Pizza & Pasta

All things to do with the wonderful world of pasta and pizza you will find right here!

Strozzapreti

Strozzapreti - made for choking priests

Strozzapreti – made for choking priests

If someone had told me about a year ago that one day I would be making my own pasta and that my whole family would love it I would have laughed at you until I fell over… I always thought that making your own pasta required a massive amount of skill and effort, needing mad crazy tools such as a pasta rolling machine and the like and requiring a ton of space to hang your pasta to dry like an edible indoor laundry but it’s absolutely not! You don’t even need a bowl! Just your ingredients, a bit of time and a rolling pin!

Strozzapreti is a great place to start making your own pasta because it is ridiculously easy to make and form into pieces and when ready, it only take 2-3 minutes to cook.  It tastes great with most sauces and everybody can have a go making it.

The name Strozzapreti is a funny one, it means “priest choker” in Italian and the legends are many, my favourite one though is that in times gone by, the Catholic Church owned much unused land which they used to rent out to families in exchange for food cooked by the wives of the men who worked on the land. The husbands would be so angered by these corruptible and greedy priests that they would wish them to choke whist stuffing their faces with their wives food which in this instance was quick and easy to make for them, hence the name priest choker.  Another is that gluttonous priests would be so enamoured by this type of pasta that they would literally stuff their faces with it, choking themselves, sometimes to death! Geesh, I know I have a good appetite, but please!

Anyway, this pasta is a little different from most in that it isn’t made just with flour, eggs and salt. I actually replace most of the eggs with chopped tomatoes and their juices which give the pasta a lovely flavour.  Of course you can make Strozzapreti with eggs but I prefer it this way. Try using ’00 flour instead of plain, it’s made with a finer grain specifically for pastas.

This recipe gives you a heck of a lot of pasta, 6-8 servings in fact and be warned… it is VERY filling, so if you want to freeze some for another day, then do it in a ball and defrost it when you want to make more.

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g ’00 flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large tinned plum tomatoes and their juices, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

METHOD

  1. Here comes the fun part… Begin by putting a large pan of salted water on the boil.
  2. Tip the four onto your work surface and make a well in the middle, kind of like a flour volcano on your kitchen worktop.
  3. Pour the egg and tomatoes into the  well and slowly start to bring it all together until you have a dough, much like a bread dough.  You might find it becomes either a bit dry or wet, in which case you either add a bit more tomato juice or a bit more flour depending on which it is.
  4. Take about 1/4 of the dough and place it onto a lightly floured surface. Place a cloth over the remaining pasta dough to prevent it drying out while you work.
  5. Roll the dough you have on your work surface until it is about 3-5mm thick. Them using a sharp knife, cut it into strips about 3/4 inches wide.
  6. Take a strip of pasta and using your thumb and forefinger, pinch it together until you can roll it, sort of like a sausage, this will form a long twisted tubes which you then need to cut into 2 inch pieces. Don’t worry about being precise, it’s not about maths!
  7. Place your cut pasta onto a floured board so that none of the pieces are touching, and when you have as much pasta as you need ready (a board full feeds 2 of us happily), tip it gently into the boiling water.
  8. Give the pasta a good but gentle stir straight after it all goes into the water to prevent it from sticking together.
  9. Once the pasta floats to the top of the surface, give it another minutes and add it to whichever sauce you are using (I use my Crazy Simple Rosemary & Garlic Pasta Sauce) along with a splash or three of the starchy pasta water.
  10. Serve in the pan with crusty bread and salad.
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Categories: Italian Dishes, Meat Dishes, Pizza & Pasta, Vegetarian Dishes | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crazy Simple Rosemary & Garlic Pasta Sauce

I love a basic bowl of pasta, it’s the one thing that if I am starving but can’t be bothered to spend ages preparing and cooking a meal that I can throw together and eat knowing that I’ll be satisfied. It doesn’t matter if you are a vegetarian or a meat eater there is a pasta sauce out there that will suit everyone, including this one which can be made with with, or without meat. You can also substitute the oil for a large chunk of butter but you’re talking heart attack city! Stir it into spaghetti or a bowl of my home made Strozzapreti for a wicked fast, wonderful and filling supper dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • large sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • 100g Chorizo (either spicy or smoky is fine or you can leave it out completely)

METHOD

  1. Chop your garlic finely and remove the leaves from the rosemary stalks and chop them.
  2. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the garlic, rosemary and Chorizo if you are using. Stir fry for about 2 minutes then add the parmesan.
  3. Add your pasta and stir it all together.
  4. Serve with some crusty bread.
Categories: Italian Dishes, Light Lunch, Pizza & Pasta, Sauces & Gravies | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Chorizo & Pancetta Deep Pan Pizza

Choritzo & Panchetta Pizza

Choritzo & Panchetta Pizza - When the moon hits your eyes....

