More than one way to spruce a pizza

Since I invented the term noodlesprucing, I’ve practised that fine, gentle culinary art pretty much every time I’ve had a pizza (not to mention noodles and other sprucible comestibles).  Of course, I’ve been doing the odd bit of noodlesprucing for years, but it seems that now I’ve got a word for it it’s become the exception rather than the rule.

My standard pattern for noodlesprucing pizzas seems to have settled down into adding olives (black or green, depending on what I have in stock), chopped up bits of anchovy and possibly a few capers to a standard frozen pizza from my local supermarket (which, sadly, seems to have reduced its range down to about 3 options – pepperoni, ham and pineapple or four cheese; I particularly miss the excellent garlic chicken one they used to do).

It occurred to me this evening that, while these additions do a lot to enhance the flavour of the pizza, going for the same embellishment every time runs rather contrary to the spirit of noodlesprucing (which can be summed up by the saying “variety is the spice of life”).  Therefore I decided to try something different on tonight’s pepperoni pizza.  I sprinkled some caraway seeds and paprika on the top of it before putting it in the oven.

The result was excellent and it’s definitely a combination I’ll use again from time to time — though not every time I have a pizza!


Not just for noodles

A few months ago, I coined the term noodlesprucing to refer to the fine culinary art of making simple foods, such as instant noodles, a bit more interesting by the cunning application of spices and stuff.  I mentioned in my previous post on the subject that, name notwithstanding, the same technique could be applied to things other than noodles.

Recently I’ve had a couple of goes at noodlesprucing frozen pizzas.  I’ve occasionally made pizza from scratch (with or without a homemade base) but more often, especially in recent years, gone for the supermarket frozen pizzas that can just be whacked into the oven and be ready to eat within 15 or 20 minutes.  I often add a bit of extra oregano to these pizzas but haven’t, for quite a long time, added anything else until last week when I put some anchovies and black olives on top of a thin-crust four cheese pizza.  The result was very pleasing, if not spectacular.

Earlier this week I went for my second attempt, again featuring olives.  This time the base was a deep-pan meat feast pizza and I decided that anchovies would not be required, since it’s already quite a salty tasting pizza.  I did put a bit of extra oregano on, though, which also worked well.

These particular noodlesprucings have been done prior to putting the pizzas in the oven.  It’s possible that some less robust ingredients would want to be added part-way through cooking.

In addition to the sprucing, I’ve found over the past few months that a good, and very simple, way to improve the results of cooking frozen pizza is to turn the oven up a bit.  The pizzas I usually get, from Morrisons, say (or, for the terminally pedantic, it says on the box) that they should be cooked at gas mark 5.  I found (by happy accident) that I get better results by turning the oven up to gas mark 7 and cooking for the same time.  Having checked my oven temperature with a thermometer, it doesn’t seem to be (entirely) a matter of the oven calibration – the suggested temperature seems a bit on the low side and the base rises a bit more, and is lighter and airier, with the higher-temperature cooking.  I think pizzas are classically cooked at quite high temperatures, often on stones, so this is probably not surprising.

Another food-related find, which doesn’t really fall into the category of noodlesprucing, is my recent discovery that scones and honey make a delightful combination.  This isn’t particularly surprising, in the way that, for example, cheese and jam would be, but I don’t think I tried it until recently.  I’ve so far only tried it with fruit scones but I expect that honey would work equally well with most other sorts, possibly even cheese ones.