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In which I speak with a bad Italian accent and get covered in flour - Tactical Ninja

Nov. 17th, 2011

09:12 am - In which I speak with a bad Italian accent and get covered in flour

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Disclaimer: I know other people do this sort of thing on a regular basis and it's really no big deal. But for me, who's spent a lifetime having an aversion to cooking and is only discovering for the first time that it can be fun, it's a Fantastic! Exciting! Adventure! That I have to share with the world. If you find my dabbling in the arcane world of food preparation boring*, just scroll on by. Otherwise, come enjoy with me!

* hehe, I was going to add a link for the bored to a site called Funology.com - The Science of Having Fun! But on the front page of Funology it says Let's Make Some Cupcakes - so you have a choice, cupcakes or pizza.




"WTF does that have to do with pizza?" I hear you say. Well, nothing. But last night was the first night this week I've been home straight after work and I wanted to make a second planter to nest inside and under the first, for plants that don't need quite as much sun. So I did. I'm hoping to retain deck space by having it fit partially under the other, while still catching the light when it comes in over the balustrade. It took about 15 minutes and I have enough offcut bits of wood to maybe make a corner shelf or something.

Anyway, pizza. The recipe didn't really have much stuff in it, it was mostly the yeast and stuff to make it come alive, the flour and some salt, and olive oil because well I don't actually know why but there it is. The yeasty sugary watery stuff went in the hot water cupboard for a few minutes till it went foamy (which apparently means it's doing its thing):



And then there was mixing!



And kneading! For five minutes! Because it's kind of fun and if I can shear a bloody sheep I can knead dough for five minutes, right?



Also, I'm not sure I want to think too hard about those hands having been cutting shit off sheeps' bums yesterday. Isn't skin awesome? SO WASHABLE. *cough* Anyway, then I bunged the ball of dough back in the cupboard for an hour to rise.



This bit was hard because I'm impatient and if I'd known I could have started earlier and done the planter while I was waiting for the rising but there you go, live and learn. Cooking and DIY seem to fit together quite well. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the risen dough but I assure you it got big! ;-) Then I squished it a bit to get the air out and divided into balls to 'let it rest' for half an hour.



I have no idea what ‘let it rest’ means in this context or why you do it, but I thought since people keep telling me this kind of baking is a science, I’d better follow the instructions. Anyway, while my dough was having a wee rest, I did toppings! Because it’s pizza and pizza is all about the toppings, right?



So we have tomato paste and mozzarella cheese, bacon, ham and pepperoni salami, salmon gravlax that I made a few weeks ago, onion, courgette, capsicum, broccoli, sweet grass and spring onion (stealth vegies yay!), and capers, with herbs from mah garden - all of the kinds because I was pinching them today to make them bush out, but the big pile is basil. I was making two meat lovers ones for the Youths of Today (of which there were two in my house last night) and a salmon and caper one for me. I should have added some feta but I didn’t have any and couldn’t be arsed going to get some.

After the wee rest I tried tossing the dough to make the bases, but got bored with it really quickly. I didn't drop them and the spinning worked fine but after four tosses my lumps of dough were slightly flattened lumps of dough, and I realised I'd be there a while if I wanted to do it that way so instead I used a rolling pin. After the application of toppings, they went in the oven. I have a fantastic oven even though it’s twelve years old and the most el cheapo one money could buy - it’s simple to use, cooks evenly and has three racks. It doesn’t matter where you put stuff in the oven, it cooks. It’s great for a noob like me because otherwise I’d be all OVENS HOW DO THEY WORK and probably give up.



Nek Minnut*:



Actually it was about 20 minutes. They were pretty good. I’ve decided that I’m not that keen on pepperoni but the Youths of Today scoffed those ones, and the salmon one was YUMMY. Gravlax is perhaps a bit salty for some folks’ tastes and I could have sliced it a bit thinner, but salmon pizza OMG NOM NOM NOM.

The crust was crusty on the outside and bready underneath, with enough structural integrity to hold a slice without stuff falling off (and there was a LOT of stuff on these pizzas). It was a little bit moist and tasted like pizza. I was kind of impressed with myself. A+, would do again**.

