cover with cling wrap. Set aside in a warm room or outside for 45 minutes – 1 hour until dough has doubled in size.

4. Use your fist to punch the dough down. Knead dough and cut in half. Using a floured rolling pin (gluten free flour), roll dough to desired size, top with pasta sauce or tomato paste and your favourite toppings.

CHEATS BASE

What you need:

1 packet of Lebanese or Pita bread (simply lay the bread flat and layer with desired toppings. Bake for 10 minutes until golden).

Once you’ve rolled your pizza out and spread pasta sauce or tomato paste on the base, the possibilities are endless. Some of the combinations I created were:

THE PEDANTIC PIZZA

Perfect for those who are extremely fussy aka my younger brother

Toppings:

Ham
Mozzarella
Finely sliced tomato

What to do:

1. Layer cheese on top of tomato base, add topping. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 15 minutes in a fan forced oven on 180° until crisp and golden.

THE MEAT PIZZA WITH A TWIST

Perfect for those who LOVE cold cuts.

Toppings:

Ham
Prosciutto
Mushrooms
Ricotta
Mozzarella
Finely sliced tomato

What to do:

1. Layer mozzarella cheese on top of  tomato sauce and scatter ricotta on the base.

2. Add the ham and mushrooms to the pizza and season with salt and pepper.

3. Bake for 15 minutes in a fan forced oven on 180° until crisp and golden. Then simply top with fresh prosciutto and enjoy.

THE POTATO PIZZA

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For the carb lover.

Toppings:

½ Desiree potato (thinly sliced, this is really important so that it cooks evenly)
¼ Spanish onion, sliced
Rosemary
Mozzarella

What to do:

1. Layer mozzarella cheese on top of tomato base and arrange the potatoes in a spiral format (try to overlap as little as possible).

2. Add the onion and rosemary and season with salt and pepper.

3. Bake for 15 minutes in a fan forced oven on 180° until crisp and golden.

THE QUATTRO FORMAGGI 

For the cheese lover.

Toppings:

Ricotta
Blue cheese
Pecorino
Mozzarella

What to do:

1. Layer mozzarella cheese on top of tomato base and scatter ricotta evenly across the pizza.

2. Sparingly sprinkle the base with blue and pecorino cheese and season with pepper only.

3. Bake for 15 minutes in a fan forced oven on 180° until crisp and golden.

THE VEG-O-RAMA

This was voted the best pizza for the night.

Toppings:

Ricotta
Mushroom, sliced
Artichoke, jarred
Zucchini, sliced
Spanish onion, sliced
Mozzarella
Fresh rocket

What to do:

1. Layer mozzarella cheese on top of tomato base and scatter ricotta evenly across the pizza.

2. Add the zucchini slices in one layer then continue to add the remaining toppings.

3. Bake for 15 minutes in a fan forced oven on 180° until crisp and golden. Top with rocket and enjoy.

So there it is. One family meal that can be altered several ways to suit everyone from: the meat lover, to the fussy eater to the gluten intolerant and vegetarian. This can also be altered for the time poor, just use Lebanese or pita bread instead of making your own dough.

What do you make when you have to cook a meal to please everyone? I’d love to hear and try out your suggestions?

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