Pizza on the Barbecue

So I think it’s pretty clear to most that I love to barbecue, mostly for the pure handiness of it; no pots to wash, quick cooking time but mostly because I get a kick from cooking outside.  Maybe a throwback to my caveman ancestors.  But really how natural does it feel outside cooking something over a hot grill, granted this is Ireland so it will probably be raining but I don’t care!  The other day I came home to find my Dad outside during a torrential downpour with a brolly in his hand barbecuing steaks, now that’s devotion!

Anything that I can possibly try to cook on the grill I will, on Sunday I cooked an entire (well ok apart from the eggs but it is possible) fried breakfast on the bbq including mushrooms and tomatoes, it was so easy and the rashers just look and taste so much better with the tell-tale charred lines of the barbecue.  With this in mind, I was flicking through a great cookbook I have called ‘Grill Master; The ultimate arsenal of back to basics recipes for the grill’ by Fred Thompson it’s a great book that covers every aspect of barbecue cooking…..INCLUDING pizza on the barbecue! Pizza I hear you, say? On the bbq? Really? YES! And it’s really easy.  Also because the crust is cooked on both sides it makes for a crispier base.  Try this and you will make it again and again.  And for those of you who think that making your own pizza dough is too much like hard work or too difficult, it’s really not and the little work is worth it, I promise you will never want a frozen or takeaway pizza again, there is just no comparison.

For me when it comes to pizza toppings, I adopt the motto ‘less is more’, believe me this is one of the rare instances in life when I adopt this term, it’s usually more is more and then a little more for good measure!  But with pizza toppings it works, the Italians our forefathers of pizza practice this idea and if its good enough for the Italians it’s good enough for me... you don’t want your pizza loaded down with toppings to the point of where it gets soggy as the mountain of stuff on top wont be cooked by the time the base is done.   Of course the boyfriend wouldn’t listen to me and LOADED his pizza with everything he could find in the fridge but hey ya can’t win em all.

The trick to the bbq pizza is that the base is cooked on one side, then you flip it, put the toppings on the cooked side and put the lid back down, while the base is cooking so are the toppings, the whole process takes literally 5-6 minutes.  I’m giving you Fred Thompson’s recipe for the dough with some additions from myself and my own pizza sauce recipe.  The toppings are up to you, on this pizza I used caramelized red onion, Parma ham, mushroom and mozzarella but feel free to experiment thats the fun of it!

Fool proof Pizza Dough
160ml warm water
1 package dry active yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
10oz/315g 00 pizza flour
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Handful fresh thyme, chopped finely

Pizza Sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
Splash of olive oil
I tin of tomatoes
½ tsp. sugar
Salt & fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Serves 4 and 4 small pizzas or 2 hungry people as 2 large pizzas

To make the pizza dough, a bowl, whisk together the water, yeast and sugar.  Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Add the flour, oil, salt, pepper and thyme.  Stir until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Pull the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times then form into a ball.  Oil a second bowl, put the ball in the bowl and turn it to coat with oil.  Cover the bowl with cling film and place in a warm area for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

To make the pizza sauce, sauté the garlic in the olive oil on a medium heat for 1-2 minutes, add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper and sugar, allow to simmer for 15 minutes until it has reduced slightly.  Add the basil and take off the heat and allow to cool.

Light or turn on the barbecue to a high heat and allow to come up to temperature.  Oil the grill grate.

Dump the dough onto a floured work surface, then either divide in half or in quarters depending on the side of pizza you are making.  Roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin to the size you want your pizza to be, for the large ones, about 10-12 inches.

Slide the dough onto a sheet of baking paper dusted with semolina (it keeps it from sticking) and carefully slide the dough from the sheet onto the grill.  Cook until underside is well marked, about 2 minutes.

 Using the baking sheet, transfer the crusts, grilled side up back to the work surface.Top the crust with the sauce and whatever toppings you are using, drizzle a little olive oil over the top and using the baking sheet, return the crust to the grill, put the lid down and cook until the crust is crisp and the cheese is melted.
Serve at once.

Dough on the grill before its turned

Adding the toppings to the grilled side

Watermelon Mojitos

I’ve invented a new family tradition.  When I say invented I use this term loosely, ok so I haven’t invented cocktail hour but I have introduced it to my family so let’s just go with that. Yes. Cocktail Hour. It’s wonderful.  The inspiration behind this new tradition is of course, Ina Garten; she loves her booze and always includes a drink recipe in her shows and I love her.  The Americans are big on cocktail hour; I experienced this first hand when I worked in a high end golf club in Cape Cod for the summer.  At the weekends, families would come to the golf club for dinner but first they would all have a cocktail in the bar, also at the weddings I worked, cocktail hour is a big tradition before sitting down for the meal.  In Ireland it’s more like every hour is cocktail hour but we don’t experiment as much as our American cousins.  When bartending in the golf club I had to learn the names of lot of cocktails, Tom Collins, John Collins, Martini, Dirty Martini, extra dirty…excuse me!!! No that actually only means more olive juice before you get on my high horse with me! I used to have a big book of cocktails behind the bar and would panic when a customer asked me a drink I didn’t know. And I have tasted the dirty martini, sure I had to after serving so many of them…it’s not good, tastes like the sea but those Cape Codders went mad for them, actually Cape Codder that’s another drink, vodka and cranberry to you and I.  These drinks are also very strong which points out another difference between us and the Yanks, they want their buzz strong and fast and tend to go home early, we Irish are more like marathon runners, slow, steady and less adventurous,  mainly pints and single measures of gin or vodka but ultimately able to last longer.

Regular Mojitos

So I decided to introduce cocktail hour to my family of a Sunday.  Sundays are when we usually get together in the evening for a nice dinner and some wine, so I thought this was the perfect excuse to try out some cocktails.  It started out with a jug of mojito’s a few weeks ago with mint fresh from my garden which went down extremely well, they are very refreshing and a nice change from a glass of white.  Last Sunday I decided to début my watermelon mojitos, well I say mine and I mean Ina’s.  You blitz up the watermelon in the food processor and that is the substitute for soda, your only mixer…Ina likes her booze!  This recipe made 8 large glasses and let me tell you, 1 each is actually enough they are quite potent and let’s just say lucky the dinner had been made in advance as I don’t think I would have had the head for intense cooking!  I’m definitely continuing the tradition, I decree from now on every Sunday will have cocktail hour, you should try it too, especially these watermelon babies, they will make you feel like you are on holidays with the sand between your toes rather than in your kitchen looking out at a wet miserable Irish 'summer' day!

Watermelon Mojitos
Large bunch of Mint
About a quarter of a small watermelon, try to remove some of the pips
12 ounces Bacardai or light rum (about half of the half bottle)
1/2 cup simple syrup (disolve 1 part sugar to 2 parts water in a saucepan and allow to cool)
Juice of 3 limes

Mash the mint leaves in a mortar and pestel
Puree the watermelon in a food processor untill it is a smooth puree
Put the mashed mint in a large jug, add the puree, rum , sugar syrup and lime juice and give a good stir
Add lots of ice and also ice to the glasses and serve, garnish with a slice of lime
Serve ice cold

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