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Sunday, April 18, 2010

International Pizza Pie Incident - Poached Pear Pizza Pie

After the success of our the Gnocchi Party organised by Penny of jeroxie (addictive & consuming) we decided to keep our party hats on and Lambrusco (the party wine, don't you know) flowing and throw regular International ____ Incident parties. We already have parties lined up for dumplings, noodles and tacos, though I'm not sure if spaghetti is going to get a run (sorry Axl).

First up though, is the International Pizza Pie Incident!

"Pizza Pie" is one of those American terms that confused me when I was growing up. I was also confused about:
  • meatloaf (a loaf of meat? Everyone in books was always whinging when their "Mom" served them meatloaf so I figured it must be as crap as it sounds), 
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (jelly in a sandwich?! Surely that's just asking for trouble.. noone wants a lap full of jelly! - if you're not aware, jelly in Australia is what is referred to as jello in the US - we would call it a peanut butter and jam sandwich, and even then you have to admit it's kind of a weird combination, though not as messy as a peanut butter and jelly jelly sandwich), 
  • all the different types of "candy" that Claudia in the Baby-sitters Club had stashed around her room (Ring Dings? Tootsie Pops? Ding Dongs? Sounds like a whole pile o' euphemisms if you ask me),
  • and I always got a little alarmed when someone got a new haircut and ended up with "bangs".
Since growing beyond my Baby-sitters Club reading years, I have since discovered that "pizza pie" is just a longer, alliterated way of saying "pizza", though there are those crazy pie-like Chicago style deep dish pizzas that should come with a side order of defibrillator lubricant.

What are the differences between a pizza and a pie? I think the venn diagram has a reasonable area of intersection, particularly when you head into dessert pizza territory. I make savoury pizzas pretty often, so I swapped my party hat for a safari one and ventured into the land of dessert pizzas.

I decided to go with a shortcrust pastry for the base, which takes us into Pie Town, but I took a few steps back into Pizza City by doing a stuffed crust. With chocolate. I was a little nervous about this working out, but I figured that if it didn't then I'd just be left with some sort of chocolaty pastry mess which would not necessarily be a bad thing.

I wanted some sort of red pizza-like sauce to go atop the pizza pie, and I've been enjoying the delicious pears that have come into season recently, so these two thoughts lead me to the decision of poaching and stuffing pears, reducing the poaching liquid to make the red sauce and using the pears as the pizza pie topping. If I was going to this effort, I figured I may as well make a couple of different ice creams to go with the pizza pie, which is why I made the somewhat strange varieties of poppy seed and ginger ice creams, to complement the mulled wine and spiced stuffing flavours.

I can recommend all the components of this dish - it was a beautifully short, just-sweet-enough pastry; I think I'm going to be trying to stuff chocolate in everything I bake from now on; the poached and stuffed pears are truly delicious, you really need to try them at least once during pear season; and I was pretty chuffed with the ice creams working out so well too.

Happy birthday to you Penny! I only wish I had thought to stick a sparkler in one of the pizza pie slices, but I did at least have a glass of wine in your honour. Thanks for again for being a culinary creativity catalyst. So, what did everyone else make?

Pie Dough
taken from the Apple Pie recipe in August 2004 issue of delicious

1 3/4 cups (260g) plain flour
1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour
185g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
1 egg
1 Tb chilled water

(Note: I actually just made it in my food processor, but here is the recipe as given in the magazine)
1. Sift flours and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl.
2. Add butter and rub lightly into flour with your fingertips. Lift mixture high above the bowl as you rub, to incorporate air into the pastry and make it lighter. Continue until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir through sugar.
3. Lightly beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon chilled water, then drizzle over flour mixture. Start to bring the dough together by cutting the liquid into the dough with a blunt knife, then form into a smooth ball with your hands, adding a little more water if necessary.
4. Divide dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes (I chilled mine overnight).

Chocolate Stuffed Crust Pizza Pie Base

Pie Crust, recipe above
dark chocolate

1. If you chilled your pastry longer than 30 minutes, take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes or so before you want to roll it to make your rolling job a bit easier. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C.
2.  People say you don't need to grease your pie pan as the butter from the pastry will stop it from sticking, but I don't have one with a removable base and I'm a little paranoid about sticking so I lined the base with baking paper and lightly greased the sides. I used a 26cm pie pan.
3. On a lightly floured surface (I used my fabulous deadly marble board) roll the pastry out to about 5mm thick (mine ended up thicker than this) and large enough to cover the base and sides of your pie pan.Try not to stretch the pastry as you roll it  as if you stretch it, you will likely have shrinkage when it bakes. You also don't want to use too much flour when rolling, as this may dry out your pastry - a way around this problem is to roll the pastry between two pieces of non-stick baking paper.
4. Roll the pastry over your rolling pin, then unroll it over your pie pan. Ease the pastry gently into the pan, pressing it into the corners while trying not to stretch it. Trim the overhanging bits with a sharp knife, or roll your rolling pin over the sides to remove these bits if you have a sharp edged pie pan.
5. Roll the leftover dough out into long skinny pieces, to use to cover the chocolate stuffing.

