Without wanting to sound like a well travelled reality cooking show contestant, this year's Italian entry is based on the time I spent studying in Italy.
I had a cute 1 bedroom flat on the outskirts of Roma, passed the sheep as some of my class mates would say. This meant that my late night drinking adventures had to happen at home as the last train was about 10.20pm.....read they didn't happen!
On the plus side I didn't find Thursday's classes as tough going as my hungover class mates from a wild night at La Radio.
The winning aspect of the location was I lived above a pizzeria, Mary Pizza, which was always a buzz with activity that I understood about 50% of but enjoyed 100% of the aroma. You can see my balcony on their website.
Most days, if I wasn't making pasta con I broccoli I would stop in for a chat with Maria (a Ukrainian girl) and grab some pizza or a kebab....which incidentally in Italian is kebab.
As a strange fun fact it seemed every time I didn't know the name of something in Italian and would ask "come si dice....kebab?"(pointing) the answer would always be the name I knew it by. A golf jumper is a golf.
Also due to my location I could look down into the shop on a weekend from my other balcony to see when the kebabs were ready....living the dream!
Marco Mengoni sang L'essenziale in 2013 and strangely just by tweeting a quiz answer "Italy Marco Mengoni L'essenziale " I had a flood of Retweets, so I'm sure including him today won't hurt my stats!
He placed 7th last year
My favourite of all of Mary's pizzas was a thick fluffy focaccia base with grated zucchini and pork sausage balls, they also had a variation with zucchini and prawns. I can't wait till I go back and have some more pizza and a kebab but till then my version is pretty darn good too.
I have borrowed Paul Hollywood's focaccia recipe for the base, doubled it with a little extra water.
Zucchini and Pork Pizza
Ingredients for 2 large pizzas
- 1kg strong flour
- 20g instant yeast
- 20g sea salt flakes
- 280ml extra virgin olive oil
- 740ml cold water
- 4-5 pork and fennel sausages
- 3 large zucchinis
- Grated parmesan cheese (as much or as like as you like)
- Extra shaved parmesan for garnish
- Add flour, yeast, salt, oil, water to a stand mixer and knead
- It will take about 5 minutes to be a smooth and elastic, very wet dough
- Transfer to an oiled container to prove for about 1 hour, Paul's tip is to use a square container as the dough will want to hold that shape. They don't call him a dough genius for nothing.
- Cook the sausage by pinching, twisting and pulling little balls from the sausage skin and fry in a frypan on medium heat
- Finely grate the zucchini and squeeze off the excess liquid
- When dough has risen, half it and stretch each half onto a 39cm x 26cm tray (sprayed with spray oil and a dusting of semolina flour)
- Allow dough to prove a second time for about 45 minutes
- Top base with zucchini, sausage and a light sprinkle of parmesan (or heavy)
- Bake in a 220°C oven for 15 minutes
- I have pizza stones in the over to assist the base to crisp
- My other tip is to remove them from the tray as so as they are cooked and not chat with friends as the steam can create a soggy bottom
- Garnish with a drizzle of oil and shaved parmesan and you could be in Ponte Galeria before you know it.
This was baked on a smaller tray so is a fraction thick than normal.
I adore that Emma used wonderful Italian produce to make her postcard flag! Oh to be wandering through an Italian market again.
Emma sang La mia Citta in Copenhagen and loving all things Italian I was a fan, even if I shouldn't show favouritism here.....