* Watch this video (only 9 seconds) for a slice of Kiwiana that nobody really understands why it turned into a meme but it did so even people’s Mums are using it:



** Much like Dr Wheel.


So this week I’ve made soft tortillas AND pizza bases as my new things. Thats two countem two kinds of fast food I can now make. Protip: making pizza this way is not fast. There’s a fair bit of waiting involved and about 45 minutes of actual prep time. In future I will start as soon as I get home and do my DIY while the dough is doing its thing in the cupboard (whatever it is, it must be strenuous because it needs a rest after), because last night we didn’t eat until 8pm and that’s a bit late for me.

Tonight, I will cook something easy, stare wistfully at my new planter that I can’t do anything with till payday, code some more interviews and maybe indulge in random acts of shaving.

Comments:

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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
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You are welcome at my place any time but if you want to get fed you ought to warn me cos lots of my cooking would kill you and make tieke sick.

(but lots of it wouldn't as well)

Of course you can always have a cup of chamomile tea while we scoff all the pizza...
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From:rivet
Date:November 16th, 2011 08:37 pm (UTC)
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I'm loving your adventures in cooking! Also your city living and tiny gardening.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
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Microgardening!

(i should play micro house to my plants and see what happens)
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:November 17th, 2011 12:26 am (UTC)
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Mircogardening you say? Garden in a jar.

I made one of these when I was a kid as a gift to my grandparents. It was really cool and now I remember it I want to make another one!
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From:tatjna
Date:November 17th, 2011 12:36 am (UTC)
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I think you should. There is lots of room in our house for such things! ;-)
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From:tyellas
Date:November 16th, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
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I love how you topped your pizzas Kiwi-style, thickly paved with All The Toppings. (Here's the pizza I grew up with for contrast.)
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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC)
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Gosh. I didn't even know regional styles existed! Also, I'm heartened by how wobbly the edges on those pizzas were too - makes me feel better about my *cough* asymmetrical *cough* food.

Add All The Toppings is the only way I know how to make pizza. O.o
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From:tyellas
Date:November 16th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
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It seems like the All The Toppings style leapfrogged to the Antipodeas from the West Coast of the USA, where pizzas are also thickly and generously topped. Whereas the tasteful-sprinkle-of-toppings seen on the East Coast hearkens back to the demure topping application used in Italy.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
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I remember having New York style pizza (oddly enough, in San Francisco) while in the US because someone said I should. The slices were HUGE LIKE BIGGER THAN MY HEAD and really thin (so you had to hold it carefully with both hands to eat it, with barely anything on them.

Kiwi pizzas have been, as long as I can remember, about the size of a dinner plate and stiff enough to eat with one hand - the biggest risk being All The Toppings sliding off the melted cheese and burning your genitals.
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From:tyellas
Date:November 16th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
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Your NY pizza vendor was derelict in not showing you the "fold hold" slice nomming technique! I was always a half-fold gal.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC)
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So elegant, so simple, yet so something I never thought of!
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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
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Your deck looks to be wider than mine so you might get away with my original plan which was to make them cascading instead of nested, and have them facing the sun in a glorious riot of plantitude!

Buemmer about the pallet - maybe that's why nobody has taken it.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
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Bunnings has timber out the wazoo and will definitely have what you need. ;-) They're also good about loaning trolleys to help get stuff home.
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From:anna_en_route
Date:November 16th, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)
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I don't know if you're in the mood for labour-saving devices but...
When we had a bread-maker it would essentially do all of the pizza-dough making stuff for us (including all of the kneading and the two different raising periods).
All we had to do was dump in the ingrediants and roll out the dough at the other end. It took just as long but required very little effort.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
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At the moment I'm getting a kick out of the effort part but this might change in future, especially if time constraints become an issue.

Mum had a breadmaker and I sold it after she died, thinking I'd never make bread. Famous last words..
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From:anna_en_route
Date:November 16th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
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It's probably a good idea to get a feel for the process and the state of the dough ? We had a number of dough-that-ate-Manhattan moments where the dough appeared to be attempting to consume the oven, if we'd known a little bit more about the process and what it *should* have looked like we probably could have avoided that.

