It’s a cold crisp day at the end of winter. The branches are still bare but some green shoots are now starting to show, indicating spring is just around the corner, a welcome sight.
Walking along the edge of the stream, the dogs have a paddle in the shallow water. The water levels are lower this year with an unusually dry winter but the dogs still appreciate a splash.
Today I am heading in to the woods near our house, an area off to the side of one of the Wildway teaching areas. There is some basic maintenance that needs to be done today, but first it’s time for a tasty lunch.
I clear the patch of ground for the campfire, scraping back the deep leaf litter to uncover the damp ground below. Collecting firewood wood in this section is straight forward due to the large brash piles stacked high with varying sized twigs and logs that have been here since last winter.
The birch logs are easy to cut and split as I prepare a few for the campfire. In my bag I always carry varying firelighting materials, today I’m using birch bark, which is a reliable tinder in my opinion.
I scrape the dry bark with my bushcraft knife making a pile of tiny shavings to catch the spark. The knife and ferro rod work perfectly as a shower of sparks cascade down on to the birch shavings and they ignite easily. The birch bark is great for establishing and building up the initial flame too, so I add a few extra birch bark strips to feed the flame, before adding the dried twigs.
As the ground is still cold and damp at this time of year I always opt to sit on a deer skin. It’s a great insulation layer off of the ground and means a warmer and more relaxing lunch break too.
Now the fire is established I collect the rock to lay over the fire. This large chunk of York stone was found amongst the undergrowth in the woodland and has become a trusted rock to cook on. As it is so thick it takes a while to heat up, but it also then retains the heat well too.
So while the rock is heating up, I get the coffee on, and continue with some carving. This is a small carving project, a spoon I started the other day but just needs some finishing touches.
Carving is a great skill for so many reasons, not only is it practical and you can produce versatile items made purely from natural material but it is a relaxing process too. Taking a blank of green wood, shaping it with your axe, and then steadily carving away layer after layer to reveal your finished product is immensely satisfying.
It’s easy to get lost in the carving process…..though I have now realised that the coffee is boiling, so time to pour! It’s important to slow down sometimes, just take the time to sit and enjoy the woodland, and the coffee.
With the rock now ready to go, I take the ingredients out of the Elephant Box storage tins, then set to work chopping. The vibrant green of the spring onions not only looks great but have a great fresh aroma too. These go well with the deep flavour and texture of the crunchy red onion and red pepper to provide a great powerful flavour combination.
I slice the smooth, rich chorizo and toss it on to the rock along with the red onion. This allows them to start to soften and brown, and to enhance their flavour, while I take out the dough and prepare it for the rock.
I prepped the dough at home to make it easier in the woods.
It is a classic pizza dough recipe of;
With the dough unwrapped, I attempt to shape it, this is harder out in the woods than at home but pizzas don’t have to be a set shape….do they?
Shaped and ready to go, I lay the dough out on to the rock to start to cook from underneath. Once slightly crisp on the bottom the pizza base is flipped over and dressed with a layer of passata.
On to the glistening red passata goes the hot chorizo and red onion, along with the sweet red peppers. Then on go the vibrant green spring onions followed by a light sprinkling of grated mature cheddar and dried mixed herbs for an extra layer of flavour.
While the first pizza is starting to cook, I get out the second pizza base. I’d bought it as a spare, but the first one looks so good I’m just going to cook them both.
So as the second base starts to crisp underneath I flip that over too and smooth across the passata, before dressing this one with the tasty toppings.
As both of the pizzas continue to bake and crisp underneath, I continue with some more carving. Just a few finishing touches to the spoon, only pausing to move the pizzas every so often to stop them sticking.
With the bases now nice and crisp on the bottom and the cheese oozy and melted on the top, it’s time to serve. They smell sensational and make a satisfying crunch as I press the knife in to the pizzas.
I fold the first tantalising pizza over in half and the melty cheese from both sides encases the luscious toppings as I slide it on to the plate, followed by the second pizza. I garnish with rocket, to give it that extra fresh peppery flavour and a fresh kick.
The dogs look on hopefully as I take the first bite. Crunch. The crisp pizza is sensational. Crunchy but light on the base, fresh, tasty toppings all enhanced by the smokiness of the campfire. The combination is amazing, far better than a pizza just cooked in an oven. This is a whole new level of pizza taste sensation. I’m glad I don’t have to share it….well maybe just a small crust for the dogs.