Tag Archives: pizza

Making sweet potato pizza

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While many of you are struggling with snow (I hope you are OK over there), here in Accra it is still 32-33 degrees C. The harmattan with its dry dusty wind is ending, and humidity is creeping up steadily. Electricity is still an issue: we had a 59% price hike in the cost of electricity in December, which actually became a 69% increase as they added on 10% extra for infrastructure improvements, like street lights (those are not yet observed much in our area). So turning the oven on is actually quite expensive, the metre drops 15 cedis or so (about 4 USD) even if the oven is  not on long. Still, it is worth it for my husband’s Friday night pizza!

We have a short holiday coming coming up, and need to pre-load the electricity credit so the fridge stays on while we are away. We had better go top up the meter card again; at least we can afford it. The increased costs are tough for many here, and the unions were out demonstrating last week about the increased utility prices (also gas and fun have gone up), so prices are going up noticeably for food, transport and such.

Anyway, back to pizza…….. I had bought some sweet potatoes, which are nice but not the yellow kind I expected. These are white, and turn grey when sliced. My husband made his usual slow-rising pizza dough, which is accelerated in the heat here. From a previous pizza post:

Pizza dough  (Bonci style)

This is a Gabriele Bonci dough recipe, his pizza is amazing! See video here on how he handles the dough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKotvbfWdU4   It is in Italian, but just look at his technique and that beautiful dough.

500 grammes plain wheat flour (we used strong bread flour, 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. Leave dough to rise 6-7 hours at room temperature (Accra 32C, leave it longer if your kitchen is cold). You can also leave it overnight in the fridge, 24 hours there is recommended. It will rise and become wonderfully gloopy and elastic. It needs to be handled carefully, to keep the air bubbles in the dough. No rolling pins here. My husband uses oiled baking parchment, pre-heats the oven tray and slides the dough over using the parchment. The dough is just poured out, then eased out using fingers to stretch into a rectangle. You want to keep the air bubbles, so gentle is the way to go.

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Making pizza with sweet potato topping:
A few fresh tomatoes, chopped
Enough grated cheese to cover the pizza lightly
One onion, sliced thinly
One large sweet potato, sliced and boiled
To serve: chopped chives

I boiled the sweet potato slices first, as they were very hard. In the interim, a few tomatoes were chopped and scattered over dough for moisture. When you have the dough stretched out: top with sweet potato slices and grated cheese. We have sad plastic cheese here, and it is so expensive! 20-28 cedis for 200 grammes of tasteless “cheddar” (4-5 USD). We tried the plastic mozzarella found at Shoprite, which is cheese, of sorts, and OK for pizza. (Yes, over-privileged foreigner right here….) Then bake at 250C until done (8-12 minutes? Depends on your oven) and enjoy! It was actually quite nice, especially with fresh chives sprinkled on top.

sweet potato pizza

The cheese situation may have room for improvement, but we figure we might as well explore what’s available locally, and enjoy some of that while we are here. Lots of yam, plantains, okra, stews, and porridges, and lovely fruit, so I’ll try not to complain too much!

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

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Pizza dough  (Bonci style)

This is a Gabriele Bonci dough recipe, his pizza is amazing! See video here on how he handles the dough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKotvbfWdU4   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.

Topping:
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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Garbatella evening stroll

Fontana di carlotta July in Rome can be very hot, and some days you just cannot face cooking. “Let’s pop up the hill for pizza!” I said. And off we went. Just up the road, here is Fontana di Carlotta with the Scalinata degli Innamorati, the stairs of lovers. Possibly because they are usually quite dark, but there are often teenagers sitting there chatting in the evenings. Fontana di Carlotta Fontana di Carlotta: not so glamourous, but it is said that three sips of the fountain water brings good luck to couples. Carlotta was possibly the innkeeper of a 16th century inn, serving pilgrims en route to the Basilica San Paolo Fuora Mura south of here. Garbata Ostella (well-liked hostel, or was the innkeeper “garbata e bella” (well-liked and beautiful?) Regardless, it is now Garbatella.Cat A cat we met on the way up the stairs. Garbatella is our neighbourhood in Rome. Built in the late 1920s/early 1930s, a Borgata Giardino with inspiration from the garden city movement in the UK, developed by the Istituto Case Popolari to provide affordable housing. Now we live just across the road from old Garbatella, which is lovely. People are really friendly too, as are the cats. image Alberto Sordi (famous film star) was raised in Garbatella. This is on Via Rubino, ambling towards Piazza Eurosia. image Just around the corner from Piazza Eurosia there is a small dusty park, which is usually busy in the evening with families. There, on Via delle sette Chiese 101/B you’ll find Mi Garba la Pizza, an excellent pizza a taglio. No tables inside (it is tiny) but they have tables outside in the summer, which is great. Families, birthday parties, and good pizza. image Pizza a taglio (by the slice): the mozzarella and anchovy one looked interesting, but we went for the freshly made margherita. We even got a table (maybe a World Cup game was on); normally we take our box of pizza and find a bench to enjoy pizza and people-watching. Grandparents, kids, dog owners, nuns, office workers on their way home. No tourists, this is strictly a local experience. image Dessert? Why not? And conveniently down the same street is the gelateria Angels, easy to spot with pink lights and people eating gelato; they also have some tables outside (often not the case in Rome). Here is the biscuit & chocolate gelato section (slightly tacky, but popular) and it is certainly good gelato. Then we strolled down the hill and were soon home, after a nice little evening stroll. A lovely reminder of the many good sides of living here.