Day 3 and I am getting increasingly concerned that my much-loved ‘Ricci’ are not going to feature on this holiday. Last time I was in Puglia, 5 years ago, I was introduced to this delicacy and have been licking my lips in anticipation ever since we booked the Masseria back in February. ‘Ricci’ are sea urchins, and they are simple divine. This coastline is littered with them, scarily plastering the rocky seascape, prettily but dangerously waving their poisonous needles in the warm currents of the mediterranean. Last time we were here they were a major feature at the comedy plastic chair and table beach side restaurants we frequented, now I’m struggling to find them.
Fish is something Puglia does in a major way, especially where we are on the Salentine Peninsular, far, far, far south! So I’m on my search for sea urchins and Mr.P is on his search for ‘Gamberi Rossi’ (Red Prawns) and so far we have both failed. The shopping team today came back with swordfish and huge cuttle fish, both look fresh as fresh could be, and after a little marinading and bbq action, I’m sure will taste delicious. The fisherman has promised us red prawns tomorrow and the boatman has promised me ricci on saturday.
Day 4 -Relief – ‘gamberi rossi’ have been found and bought- by the kilo I may add. A trip to Maglie came up trumps with the goods but still no sea urchin in sight. The covered market saved the day, with no less than 6 different fish mongers and the same again in vegetable, fruit stores, this provided the perfect shopping fiesta I have been searching for. That and the discovery of the fresh mozzarella shop opposite sealed our fate – my arteries are literally groaning from over indulgence of shellfish and creamy rich, burratta, mozzarella and ricotta.
Day 5 -Pizza -who can resist? especially when the pizza oven is just sitting there begging to be used! An emergency run to the supermarket provided the all important fresh yeast and within no time the dough was rising. Making a pizza is always slightly controversial – especially with 10 hungry mouths with understandably 10 different tastes. Previous experience has taught us to let the gang build their own – and actually it is pretty revealing what works. Fig and gorgonzola seemed to be pretty popular but honestly anything goes, artichoke, parma ham, salami, chilli, anchovy, caper – but please no pineapple! Strangely the pink one loved it but the blue one rejected. How weird is that – no to pizza but yes to fish pie – 2 year olds cease to amaze me.
The wild card pizza – white onion, fresh fig and gorgonzola – very good with a handful of rocket and drizzle of balsamic.
Pizza Dough Recipe
25gms of fresh yeast (conveniently sold in this size in most supermarkets in Italy)
500gms of 00 Flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Mash up the yeast with a sprinkle of sugar in warm water along with the olive oil. Add this to the flour and carry on adding water, kneading all the time till the dough comes together and is really pliable.
Knead for about 5-10 minutes and leave in a bowl covered with a tea towel to rise.
The intense ‘Puglian’ heat resulting in our bread rising almost instantly – but normally this would take 2-3 hours.
When the dough has doubled in size, knock it back and roll out into your desired pizza size. This quantity of dough will make 4 good sized pizzas.