Shipscook’s Homemade Pizza

Not bad for a first attempt

Believe it or not I had never done the full Monty with a homemade pizza, sure I had made the topping for a shop bought base before, but this was something new.

So first the base. Having seen Jamie Oliver do it this way, I emptied 500grams of strong flour onto a board, created a well in the middle and gradually spooned in about 325mls of warm water with 10 grams of yeast dissolved into it, mixing as I went.

Right don’t do this at home it creates an awful bloody mess, and I don’t have a bunch of people to clear up after me like Jamie does. Do it in a big bowl and don’t forget to add some salt to the dough.  Eventually I had a lump of dough, which I covered with a wet cloth and left to prove for however long it took to make the pizza sauce. Apparently this should be about ten minutes. but who’s counting?

So the sauce. Olive oil in pan plus a chopped red onion, chopped home grown chilli, four cloves smashed garlic, a slug of Worcester Sauce, grind of black pepper and what was left of a Sainsbury’s basic pack of tomatoes chopped up small after I had taken some slices of one of the big tomatoes for the topping. I fried this down till everything was nice and soft, then chucked in a can of chopped tomatoes and reduced the liquid by about a third.

Once this was ready I took my dough and gave it a good kneading, before squashing it down into my floured grill tray. Then I spread the topping over it followed by a liberal scattering of home grown basil leaves, some tomato slices, small chorizo slices, grated Cheddar, sliced Parmesan and some ripped up buffalo Mozarella.  It then went into a hot oven for about 12 minutes.

Anyway out it came and it looked great, the base stuck a bit to the pan, probably because I had squashed it down a bit too hard (lesson for the future), but it tasted brilliant. Is it the end for shop bought bases? Well in the words of Gordon Ramsey “They can f@*k off out of my kitchen.”

Here’s a Mozzarella buffalo we saw on a farm near Salerno.

Mozzarella Bufffalo - Salerno

Shipscook’s Italian Job – Monnalisa Ristorante

Right in the heart of Sorrento’s ‘Drains opposite a very pretty church we found this place. It’s the Monnalisa Ristorante and is a great place for people watching while you eat.

Al Fresco dining at the Monnalisa

This has to be one of the best places to get a pizza in Sorrento. We ate there a couple of times and I really enjoyed the pizza picante, which is made with pepperoni and four kinds of cheese, including pungent Gorgonzola and a ball of fresh buffalo Mozzarella . Fabulous with a glass of chilled Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio white.

Picante pizza with fresh Buffalo Mozzarella

Mind you I was surprised that I had much room left after the bruschette we had for our starters. The tomato bruschetta was really fresh and quite delicious, however

Your standard tomato Bruschetta

the Neapolitan bruschetta, with ham, basil and cheese, was really gorgeous and particularly filling.

Neapolitan Bruschetta with fresh Buffalo Mozzarella

Even the nibbles, that are customarily served with drinks in Italy, arrived in style on a delicate little stand with a pair of tongs.

Sophisticated nibbles

The Monnalisa has a well recommended ice cream parlor, but we were always too full after the main course to stuff anything else down.

So what’s the damage? Bruschette and pizza or pasta for four with wine, water and coffee between €90 to €100.

Monnalisa Ristorante, Via P.R.Giuliani,18/20, Sorrento.

Denmark and some fish we didn’t eat

From Helsingor we decided to visit the Danmarks Akvarium (Denmark’s Aquarium) in Charlottenlund, since it was on the railway line back to Copenhagen.

The Oresund train for Malmo took us to Hellerup, where a rather enthusiastic bus driver thinking we were looking for the Experimentarium, marhsalled us on to the wrong bus. Still it did allow us to see this rather magnificent building.

Tuborg Mineral Water Plant

This is the former Tuborg Brewery mineral water bottling plant, which was designed by Sven Risom and completed in 1923. Two buses later we found what we were looking for.

