Thursday, 5 April 2012

Quattro Stagioni (Four Seasons) Tray Pizza

There is no such thing as a traditional Italian quattro stagioni pizza.

When I was seventeen, I went on my first 'laahds' holiday to Rimini, on the Italian Adriatic coast. Twenty of us stayed at the 'Hotel Jumbo' - which was actually a lot nicer than it sounds (don't forget that this was 1989, before cheap lads holidays were in vogue, The Inbetweeners cast were still only mere glints in their fathers' eyes and well before hotels all started to be called 'Holiday Inn, Barbados' or 'Ramada, Hong Kong').

Anyway, within ten minutes of arriving at our hotel, my mates and I went out on our first huge piss-up at a place called 'Tube Bar' (actually not a gay bar, despite the name - however, the doorman looked and dressed like a muscly George Michael, and we didn't think that that was silly or weird or gay at all either), and decided to line our stomachs first at the nearest pizzeria. We sat down, failed to understand a word of the Italian-only menu and asked the waiter for a four seasons pizza. Blank stare. 'Umm, a kwat-row stajee-oney pizza, purr favooray?' Nothing.

So we pointed at the word 'Pizza' on the menu and we were brought a wooden board with a tomato and garlic sauce-topped 18 inch pizza, with a couple of small blobs of mozzarella cheese and a few basil leaves torn over it. It was heavenly, and only cost us a two or three pounds each in today's money (ah, listen to me sounding all old). We ate there every night.

I have discovered that Italian food is so much simpler in Italy than in England, as Chinese food is in China and as Thai food is in Thailand. I'm sure it's the same story in India, Mexico and Mars - three places I'm looking forward to visiting soon. Why is it that here in the UK we have to caricaturise all of our foreign food? Er, maybe because it's delicious, that's why.

I just love a quat stag, as I love sweet and sour pork and 'festival nachos'. I don't expect to eat those dishes abroad, but then I don't mind people in an English-style pub in Florida thinking we in England eat fillet steak and kidney pie, or battered mahi mahi with chips. It's not authentic, but who cares?

Excuse me for posting so many bread-based recipes lately - I made some Dough a couple of days ago and froze it, thinking it would last me a while - wrong. I got so excited about it, that I made Foccacia yesterday and pizza today. There's only one more portion of dough left in the freezer, so I'll probably post one more bready delight soon before I make another batch. Watch this space.

The cost of the dough is 25p per pizza, and the toppings can be as luxurious or basic as you like - this particular combination comes in at a total £2 per serving.

Makes one 30x15cm Tray Pizza (Serves 2)


A quarter of my Bread Dough Recipe, proved once only
3 tablespoons of sundried tomato paste
4 mushrooms, finely sliced
8 slices pepperoni
4 slices air cured ham, cut into 2cm pieces
8 pieces of marinated artichokes
8 black olives
1 ball of mozzarella, cut into 8 pieces
8 basil leaves
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Preheat oven to 200c. On a well-oiled 30x15cm baking tray, stretch the once-risen dough by hand until it covers the whole surface - it doesn't seem like it will fit at first, but it will. Spread the tomato paste over the base, leaving a 2cm exposed edge. Arrange the mushrooms on a quarter of the sauce, pepperoni on another, ham on another and artichokes on the last quarter. Sprinkle the olives, mozzarella and basil over all of the toppings, and olive oil over the exposed edges of the base. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until risen and the exposed edges are golden and crunchy. Allow to cool a bit before slicing and serving.

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