6. Place slices of chocolate around the edge of the pastry, then cover with leftover pastry, trying not to leave any air bubbles between, or gaps in the pastry.
7. Place pie pan on a baking tray. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork. Line the pastry case with baking paper or foil and then fill with baking weights, dried beans or rice.
8. Bake in preheated oven for around 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 190 degrees C, remove weights and paper, and bake shell for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan, or turn it out if you prefer.
9. The pastry is now ready to be transformed into a Poached Pear Pizza Pie.

Mulled Wine Pears with Spiced Stuffing
(from New Vegetarian by Celia Brooks Brown)
I doubled this recipe for the purposes of pizza pie!

Mulled Pears
4 firm ripe pears
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways
250 mL freshly squeezed orange juice
500 mL red wine
125 g sugar
grated zest of 2 lemons
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Spiced Stuffing
75 g hazelnuts
1 Tb soft brown sugar
2 Tb currants or sultanas
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
A large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 Tb orange flower water (I usually use about half this)
A large pinch of sea salt

1. Peel the pears, leaving the stems intact. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each one, so they stand upright, and scoop out the cores with a teaspoon.
2. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into a large saucepan, then add the pod and the orange juice, red wine, sugar, lemon zest, cloves and cinnamon. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Gently lower the pears on their side into the pan and simmer, turning frequently in the poaching liquid, for 30 minutes or until tender (depending on ripeness).
4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pears from the poaching liquid and set aside to cool.
5. Strain the liquid and return to the pan. Heat until reduced and syrupy. Let cool.

Your house should now smell like Christmas.

Doing the circular pear conga round the plate

Spiced Stuffing
1. Roast the hazelnuts in a preheated oven at 200 C for 5 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool. Put in food processor, whizz until ground, then add the remaining ingredients (only add enough orange blossom water to hold it together... I find 1 1/2 Tb is too much) and pulse until mixed.

2. Spoon the mixture into the hollowed-out poached pears and spread a thin layer on the bottom of each one (this will help the pears stand upright when you put them on the plates).

3. Serve with the syrup poured over and a dollop of creme fraiche, or turn them into a pizza pie! Woo!

Poached Pear Pizza Pie with Chocolate Stuffed Crust

1 chocolate stuffed crust pizza pie base
8 mulled wine pears with spiced stuffing
Reduced mulled wine syrup from the pear poaching

1. With a sharp knife, slice the pie base into 8 even pieces.
2. Slice each pear crossways into four or five even slices.
3. Arrange pie base pieces onto plates, pour over some syrup then arrange pear slices on top. Add a little more syrup and serve with ice cream such as poppy seed or ginger.


Mardi Michels April 18, 2010 at 9:34 AM  

I am completely gob smacked at your talent Conor. We will be expecting big things from you when you visit in June! I am so impressed with your ambition - me, I just attempted regular pizza dough, and not very successfully at that, but as you know, there have been some errr... extenuating circumstances this week and I have been quite distracted... Next time, I will hopefully sort myself out!

Anonymous April 18, 2010 at 10:00 AM  

This is excellent! I love the idea of dessert pizza and the chocolate stuffed crust and the poached pears - wow, very creative and totally decadent!

Mark @ Cafe Campana April 18, 2010 at 10:20 AM  

Mmmm dessert pizza, what a great idea. Whenever I would have all you can eat pizza at Pizza Hut as a kid I would steer clear of the apple crumble pizza, something just didn't look right. However yours looks amazing. I really like all the little details.

Hannah April 18, 2010 at 10:20 AM  

Oh, Babysitters Club. How I loved you. Just who was Claudia's phantom phone caller? And would Stacey still really have friends after her deep, dark diabetes secret came out? (she wet the bed you guys! like OMG someone pass the Twinkies!)

But apart from that - this is amazing, Conor! So intricate and looks so good at the end! Are these incident parties something one can join in at any time? Because now I'm back with a kitchen...

