Pizza Pockets & Hand Pies

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Following is the recipe for a basic, soft and easy to work with dough.  I used this recipe for making pizza pockets for my granddaughter Sloan’s first week of Grade 1, and then turned leftover dough into meat hand pies for 93 year old Auntie Elsie, who is kind of tired of cooking these days. Leftover dough you say???  Well I didn’t think 8-10 small pizzas would give me enough dough so I doubled the recipe … which yielded 25 pizza pockets, 10 hand meat pies and 1 pizza for our dinner.  Significant yield!!!

Pizza Crust: (makes 8-10 small pizzettas)
Ingredients:

  • 750 g white flour (use Tipo ’00 flour if you can or a strong bread flour)
  • 200 g semolina flour
  • 2 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. (or 1 x 8 oz packages) yeast
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place your flour(s) and sea salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Create a well in the center.
  2. In a large measuring cup, mix together your lukewarm water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Sprinkle in the yeast and let it sit for approximately 5 minutes, until the yeast starts to ferment.
  3. Pour the water/sugar/yeast mixture into the well along with the olive oil and stir together with a fork or large spoon until it is well mixed. Once it becomes too difficult to mix together with your fork or spoon, sprinkle extra flour on the dough and your hands and mix with your hands until the dough comes together in a ball.
  4. Place the dough on a well-floured flat surface and knead, pushing the dough using the palms of your hands, for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough looks smooth and stretchy. You may need to add extra flour as you go, being careful not to add too much to keep the dough from being too stiff.
  5. Place the ball of dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil, dust the top of the dough with flour, and cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm draft-free area for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down.  At this point you can either refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 2 days, covered with plastic wrap and occasionally punched down) or divide the dough into 4-6 portions (depending on how big you want your pizzas).  I highly recommend making your dough in advance and letting it sit in the fridge as the longer ‘proof’ really makes a difference.   Ensure that your pizza dough comes to room temperature before cooking (bring it out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours before you are ready to cook).
  6. Once ready to cook, heat your oven to the highest heat setting (500F for most ovens) and place your pizza stone in the oven for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Portion the dough into 8-10 balls and place on a well-floured surface. Using your hands, with your knuckles, (dusted with flour, along with the counter to prevent the dough from sticking) form your pizza crust 15-20 minutes before cooking your pizza on a flat surface dusted with semolina flour until it is nice and thin. Keep stretching it with your hands to make a flat pizza base (it doesn’t have to be round or perfect!).
  8. Remove the pizza stone from the oven, lay your rolled dough on the stone, and add your ingredients ….

If you are using this dough for pizza pockets or hand pies, after step 5 skip to step 7 and form circles of dough.

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For pizza pockets, layer on pizza sauce, your chosen ingredients and cheese, closing the pockets with a fork.  Make sure to prick the top surface with the fork so steam can escape.

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For the meat pies I used an ice cream scoop to get a consistent amount of the meat mixture – centered on the dough, and then brought up the edges to crimp over the middle of the circle.  Brush with beaten egg and poke with a fork.

Bake pizza pockets or meat pies at 400 until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

FILLING FOR MEAT PIE

1 onion, minced finely

1 garlic clove, grated

2 carrots

2 stalks celery

1/2 cup each frozen corn and peas

1 small zucchini, diced

1 lb ground beef

1 tbsp each dried oregano and basil

Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is lightly carmelized, add the carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until vegetables are almost cooked through, then add zucchini and saute for another few minutes.  Remove from heat and place in bowl.  Add frozen corn and peas.  Return pan to heat and stir in ground beef – cooking until lightly browned, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Add beef to vegetable mixture and season with dried herbs, adding more salt and pepper if needed.  At this point, if you feel like it needs a bit more flavour, add 1 tbsp of tomato paste.  Stir well and set in fridge to cool down.  When cool, continue on with forming your hand pies.

These pies are only limited by your imagination – use whatever you feel like to fill the pies, making sure to taste the mixture before filling the dough rounds.  Made in a smaller size they make a great appetizer too.

Lemon, Shrimp & Spinach Pasta

This makes a very quick dinner, fresh and delicious.

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Ingredients
For the lemon oil:
1/2 cup warm extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested (in wide strips)

For the pasta:
1 pound linguine pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup sliced zucchini
16 ounces frozen shrimp
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces spinach (about 3 packed cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Optional:  1/2 – 1 tsp chile flakes & 1 tbsp butter

 

For the lemon oil:
Combine the olive oil and the lemon zest in a small bowl and reserve.
For the pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add zucchini and saute until just tender.  Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked linguine, lemon juice, lemon zest, chile flakes, butter, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Turn off the heat and add the spinach.  Using a mesh sieve, strain the lemon zest out of the reserved lemon olive oil and add the oil to the pasta. The zest can be discarded. Add some of the cooking water to desired consistency. Add the chopped parsley to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve immediately. (dusted with parmesan if you like)

Warm Kale Salad

I wanted to credit Joni for this delicious salad – served warm or at room temperature, but she insisted I give the credit to her sister Brita, who originally came up with this – regardless of who gets credit, I will happily take it now as I post it and recreate it in my own kitchen! So delicious, and like lots of salads it is easy to adapt with whatever you have on hand or in your fridge.