In our house we like nothing more on a rainy Saturday afternoon than to curl up on the couch, all three of us, watching a movie and stuffing our faces with this meaty, cheesy, deep crust pizza covered in delicious meats and cheeses and fresh basil leaves… It’s ridiculously easy to put together and even easier to scoff in one sitting!

It’s here that I hold up my hands, I am a cheater, yes, I admit it, I rarely make my own pastry and I rarely make my own pizza dough… I am a sucker for Hovis bread mix… there I said it.

There are no added preservatives in Hovis breads, which there are in most white breads unless they are organic, for me these preservatives can be a problem as I am allergic to them and I wake up the morning after eating them feeling like I have a hangover, which is particularly annoying if I haven’t had the debauched night before to go with it. I could of course make up my pizza dough with a nice organic bread flour… but the Hovis range of bread mixes include a white one for a very reasonable price (under £1 in most supermarkets), it’s so quick to throw together, rises nicely and hasn’t yet made me a horrible dry or soggy pizza base! So there you go, you don’t need to be a master baker to make pizza dough!

When it comes to toppings, this Mediterranean meat feast is my absolute favourite, but of course, the world is your oyster, you can bung on whatever you like, vegetables, mixed cheese, ham and mushroom, ham and pineapple, pepperoni, meat feast, chicken, leftover pulled pork (that’s a good one together with some of that BBQ sauce) and more, bung olives, peppers and anchovies on there, it’s entirely up to you!  This recipe as I said is for my personal favourite pizza though, chorizo and pancetta!

Because you don’t have to have meat on your pizza, I am throwing this one into the Veggie Dish section as well for all your vegetarians out there!

This recipe makes 2 large pizzas with pretty thick bases, if you want them thinner then cut the dough into thirds or even quarters.

INGREDIENTS

DOUGH

  • 1 pack Hovis White Bread Mix (or your own mix if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon oilve oil

TOMATO SAUCE

  • 8-10 nice fresh tomatoes (plum tomatoes are great, but if you don’t want to use fresh then use 2 tins of chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

TOPPING (PER PIZZA)

  • 1 mozzarella ball
  • 100g grated four cheese mix (available ready grated from most supermarkets)
  • 1 50g sliced chorizo (smoky not spicy – unless you want spicy that is!)
  • 1 50g pack pancetta
  • Handful of large fresh basil leaves

METHOD

  1. Firstly you need to make your tomato base so that it can sit in the fridge and develop a flavour while the dough is rising.  If you are using tinned tomatoes, sieve away the juice by pouring them into a tin and allowing the juice to pour away either down the drain of your sink or into a jug for making Bloody Marys later. Once they are pretty well strained, you can tip them into a mixing bowl. If you are using fresh tomatoes, things are a tiny bit different. You need to chop each tomato into small cubes, less than 1cm in width and length, try and get rid of all the seeds and juice inside as this will just make your pizza soggy (the same reason you got rid of the tinned tomato juice).  Pad the tomatoes with a wad of kitchen towels to ensure most if not all of the liquid is gone, then pop them into a mixing bowl.
  2. Finely chop your garlic and add it, along with the olive oil, oregano, Liquid Smoke and a grinding of salt and pepper, into the bowl with the tomatoes and stir.  Have a little taste, if you want more seasoning, then add it now. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge until you are ready with your risen and kneaded dough.
  3. Make up your dough by mixing the bread mix according to the packet instructions, including the tablespoon of olive oil and the tablespoon of oregano, once your dough is in a ball, turn it out onto a floured surface and give it a good kneading for about 5 minutes. Then wash and oil your bowl and place the dough inside, leaving it to rise in a warm place (by a radiator, hot oven or in an airing cupboard) for 45-60 minutes.  When you come back to the dough it will have doubled in size and will now need to be kneaded once again and cut into two pieces (one for each of two pizzas).
  4. Turn your oven on as high as it will go, placing one shelf a third of the way down and a second tray another third of the way down, so your oven is cut into three basically. Leave the oven to preheat and be careful when you open it, I got a heck of a suntan on my face the first time I did this!
  5. Take each of your dough pieces and using a rolling pin and your hands on a floured surface, begin to make your pizza base, there’s no hard and fast rule here that says it has to be round, I have two large chopping boards at home, one round and one rectangular so I always make one of each shaped pizza so I have something to slice and serve them on.  When you have your shaped base ready place it carefully onto a piece of tinfoil which has been oiled to prevent sticking.  I usually then pop the whole base and tin foil onto it’s relative board in order to use the board as a sort of pizza shovel when taking the  pizzas in and out of the oven.
  6. Rip the mozzarella ball into pieces, dabbing with a wad of kitchen roll as you go (mozzarella balls are supplied in a brine and you want no trace of this all over your nice crispy bases!
  7. Next, remove the tomato mix from the fridge and spoon it over the bases, spreading it out with your (clean please) hands.  Then add your meats, followed by the ripped mozzarella, grated cheese and the basil leaves on, in and around the meat.
  8. Turn your oven down a tiny bit, about 20 degrees should do it, and then slide the whole lot into the oven in one swift move using the chopping board as a tool so you don’t spill the pizza or burn your hands. Obviously don’t leave the boards in the oven! Place one pizza on the top shelf and the other on the bottom and cook for 5-8 minutes before taking the pizzas out of the oven, removing the tinfoil from the bottoms to crisp up the base and swapping the two pizzas back in the oven (so the one that was on the bottom is now on the top and vice versa) for a further 5-8 minutes.
  9. Remove the pizzas from the oven, leave for a couple of minutes to settle and slice and serve!
Categories: Italian Dishes, Pizza & Pasta, Vegetarian Dishes | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sausage Polpetti Spaghetti