Evelyne @ CheapEthnicEatz April 18, 2010 at 10:36 AM  

That is too funny we both went for pears lol. I have to say your looks better. Want to trade a piece? Beautiful inspirations

Cherrie Pie April 18, 2010 at 10:53 AM  

I love your version of Pizza Pie. Love how you filled the crsut with chocolate. Everything is better with chocolate.

Jo - SecondHelping April 18, 2010 at 10:55 AM  

Brilliant Conor! I love all of it, the idea, the flavours, the photos and the great post. If there's any left can you send it over to Melbourne?!!

Tasty Trix April 18, 2010 at 11:04 AM  

This is such a deceptively simple thing - it looks so effortless, but so many steps went into creating this. I would totally order this for desert in a restaurant!

Divina Pe April 18, 2010 at 1:06 PM  

Oh my this is too good. There's even a surprise inside the the dough. And more surprise for the stuffed pears. Now, how I wish we can taste everyone's pizza.

Caroline April 18, 2010 at 1:20 PM  

Well, having tasted (and even attempted) the original mulled stuffed pears, I can only slip into a delicious-food-dream-like state imagining how much better it would be sitting atop chocolate filled pastery... drool.

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) April 18, 2010 at 2:38 PM  

My goodness, this is a serious amount of effort to be admired! Regardless of whether it's pie or pizza, I believe it would taste as excellent as it looks =)

steph April 18, 2010 at 3:10 PM  

Cute take on "pizza pie"!

Annette @ Wellness WA April 18, 2010 at 3:54 PM  

you guys are AMAZING. i commend you so highly on your patience and drive to create such amazzzzing lil dishes! THIS LOOKS DELICIOUS!

Panamahat April 18, 2010 at 5:32 PM  

Hmmm. I am still a sceptic when it comes to dessert pizzas. I think I need to eat one of yours to be convinced...

Lori @ Wannabe Gourmand April 18, 2010 at 5:49 PM  

Oh my godfather...lush lush lush. Don't be alarmed if you find me perched outside your kitchen. It's the first time I haven't scorned in disdain at a stuffed crust...eep can't wait till my food processor gets back from the Doctors so I can try out that stuffing!

Brie: Le Grand Fromage April 18, 2010 at 6:56 PM  

this looks fantastic! i love all the flavors going on, and the chocolate stuffed crust looks delectable!

Simply Life April 18, 2010 at 7:01 PM  

WOW! That is so creative and looks sooo good!

Anh April 18, 2010 at 7:31 PM  

Wonferful!! I like the idea of the chocolate studded dough!

OohLookBel April 18, 2010 at 8:03 PM  

Hehe, 'pizza pie' always confused me, too! There's an episode of Seinfeld where Kramer thinks of starting a restaurant where people 'make their own pies'. What a stupid idea, I thought. On the other hand, your dessert is amazing. All that effort certainly paid off.

Emma @CakeMistress April 18, 2010 at 8:16 PM  

Here here. Chocolate should indeed be stuffed into everything. Wow, each part sounds delicious. Two thumbs up for the alcohol component too :)

Agnes April 18, 2010 at 8:31 PM  

Chocolate stuffed crust!!! Genius, just genius. Pizza hut, eat your heart out!

Christine Ho April 18, 2010 at 9:07 PM  

Aw, you're genius, very creative. I'm drooling over your pics right now. How come you can come up w/ the idea of making a sweet pizza-pie, with such a wonderful combination of chocolate stuffed crust and poached pears. Yummy...

Kitchen Butterfly April 18, 2010 at 11:12 PM  

Heaven. First up, I love pie. And poached pears. And Icecream.....superb job C, love it!

Andrea @ CanYouStayForDinner.com April 18, 2010 at 11:27 PM  

Conor, I just about fell off my chair when I saw this pizza pie! I am saying this with one hundred percent seriousness...this is the best recipe I've seen in the past month. Un.Be.Lievable. You can't imagine how badly I want a slice. I am so impressed with your creativity and talent! Excellent post and excellent recipe!

P.S. Loved the mention of the Babysitter's Club. Oh Claudia...

Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 19, 2010 at 12:03 AM  

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite - aw thanks Mardi! I'll be ready to bring my A game in June, don't worry. Not sure I'll bring my pizza stone though. You're too modest anyway, your pizza rocked despite your extenuating circumstances (wink wink nudge nudge say no more ahem)

5 Star Foodie - Thank you! Indeed decadent, it's not really an everyday food I don't think :)

Mark @ Cafe Campana - thanks! I am pretty sure our Pizza Hut all you can eat didn't have any apple crumble pizza! We got ripped off!!

