Easy Health Magazine May 2012
The Sunday Times Magazine 27th May 2012
Food Section – Exotic …and made in Ireland
The Irish Times - Saturday, May 19, 2012
Compiled by MARIE-CLAIRE DIGBY
Top food tweets . . .
Piero @ArtisanPizza_ie: A tasty tip for your tomato sauce – de cecco tins of filetti di pomodoro blended with salt and olive oil – delicious for pizzas or pasta
Ace of Base
December 2011 Food and Wine Magazine p.8
We all love freshly made pizza bases, but when you don’t have time to knead and prove then the Artisan Pizza Company’s range of Pizza da Piero bases make an excellent substitute. Made by Italian Piero and his Irish wife Cliona, each of the pizza bases are made by hand over a two-day period in Rathmines, using only flour, water, extra virgin olive oil, salt and a small amount of yeast. Available in good gourmet stores and Superquinn.
Real Italian pizza bases
Marie Claire Digby
Irish Times Magazine 15 October 2011
Pizza Da Piero artisan pizza bases are made by Piero De Vallier in a two-day process that uses very little yeast and relies instead on a long fermentation process, meaning they’re more easily digested and less likely to leave you with a bloated, carb-overload feeling. De Vallier, who is from Treviso, met his Irish wife Cliona Swan, who is a teacher in St Andrew’s College in Dublin, while they were both working in the UK, and came to Ireland with her, first to Galway and then to Dublin.
After working as a head baker, De Vallier decided four years ago to go into business selling ready-to-bake pizza bases. The quality of his product ensured rapid expansion, and he now employs three additional bakers, and between them they’re making 200,000 bases a year from premises in Rathmines.
Not surprisingly, De Vallier is a purist when it comes to toppings – no pineapple chunks or sweetcorn welcome. He’s also not in favour of putting raw vegetables on a pizza, and suggests using a simple tomato and mozzarella topping.
I cooked the pizzas on unglazed terracotta tiles (a cheap alternative to a pizza stone), on the bottom of a very hot oven, at 240 degrees (gas mark nine), and they crisped up beautifully in less than five minutes. Pizza Da Piero pizza bases come in packs of three (€6.50) and are widely available from Superquinn, as well as delis and speciality food shops.
Tried and Tasted
The Sunday Business Post 02 October 2011
The base for a healthy meal
Pre-made pizza bases aren’t something I usually buy, not because I have any deeply-held objection to them, but because they usually leave me feeling as bloated as if I’d swallowed a cup of Polyfilla.
But, having tasted Gianpiero DeVallier’s bases, I’m revising my shopping list. DeVallier, or Piero as his friends call him, comes from Treviso in northern Italy, and worked as an artisan baker for 20 years before moving to London, where he met his Irish wife Cliona.
When the couple moved to Ireland in 2007, they rented a small premises in Dublin and began producing authentic Italian bases under the Pizza da Piero label.
Initially the bases were sold at the Dublin Food Co-op Market as well as small shops such as Bottega di Paolo in the Italian Quarter, but they’re now sold in more than 100 shops nationwide, including Superquinn.
Each base is handmade over a two-day period, and the ingredients are simple: wheat flour, water, soya flour, extra virgin olive oil, salt and a small amount of yeast. It’s this long fermentation process that makes the bases so easy to digest there’s none of the bloated feeling you get with shop-bought and takeaway pizza.
Each base contains 365 calories and 3.5g of fat – less than 1g of which is saturated – so they’re a healthy choice too. They cook in no time; so quickly, in fact, that mine almost burned, so keep an eye on it if you’ve got a particularly hot oven.
DeVallier is a traditionalist when it comes to toppings, and has a strict no pineapple, no raw veg rule. His website, artisanpizza.ie, has some recipe suggestions, including a white pizza with mozzarella, pesto and sliced tomatoes, and a Siciliana with tomato sauce, mozzarella, anchovies, capers and fresh tomatoes.
The bases come in packs of two for under a fiver and packs of three for €6.50, and they’re suitable for home freezing. They went down a storm with all our testers, but particularly the younger ones, who loved devising their own toppings.
Guilt-free fast food that’s sociable too: what more could you want?
A Pizza Perfection
The Irish Times – Saturday, October 4, 2008
CONNOISSEUR: When it comes to the classic Italian dish, the secret is in the base – the thinner the better, Hugo Arnold
MY CHILDREN ADORE pizza; it is a treat, a weekend fix, which involves a phone call, a man on a bike, the exchange of money and, hey presto, a box containing a steaming disc of doughy delight. It comes with a pot of long-life garlicy goo. To say the flavour is short is to understate the lack of anything at all here. It fills them up, sort of. And makes me very sad. At least it did.
