Pizza with salsiccia and broccolo romanesco

broccolo romanescoBroccolo romanesco is beautiful, and I have had one in the fridge for several days. I was planning on making pasta with this particular broccolo romanesco, with garlic and peperoncino. After fighting colds all week, ordering Christmas gifts, and running errands, we really fancied pizza, so that’s where the broccolo ended up. I head to Norway soon for an advent weekend to see the family there and drop off presents, hence the need to be organised so early. Hopefully there will be room to bring back Christmas food as well, mmmmm…….

Anyway, pasta with broccoli is super too: see Rachel Eats for an excellent recipe for this, and delightful writing. She has a cookbook coming out next year, which I am sure will be wonderful.

Pizza with salsiccia and broccolo romanesco


Pizza dough  (Bonci style)

This is a Gabriele Bonci dough recipe, his pizza is amazing! See video here on how he handles the dough:   It is in Italian, but just look at his technique and that beautiful dough.

500 grammes plain wheat flour (we used 00, though 0 is recommended)
20 grammes olive oil
3.5 grammes dry yeast
350 grammes water

Later: 10 grammes salt.
2-3 tbs oil, to oil the baking parchment

Mix, leave for an hour, then add salt. My husband uses smoked salt which is just delicious, found in the Mercato Centrale of Florence. Leave dough to rise 6-7 hours at room temperature. You can also leave it overnight in the fridge, 24 hours there is recommended. I confess, we had not planned that far ahead, but 6-7 hours at room temperature worked as well. It will rise and become wonderfully gloppy and elastic. It needs to be handled carefully, to keep the air bubbles in the dough. No rolling pins here.

3 salsiccie (nice Italian pork sausages from the butcher down the road)
1/3 of the broccoli romanesco  (which means I can make pasta with the rest tomorrow! yeah!)
Enough grated cheese to cover the pizza base lightly
Pinch of peperoncino (chilli flakes)

I washed and chopped the broccoli into florets, and boiled them until slightly al dente. Take the skins of the sausages and chop into large pieces, and fry then off. This is optional, you could just pop the uncooked sausage meat onto the pizza but the pizza is slightly less greasy this way.

imageMy husband is the pizza master here, and after experimenting, he uses oiled baking parchment. Bonci presses the dough out into an oiled baking tray, but our IKEA oven barely gets to 250C so we pre-heat the oven tray and slide the dough over using the parchment. Here, the dough is just poured out, then eased out using fingers to stretch into a rectangle. The darker bits are just streaks of smoked salt. You want to keep the air bubbles, so gentle is the way to go.


When you have the dough stretched out: top with grated cheese. We found a mystery cheese with peperoncino in the freezer (possibly a pecorino) which worked well here.  We toss extra cheese in the freezer before holidays, and excavate it months later and hope for the best. Dot on the sausages and broccoli florets, with chilli flakes if you wish. Then bake at 250C until done (8-12 minutes? Depends on your oven) and enjoy.

My husband does all kinds of topping variations, depending what is in the house: often vegetarian. Patatas bravas, with potato and paprika; roast vegetables; pesto and mozzarella; cheese and onions; tomato and mozzarella; Thai chilli chicken……. All good in different ways: choose the toppings you like. This is a great dough to work from, it is buoyant and tasty. Good for weeknight cooking, as you can do the dough prep the night before, and the toppings can be assembled while the oven heats up. I love thin crunchy Roman pizza, but this one is very good too.


As we settled in to having pizza last night while watching TV, I saw police lights and heard shouting. Lo and behold, students from the local school (Socrate) were having a demonstration. Perfectly peaceful, the students were chanting and the police kept traffic out of the way as they students marched. Always something happening in the pizza below.


I am bring this to Fiesta Friday #44, a little late but happy to be back. Thanks to the gracious hosts: Angie @ The Novice Gardener,  Prudy @Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs and Jess @Cooking Is My Sport. Happy first Sunday of Advent to all!

Fiesta Friday

Wraps with mashed potato, avocado, spinach and bacon

avocados The Egyptian greengrocer had avocados this week, and nice ones they were indeed, after a few days of ripening in the kitchen. I had great plans for them. Maybe Finnish avocado lime pasta? But I got home late, after enjoying post-work drinks (and too many crisps….) with a friend, so ambitions were lowered and we improvised with what we had. Very tasty it was as well.

