Pizza

Food & Drink, Lifestyle, Miscellaneous

A few days ago, my friend and I ticked making our own pizza off our list of things to do! I’d like to point out how I am most certainly not a cook so for me it was all about following the recipe exactly. We were still able to be flexible around it, choosing our own toppings and preparing it exactly how we wanted etc. I’ll describe the process of us making this pizza and hopefully in some way you’ll find it both entertaining and useful.

We met at the supermarket in town. The place where we’d go about grabbing all the tasty ingredients we were going to shove in our pizza. I, however, thought it was necessary to start with a caffeine boost so I grabbed an iced coffee to give me that quick improvement. Once I was up and raring to go we collected a small basket and head into the depths of the supermarket. Armed with only a basic set of ingredients we grabbed the general stuff needed first. The flour, tomato sauce, cheese and strong bread yeast. These would make up the basic pizza, producing an adequate amateur pizza; for us, however, this was not enough. We’d filled up our basket slightly, not spending too much except on the quite expensive mozzarella cheese. For toppings we decided to choose some parma harm (expensive but definitely worth it) and then a mixture of vegetables to add a bit of colour to our pizza.  For the additional toppings we chose, a selection of peppers, some basil, some sweetcorn, some tomatoes and some pineapple. Then to flair the base up a bit we bought some goats cheese to put between the pieces of mozzarella.

Upon getting home we put certain items in the fridge and then began preparation. We started with the base, measuring out the flour and mixing it with warm water and yeast. We found more yeast was needed to make sure the pizza rose properly. (thank you internet) Once finished with the combining we were able to start kneading, whereby you try to get rid of all the air inside the dough…. Sadly, I took charge of this and wasn’t the most successful as we ended up having an area of our pizza that rose a fair way.

We mixed together our sauce, adding much more tomato than was probably needed but we wanted a nice think sauce with our pizza. I’d throughly recommend that anyone who goes about making a pizza puts more into the base coverings than they think they’ll need just to properly cover the pizza evenly. Rolling the pizza is always fun and then spreading the base covering is incredibly satisfying, I see why people want to go into the pizza business. Whilst this was going on my friend took over the role of sorting out all the toppings, so by the point I had completed the base of the pizza everything else was ready to go on. Definitely a 2 person job creating such  a magnificent work of art.

So we delicately applied each of the toppings, scattering them in a random yet perfect pattern. We had created a masterpiece!

The pizza before it was cooked

The pizza before it was cooked

We let it cook for 16 minutes, 6 more than the recipes recommendation only because we had a slightly thicker base as that was the style of pizza we wanted. I didn’t really want to deviate from the recipe as I thought it was a disaster waiting to happen but I reluctantly agreed. Now it’s done I’m so glad I did, the pizza was perfect. Hot, well cooked, and slightly singed for showing perfect cooking time. The only bad bit, was the air bubble which had rise. I’ll accept blame due to me being the one who was doing all the kneading earlier.

Hot and ready to eat

Hot and ready to eat

So ignoring the slightly burnt bit, our pizza actually looked rather impressive. It even tasted pretty good! Food definitely tastes better when you’re the one that’s cooked it, it’s as if you can taste the effort some how. A sterling effort by us, no doubt we’ll be doing plenty more cooking of pizzas now we’ve done one. We had the idea of doing a more meaty one and maybe even attempting a four seasons.

We are now taking orders (my twitter),

Rob.

Summer

Culture, Food & Drink, Lifestyle, Miscellaneous

It’s summer. The time of year when the shorts can come out and the shades can be put on. Everyone loves summer, the weather gets better and it seems to put everyone into a better mood. For most it means a holiday or time off work and at least one BBQ will be on. It’s also a time to catch up with family or meet up with friends to enjoy the weather and the mood. In the UK this means BBQs, trips to the park, summer parties and pimms. I’ve been on a break for a little while now, having gotten back from exploring Europe a few weeks ago. In that time, i’ve been a stereotypical british summer lover, trying to enjoy each of these things as much as possible.

Recently, however, summer wasn’t quite so perfect. On Friday the 25th of July I had planned a lovely set of summer activities only for the plan to go down the drain. I set off with a friend into St.Albans, a small city to the north of London. The plan was a nice stroll around the park at midday, to end up at a restaurant and then go from there.

The day started pretty well

The day started pretty well

It started perfectly, the weather was delightful! The sun was shining, there was barely any wind but enough to keep you cool and the park wasn’t nearly as full as it could have been. We took a gentle stroll, chatting about recent goings on in our lives, walking full circle several times around the centre point of the park, the lake. It’s not nearly as grand as other cities, but it holds it’s own. It was coming up to midday and so we were getting slightly peckish so we walked about 5 minutes to the Waffle House.

The Waffle House is a great restaurant offering a selection of savoury and sweet waffles. We chose to share a ratatouille waffle and a banana and flapjack waffle. I got stuck eating the sweet waffle first which my taste buds didn’t approve of. But I’d recommend both the waffles for anyone that’s able to check out the restaurant. Alongside my meal I got a fancy ginger beer brewed by Fentimans, Fentimans Ginger Beeras a lover of ginger beer I throughly suggest anyone that even slightly likes the taste gives it a try. It’s quite a select taste but anyone that enjoys ginger beer will enjoy this one also. Thankfully we got in before everyone else in the park decided to grab lunch so we sat and watched as the queue racked up. Even spotting a few friends waiting and having a short word. We were lucky to get in early as the queue was easily 15-20 minutes for a table. So our one suggestion is that anyone thinking of going should try to get there on time or at least book ahead to make sure you get your table.

After the meal we wandered back into the park to try and soak up the rest of the rays. We didn’t have much with us so we were able to walk further into the centre of the park to a great spot on a slight embankment to catch some sun. However, as we were sitting enjoying the park, the weather quickly turned. This consisted of clouds forming all around and a slight bit of drizzle. This quickly passed and so we were able to resume our park chill session. Then, around 5 minutes later, it started to rain a bit more. This time round we quickly grabbed our stuff, head under a tree and proceeded to watch as most other people in the park did the same. Half expecting the rain to stop like last time we waited under the tree for around 10 minutes hoping the rain would come to an end. It didn’t.

The rain began to get heavier and heavier, even a bit of thunder could be heard in the distance. I looked at my friend and we both realised we were in a tricky situation. We hoped it would pass and put our trust in the weather to brighten up and not ruin our day. Again, this didn’t happen. We were now trapped under a tree with relatively no protection. I was wearing just a t shirt and shorts, which were already starting to get quite wet. To make matters worse the rain was worsening. It worsened so much, you couldn’t see anything beyond 7 or so metres away. It was coming from all angles and the park offered no clear points of protection.

We were soaked to say the least. Our hair was wet and our clothes ruined. So in a ridiculous moment we walked out into the rain along a row of trees trying to find somewhere of shelter. I managed to lead us to the local swimming pool (we were the wettest ones there) and we stood calmly in the foyer of the building looking slightly perplexed. How was everyone else here so dry? We’d seen others also caught in the storm but how come everyone was perfectly fine. We weren’t drying, my phone had some water damage and we weren’t in the mood to continue our trip into town for a smoothie or milkshake. So after trying for a while we contacted home and managed to be rescued.

It’s fair to say we’ll both be more careful when heading out and about this summer, you never quite know what the world has in store for you. I’d love to hear any of your crazy weather stories, comment them below or tweet me.

Rob.