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October 1, 2011 / mintcustard

Kitchen Ephemera – part 2

This hot weather has encouraged me to cook outdoors as much as possible. Much as I approve of the Scouts and Guides use of a camp fire to cremate sausages I mean putting on the BBQ. I have already posted the lamb and flat bread we had last weekend. For some reason, possibly Sainsbury’s air conditioning, I came home last week with some braising steak and a pie! I’ve popped those in the freezer for when the cold snap comes so I’ve had to rethink this weeks meals.

Holidaying in Southern Italy is my idea of heaven. Fantastic weather, genuine people and magnificent food. The only downside is that as the men age their swimwear seems to shrink. If I wasn’t made of sterner stuff those speedos might just put me off my dinner. Fortunately that hasn’t happened yet.

From various wood fired ovens throughout the Naples area I have eaten baked pasta dishes, rotisserie chickens on rosemary skewers, crispy potatoes baked in chicken juices and of course pizza. I don’t own a wood fired anything sadly.  The BBQ I have is gas fuelled and much as I’d like the pizza oven attachment you can get for it, I know that it won’t happen.

Pizza on the BBQ it is then. The biggest problem is not burning the bottom of your dough whilst the top cooks. After several failures I have found that cooking the base a little on one side first allows the toppings to be heated from the warm dough and gives the uncooked side longer before it starts to char. The trouble is raw dough is floppy, cooked douch is stiff but very, very hot after being on the BBQ but you can’t top it wearing oven gloves!

The Italians have the solution, a pizza peel.

I use a white bread dough with an additional tablespoon or two of olive oil to make my pizza bases. The toppings are up to individuals and are also dependant on the contents of the fridge! As I almost always have have, mozzarella, olives and passata in the house these can be whipped up in no time. Having a cast iron flat plate is really useful but previous Mintcustard Mansions BBQ’s had just bars and a double thickness of foil on the bars worked just as well.

The finished pizza is not as good as the Neapolitan wood fired ones but with copious amounts of chilled Italian white and the promise of an ice cream for afters on a balmy evening like last night it is a good approximation.

As Fanny my sourdough starter is making bubbles at a magnificent rate I might try a sourdough base next time.

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