This delicious salad is equally great served warm or at room temperature.

This delicious salad is equally great served warm or at room temperature.

Kale (chopped and massaged)
spinach
pears (bite size pieces)
dates (diced)
almonds (roasted and roughly chopped)
feta

onion, garlic, asparagus & cherry tomatoes

Saute onion until translucent, then add garlic and asparagus and cook only until asparagus is tender crisp, add cherry tomatoes, stir and remove from heat.

Dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup Bragg’s
salt and pepper to taste – be cautious with the salt tho as both feta and Bragg’s will be a bit salty

Combine all ingredients – tossing in a large bowl with warm onion/garlic mixture and dressing.

This salad is so delicious and packed with nutritious bites that it can easily be a full meal – if you like add shrimp or cooked chicken, maybe a little quinoa??

Olive Tapenade

If you love olives …. why haven’t you tried tapenade?? This is more simple than you can even imagine, and absolutely delicious.

pretty hard to make a pile of minced olives look good …… but try it out and taste it, you will love it - every taste is packed with flavour

pretty hard to make a pile of minced olives look good …… but try it out and taste it, you will love it – every taste is packed with flavour

1/2 pound olives (go ahead, mix it up – kalamata, green, stuffed, whatever you have on hand)
2 anchovy fillets (rinsed)
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp capers
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp really good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp each fresh parsley and basil, chopped

Toss it all into a food processor and whiz it up – taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with crackers, fresh baguette, or crisp pita triangles.

Vinaigrette

Try either of these vinaigrettes, easily done and keeps in the fridge to be your own "house dressing".

Try either of these vinaigrettes, easily done and keeps in the fridge to be your own “house dressing”.

I love making my own salad dressing vinaigrettes – and when the herbs are fresh and growing right outside my back door it is even more fun.

These recipes are written for whisking by hand – but if you have an immersion blender they will create a deliciously creamy dressing.

Here are a couple of my herby delicious faves.

SCALLION VINAIGRETTE

In a small bowl, whisk together:
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 chopped scallions (about 1/4 cup)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of salt

Whisk well, and then slowly drizzle in 3/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed.

HERB & GARLIC VINAIGRETTE

In a small bowl, whisk together:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
3 tbsp fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, tarragon)
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp honey
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whisk well, then slowly drizzle in 3/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil. Taste!! Season with more salt and pepper if needed.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Last summer we had an overabundance of beautiful red peppers growing outside the back door, so we used them in a variety of ways – smoked, dried and then ground into powder to be used in salad vinaigrettes, dips and meat rubs. We also canned a few jars of them, to be used in another variety of methods ….. this is one of them, hope you enjoy! Remember, if you don’t happen to be crazy about the idea of doing the work for your own roasted red peppers, they are easy to buy!

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About 3/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers
One 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
1/4 cup tahini
Half of a large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 1 1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

For serving: 2 tablespoons of minced red pepper, extra virgin olive oil and sesame seeds.

Throw everything into a food processor and let it whiz until smooth and creamy. Add a bit of water if it seems too dense.

Now – this is critical – taste!!! Every different jar of roasted peppers, or can of chickpeas will have a different level of flavour. Make sure this is the way you like it. I often end up adding a bit of water, a bit more oil, more salt and certainly some fresh ground pepper. Just to bump up the flavour a bit, I also added a teaspoon of our ground red pepper – but you could use smoked paprika.

Turn into a serving dish, drizzle with a little extra good, extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with a few sesame seeds and a few of the roasted red peppers, minced.

For the non wheat eaters in our group, I serve this with a pile of fresh vegetables, and for the rest of the crew they love pita chips, taco chips or rice crackers. This is as versatile as your own household likes!

Toasted Crumbs

Do you ever have left over garlic toast? Bread that is past its “best before” date? Or – as has occasionally happened ….. just forget to take the garlic bread out of the oven to serve??? I can relate to all this very well. Don’t throw it out!

The tastiest use of forgotten or leftover garlic bread is to make bread crumbs.  You'll never buy bread crumbs again!

The tastiest use of forgotten or leftover garlic bread is to make bread crumbs. You’ll never buy bread crumbs again!

Allow it to completely dry out by cutting or tearing it into pieces – then spread on a baking tray and just leaving it be. If you want it toastier just put it in a moderate oven (350) and allow to toast a bit more.

When totally dried out, give it a whiz in your food processor, and you have the tastiest bread crumbs – particularly if you are working with leftover or forgotten garlic bread. If you don’t have an immediate use for it, put crumbs in a ziplock bag in the freezer – stays for ages and so handy to have.

~ ~ Melt a little butter in a frypan and crisp the crumbs up – serve sprinkled over pasta!