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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Understanding Grilled Pizza: Once you try it, you will not have your pizza any other way!!

Part 1: Understanding Pizza and The Dough
Required skills: A bit of practice, makes perfect

Above Roasted Eggplants, Bolognaise sauce Grilled Pizza!
Choose your favourite fillings, sauces, cheeses and be creative!
Don't be afraid to try new combinations, and own your recipe...
Kids, Adults, East or West, everybody likes Pizza!
Whether you are at home or eating out, be it a party, or a movie night, a sleep over or a weekend late night treat, For lunch or dinner, Pizza is the perfect offering. 

Pizza originated in Naples, and was taken out and adopted by almost every other Italian city. Each city created its own adaptation of Pizza, from the ingredients to the presentation. Then it was adopted by travelers to the rest of the world. Many areas have come up with their own versions and became famous for them, like the New Yorker large round pizza, that is sold per slice! Therefore, although originally Italian, Pizza became international. No wonder it is the world's favourite fast food.

You can make Pizza with
Focaccia dough instead of
the classic pizza dough
The main characteristics of Pizza   
the crust  a pizza is based on a crust. This crust can be thin, thick, crisp, or tender, smooth or with bulges. This crust can be made in a variety of different ways to create the different textures. You can even be creative and instead of making a classic pizza dough, you can make a pizza from Focaccia dough for variation.

Generally speaking, pizza crust is a bread-based dough, it can therefore be made with flour, wheat based, whole wheat, buckwheat...etc.

Tomato Sauce based pizza topped
with Parma Ham and baby
Arugula leaves
the sauce   Tomato sauce is the most famous base for pizza. But don't let that deter you from using other sauces. Basil Pesto goes wonderful with pizza as well. Again, basil pesto is the classic choice, you can also experiment with Arugula Pesto, baby watercress pesto, spinach sauce, bolognaise and even white sauce...

the cheese  Melted Mozzarella topping is synonymous with our mental image of pizza. But the choice of cheese is abundant. You can go from the classic mozzarella and Parmesan to all other kinds to include cheddar (classic or aged), Gorgonzola, Emmental...etc. You can even experiment with the texture of the cheese for various presentations and looks (shredded, sliched, cubed, or crumbled). The cheese can go on top, or be included in the filling or a pizza can include both options in one (a topping and filling). There are pizzas made using more than one cheese and are named accordingly (a trio of cheese...etc).

Use your favourite ingredients as
filling for pizza
the filling  Anything under the sun can be used as a filling for pizza. All types of meets, vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds, cheeses...etc. you can make it very simple and choose a max of 2 fillings, or you can go all the way and make a mix of a variety of vegetables, hers, cheeses...etc. You can always make 2 pizzas in one. Just make each side a different filling and topping.

Mini Pizzas are perfect for pass
around and cocktail receptions
the look  The classic presentation of pizza is round shaped. But you can go for the shape you like, in the size you like. I make mini (bite size) pizzas for cocktail receptions and pass around service. These are also good for tasters, as diners get to try more than one flavour instead of sticking to one. I go for a little bigger size (about the size of your palm) for brunches, as I find they are more filling, yet allow for seconds. I always prefer the the rustic look to the classic perfect presentations. The rustic square, oblong or even attempted round are to me more appealing that the ring cut perfect shapes. But that is just me! Experiment with presentation and you will find your own favourite. Don't get too stuck on the classics, it is nice to have character, even in food presentation.

Your imagination is your only limitation, and good cooks have a highly creative imagination. In order to own a recipe and keep impressing your guests and diners with new recipes you have to get into the mode of experimentation and try out as many combinations as you can.

Traditional Pizza Oven
Methods of cooking Pizza
Pizza is best cooked in the traditional pizza oven (stone oven). This oven builds up massive heat which is always preferable and produce best results with flat breads. The use of charcoal, and wood for fire, add an unmatched flavour to your pizza. Since not many of us have a pizza oven at home, you can bake pizza in your kitchen's oven. Although you will not achieve the perfect restaurant style pizza, you can get pretty close. The use of a pizza stone will enhance the performance of your oven and produce better results as it works up better heat for your pizza to cook well.

The Stone oven works up high heat which is preferable with flat breads,
therefore allowing for the best crust results.

A pizza stone will enhance your oven's performance
by equal higher heat distribution, allowing for better results

Once you have tried grilled
pizza, you won't have
it any other way!

But the best alternative to a pizza oven, will be grilling pizza!! Yes, you will never have your pizza any other way, once you have tried grilling it (especially char-grilling!). I am telling you that pizza, will be super delicious, you will love it. So the next time you are going for a BBQ add these pizzas to your menu. You can even do a Grilled Pizza event, without the rest of the menu options!

To grill your pizza, you just have to grease your grill with a little oil, prepare the dough, half cook it then add the toppings and cook till done. If you cover the pizza you will get better results as you allow for higher temperature to build inside the grill.

Basic Pizza Dough Recipe
makes one 10-12" round pizza base or one 12x7 rectangular base
This simple bread recipe is to be rolled out thin for a traditional pizza appeal.

You Need
175g strong white flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp (for flat dough) - 1tbsp (for more leavened dough) easy-blend dried yeast*
a pinch of salt
120-150 ml lukewarm water

*You can use 1 tsp - 1 tbsp yeast. The 1 tsp will come out more flat and less yeasty. The 1 tbsp will rise more and will have a more obvious hint of yeast.

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast. make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the water and oil and mix with a spoon to a soft dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes. (the dough should be smooth and elastic)
Then place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. leave in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour. (the dough should double in size)

Knock the dough back, and turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead again for 3 minutes. Roll out as required and push the dough up to make a rim. Place on your greased grill (or pizza stone, or baking sheet if using the oven). You can top with sauce now before grilling or half cook the dough and then top with sauce and other toppings.

Roll out the dough to required size and thickness

push the dough up to create a rim
Once topped with a basic tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil, this will make up for the classic Margarita Pizza.

Hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, you will also like my post on Grilled Pizzas.

Have you ever made Pizza at home? Now that you have read this post, do you think you will try making your own pizza dough at home? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear your thoughts on this :) Hope you enjoyed this post, come back soon for more delicious recipes and kitchen talk :)

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