Hannah - omg omg you're the best, I forgot those riveting storylines! Thank you thank you :D Yes! Join for the next one!!!

Evelyne @ CheapEthnicEatz - great minds! That is us!! I TOTALLY want to trade a piece, that beautiful chocolatey drizzled coconutty concoction has my name on it, seriously.

Cherrie Pie - thank you!! I could not agree more about the chocolate :D

Jo - SecondHelping - thank you! I'm terribly sorry to say it is all long gone, even the leftover ice cream, but I will send you some memories of the taste.... :)

Trix - yes, it took a bit longer than I thought it would, actually (but then again, I always underestimate how long these things will take). Thank you very much!

Divina Pe - thanks!! :) Oh yes I didn't think about the double surprise, good point! Me too, wouldn't it be perfect if we could somehow do that.

Caroline - hehe, I was hoping this might prompt a comment from you :) I haven't cooked for you for ages, must rectify this soon!

mademoiselle délicieuse - thank you! Happily worth the effort and dishes :)

steph - thank you!

Annette @ Wellness WA - I know, how cool are all the different takes on pizza pie! Just wish I could taste them all. Goddamn non-existent teleportation device. Thanks very much :) :)

Panamahat - I think so too. We have ways of making you change your mind (muhahahaha)

Lori @ Wannabe Gourmand - ooh thanks :) You know what, I thought I did see you before! Then I realised it was my housemate's wetsuit hanging on the line. Unless, you were hiding behind it...? Ingenious!

Brie: Le Grand Fromage - thank you very much!

Simply Life - thank you!!!

Anh - thanks! I think I foresee more chocolate studding in my near future.

OohLookBel - haha! That is kinda stupid, glad you don't feel the same way about this pie :D thanks!!

Emma @CakeMistress - Excellent, I thought that may get your approval :D

Agnes - haha, thanks!! Yeah, Pizza Hut, stick that up your cooker!

Christine@Christine's Recipes - aw thanks! It was pretty fun putting it all together :)

Kitchen Butterfly - brilliant, I'm glad I ticked so many boxes for you :D Thanks!!!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 19, 2010 at 12:06 AM  

Andrea @ CanYouStayForDinner.com - Andrea you are too kind, really! Thanks so much! I'd love to send some your way, but I'm fresh out of magical transportation powers :( Thanks again :) :) Oh Claudia indeed, and her ongoing sister issues, helped only by consumption of piles and piles of candy...

Tangled Noodle April 19, 2010 at 2:11 AM  

Just brilliant! This isn't just a dessert pie - you went the extra mile, what with a chocolate-stuffed crust and spice-stuffed poached pears! Either of these alone would be a delicious treat, but together they're in an entirely different dessert league.

pTsaldari April 19, 2010 at 8:26 AM  

I can't help wondering... how you do it! So unique, so clever so ingenious. The fig is one of my favorite fruits, especially when eaten right from the tree. This is a "Treasure recipe". This I keep for myself to "SPOIL" my wonderful family. I thank you for being you, please! Never change, EVER!

Pam April 19, 2010 at 11:11 AM  

What an interesting and delicious recipe. The chocolate in the crust is a great idea.

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella April 19, 2010 at 11:30 AM  

Holy macaron Conor! That is quite the dessert. Now I think you could safely feed a billionaire this and they would be impressed ;)

Shirley April 19, 2010 at 5:21 PM  

Hey Conor,
This is brilliant! Am I glad you brought a dessert to the party. Initially I had planned to do a choc pizza, but never thought of layering like you have. And mulled wine wow! simply my favourite. You've put it all together beautifully!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table April 19, 2010 at 5:42 PM  

Gorgeous, gorgeous dessert! Love the chocolate in the crust, the perfectly poached pears and their unusual stuffing. Stellar!

Cocina Savant April 19, 2010 at 6:55 PM  

this looks amazing! i love the chocolate in the crust, i may have try that sometime soon for a desert pizza. my mouth is watering!

A cupcake or two April 20, 2010 at 9:43 AM  

What a fantastic idea. Conor I love the pizza crust with the chocolate. It made my mouth water. I love poached pears. Chocolate and pears are perfect together.

Adrian @ Food Rehab April 20, 2010 at 6:28 PM  

gosh this looks good. Great idea with the chocolate stuffed crust!

Celeste @ Berrytravels April 20, 2010 at 8:38 PM  

This has to be one of the most creative pizza pies I've seen. Amazing!

I must add this to the to-do list. It looks incredibly and I'm aching to taste it already.

Fantastic job, can't wait to see what you come up with next!

