Emergency Pizza

It's late, the restaurants are closed, and you have nothing prepared to make a proper meal from… you need an emergency pizza!

This won't be a by-the-book recipe, it's a make-do-with-what-you've-got one.  One that's quick, without the usual long waiting times needed when making dough with yeast.  I make mine slightly plainer than the average Australian pizza (what's usually called a “Hawaiian pizza,” here—one made with ham, pineapple, cheese, and tomato sauce).  I can't stand ham, so mine's almost like that, just minus the ham.  I'm not as adventurous as my friends, who's idea of a home made pizza is to empty the spice rack.

Hints

For pizzas that aren't an emergency dish, there's a variety of ingredients that you can buy instead of making everything from raw, and they're still better than buying frozen prepared pizzas, or getting them delivered.

Pita or Lebanese bread makes good bases, if you like thin ones.  The wholemeal ones have more flavour than the white ones.  Yiros bread seems even better.

You can buy bags of prepared uncooked dough, these can be much nicer than some of the precooked bases.

Various pasta sauces make nice pizza sauces.  I found some to be too hot, others not quite enough, so I sometimes end up blending two different sauces together.

Some people think basil is nicer added after the pizza is cooked; I'm not sure, both ways have been nice.  Fresh basil leaves are much better than the dried flakes of basil you get in a jar, and it's dead easy to grow.  With very large basil leaves, I tear them up, to remove the thick stems.  I think oregano is nicer cooked into the pizza.  I haven't tried thyme both ways, yet.  I think all the herbs are nicer when you harvest them fresh from a plant, though I haven't found fresh oregano to be hugely better.

Fresh pineapple (cut from a fruit, not taken out of a can), is the nicest tasting pineapple to use, and you can cut it how you like it.  I do thin slices, and completely avoid that hard solid core that you get in cans.  If you get canned pineapple, opt for the stuff that's in juice rather than syrup, it tastes better.  And shredded pineapple is easier for people to eat than those rings or chunks that are always too hard near what used to be the core in the centre of the pineapple.

If you have a pizza stone to cook on, then preheat your oven long before you begin cooking.  It takes time to get the stone hot enough to do its job of nicely browning the base better than just cooking the pizza on a tray.  A well-used pizza stone improves the flavour, don't wash it, just scrape off any remnants of food after you've removed the pizza.

Plain, simple, smooth, aluminium (or another metal) pizza trays are best.  They're easy to clean, and the pizza comes off easily (if you've oiled the tray, first).  The surface of non-stick trays gets burnt off, or scraped off, all too easily, then the pizza sticks on to the trays, and oiling them doesn't help.  Special browning trays with holes in them don't work that well, either, the pizza can get stuck through the holes, and they're not that good at browning the base of the pizza.

Ingredients

Method

  1. Put about a cup or two of flour into a bowl.  Self raising flour will give you a base that's thick, plain flour will be very thin.  I do half and half, so it doesn't bloat.

  2. I put some herbs in the flour, mixing them in, so the base isn't too plain.  Buttercup sells some ready-made bases that aren't bad, they have a bit of pepper in them.  You could try a tiny bit of that.

  3. Put the egg into the flour.

  4. Slowly pour in some milk while mixing your dough, perhaps a third as much milk as flour, until you get a doughy consistency.  You want to be able to kneed it with your hands, don't make it sloppy or sticky.

  5. Spread some flour on a board, kneed the dough about, roll it flat.

  6. Slightly grease a flat baking tray, or any suitable equivelent to a pizza tray.  Use something like a small amount of olive oil, if you have some.  And put your pizza base base onto your tray.

  7. Spread your sauce around.  If you only had plain sauce, you might add some herbs to it.  If you don't have sauce, you might try pulping some tomatoes, yourself.

  8. Slice or grate your cheese, and spread it about.  You don't need masses of it, unless you love cheese, it just helps to keep everything together.  Sliced cheese melts better, grated cheese burns very easily.  Leave the very centre of the pizza a bit bare (of cheese and other things), it makes it easier to cut pieces apart and not have the topping dragged off when you lift out a slice.

  9. Spread other foods that you fancy around, as well.  Meat, vegetables, pineapple, etc.  (Crushed pineapple can be easier to eat than chunks of pineapple, especially for kids.)

  10. Lightly sprinkle a few herbs on top.

  11. Cook for somewhere around 10–20 minutes in a hot oven (around 220°C works well, for me).  I judge mine ready to remove when the cheese looks a little bit toasted, and the underside of the base looks nicely cooked.

Do not skimp on the cooking time if you're using meat, or any other food products that need thorough cooking to avoid food poisoning.  If you're using toppings that'll need more cooking time than the pizza, you can pre-cook them a bit, then add them to your uncooked pizza base, and finish cooking them together.

And here's some we prepared earlier...

The pictured pizzas (before, and after, being cooked) used a base from premixed dough in a bag, sliced mozzarella cheese, tomato and herbs paste, crushed pineapple, sliced tomato, fresh basil, oregano, and thyme leaves, freshly plucked from my garden.

[photo of pizza] [photo of pizza]

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Emergency Pizza
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