I've got the impression that bread-makers show up a lot on trademe and at garage sales, so if you ever decide you need one you shouldn't have too many problems picking up a cheap one.

Come to think of it they might be ideal bulk food for the youth of today...we used to buy a bucket of yeast and a huge sack of bread flour from Moore Wilsons and the resulting bread worked out cheaper per loaf than commercial bread (especially if we did fancy stuff like fruit bread).
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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2011 10:52 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, that's kind of the plan. He likes toast sliced bread and at the rate he eats it I can't afford the $5 a loaf nutritious stuff - so if I want him to have nutritious bread I'll have to make it.

I found myself really thankful I'd used the big mixing bowl instead of my smaller ones. Wondering what'll happen when I make bread.
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From:weeweekittie
Date:November 17th, 2011 12:10 am (UTC)
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H O O R A Y P I Z Z A!!!!!

My favorite homemade pizzas are sweet potato, spinach, goat cheese and shallots, and then also garlic, tomato, mozzarella (which you can make in the time it takes the dough to rise, fun fact), basil, spinach and olive oil. And, like, a thousand other pizzas. I love all of yours and I now have to eat something because they have seriously made me so damn hungry.

Since you liked it, a similar recipe is naan, if you're interested in that. Same basic stuff with a little honey and baking soda.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:November 17th, 2011 12:32 am (UTC)
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One of my favourites came via living with beagl and kimeros: Brocolli, pesto, and lemon. Nom.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 17th, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)
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Pesto is on my list of things to learn to make. I'm told it's useful in pizza making and other things.
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From:nessaneko
Date:November 17th, 2011 08:12 am (UTC)
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It is rather easy if you have a food processor, because it involves getting a bunch of delicious things and throwing them in the processor and hitting 'blend'. this looks like a good simple recipe. I've also seen it made using cashews, which is nom, and if you like chunky pesto then cashews add chunk rather well. I suggest using pine nuts, not walnuts, because they have a way better flavour.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 17th, 2011 08:20 am (UTC)
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I will probably try both, since I have a friend who's deathly allergic to nuts. But yes I do have a food processor and I'm not afraid to use it! ;-)
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From:nessaneko
Date:November 17th, 2011 08:30 am (UTC)
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Might I also recommend making your own hummus? If you get dry chickpeas, as they're cheaper, take a cup of chickpeas and soak overnight, then drain. Then boil them until they're soft (perhaps 1-2 hours). Drain again, but keep some of the water as it's useful. Put the still-hot chickpeas into the processor along with a dollop (about 2 tbsp) tahini, a drizzle (around 1tbsp) olive oil, juice of half a lemon, 1/2 tsp paprika, 2 cloves minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend it all up until it's smooth, and if it seems too dry, add some of the boiling water to loosen it up. Have a taste and add more lemon or garlic if you like, it's pretty subjective.

It's pretty healthy and filling as it's a really good protein source, so it might be good for the Youth of Today to eat as a toast topping. Plus you can take it to work in a wee pottle and then have vege sticks or pita breads or something and it's all kinds of nom. AND if you like, you can add sundried tomatoes or similar flavour-y whatsits to the blender while you're processing it, for extra flavour.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 17th, 2011 08:32 am (UTC)
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Oh man, that sounds awesome. I have never bought chickpeas before!

Bloody hell what's happening to me?
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From:nessaneko
Date:November 17th, 2011 08:35 am (UTC)
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You've inspired me to make pizza this weekend :D And maybe some hummus too. You can get the chickpeas in the supermarket bulk bins, and I have it on good authority that it is very important to blend the chickpeas while they're still hot cos otherwise it goes grainy and weird.
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From:anna_en_route
Date:November 17th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
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You're food-hacking?
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From:tatjna
Date:November 17th, 2011 12:40 am (UTC)
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Mmmm, naan! If it's that simple, I'll definitely be trying it.
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