Sausage Polpetti Spaghetti

Sausage Polpetti Spaghetti – just add cheese!

Sausage Polpetti Spaghetti (Sausage meatballs and spaghetti for want of a boring title) is really one of the easiest meals to cook, the yummiest to taste and the messiest to eat! It’s a great meal for the kids and adults in the house alike and they are a big midweek favourite in our house because they are so quick and easy to prepare and cook when you have so many other things to do.

Some like to use plain pork or beef sausages but I prefer flavoured gourmet sausages, all of the major supermarkets have their own range and among others I find that Parmesan and Panchetta, Pork and Apple and Pork and Caramelised Onion work best in this recipe but it’s entirely up to you! Chorizo sausage also adds a certain pep to the dish, as well as my best friend in a bottle, Liquid Smoke. Basil adds to the aroma and I always have at least 1 plant on my windowsill, you pay a couple of pound for your first plant, then keep it trimmed and watered and it will keep you in fresh basil for an absolute age. More in my Herb Garden piece later.

Don’t worry about cheating when it comes to the sauce either, I can and sometimes so make my own as with my Quick Tomato Sauce, but 9 times out of 10 when cooking a spaghetti sauce meal I use a good old jar of Dolmio, it has no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and when something ain’t broke why replace it? Making your own sauce is time consuming and sometimes, quite frankly, not as nice… Anyway, there are plenty of varieties out there, Dolmio is my sauce of choice but you may have another, or you might prefer to use your own, not a problem!

There are so many recipes for Sausage Meatballs out there, but this one is mine… it serves 3-4 so go ahead and give it a try why dontchya?

INGREDIENTS

  • Pack of 6-8 sausages (whatever flavour you wish)
  • 1 stick celery
  • 150g chopped Chorizo sausage (you can use spicy but I use sweet and smoky)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Handful fresh basil leaves
  • Jar of tomato sauce or your own batch ready made
  • 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 servings of spaghetti
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

METHOD

  1. Firstly get a pan of salted water on the go for your spaghetti to cook while you are sorting our your meatballs – don’t skimp on the salt, for years I only sprinkled salt in the pan until I realised that a decent pinch of sea salt made the pasta taste all the better.
  2. Warm the oil in a decent sized deep non stick frying pan and then take your sausages and with a sharp knife, slice down the length of the sausage, only a shallow cut, in order to be able to peel of the skin, which you then discard.
  3. Cut each sausage into 5 pieces and with wet hands, roll each piece into a ball, don’t worry if you use pork and apple and a few bits of apple fall out.
  4. Dice the celery and Chorizo (if whole) and pop into a bowl on one side, then chop the garlic finely and place into another bowl with the basil leaves, which you need to tear or chop into smaller pieces.
  5. Pop the little balls of sausage into the pan to begin to fry on a medium high heat for about 8 minutes, shaking the pan every couple of minutes to allow the heat to distribute throughout nice and evenly.
  6. When the sausages are beginning to brown nicely, then add the chopped celery, Chorizo and the Liquid Smoke and stir.
  7. After a couple of minutes, you will see that the juices in the pan are turning red, this is from the Chorizo, this is also when you add your garlic and basil to prevent them burning and turning bitter.
  8. Another couple of minutes later and you now need to turn your heat right down to medium low and add your sauce, stirring it in and leaving it to heat through.
  9. While the sauce is finishing off the main dish, sort out your spaghetti which should now be cooked through, when draining, try and keep an eggcup full of the starchy water from the pasta to help prevent the pasta from sticking together, and making it easier to mix with the sauce.
  10. Pour everything from the meatball pan into the spaghetti pan – or vice versa if you prefer – stirring until everything is nicely mixed together.
  11. Grate plenty of parmesan cheese (I use Italian Pecorino Romano which is nice and nutty and not overly strong) over the top of the dish and serve along with crusty bread and a salad.

Magnifico!

Categories: Dishes of the World, Italian Dishes, Meat Dishes, Pizza & Pasta, Pork Dishes | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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