This recipe was given to me by my Austrian cousin, Greti, who made this dish one evening when she and her husband Jos invited me and my sister Caroline, my niece Natalie, and our cousin Philipp and our Tante Dorli for a quiet evening following a large family gathering a day or so before.
This simple yet delicious recipe is ideal when you want something tasty to eat of an evening without having to make elaborate preparations and it is also ideal for serving, in smaller pieces, as nibbles to go with pre-dinner drinks.
One of the ingredients is Pizza Gewürtzzubereitung (translated as Pizza Spice Preparation) which you can buy in supermarkets in Austria – the brand I have is made by Kotányi, a very good Hungarian company (excellent paprika too but that’s another recipe) however don’t fret if you can’t get hold of it because Italian Seasoning will work as well, or, better still, make your own – I shall give you the recipe for that below.
As for the bread it is best to use white sliced bread (whoever heard of a wholemeal pizza?) such as Mother’s Pride (if it still exists) aka Pain Anglais in France. I did experiment with sourdough bread the other evening (which is featured in the photograph above) but I was disappointed with the result and therefore would recommend you stick with white sliced bread. Oh yes, the pizza toast did not fare well cold the following morning so make sure you enjoy it hot once it comes out of the oven.
It’s a little difficult to judge the quantities required because it will depend on how many people you will be catering for and whether you’ll be making the pizza toast as a snack, or as nibbles to go with drinks or making more of a meal of it. When we were at Greti’s there were seven of us and Greti kept up a constant stream of the pizza toast. Perhaps think along the lines of 2 slices of bread per person to go with the quantity of crème fraîche, cheese and ham below and increase the quantities of all ingredients if you are catering for more guests or very hungry guests.
If you wish to adapt the recipe for vegetarians, simply leave out the ham.
What you’ll need for three to four people is:
- Sliced white bread – about 8 slices
- Pizza/Italian seasoning (see ‘recipe’ below)
- Crème Fraîche (250ml tub /approx 9 oz)
- A little double cream (heavy cream) for binding
- Pack of grated mozzarella (240gr/8.5oz)
- 1 pack of cooked ham shredded or cut into small pieces
What you’ll need to do:
- Heat the oven to 180C/350F.
- In a large mixing bowl put in the crème fraîche, grated mozzarella, pizza seasoning*, the ham and a small amount of the double cream to bind. (Make sure you don’t put too much double cream in the mixture otherwise it will become runny and will not work very well on the bread.) Mix well together. *Taste the mixture to gauge the level of the seasoning*. If it needs more seasoning, then add a little more and check again. What you don’t want is to have too much seasoning at the beginning that it ends up tasting like soap or worse.
- When the mixture is seasoned to your liking (it should not really need salt but add salt if you wish) take a slice of bread and spread an amount of the mixture on top of the bread evenly across and to the edges and repeat with the other slices of bread. Don’t spread it too thickly but also not too thinly. NB Do not toast the bread beforehand – it will ‘toast’ in the oven.
- Place the slices of bread onto a baking tray and put in the oven for approximately 10 minutes. Check to see that topping has browned a little then remove and serve.
My cousin’s husband, Jos, is very fond of chilli and he likes to grate a little dried chilli over his slices of pizza toast (which I recommend you try too!) and he has a very smart chilli mill in order to do so. The following day my sister, niece and I went to one of my favourite cook shops, Klammerth, in the Herrengaße in Graz and we bought ourselves the same mill which Natalie christened the Chilldo!
Making your own pizza seasoning is simple enough. All you need to do is mix together a quantity of the following dried spices and what you do not use for making the pizza toast store in a screw-top jar or air-tight container and keep alongside your dried spices for use in other dishes.
Own-made Italian/Pizza seasoning:
- 1 tsp dried Oregano
- 1 tsp dried Onion granules
- 1tsp dried Garlic granules
- 1tsp black or white ground pepper
- 1tsp dried Rosemary
- 1tsp dried Sage
Mix together in a bowl and et voilà!
Postscript: When I mentioned in my last post that I had been encouraged by my sisters and niece to get on with posting again I received a cacophony of complaints from chums who felt aggrieved at not being mentioned because they claimed that they too had nagged, I mean, encouraged me. Therefore, I shall add the following names to the list – Ian in Wales and Gill in Scotland! And to anyone not mentioned I do apologise and thank you for your encouragement! Little did I think that my humble blog would take on the significance akin to The Simpsons whereby the great and the good fall over themselves to be included!