There was a young girl from Napoli ... Well ok I’m not from Napoli but I am young, relatively speaking, and I did make pizza that if you ate with your eyes shut and a bit of imagination could give you a sense of being in bella Italia, living la dolce vita.
The book in question was La Pizza: The True Story From Naples (Nikko Amandonico), which is a true delight. Not all that many recipes but oodles of fabulous photography, scenes of Napoli (and lots of pizza) and so much background to the humble disc of bread dough, what should and shouldn’t be done, topping ideas, the history of the pizza. Need I go on? No I don’t think so but I do think everyone serious about pizza needs this book.
I have no time for pre-pack pizza or those horrendous take out pizza from well known high street food chains, I’m not naming names here but you know who I mean I’m sure, it’s almost a crime to call what they serve a pizza.
Nikko’s pizza on the other hand were truly delightful, coming so close to the pizza I ate on my trips to Roma (oh how I long to return, sob sob), they of course had the added benefit of being cooked in a wood fired oven, not something my wee domestic kitchen has the delight of having but the building of an oven in the garden is a planned undertaking for next summer which is oh so dismally far away. Don’t let that put you off though because fabulous results can be had simply by using a pizza stone and turning your oven up high.
The recipe is slightly different from the one I regularly use simply because it doesn’t contain the olive oil but it worked out stunningly all the same and it’s one I’ll be returning to over and over and over again.
So for the toppings; I went for a pizza bianca (white pizza, meaning no tomatoes) with parmesan, mozzarella, garlic and rosemary and one topped with fresh tomatoes, Parma ham, mozzarella and fresh oregano leaves which are much more common on pizza than you may think, with basil often being saved for the incredibly well known Margarita.
A question that often crops up is how to get them into the oven without making a mess, crumpling the pizza and generally getting the pizza everywhere but the pizza stone? Simple, either use a wooden peel or upturned baking tray scattered liberally with semolina to roll the dough on to making sure it doesn’t stick as you go and then gently shake the pizza on to the stone, the semolina provides a friction to make the dough slide comfortably in.
A list of key tips: