Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Thursday Duck & Good Friday Pizza

Day one of two weeks' leave, and I spent it with a hangover. Probably not the best start, but the morning after the night before was worth it. Since moving high up into the heart of the Dandenong Ranges, my husband and I have taken to trekking into Melbourne's CBD and spending the night in a hotel once every couple of months after enjoying a night on the town.

A friend of ours is currently doing a stand up show for the Melbourne comedy festival, so we went along to enjoy his sick, twisted, and VERY funny antics. (Those who are interested: Already close to Chinatown, we grabbed a "quick" bite to eat at Da Hu Peking Duck; half a duck and about 7 pancakes each was $25 in total, and a hearty enough feed that our loose plans to grab dumplings after the show had to be shelved. After hooking up with a friend and laughing ourselves silly, we headed back up Chinatown way and enjoyed some champers and skillfully crafted cocktails, first at Chi Bar, and then over to Manchuria. Rather expensive, but worth it just for the skill and showmanship of the bartenders.

Tonight I decided some good home made pizza was in order. Not being particularly religious but up for the 'challenge' of sticking to a meat free agenda, I opted for a simple combo of fresh and home grown cherry tomatoes (from our lovely neighbour, J), anchovies (Meditteranean wholesalers), fresh basil from my garden, and shredded mozzarella (home brand!). For the sauce, I used an equal mix of tomato paste and my mum's beautiful tomato and onion chutney. It's always an interesting conundrum, what to top your pizza with. Personally, I think the fewer ingredients the better. While it's always tempting to just pile on all the favourites, if you're using fresh and flavoursome toppings and the right combo, the flavours will shine through and you'll end up with a lovely fresh and relatively healthy pizza.

Here's a very easy pizza base recipe to get you started:

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups plain flour, pinch of salt, teaspoon dried yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 3/4 cup warm water until it forms a dough. Tip out onto a clean surface with some extra flour, and knead for a few mins until it comes together. Put it into an oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap, put it in a warm place for about an hour until it doubles in size.

Knock the dough back by 'punching' it in the middle, then knead again briefly on a floured surface before rolling it out into pizzettes, or alternatively press it into a big pan. Remember, it will rise, so roll it super thin for a crispy base.

Top with your favourite pizza toppings, and cook in a hot oven (240 deg C) for approx 10 mins.

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