Making a pizza (sorta)

A long time ago, way before ben-park.co.uk was registered, and even before I had a badly-named website for radio stuff called BJSProductions.co.uk (Update – now known as parkandgardner.com), I started a blog about cooking. My intention was to cook things I’d never eaten before, and also, to eat things I’d never cooked before. It still exists, in a very-much dormant state, at http://mrfussysmarmalade.blogspot.com (Update: These old posts are now on this website. See: http://ben-park.co.uk/category/food/mr-fussys-marmalade )

Before I started that, I’d never cooked a spring onion. I wasn’t entirely sure what one was. I can follow a recipe, but I don’t know how to make much, and I’m also quite a fussy eater. However, I did discover some new foods I liked via that blog, including sweet and sour sauce, and fajitas.

Also over the years I’ve got a bit more environmentally aware. Only a bit. I’m not a proper eco-mental. I still drive, and I still eat Royal Gala apples despite the fact that most of them have been sent from New Zealand. But it’s quite nice that most of what I throw out each week gets recycled. It doesn’t go to landfill.

Part of the reason I’ve not been eating Tesco’s supermarket pizzas recently is that they come in polystyrene/plastic that can’t be recycled. The other reason is that they’re disgusting. Italian-style my arse.
Until very recently, I quite liked the Italian-style Sainsburys pizzas (Sainsbury’s did them first, and don’t think I don’t know that, Tesco, with your “NEW” products in identical Sainsbury’s flavours). Also, Sainsbury’s pizzas come on cardboard slabs, with cardboard box wrapping. That’s right – recyclable.

However, Sainsbury’s have changed the recipe or done something recently, so they didn’t seem quite as nice. Then I went shopping at the weekend to discover that they’ve changed the packaging. It’s now plastic-wrapped on a polystyrene base. They’ve got rid of the box entirely, and the polystyrene is not deep enough to actually hold the pizza base, which meant every single one on the shelf was a bit squashed. Mostly, one side was squashed, while the other side wasn’t.

Pizza + packaging FAIL

Also, while the new and improved Margherita on the shelf behind is only £3.60, the other varieties are now £3.90. Best part of £4 per pizza for something so decidedly average, seems too much to me.

So until I can get one of these installed at home (the machine, not the girl…although..no! The machine!), I need to do something else.

Me and housemate decided to make our own. Well, sorta. I’m sure the right thing to do here, if you want to shun pre-prepared crap is to buy all the ingredients and make it completely from scratch. We didn’t do this. We cheated a bit and bought pre-made bases. And pre-made sauce.

So we bought:

  • 2 Pizza Bases 10″ @ 1.15
  • Sainsbury’s Pizza Topping sauce @ 0.86
  • One piece of pre-cooked honey roast ham from the deli counter @ 0.46

Total: £2.47

If anyone is still reading this, you’ll spot straight away that there’s vital components missing. Where’s the cheese, for heaven’s sake?
Well I had cheese already at home. I know this is wrong before I even write it, BUT in this test I decided to use ordinary cheddar cheese as the only pizza cheese, as I had this in. I know it’s not the right sort of cheese for a pizza and I don’t care. So there. Also, housemate used some mushrooms (we had these already too).

So the new total would add some estimated prices of:

  • Mushrooms @ 0.50
  • Cheese @ 0.60

New total: £3.57

These are over-estimations. A block of cheese is £1.80 and there’s no way we used 1/3rd of a block on two pizzas, but for sake of argument, let’s say we did. Ditto with mushrooms really. Also, that one piece of ham I bought did a whole pizza quite easily, even with me eating some as I was breaking it up to put it on the pizza. Without me eating it, it probably would have done both pizzas. The pizza topping is easily enough for two pizzas. Maybe even slightly too much.

So that’s £3.57 for two whole pizzas, or roughly £1.79 per pizza.

We also used olive oil. Apparently you put it between the base and the pizza sauce to stop it soaking in and going soggy. So my housemate says anyway. The base wasn’t soggy, so maybe she’s right. I’ve not included the cost of the olive oil. But it was only a little bit.

The bases are freezable and all the other ingredients keep for a good 3-4 days (so even suitable if you’re cooking for one), except the olive oil which keeps well…forever. When have you ever thrown out olive oil?

Here’s the results from the first attempt:

Despite the cheap bases, own-brand sauce and clearly-incorrect cheese – that’s the nicest pizza I’ve ever got from a supermarket. The sauce was nice, and the base wasn’t as dry as a normal supermarket pizza, either. Success. Try it yourself.

Oh and talking of over-packaging

What the hell is this?

We all know those resealable tabs never work properly, but a zip? On a bag of peas? Presumably not metal or it might risk sticking to your hands while you’re trying to open it, but really? That seems like a rather over-the-top method of stopping a couple of peas escaping. Not as complicated as say – remote central locking – but still… a zip!

2 thoughts on “Making a pizza (sorta)”

  1. Have a look at what you can do if you use a base mix:

    http://www.assursys.co.uk/people/alex/gallery/index.php?spgmGal=PizzaMaking20110510&spgmPic=6&spgmFilters=#pic

    For enough sauce for one pizza, I use half a can of chair de tomate, a slug of garlic olive oil, some dried mixed italian herbs, and seasoning. Mix it all up, then microwave it for about 40s stirring halfway.

    My favourite topping is prosciutto (or Parma ham, if it’s on special), rocket and parmesan – all from Lidl at a fraction of the price at UK supermarkets.

    1. That looks almost professional.
      Now that the semi-homemade one wasn’t a total failure (and so cheap!), I might branch out (baby steps) into making a bit more of it from scratch.
      You’re right on Lidl. They do some good stuff. I was surprised to discover that they actually do quite a range of organic products (not generally mentioned much in their advertising), and all a lot cheaper than most supermarkets. Their fruit/veg is better quality than your average supermarket, too.

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