One of the things I dread most is a dinner rota. It's Tuesday, it must be spaghetti. Thursday night is curry. And Sunday? Sunday is the dreaded roast dinner, with the same meat and vegetables as we cooked badly last week.
Individually, there's nothing wrong with any of these for dinner. The banality comes from the inevitably of the same seven dishes wheeled out each week, rather than the food. Back in catered halls, I was initially impressed with the variety and quality of the menus. It was only after a few months when vegetable bake rolled round yet again that I began to dismay.
We didn't have a full rota when I was child, but there were some days that had dinner assigned. Saturday would be fajitas (My father eats everything with a knife and fork, even fajitas. He would go out on Saturday nights so we would take the opportunity to eat with our hands.) The horror of the Sunday roast, followed by a light dinner of taramasalata and pitta bread.*
I looked forward to Wednesday though. Wednesday was pizza night. My dad always cooked on pizza night, using a slab of stone to get extra heat in the oven, and gently pushing the dough to fill the pizza trays. I'd help make the tomato sauce, or mix the dough. I'd be first to volunteer for cutting up the kabanos, sneaking the end slices in to my mouth when I thought no one was looking.
This recipe is far from authentic. It features the aforementioned kabanos (usually we'd buy it from the Polski Sklep, but in this part of Scotland I have to make do with ambient kabanos. Nice.) and a tinned tomato sauce. I'm sure most Italians would probably laugh in disgust. It's invented by a man who hadn't tasted pizza until his late twenties, and garnished with whatever leftovers can be scavenged from the salad drawer.
*looking back, I realise this is quite a weird thing to have for dinner once a week for around 10 years.
Wednesday Night Pizza
175g plain flour
pinch of sugar and salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried yeast
1) Place all the ingredients in a bowl, and add a splash of warm water.
2) Mix until a smooth dough is formed - you may need to add more water.
3) Knead for around 5 minutes until soft and supple. Place in a oiled bowl, then cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise for at least 30 mins.
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 can of chopped tomatoes
Sprinkle of dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1) Chop the onion and garlic as finely as you can. Gently fry them for 5 minutes, until soft but not coloured.
2) Add in the anchovy paste and tomato puree. Cook for 1 minute.
3) Pour in the chopped tomatoes, oregano and season.
4) Bring the pan to a gently simmer, and stir occasionally.
5) The sauce is ready once it's very thick and the chunks of tomato are almost totally broken down. Dragging a spoon through the pan should leave a clean line. This usually takes around 20 mins.
I like kabanos, peppers, anchovies, capers, fresh egg, olives, mushrooms and mozzarella. Not necessarily all at once.
1) Preheat the oven to the highest setting.
2) Gently stretch the pizza dough over an oiled baking sheet*. You'll need to prod and poke it in to place. Make it slightly bigger as it will shrink a little as you put the toppings on.
3) Spread a thin layer of sauce on the dough, and add your toppings.
4) Blast in the hot oven for 8-10 minutes.
*If you are really clever, you can stretch the dough on to a floured plate, and slide it directly on to a scorching hot baking sheet. This makes for a crispy crust, but runs the risk of your pizza disintegrating in to a heap.