Aahhh Friday, the best day of the week. Game over.
As soon as I was properly aware of the days of the week, Friday was always the business. School frames the week and puts Friday clearly in poll position. Saturday mornings are clearly good but they lack the structure of a Friday and the tinge of expectation that the best has yet to come. As a kid, Fridays meant, no homework, fridge full of goodies after the weekly shop and Channel 4’s The Tube ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUePUyzY_5A ) . Life was good, very good.
By the time I hit Uni at 17, Friday’s meant blatant underage drinking on Campus and the joys & heartbreak that came with South side Boys.
In my 20’s and early 30’s it was to start off the day with one thing in mind: Do everything in your power to not work late, even if it means going back in over the weekend. TV Post Production can be a hard task master and often I was unsuccessful but on the nights I escaped I soared like a bird out into the Soho night and found the ‘Nine to Fivers’. Fridays were a chance for me and my lifelong Mates to check-in with each other, to try to hang on to some semblance of an Irish brogue in our London accented life and drink and eat until we could do no more. The world was put to rights, career’s were planned, Waiters were flirted with and advice was doled out in large dollops. We talked over each other and ran outside for sneaky smokes and never thought it would be any other way. Yet, it is different now and I still love it.
Fridays are once again framed for me by the school week. My children occupy the slot that was once mine. They have no homework to do so I have none to check. There are no lunches to make for the following morning. I make sure our fridge is full of Goodies, play dates happen and movies are watched and best of all, Pizza is made by me and eaten by everyone under our roof. As with my Friday nights in Soho there is some preparation required but once your focus is right the work load is minimal. Get started with your sauce and then dough and make sure the fridge is full. Once these three steps have been adhered to the night is whatever you make of it.
Never let it be said that Pizza is unhealthy. Homemade pizza can taste as good (trust me) as any Italian Pizzeria and if you use good ingredients your body will respond accordingly.
Friday night Pizza:
Step 1: The Sauce. Method: Get a heavy bottomed pot.Throw in a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil and gently heat. Add three to four cloves of crushed garlic and cook gently but do not allow to burn as it will make the sauce bitter. after 2 minutes add 3 tins of peeled plum Tomatoes (not chopped as the skins are left on!). Add a good pinch of salt a teaspoon of brown sugar and some ground black pepper. Leave to simmer very gently for a few hours until the sauce has reduced a little. Now blend.
Step 2: The Dough. Pour a 7g sachet of dried fast acting yeast into a bowl with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of warm water. Set aside for 15 minutes until the mixture has brother and doubled in size. Sift 9 ounces of strong flour or spelt. I love Dove’s Organic Farm white Spelt flour (https://www.dovesfarm.co.uk). I never use whole grain as it just doesn’t taste good. Plain flour will also do or self-raising flour if you like a lighter base. Spelt can be tricky to handle so if you are a virgin dough handler maybe use strong or plain flour until you are feeling comfortable with the dough making process. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture, a good few glugs of Olive oil, a few generous splashes of warm water and a pinch of salt. Now mix it all together and if it is still too dry add some more water until it all comes together. Plop it out onto a floured board. Now begin kneading. This bit is very important so don’t hold back. Think of rolling Tuscan Hills and go for it. Once it feels elastic yet smooth it’s ready. Pop it back in the bowl. Brush some olive oil over it, cover with a tea cloth and leave in a warm spot to prove. usually about two hours. After this it is ready to be rolled out and put onto pizza trays ( I don’t like the ones with holes). I usually get three good sized crispy Piazzas from this recipe.
Step 3. Now add the cooled tomato sauce and top with whatever you fancy. We like things pretty plain at our house so Mozzarella, olives and maybe mushrooms is about as far as we go. Sometimes we add pine nuts if we are feeling frisky. I like to serve it with a mixed leaf salad with home-made balsamic dressing (a few gluts of olive oil to a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar) and top with toasted almonds and mixed seeds.
Friday night Pizza. The effort is small but you do need to engage a little planning. The response will be so great it will become part of your weekly ritual and you have absolutely minimal packaging to dispose of. The cost is low, even if using a good organic flour and three large pizzas will keep at least 4 little people and 2/3 Grownups happy and full and feeling utterly spoiled. Just as one feel should on a Friday.
I get at least two Fridays out of a 1kg bag of Spelt at €2.85 a bag. An 8 sachet box of Tesco branded Dried yeast is under €2 and will last for 8 Fridays. Lidl is great for the extra Virgin Olive oil €2.99, Light Mozzarella 57c x 2, jar of pitted olives c99 chestnut mushrooms €1.19 Assorted seeds and pine nuts about €1 each and will last for a few weeks.