Have you ever found yourself in a situation when you have a group of people coming over to your house with different dietary restrictions – halal, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, no red meat, no seafood, no vinegar, no this no that? Okay, I have never had all the aforementioned restrictions all in one go, but I often find 2-3 combos at once. In the past, as most host would try to do, I end up making too many things to cater for everyone or stick to one type of restrictions that is most encompassing.
Recently I have switched my thinking owing to the many hotel buffet tables that I’ve frequented in the past 3 months. For the record, I don’t normally go for buffet food. In my opinion they’re always a touch too cold (for warm dishes), or too warm (for cold cuts), food’s been cooked way too long until we get to them, or spicing is too blend (because you cook in large bulk). However it is not all bad, in fact there are some amazing buffet tables that I’ve grown to love, such as the excellent food provided by The Oriental Hotel in Kobe, or the amazing spread at Park Hyatt Tokyo’s New York Grill, or The French Kitchen at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo. They always have a little bit of everything and you can just pick the foods you want and combine it the way you like, and you have the food that is perfect for your dietary restrictions.
This is finally how I came to today’s recipe. In the spirit of being versatile at the dinner table, I have since concluded that pizza is the way to go when you have a complicated combo of dietary restrictions. You can easily make the base and put toppings that strikes your fancy. I had a non-meat eater visiting a couple of nights ago, while I wanted to use up the beef pepperoni. Made the pizza base and pizza sauce as Jamie O would do and go crazy with the topping as it strikes your fancy!
Basic pizza dough
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Basic Pizza Recipe
400 gram strong white bread flour
3/4 cups fine ground semolina flour (or can be replaced with strong white bread flour)
1/2 T fine sea salt
4 gram active dried yeast
1/2 T caster/powder sugar
1 cup lukewarm water (110 F/ 41 C)
- In a large bowl combine all the flours and sea salt, whisk it so it is well distributed
- In a glass container, add yeast and sugar into the lukewarm water and let sit for about 4-5 minutes until the yeast looks activated
- On a clean surface, pile the flour mix and make a 10 cm well in the centre. Add the yeast-sugar-water mixture into the well, then using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well. Continue to mix until all the flour is incorporated.
- When it becomes too hard to mix with fork, flour your hands and begin patting the mix into a ball. A kitchen scraper can also be useful in helping you bring the dough together. Knead the dough by rolling backward and forward, using your left hand to stretch the dough toward you and your right hand to push the dough away at the same time. Repeat for 10 minutes or until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.
- Flour the top of the dough and cover in plastic/glad wrap. Let it sit for about 15-30 minutes at room temperature.
- Afterward you can cut the dough into many small balls or several big balls. This recipe is approximately half of what Jamie O makes in the linked recipe, so I typically divide this into 3 balls.
Basic Pizza Sauce
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Basic Pizza Recipe
Extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
a bunch of fresh basil
1 can of good quality plum tomatoes
a few grind of sea salt
a few grind of black pepper
- Add a splash of olive oil on a sauce pan
- Add garlic into olive oil and saute until golden and fragrant
- Add basil leaves and tomatoes with a few grind of sea salt and black pepper
- Bring concoction into a boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally to mash the tomatoes until smooth. Set aside when ready.
Some basic ideas:
- Margherita: mozzarella cheese balls – cut thinly into 50mm wedges, basil leaves
- Cheese and pepperoni: grated cheese mix, beef pepperoni slices
- Green pepper, beef, onion and mushroom and grated cheese mix/mozzarella cheese
- And anything that strikes your fancy!
To make the pizza
- When you’re ready to cook them, preheat the oven to the highest setting available (my oven goes to 350C) and put the baking stone inside it.
- Take a piece of the pizza dough, dust your surface and the dough with a little flour or semolina, roll out into a circle until about 0.5 cm thick
- Smear the surface with tomato sauce and add topping of your choice
- When the oven is hot enough, put your pizza on top and cook for 7-10 minutes until the pizza is golden and crisp
- Bon appetite!