Stella April 20, 2010 at 10:01 PM  

This looks delicious, Conor, and like a lot of work! Oh, and, Bangs? Your'e funny, but sometimes I like bangs. Especially for people with big foreheads (smile)!

krissy @ thefoodaddicts.com April 21, 2010 at 12:54 PM  

you are a true food lover at heart - especially for whipping up all of these great dishes. way to go for thinking outside of the box!

Forager April 21, 2010 at 5:06 PM  

Omigod those pears look so good! I want! And I had to laugh at your musings about the pizza pie - I've always been confused too!

Karen Harris April 22, 2010 at 12:47 AM  

Ok, now you have me laughing! I only thought I spoke English until we moved to the UK. Your recipes are brilliant as usual but what struck me the most about this post is the new profile photo! You have been hiding your gorgeous face for far too long.

Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 22, 2010 at 9:53 AM  

Tangled Noodle - thank you! Not sure I'll be making all these together again very often, but yes the pears are a great treat on their own. Well, with some ice cream too :)

pTsaldari - you're so sweet! I will do my best to stay being me if you promise to do the same :D (being you, I mean, not being me... that would be weird)

Pam - thank you! Never have too much chocolate :)

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella - Brilliant! I'll keep this in mind next time I'm entertaining such types (though I might keep some Kellogg's variety packs stashed away too just in case)

Shirley - thanks! Yes, good to have some desserts after all the amazing savoury ones :) There's not enough mulled one things in Australia, I don't think. Doing my bit to address this ;)

denise @ quickies on the dinner table - thank you! I like unusual :D

Cocina Savant - thanks very much! My only regret - not stuffing in more choc ;)

A cupcake or two - thanks! The pears are just so delicious at the moment, poached or otherwise :)

Adrian @ Food Rehab - thank you!!!

Celeste @ Berrytravels - thanks a lot! I can super highly recommend the poached pear recipe, if you can't be stuffed (hehe) doing the whole shebang. Thanks!

Stella - thank you! I like bangs too, now that I know what "bangs" actually means. It made going to the hairdresser sound painful!

krissy @ thefoodaddicts - ah, you have figured me out :) thanks a lot!

Forager - thanks! Wish I could share! Glad I wasn't the only confused one :)

Karen Harris - yes, there's certainly a lot of (mostly amusing) confusion to be had between UK English and US English, without adding Australian English to the mix too! Argh, you're making me blush, thank you! :D

Gastronomy Gal April 22, 2010 at 11:18 AM  

this is hilarious! I remember thinking the exact same thing when i was reading baby sitters club!

Emily April 23, 2010 at 9:31 AM  

Oh, Babysitters Club, I miss you and your weird American references to things that just sound plain wrong! Ring Dings? Really? Although I will have to seek them out when I visit the US this year, along with twinkies, deep dish pizza (pie), and my new discovery courtesy of the Lonely Planet guides: the deep fried Oreo. Disgusting, but too amazing to pass up should I find one!
On a less awe-inspiringly bad note, this pizza looks gorgeous Conor - I will be giving it a go, quite possibly this weekend in fact...

Velva April 24, 2010 at 9:38 AM  

Your post absolutely made me smile :-) I would love yoru dessert pies any day!

Anonymous April 24, 2010 at 7:00 PM  

The chocolate stuffed crust is a heavenly idea and the stuffed pears? AWW MAN! This takes pizza to a whole new gourmet level!

tasteofbeirut April 25, 2010 at 9:59 AM  

Very impressive! Love the idea to include the chocolate in a fold of the crust. Poaching and stuffing the pears and serving them like a tart is also inspired. Bravo!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 25, 2010 at 11:09 PM  

Gastronomy Gal - they should have included a little explanatory appendix for Aussie readers!

Emily - I had a twinkie once, many years ago, and never wish to repeat the experience. Be sure to have a toothbrush at the ready! Oooh, I do want to try a deep fried Oreo though, I must admit. Be sure to blog the disgusting awesomeness! Thanks very much :) I hope you do!

Velva - excellent, thank you!

vickys - thanks man! :D

tasteofbeirut - thank you! Glad you like it :)

Cakelaw April 27, 2010 at 5:50 AM  

This looks fabulous!! Love the chocolate stuffed crust.

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge April 27, 2010 at 12:08 PM  

This looks like my kinda pizza!! Those pear just sound amazing! Great job!

Chef Fresco May 6, 2010 at 10:56 AM  

Wow, that is quite an impressive pie! And I must say, you sure are missing out on quite a lot. PB&J, for instance - best sandwich ever! Vegemite on the other hand, not so much :)

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My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

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