I definitely felt a whole lot of amore for this pie as soon as it came out of the oven. The pastry treat was put together following a special request for a birthday pie, unfortunately my busy writing schedule meant that the piemaking didn’t occur until a whole month after the birthday took place – but, it was definitely worth the wait. Luckily, the time lapse also gave me plenty of time to muse over appropriate fillings (a pie must be matched to the individual because beauty is in the eye of the pie-holder) and in the end I came up with this meaty Mediterranean treat.

Be warned; this pie is quite heavy – like a pizza it’s designed to be a meal in itself, so I served it simply – a warm slice with some rocket and spinach on the side. Baking it in a tray meant I had enough left over for two people to eat like a king every lunch time for a week, but it’s a great pie to make for a buffet and it’s easy to make vegetarian by omitting the cured meats. In total the ingredients only cost around ten pounds and you get at least 12 super slices out of it – bargain!

Recipe (makes one hefty tray of pizza pie slices)

2x 500g shortcut pastry (yes, I cheated on this occasion)

340g mild goat’s cheddar

200g half fat red cheese

Two medium red onions

3 eggs

400g tin chopped plum tomatoes

20 black pitted olives

Handful of frozen sliced peppers

1 large glug of balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon olive oil

Squeeze of lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon of dried basil

1 packet of sliced chorizo (about 140g)

1 packet of sliced pepperoni (as above)

1 tablespoon tomato puree

Pie Assembly

I wanted to achieve a nice layered effect with my pie, but I was also aiming for moistness without my pastry going soggy – a difficult task for a tray pie considering the ingredients I’d chosen – but the outcome was perfect! I’ve broken the assembly down into four stages, though I unfortunately don’t have any photos of the process as my camera is on the blink and my iPhone is less of a photographer than I am (the iPhone photo above doesn’t do the pie justice).

Stage 1: Getting saucy

To avoid the nice cool pastry going limp at the sight of the pizza sauce layer, I made my sauce first and then allowed it to cool before assembly. The sauce itself was a very rich and flavoursome take on a traditional tomato sauce found on pizzas. It was created by draining my chopped tomatoes and combining with the olive oil, olives (sliced), sliced peppers, garlic, balsamic vinegar and basil. Heating the sauce until it started to thicken into a paste I added a squeeze of lemon juice and the tomato puree towards the end to intensify the flavours.

Stage 2: Feeling cheesy

The cheese layer is based on my mother’s showstopping cheese and onion slice recipe, which I adapted to try and make it a little healthier. I actually used far less cheese than Ma Mere and used a combination of mild goat’s cheddar and 50% reduced fat cheese to lower the fat content. As well as having 40% less fat than normal cheddar goat’s cheese is much friendlier for people like me who are allergic to cow’s milk (and too much cheese!). I chopped up the two onions fairly small and put them into a mixing bowl before grating in all of the cheese and giving it a good mix round. I then seasoned with salt and pepper and added two whisked eggs – this binds the cheese and onion mixture together and makes for a nice melty and moist pie).

Stage 3: Going flat out

The nice easy bit! I greased my baking tray and rolled out my pastry to fit with a little extra to seal the ends. I then added the cheese layer and pressed it down with my fingers to get a nice even spread. Next, I spread the cooled pizza sauce on top using the back of a wooden spoon.

Stage 4: Nice to meat yer

Finally, I layered my chorizo and pepperoni on top, with slight overlap between each slice so that there was full coverage of the sauce underneath in order to prevent my pastry crust going soggy! I was very generous with the meat (I usually order double pepperoni pizza) but if you are vegetarian you could always use a thick layer of spinach or courgette slices instead. I sealed the pie by brushing a mixture of whisked egg and milk on the bottom layer and pressing on the crust. To finish I brushed the mixture on top for a nice golden glow and cooked at 170 in a fan assisted oven for about 35 minutes, brushing the lid a few more times for a good even colour.

 

Just like pizza the pie's yummy cold!

On Saturday I was handed a sample of new instant coffee Nescafe Azera to try, with the promise it would turn me into an instant barista and win me brownie points with a grateful other half to boot. Here’s how the advert sells it:

http://youtu.be/Acmr-htIhl0

After days of rain I wasn’t willing to go through with the facade of having trekked out to the local cafe to fetch coffee to impress anyone, besides – that would set up a dangerous precedent that would possibly result in me being thrust out in all weathers to fetch foodstuffs. So, instead I decided to wait until midweek when I got some time alone to give Azera a taste test without all the added pretence (though I did put it in my favourite mug in case that added to the woman’s appreciation in the advert).

Directions were as follows: 1) Open sachet and pour in mug 2) Add 200ml of hot water and stir 3) Enjoy with or without favourite mug while looking very smug about being makeup-face perfect in bed and having bed hair of dreams.

Results are thus:

1) The sample provided disappointingly only filled about a quarter of my favourite mug so I’m not sure I had the same experience as the beautiful and ultimately satisfied blonde in the ad.

2)The coffee produced was steaming and aromatic.

3)The flavour was smooth and easy to drink without the need for sugar and the overall taste was indeed more like a filter coffee than instant (though it doesn’t come anywhere near close to the delicious taste of my favourite La Bottega Milanese coffee).

4)My hair remains brunette, messy, unkempt and disappointingly non-photogenic.

Conclusion:

I’d be tempted to have a pot of this floating about just in case I get any surprise  guests paying fleeting visits but I won’t be ditching my local barista altogether.