Pie night at the hacienda

A reminder that the Being At Work poetry competition closes today. They will accept emailed submissions – but if you do that don’t forget to send a donation to the Movement for Canadian Literacy in lieu of an entry form (with your return address for tax receipt) to: LivingWork.ca P.O. Box 41171 Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1G 5K9

We had a pie double whammy last night. To start with I made my first pizza in years and years and was thrilled to find it closely resembled my favourite Pizza Express selection, the Siciliana. I do not own a pizza stone but it worked fine on one of those pizza pans with holes in the bottom for circulation. Unfortunately it didn’t last long enough to photograph, but I trust you all know what a pizza looks like. Here’s my recipe:

Rhona’s Pizza Siciliana
3/4 c warm water
1 pkg yeast
1 tsp sugar
1-3/4 c flour
1-1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
* Dissolve the yeast and sugar in about 3 tbsp of the warm water. Let stand 5-10 minutes until foamy. Mix the flour and salt together and place in mixing bowl: add the dissolved yeast and the rest of the water, mixing together until you have a soft pliable dough, adding a little flour as needed. Knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. As you knead, chant to yourself: this will make my arms strong for badminton. (Or throw the lot into your mixer with the dough hooks and just walk away for 10 minutes, until you get the same result less the exercise.)
* Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover with plastic, and leave for 1-2 hours to double in bulk.
* Punch it down, knead into a ball and then roll out to fit a 12″ pizza pan. Place on a plate or tray sprinkled with cornmeal. You can at this stage cover and refrigerate or freeze till needed, because you will be busy making…
1 small can tomato paste (about 1/3 cup)
1 tomato paste can water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp good quality olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano
dash pepper
dash tabasco
* Spread half the sauce over the pizza and top with:
2-3 thin slices ham, in 1/4 inch strips
2-3 canned (not marinated) artichoke hearts, quartered
1-2 tbsp chopped black (kalamata are nice) olives
1 large garlic clove, chopped finely (not pressed, you have to be able to sprinkle it)
2-3 white mushrooms, sliced
Drizzle the other half of the sauce over the toppings and sprinkle with:
1 generous cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
* Finish with:
2 tbsp good quality olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
* Heat the pizza pan and the oven to 425f. Slide the pizza onto the pizza pan and cook for 20-25 minutes until the base and the topping are golden.

I have a Transparent Apple tree (yes Virginia, you can see the apples) which has started to toss away its fruit, so I am in my annual scramble for apple recipes. For dessert we had fake tarte tatin, from a wonderfully devious Delia recipe. It is incredibly simple and pure. I strongly advise you dispense with the cinnamon, and don’t bother making pastry: use puff pastry. As you will see my end product doesn’t look quite like Delia’s but the taste is reliably heavenly.

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