Sunday, March 14, 2010

Celebrating 'Pi Day' Two Ways............

It's March 14th, also known as Pi Day (3/14), which means........I suggest we all get busy baking some pie! Sure, there are a world of options out there in pie-land, a thousand variations on fruit pies and other dessert pies to choose from, but before you become overwhelmed: consider the humble pizza pie. Perhaps not so humble, when topped with bits of prosciutto, a tomato-onion-butter sauce, and a tender blanket of fresh, green baby arugula.

This is the way we ate ours a few days ago, and I can think of no better way to honor Pi Day than by re-creating this wonderful pie. In about an hour and a half, this slice of heaven could be on your plate!

For the crust:

2 C. all-purpose flour
1 packet active dry yeast
1 C. warm water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
olive oil

For everything else:

1 can diced tomatoes (in tomato season, I'd use fresh ones, but in March you're much better off using canned tomatoes than the mushy, pale pink blobs they sell in the produce aisle)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt/pepper/sugar to taste
small pinch of dried oregano
a few slices of prosciutto
1 ball mozzarella
baby arugula

To make the crust, combine warm water and active yeast in a small bowl, and set aside for 5 minutes. Combine flour, salt and sugar in another bowl, add yeast mixture, and combine until dough forms. Knead vigorously for 1 minute on a well-floured surface, then place in an oiled bowl to rise for 1 hour.

While dough is rising, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add onions and saute until translucent. Add garlic and saute for about a minute longer, then add tomatoes and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes just begin to relax into 'sauce.' Taste & adjust seasoning with salt/pepper/sugar as needed, then set aside to cool.

When dough is ready, preheat oven to 450 and prepare a baking pan by liberally covering it in olive oil. Stretch dough to desired size/thickness in pan, sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and dried oregano, pat into crust. Spread sauce thinly over crust, then cover with slices of mozzarella. Finally, add small pieces of prosciutto. Place in hot oven and cook until cheese is bubbling and browned in places (about 20 minutes, but your milegae may vary, so keep a close eye on it). Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly, then cover with a generous handful of lightly chopped baby arugula. Slice & serve!

But what to serve after this perfect pizza pie, your sweet tooth cries? Smooth mozzarella, salty ham and the perfectly peppery bite of arugula leaves are all very well, thankyouverymuch......but what if your soul still cries out for dessert on Pi Day?? Okay. Maybe, if you happen to have a neglected lemon kicking about in the kitchen, a handful of other basic ingredients, and some adorable little tart pans, maybe you can make Lemon Tarts for Two.

Lemon Tarts for Two

2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 crumbled gingersnap cookies
pinch of salt
juice of 1 lemon
1 egg
2 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting

Preheat oven to 350. Place butter, brown sugar, cookies, salt and 2 of the 4 tablespoons of flour in food processor and pulse until everything is combined and crumbly. Press into two mini tart pans to form crust, and bake until lightly golden brown, about 15-20 minutes, then remove and lower heat to 300.

Beat egg and lemon juice together, then add sugar and combine until dissolved. Finally, beat in remaining 2 tablespoons of flour until the mixture is creamy and no lumps remain. Pour into tart pans and bake at 300 for about 20 minutes, or until lemon filling is just set. Remove from oven and let cool thoroughly, then dust lightly with extra powdered sugar. Share with the one you love. :)