Danmarks Akvarium opened in 1939. It is home to a wide variety of fish including those from the Oresund Straits and the Baltic.

There's a plaice for us

As well as sharks, turtles and some mean looking piranha.


Not to mention the highly toxic but lovely lion fish

Lion fish

And this chap from the Amazon, I don’t know what he is but he doesn’t look very happy

Glum fish

Fortunately all our travel and entry to the aquarium were covered by our Copenhagen Cards. From the aquarium it was a bit of a hike to Charlottenllund Station but it was through some lovely shady woodland, and then a short railway journey back to Copenhagen.

That evening we decided to try one of the local restaurants to our hotel. La Sosta (Julius Thomsens Gade 12) is a very pleasant little pizzeria seemingly managed single handed by an eccentric Dane. Despite having a bit of a wait, my salami pizza was really good, while the fresh tomato soup, with hints of garlic and basil was just divine.  The house wine was a indifferent and at DKK195 (that’s a whopping great £23) rather expensive, but that’s about normal in a Danish restaurant. Total cost for four people; three kirs, one soup, bruschetta to share for starters then two pizza, one penne and one ravioli, wine and water DKK849 (just over £100).

Pizza at Unico, Epping

Despite having gorged ourselves on bargain calzone the night before at Epping’s Prezzo, by Saturday lunchtime we were sitting at a table in the town’s Unico Ristaurante. The fact that TFL had closed down most of the Central Line for yet more essential engineering work this weekend did limit our choice of where to eat, but Unico does do mighty fine pizza.

Unico Epping

Now while Prezzo has the bargain bucket prices (so long as you remember the vouchers), Unico is a local independently family run business and is therefore unique, so no predictable chain menu or bland uniform surroundings.

Everybody was quite hungry so we started with some garlic bread, as you can see we’d wolfed down half of it by the time I remembered to get the camera out of my coat.

Garlic bread

For mains I had a Quatro Stagione pizza with ham, salami, mozzarella and artichokes.

Quatro Stagione Pizza

This was very good indeed even if it didn’t look as exciting as Mab’s Gamberini al Diavola with its fat juicy langoustine tails.

Gamberini al diavola

Our guests enjoyed a traditional lasagna and penne al arabiata, both of which were judged to be excellent and despite the very generous portions we all had room to stuff down a pudding, although the only home-made item on the desert menu was the tiramisu.

Whats the damage?

Complete with a couple of glasses of wine, some fizzy water and coffees the bill was a meagre £79 for four people, not bad for a Saturday lunchtime.

Unico is a family orientated restaurant and there were at least three birthdays being celebrated while we were there complete with special cake and singing waiters.

Unico, 261 High Street Epping 01992 577776

Prezzo, Epping

We fancied a night out yesterday, but still being a bit skint after Christmas needed to find something on the budget side. Fortunately those nice people at the upmarket pizza and pasta joint Prezzo, had sent us some ‘All pizzas a fiver’ vouchers and as luck would have it there is a branch not far from us in Epping.

The restaurant is situated in the former Thatched House pub in Epping High Street. I think the building itself is about 200 years old and its transformation into a branch of Prezzo has been managed with some taste, nice wooden floors, art prints and so forth. To see the pub as it used to be take a look at the Dead Pubs website here:

Yes I know Prezzo is part of a chain, but the food is really very good and with the regular offers that we get e-mailed from them or downloaded from their Facebook page, it is surprisingly economical. On to the food.  We both knew what we wanted and ordered a calzone carne piccante each. The calzone is stuffed with meatballs, chicken, mushrooms, cheese and Bolognese sauce and really tasty. It’s also huge so we declined the offer of desert to waddle off to the car.

What’s the damage? I was pleasantly surprised to find that our vouchers were even valid on a Friday night and with a glass of the house red for me, a side dish of gratinated potatoes and a bottle of fizzy water the bill came to just over £20 for the two of us.

For info on menus and locations see: