Upper-crust dining with a twist

RUTH PRETTY
Last updated 09:00 09/08/2014
Pizza
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ

DELIGHTFULLY DELISH: Feed a crowd with a potato and rosemary pizza.

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Simple ingredients inspired by some New York street style are the magic in Ruth Pretty's Romanesque pizza. 

Several years ago while in New York friends took me to G00randaisy Bakery, described as a European-style bakeshop. They said I needed to try "Roman-style" pizza.

It was afternoon with light showers. Queues had formed outside the entrance and as there were very few seats, snackers hung out on the street to graze. Some were protected from the elements by umbrellas and some by hoods.

Street people merged into the crowd easily, and as bakery portions were large, patrons seemed eager to share leftovers with those less fortunate.

The Romanesque pizza, large and rectangular, was cut at the counter to a slab to feed six to eight, or into individual portions. Although described as having a crispy base, the dough was reasonably thick and almost spongy, more like focaccia.

Toppings were very simple and vegetable-based. There was tomato sauce but, alternatively, the pizza was dotted with cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, zucchini or butternut, all with gruyere and sage; mushrooms with thyme; and my favourite, which was potato and rosemary.

Do try this for a weekend lunch. Add a salad of crispy iceberg lettuce, cut into wedges, combined with peppery rocket and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar vinaigrette.

ROMAN STYLE PIZZA WITH POTATOES AND ROSEMARY

I make this in a low-sided baking tray which measures 44 by 32 centimetres, often referred to as a bun tray. I like to cut the pizza into squares - hearty as in 12 by 10cm squares, or ladylike, as in 48 x 5cm squares.

NEED TO KNOW

Main ingredient Flour
Type of dish Pizza
Course Main course
Cooking time 1 - 2 hours
Serves/makes 1 pizza
Special options Vegetarian

500g (3.5  cups) flour
4g (1/2 sachet) Edmonds instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp sugar
300ml (1 1/2  cups less 1 Tbsp) warm water
10ml (2 tsp) warm milk
20ml (1 Tbsp + 1 tsp) olive oil (1st measure)
5ml (1 tsp) olive oil (2nd measure)
30ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil (3rd measure)
220g (1 1/4 ) onions, peeled and chopped
2 tsp flaky sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp roughly chopped rosemary leaves
1.5kg agria potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (preferably use a mandolin or slicing attachment fitted to a food processor)
10ml (2 tsp) olive oil (4th measure)
45ml (3 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil ( for drizzling on the potatoes)

1. Put the flour, yeast, table salt and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix until the ingredients are combined.

2. Add water, milk, first measure olive oil and slowly mix for 8-10 minutes to form soft, shiny dough. (Alternatively, place in a bowl and mix with wooden spoon, then place on lightly floured bench and knead by hand for 8-10 minutes until dough is soft and shiny.)

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3. Lightly oil a bowl with the second measure of olive oil. Transfer dough to bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes or until double in volume.

4. Place third measure of olive oil in a large frypan set over a medium heat. When hot add onions and cook for 10-12 minutes or until they are soft and very lightly golden. Transfer to a large bowl. Add flaky salt, pepper and rosemary. Stir to combine and cool. Add the potatoes and gently combine to ensure the slices are well separated and coated in onions, oil and rosemary.

5. Preheat oven to 200C.

6. Lightly grease a 44 x 32cm low-sided baking tray with the 4th measure of olive oil. Place dough onto prepared tray and using your fingers stretch and press dough to fully cover the base of the tray. Use the palm of your hand to level dough as much as possible.

7. In small batches, place potatoes onto dough and spread out to evenly cover dough. You will have several layers. Run your hands gently over potatoes to feel if they are layered evenly. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

8. Lightly grease one side of a sheet of aluminium foil (cut to fit tray) with baking spray or additional olive oil.

9. Cover the pizza with foil, greased side down, and place into the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

10. Remove the foil and cook for a further 25 minutes or until the base is golden brown and potatoes are cooked.

11. Remove from oven. Slide pizza onto board and portion. Serve hot or warm.

12. If need be, cool the pizza and reheat when required. (Do not portion until after reheating.)

To reheat: Cover pizza with foil and place in a preheated 160C oven for 30 minutes.

TIPS

■ Add instant dry yeast to the other dry ingredients – no mixing with warm water and leaving until a foam forms.

■ Try a butternut, gruyere and sage topping. To do this, replace the potato with butternut, retain the cooked onion, add 120g (1 cup) grated gruyere and replace the rosemary with sage.

- The Dominion Post

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