“Pizza,” he said.
She blinked, then laughed. It was one of their games; taking turns to think of things they missed from the other time, the time before — or after, depending on how you looked at it.
“Coke,” she said promptly. “I think I could maybe do pizza — but what good is pizza without Coca-Cola?”
“Pizza with beer is perfectly fine,” he assured her. “And we can have beer — not that Lizzie’s homemade hell-brew is quite on par with MacEwan’s Lager, yet. But you really think you could make pizza?”
“Don’t see why not.” She nibbled at the cheese, frowning. “this wouldn’t do” — she brandished the yellowish remnant, then popped it in her mouth — “too strong-flavoured. But I think…” she paused to chew and swallow, then washed it down with a long drink of rough cider.
“Come to think of it, this would go pretty well with pizza.” She lowered the leather bottle and licked the last sweet, semi-alcoholic drops from her lips. “But the cheese — I think maybe sheep’s cheese would do. Da brought some from Salem last time he went there. I’ll ask him to get some more and see how it melts.”
She squinted against the bright, pale sun, calculating.
“Mama’s got plenty of dried tomatoes, and tons of garlic. I know she has basil don’t know about the oregano, but I could do without that. And crust — ” She waved a dismissive hand. “Flour, water, and lard, nothing to it.”
Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross (Chapter 20)
After last week’s excerpt, when we left Roger dragging Brianna out the back door of the big house to bring an end to that stramash she had with Mrs Bug, I felt the need to inject a little love back into the page for Valentine’s Day!
And so here we find R&B taking a break from their morning’s shooting lessons — a quiet moment, not terribly full of amorous feeling (especially when it comes to DG) — but still one of my favourites between them. After all, they don’t have a lot of free time to wax lyrical about love; they’re a little busy surviving the backwoods of Colonial America, thanks very much!
Dauco seeds, a MacGyvered pizza, three or four precious gems and a half decent pint of lager…that’s just a partial list of what these 20th Century kids need to get along in their New World.
As for my adaptation of the pizza Roger & Bree dreamed up over their lunch of ham and piccalilli, I tried to stay as true to DG’s words as I could. At least for the first pie.
I spread some basil pesto on the crust and dotted it with an umami-filled puree made from the sundried tomatoes and Porcini mushrooms you see above. I soaked them in boiling water (and a bit of sherry) for 20 minutes, then drained and squeezed the extra water out of them before chopping finely. I have no doubt Claire would have had some dried mushrooms around — probably not Porcinis — but you have to use what you’ve got, right?
Also on top was some thinly sliced raw garlic, cured sausage, onion and goat’s cheese.
Pretty modern sounding for 1770, eh? But I promise you it’s as authentic as an 18th Century pizza can be…
I went my own way with the second pizza, and opted for a tomato base followed by a mix of mozzarella and parmesan.
Next on were some eggplant slices that I had earlier dredged in seasoned flour and pan fried, as well as red peppers, roasted garlic, anchovies (for my Englishman) and a few dollops of leftover pesto.
The crust recipe is one I adapted from Saveur.com — I’ve used for over a year now, and it’s the best homemade crust I’ve found in an (almost) lifelong search.
Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone out there. Keep it real.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
The key to a great pizza is the crust — crisp on the outside with a chewy interior.
Makes (2) 10” Pizzas
All-Purpose flour – 3 Cups
Sugar – 2 tsp
Instant Yeast – 1 tsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Water, room temp – 1 Cup
Olive Oil – 2 Tble, divided
Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a bowl. Add the water and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the bowl and mix well with your hand until a rough ball forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead until smooth, 5-8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and/or a clean towel and set aside to rise in warm place until more than doubled, about 2 hours.
Move the oven rack to the bottom position and place a pizza stone or baking sheet on the rack. Preheat the oven to 500˚ for 1 hour.
Divide the dough in half. Transfer 1 dough ball to a floured to a 15”x 15” piece of parchment paper. Working from center, gently stretch and flatten the dough to a 10” diameter with fingertips, leaving edges thicker than middle. Cover dough with a tea towel and rest for 15 minutes. Repeat with other dough ball.
Brush edges with remaining olive oil. Spread pizza sauce, pesto or bechamel (cream sauce) over dough and arrange your toppings on top. Transfer pizza (on paper) to stone/baking sheet and bake one at a time until golden brown, 10–14 minutes. Remove pizza with a spatula.
Ith do leòr! (Eat Plenty)
Note: The pictures don’t show it, but we drizzled a fair amount of good quality olive oil over the sliced pesto pizza, which took it from good to great.