The Easter long weekend has left this household with a rather significant chocolate 'hangover' and renewed commitment to keep saving for a pizza oven of our own.
We spent most of the weekend at Mum and Dad's place near the village of Rydal, and on Saturday night lit the oven for a pizza-fest.
Mum made the dough and the basic tomato sauce (thank you Mum!). And in theory, we were all to do the rest, but in reality it was my older brother Mike who held the meal together and kept the oven fired (thank you Mike!). The pizzas were beautiful and the kids had a fantastic time making and eating their own creations.
Mum's roasted tomato pizza sauceThis sauce is ideal as a pizza base but also great with pasta. It adds loads of flavour when used instead of tinned chopped tomatoes in casserole recipes. Makes about three cups.
1kg roma tomatoes, halved
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup basil leaves, shredded
2 spanish onions, peeled and halved
Olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 140C. Toss all ingredients together in a large, deep baking tray and place in the oven for two hours, or until the tomatoes and onions have softened and collapsed. Transfer to a blender or food processor and whiz until smooth. You may need to thin the sauce out a little with some stock or water if too thick.
Mum's pizza dough via Stephanie AlexanderThis is the recipe Mum uses when making pizzas and now I do too. It comes from Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion.
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp instant dry yeast
1/2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
Place water, yeast and sugar in a bowl. Mix with a fork and leave for five minutes, until frothy. Stir in oil. Mix flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook and add the yeast mixture. Knead for five minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic (or do this by hand, kneading on a very lightly-floured benchtop). Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a dry, clean tea towell. Set aside for 90 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Once the dough has doubled, tip onto a workbench. Divide dough into two and lightly knead each one into a ball. Cover and leave again for thirty minutes to rise. The dough is now ready to top and cook. If doing this in your oven at home, make sure it's on its highest setting before cooking your pizza and if possible, do this on a pre-heated ceramic pizza stone or hot tray.
Suggested toppings - We are pretty conservative with our pizza toppings, sticking to classics like bocconcini, ricotta, parmesan, prosciutto, rocket, cooked potato, olives, anchovies and of course, the unavoidable ham and pineapple!
After finding our Easter eggs (thanks again Mum), we arrived home yesterday to the most enourmous box of beautiful fruit, care of our friends Katie and Beau Baddock of the Nashdale Fruit Company. I've just begun working through it by making a few bottles of pear and ginger cordial (pictured above). It's fantastic with mineral water and lots of ice, but even better served hot with a splash of whisky or similar. Just what one needs after a big family weekend!
Pear and ginger cordialJuice of one lemon
one piece lemon rind
3 pears, chopped
3cm ginger root, peeled and chopped
Place the sugar, water and lemon in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Let simmer for about five minutes before adding the pear and ginger. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 45 minutes. Strain the cordial into a glass bottle, extracting as much juice as possible from the cooked fruit. Seal and keep in the fridge for up to one month. Makes about 2 cups.
Mum and Dad's property also acts as a base for the residential art classes Mum runs every Autumn and Spring. These are very special weeks and an incredible creative experience for beginners through to more advanced artists so please take a look at the website for more information.