“I started cooking very young, making simple stuff for my parents on the weekends. They let me experiment and I really got into it when I left home. Then I’d have friends over and I’d cook for them. Now I love cooking for my family – I do it a lot.”
Ingredients (makes 2 big pizzas)
1.5kg plum tomatoes, handful of parsley and basil, 1/2 garlic bulb, 1 small carrot, olive oil, 1 celery stalk, 1 semi-hot chilli, 50g dry yeast, 3 cups flour, 3 cups water, 3 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, rocket, 500g mozzarella balls, 200g Parma ham, white truffle oil to taste.
“Put the flour in a bowl with 2 tsp salt and the yeast. Mix lightly. Combine 1 cup of freshly boiled water with 2 cups and a drop of cold water, and mix in 3 1/2 tbsp good olive oil. Add to the flour and mix until it forms a dough. Cover the bowl with cling film and keep at room temperature for an hour. After 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7.
Meanwhile, cut the parsley, garlic, carrot, celery, onion and chilli into small pieces. Core the tomatoes, cut the skins into smaller flakes and set them apart. Take a big pan and cover the bottom with olive oil. Over a medium heat, cook the veg until the onion turns translucent. Add the tomato skins and salt. Continue cooking until the skins start to dissolve. Add the basil, and use a stick blender to make a nice, even sauce. Add the sugar and cook until the sauce has thickened and is spreadable.
The sauce and dough should be ready at the same time. Use a rolling pin to make two rectangles from the dough and place on baking trays. Add the sauce, mozzarella and ham. Cook each pizza in the oven for 12 minutes, or until the cheese browns. Once cooked, add generous amounts of rocket and drizzle the truffle oil.
Cooking is always just the pleasure of having a social moment. And to get philosophical, the whole point of life is to do unnecessary stuff, to overdo things, just for fun. Spending four hours cooking is definitely something you don’t have to do, but if you enjoy the meal together afterwards, you get to know people a little bit better.”
This article originally appeared in Prog 88.