It is with some delight that I can report the discovery of a heavyweight plastic bag in the fridges of some of the better retailers round the country containing three pizza bases. These are made by Gianpiero De Vallier who hails from Veneto near Treviso. Having married an Irish woman, he has landed here and set up The Artisan Pizza Company.
Gianpiero’s route to pizza-making is a slow one. His bases take two days to make, rising and proving slowly. He uses yeast, but not very much of it. He also uses wheat and soya flour, sea salt, olive oil and water. The result is a biscuity base; something with body and soul. A base to get your teeth into. And one that doesn’t lie in your stomach too long.
It is also thin. Thin so you don’t want to overload things. The sort of thinness that limits your topping to one or maybe two ingredients. This is a good thing when it comes to pizza, as the real point is the marriage of base and topping; you need to taste both.
My children’s taste in pizza is easy to satisfy, margherita comes top of the list and so I match Piero’s base with some passata, olive oil and salt and the pickings from a sagging dome of fresh mozzarella, its rich, creamy, lactic aromas full of goodness. The tomato base is three, maybe four tablespoons of the passata mixed with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. It takes a minute to make, seconds to spread, and the mozzarella – a quarter per pizza – a few more seconds.
Cooking time is five minutes, maybe six, but no longer, as it is all too easy to dry out the base and make it too biscuity.
There is obviously no need to stick with such basic toppings, although its a very happy combination. Salami and pepperoni are good contenders, roast vegetables – peppers and aubergine, particularly – are superb, and mushrooms get top billing. You can tandoori a pizza but I’m not to sure why you would want to.
Pesto with aubergine, however, is a different matter; leek and goat’s cheese has a lot to be said for it, and spinach and three cheeses is a definite winner. A purée of broad beans with pecorino and rocket may be sounding a little complicated, and one for next summer, but it is based on a southern Italian classic combination and should not be missed.
I’m partial to a very basic topping of rosemary and potato – I know it sounds odd but with a slick of good olive oil it is a dream. Or try Roquefort and smoked salmon, leek and black pudding, or leek with goat’s cheese and Parma ham, the latter applied after it comes from the oven.
These toppings and more feature in Pizza Defined by Bernadette O’Shea, just republished by Estragon and mentioned earlier this year by my colleague Tom Doorley. Understanding the dynamics of what is essentially such simple food and few ingredients is not easy but this book goes along way to explaining the importance of balance, the role of the base and of the sauce, and the need to go easy on the toppings. So no pineapple.
O’Shea also mentions a restaurant in Naples, Da Michele, where you can eat pizza. The choice is limited to a Neapolitan or a margherita and the queues flow out the door all day.
I added up the cost of a Gianpiero margherita pizza the other day, it came to €3.38. A takeaway original cheese and tomato costs about €12. Not sure about making your own? Gianpiero will not only make one for you at Dublin Food Coop market but he will teach, discuss and enthuse about the art of proper pizza-making.
Quick Party Fixes
The Irish Times – Saturday, November 28, 2009
TASTE: Well chosen freezer finds are just what you need to make instantly appealing party food
WHILST FLICKING through some food magazines recently, still searching for inspiration for the ultimate turkey recipe, I came across a suggestion by an English cookery writer that if you have a spare few hours between now and Christmas, then why not make your own gingerbread house?
If you saw the accompanying picture, you too would have been incredulous at the suggestion. As sweet a notion as it is, I can barely even find a sharp knife in this household, let alone stencils, pencils, scissors or sticky tape. Suffice to say that as per every Christmas, I think that anything over and beyond the bare minimum in celebratory food is where I will draw the line.
I know I say it every Christmas, but smoked salmon and brown bread is always a winner. Sorry, but it is.
Mix some cream cheese with a bunch of chopped chives or spring onions, or just marinate some very thinly sliced red onions with a good squeeze of lemon juice and black pepper and dot them onto some smoked salmon on buttered brown bread. Serve with a few caper berries on top and you have something that always tastes fantastic, especially with a glass of bubbles.
It may be dull, but it’s a classic and takes only minutes to prepare. And any salmon you don’t use up over Christmas makes an excellent addition to some scrambled eggs on toast.
The Artisan brand of pizza bases sold in supermarkets and delis have become a bit of a store cupboard ingredient for me, although they’re usually stored in my freezer. The pack contains three bases that are ready to top, so all you need to do is prep the topping recipe on this page, for a really delicious slice of something savoury, which tastes great served at room temperature.
Frozen tiger prawns are another good freezer item. Raw ones are great, but sometimes they need to be de-veined, which is a bit of a chore when you’re stuck for time. They do well if marinated and then grilled and will quickly disappear. All you need are some napkins for sticky fingers and a cup of this delicious warm cider.
Maybe next Christmas I’ll get that stencil out.