Wraps with mashed potato, avocado, spinach and bacon
2 wheat tortillas
4 generous tablespooons of leftover mashed potatoes
2 slices of cooked bacon (optional)
3-4 handfuls of fresh spinach, washed
half an avocado, sliced
A squiggle of garlic salad dressing

Wraps with mashed potato, avocado, spinach and bacon

Fry the bacon, if using, and drain on paper towels. Drain the fat from the frying pan (a milk carton will do, for later disposal) and sauté the fresh spinach in the same pan until it wilts. Drain if needed, then remove from pan and set aside. Heat the mashed potato. In a separate dry frying pan, heat the flour tortillas on both sides. Assembly: Divide the mashed potato between the two tortillas. Add the sautéd spinach. Arrange the avocado slices across the centre, and crumble over the cooked bacon. Serve with a little garlic dressing (if you wish), roll it up and enjoy. Serves two.

Note: We had brought bacon from the UK, and had leftover mashed potato with onions and cheese sitting in the fridge, so I used that, but half a tin of drained and crushed cannellini beans with a chopped onion would be lovely as well. 

This was fast and tasty, but is hardly food mile neutral. Along with British bacon, Norwegian garlic dressing and imported avocado, the tortillas were at least Italian. Those can be expensive here, but these came from Todis, a discount supermarket that for some reason has decent flour tortillas, not just the thicker piadine that Romans like. They also have excellent Romanian sour cream, not in the dairy section but in the meat section with obscure Romanian sausages.

Fiesta Friday

I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener this week, as an impromptu contribution – like when friends drop by at dinner time, you are having a drink and are getting hungrier but nobody fancies leaving home, and you need to rustle up something from what you have on hand. Unplanned can still be delicious. Happy FF to all!

PS LOVED this article by Jay Rayner in The Guardian this week: In the kitchen, I got the power. When modern life gets out of control, there’s one refuge where I get to play God

Worth reading!

Pasta con le sarde (sardines and wild fennel)

finocchio selvatico
I confess, my week of being home alone and eating badly has continued. Ramen noodles, cheese and crackers, take-away pizza; yesterday dinner was fish-fingers and Häagen-Dazs while watching “Reality Bites”. Lots of guilty pleasures. Still, by now I am really looking forward to my husband getting back from London tomorrow and me cooking from scratch again. In honour of that, here is a dish from the archives: pasta con le sarde (sardines and wild fennel). I love wild fennel, and this is a great dish I make when I find wild fennel in the market (or bring it back from Palermo.)

Pasta con le sarde (sardines and wild fennel)

300-400 grammes spaghetti
One white onion, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
300 grammes sardines, filleted
Five anchovy fillets
Spash of white wine, optional
A generous bunch of finoccio selvatico (fresh wild fennel)
50 grammes pine nuts
75 grammes sultanas or raisins
Salt and pepper
To serve: a handful of toasted breadcrumbs

Wash the wild fennel, removing any brown bits and cut off the lowest part and roots. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, and gently fry the chopped onion. Add the sardines (yes, with tail – we get them in the frozen food shop filleted like this) and the anchovy fillets, with a little white wine if you have some. Cover and cook gently for 7-8 minutes. Add half the fennel to the pan with the onion and sardines. Meanwhile, boil water for the pasta. Add pasta and the rest of the fennel to the boiling water, and cook until pasta is al dente.

20130705-214022.jpgDrain off the water, then pour pasta (with fennel) into the sauce. Add pine nuts and sultanas, toss, and serve with a sprinkle of toasted breadcrumbs.
I am not sure what I will be cooking the next few days, but pumpkin risotto for sure, maybe a potato-leek soup, or something with cauliflower. Maybe melanzane alla parmigiana? Salmon with miso and sesame? The gas company is coming tomorrow to change our very old gas counter, so I have taken the afternoon off to wait for for them. Hopefully there will be time to also go stock up on vegetables and get some real food in the fridge again (not just jam, wine, pickled herring and mystery chutneys). Also, my husband will get home! Yeah!