Home made Pizza

Pizza Heaven at Home

Well I’m back and feeling better! I still have a bad cough but am feeling up to cooking again so that’s a good sign.

A friend of mine posted her home made pizza on my facebook food page last weekend and it reminded me that I hadn’t made pizza at home for a very, very long time. Her pizza was topped with prawns and looked fantastic!

I made 3 pizzas last night…one for each of us as we all like different toppings. I’m not a fan of boxed pizza as they are usually greasy and they just never seem to get the base right for me.

When I was in Naples I went to a local pizza place recommended by a travel guide book and it didn’t disappoint. Just your basic Margarita but had the best pizza base I have ever had in my life. There is a place close to where I live that has come very close to this marvellous pizza base and because the pizzas are awesome it is very difficult to get a booking. It’s a small place run entirely by women and is 2 doors down from an independent theatre showing awesome movies. This is my favourite night out but we have to organise it way in advance to ensure we get a booking for pizza heaven before we see the film.

Did I replicate this pizza dough last night?…No!

But they were really nice pizzas all the same!

Ingredients for Pizza Dough

  • 375ml (1 1/2 cups) warm water
  • 2 tsp (7g/1 sachet) dried yeast
  • Pinch of caster sugar
  • 600g (4 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil, plus extra for brushing

Method

Combine the water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes or until foamy. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture and oil. Use a round-bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until the mixture is combined. Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.

Brush a bowl lightly with oil. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in the prepared bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place to rise for 30 minutes or until dough doubles in size.

Our Toppings

Mine: garlic oil, tomato paste, creme fraiche, gorgonzola, ham, red onion, capers & mozzarella

My Daughter: garlic oil, tomato paste, ham, pineapple and mozzarella

My handsome man: garlic oil, tomato paste, red onion, ham, egg and mozzarella





Luscious Leeky Pasta

Loving Leeks with Pasta

It’s Monday and already the marking of papers for school has piled up. My senior kids had a practise written assessment task for English this afternoon and I must get them back to them by tomorrow so they can prepare for the actual graded task next week. It’s called a SAC – School Assessed Task – and they are pretty important as it is the SAC grades that they see on their mid year reports. The kids get pretty stressed and I get pretty stressed about marking them.

I still had to feed my family, my cat and my dog. I still had to help my daughter with her own studies as she is in her final year of high school and the pressure is incredible. She had her own English SAC today and she came home trying to work out how she went and I knew she was a little stressed. We all needed to be fed well but hours in the kitchen was not an option.

I do love pasta. Last week when I complained that I didn’t want to make pasta, it wasn’t because I didn’t like it, but that I had chicken and Leek pie stuck in my head. In fact it was the Leek I craved more than the chicken.

I love Leeks. They are versatile and taste wonderful and give any food you pair them with a great colour. Used with creme fraiche and stirred through any type of pasta is wonderful. Top with parsley and a good quality parmesan cheese and you have a wonderfully rich but easy Monday night meal.

This is a Gordon Ramsay recipe. I will post the recipe with Pancetta and mushrooms however tonight as I was unable to stop on the way home from work to buy pancetta, I left it out. When I got home I realised that I didn’t have enough of the same type of pasta left in the pantry and as I had chicken tenderloins in the fridge I added that instead to bulk up the meal.

This is why I love cooking. Recipes for me are a guide. If you don’t like a particular vegetable substitute it for something you do like. There is nothing more depressing than not making something because you don’t have a particular type of pasta or you prefer a tomato based sauce to a cream one. Just do what you like. Cooking is about eating what you love not being stressed out and not trying things and experimenting with food.

Ingredients

  • 300 g pasta shells conchiglie
  • Sea Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 125 g pancetta sliced
  • 2 medium Leeks trimmed and finely sliced
  • 250 g chestnut Mushrooms trimmed and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons crème fraiche
  • Flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • Shaved Parmesan Cheese to serve

Method

Add the pasta shells to a pot of boiling salted water and cook for 10–12 minutes, or until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the pancetta. Fry for a few minutes until it is golden brown, then add the leeks, mushrooms and a little salt and pepper. Stir over high heat for 6–8 minutes until the leeks are tender.

Drain the pasta and immediately toss with the pancetta, leeks and mushrooms. Stir in the crème fraîche and season with salt and pepper to taste. Scatter over the chopped parsley to serve.

Reluctant Pasta Night

I have to make Pasta and I don’t want to!

Monday night’s dinner was a wonderful Sirloin steak, cauliflower and broccolini baked with creme fraiche and just because I felt like it, I added Yorkshire Puddings with gravy. I also had lots of ‘Tsoureki’ (Greek Easter Bread) left over so I made a bread and butter pudding with it and we had that for dessert with cream.  It was cold and for once I was home early enough from work to make a substantial Monday night dinner. It really was delicious and also meant I was able to have a steak sandwich for lunch the next day.

Now, for the past week I have had a bit of a craving for Chicken and Leek Pie and was determined to make that tonight. My Tuesday night meeting had been cancelled and would once again be home with enough time on my hands to relax with a coffee, put on my pj’s and make this wonderful pie.

I was met with objections from every direction. I was astounded! HOW and WHY does one turn down pie?

Both my partner and daughter want pasta for dinner! I don’t get it! I’m prepared to come home and bake a scrumptious pie for them and they want the plainest pasta you could ever ask for.

Do they want Bolognese? No! Do they want Cabonara? No! Marinara maybe? Stop It! No!

They want spaghetti with a burnt butter and plain old tomato paste sauce – well, it’s not even a sauce, it’s more like a coating.

My mum used to make this for me a lot when I was a kid. Once your Spaghetti is done, you place a couple of tablespoons of butter in a pan and wait for it to turn a beautiful nutty colour. Then you add a heaped tablespoon of tomato paste and swirl through the butter for about a minute, just enough to get rid of that raw tomato paste taste. Pour into the spaghetti pot and stir through. It just coats the spaghetti with a buttery/tomato flavour. Top it with a good parmesan cheese and shovel in.

It is wonderful but I still want pie!

In protest I am posting the photo of last night’s dinner and dessert instead!