BASE DESIRES A picture below of a delicious sweet potato pizza with goats’ cheese and pine nuts, made with a shop-bought pizza base. Food cooked and styled by Domini Kemp and PHOTOGRAPH: DARA Mac DÓNAILL
3 pizza bases
4 sweet potatoes
2 tbsp pine nuts
300 g crème fraîche
Pinch of chilli flakes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
300 g goats’ cheese
3 tbsp runny honey
Few sprigs of thyme or rosemary
Glug of olive oil
Preheat an oven to 200 degrees/gas six. Wash the sweet potatoes and bake them whole for 35-40 minutes. They should be softish, but not fully cooked. Allow them to cool so that their skin will shrink away and you can peel and squeeze the potato, away from the skin. When they’re cool enough to handle, cut into medium thick slices. Set aside.
While the potatoes are cooking, toast the pine nuts in the oven for a minute or two, on a baking tray until just golden brown. Beware! They will burn quickly, so stay on duty. Mix the creme fraiche with the chilli flakes and garlic. Spread a thin layer of this onto each pizza base, then top with the slices of sweet potato and dot with clumps of goats’ cheese. Drizzle each pizza with a tablespoon of honey, along with some thyme or rosemary, and black pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the bases are crispy and the cheese is just starting to go golden brown. Take the pizzas out of the oven and drizzle them with some olive oil. Allow to cool slightly (or fully) before serving.
In which our hero rebukes the notion that fast food is bad food, and takes his with a little oregano
Sunday Independent November 02 2008
Food trendies, left-wingers and liberals among you will know Italy as the home of so-called slow food. This is where they take days to make dinner because it’s good for the soul or something. Personally, I think it all sounds a bit frustrating. Say Italy to me, and I think of fast food. And say fast food to me and I don’t necessarily think of crap food.
As slow food has become synonymous with good food, it seems fast food has become synonymous with bad food. Fast food is food that is morally wrong, makes you a bad parent and a lazy, childish person who can’t defer gratification. Fast food is apparently at the root of obesity, responsible for the disintegration of the family unit and the general collapse of society.
It seems the Italians are counteracting all this by the whole family — eight, maybe nine generations of them — getting together every time there is a meal to be cooked, and rearing, chasing, killing and then butchering the meat, before braising it over an open fire for a week until it is like butter. Then they will all sit down and eat it together, along with one glass of wine, wine being something they have a very healthy attitude to, unlike us, who might have two, three, or even a dozen glasses in one sitting. From the age of two, Italians are given wine with their slow food. And they drink that really slowly too. And most impressive thing is that they do all that every day.
To which you’d have to ask: have these people never heard of pizza or pasta? Or, for that matter, have they heard of a salad? Or an egg? Has it never struck them that cooking everything to death might be getting rid of all the goodness? Did they never think of trying a nice, fresh stir-fry, where you eat loads of vegetables that are practically raw?
This all comes to mind because I was in Italy again recently, and we ate fantastically, and most of it was fast food. To be honest, unless you get to go to someone’s house, I don’t think you’re really going to get a very good slow-cooked main course in Italy. But the primi are always good: fast, fresh and light. They’ll rattle you up a bowl of spaghetti with vongoles in 10 minutes and it’s as authentic as any old heavy, slow-cooked bit of gnarly meat.
And then there’s pizza. Giving your children pizza in this country is practically a criminal offence. Then again, pizza in this country can be a criminal affair — thick, bready bases, covered in processed ingredients. And that’s just the fresh ones. Those frozen ones that people seem to favour are even worse — the ultimate in dead, empty, fattening calories.
Imagine this: in Italy I ate pizza and pasta every day for two weeks, along with loads of ice-cream, and I didn’t put on any weight. As someone who normally doesn’t eat many refined carbohydrates or much sugar, I should have ballooned. But I didn’t. The pizzas, like the pastas, were generally light and fresh — nice, thin, crispy bases covered in fresh, healthy ingredients; essentially tomatoes, vegetables and fresh mozzarella cheese.
And the great news is you can now make your own fresh healthy pizzas at home. The Artisan Pizza Company is making the most amazing thin pizza bases. They are better than any dough you’ll make yourself, and they are the ultimate in fast food. They cook in about five minutes in a really hot oven. If you freeze them, you just need to take the base out of the freezer for 10 minutes before cooking and it will defrost.
Then, you just add some passata mixed with a little oil and oregano, and on top of that whatever you’re having yourself. At the moment, we are favouring really thinly sliced chorizo and thinly cut caramelised onion on nice mozzarella. Or else a little bit of sauteed mushroom. I honestly don’t think I’ve tasted a nicer pizza, even in Italy, and even if you need to cook a few of your ingredients beforehand, the whole thing won’t take you more than 10 minutes. They seem to have them in most fancy food shops. Their website is www.artisanpizza.ie.
On a more slow-food note, I got a lamb. I’ll tell you about it next week.