Apart from being a design exercise, I have always considered cooking a form of art. And while the visual aspect of food is mostly refined in desserts and some ludicrously posh gourmet dishes, I think pizza can be a perfect foundation for artistic exercises. After all, out of all other types of food, nothing else resembles canvas like pizza dough does. The Jackson Pollock actually idea came to me by accident after I already made the pizza – when I took it out of the oven, it just looked like one of his paintings.
So here’s how to become a food artist.
My recipe for the dough is based on a recipe by Jamie Oliver published on the Channel 4 website. Of course, I modified it a bit to suit my needs.
1 kg plain flour, 1 table spoon salt, 1 table spoon sugar, 4 table spoons oil, 15 gr dry yeast, 600 ml water
Mix the water, olive oil, sugar and yeast in a bowl. Leave to rest for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate. Sieve the flour on a wide flat surface, add the salt, make a well in the middle and start pouring the liquid from the bowl little by little, gently mixing it with the flour starting from the wall of the well outwards. After the consistency becomes more solid, begin kneading it with your flour-dusted hands. Play with the ball of dough for a little bit, if the surface allows you to, you can even smash it down few times as a part of the cooking theater. It will certainly charm whoever is watching you. After you’re done, leave the dough to rest for at least 1 hour, I personally prefer an hour and a half. By that time the dough should triple in size.
When it’s all ready, take the dough and put it back on the flat surface, knead for a while to make it smooth and push the air bubbles out. Divide in several equal parts (I usually make 4 balls), dust them with flour and stuff them in the fridge. They can survive for a week or so, so use them in that time period. When you are ready to make a pizza just take a piece and roll it out. Oil the surface of the baking pan and spread the dough inside. Now you’re ready to add the topping.
Main ingredients: zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, olive oil, grated Mozzarella cheese, ham
Spices: paprika powder, salt, fresh mint leaves
Cut the tomatoes in small cubes and leave aside. Heat the olive oil in a pan and put the crushed pieces of garlic to fry for a minute. Be careful not to over-fry them because they will taste bitter. Add the cut tomatoes, some water and leave everything to boil for about 5 minutes. Add more water in the meantime in case it is necessary. When the tomato-garlic paste is ready, spread it on the dough. Next should come a thin layer of grated Mozzarella cheese and on top of it you can add the finely cut zucchinis, the mushrooms and the ham. Sprinkle some paprika powder and freshly cut mint leaves on top and put in a pre-heated oven at 180-200 degrees C for about 20 minutes.
I highly recommend using a rectangular-shaped baking pan since there are no known round paintings by Jackson Pollock.