It feels weird typing the word party, seeing as I’ve spent the better part of the last five days wrapped in a comforter giving myself sinus massages (as sexy as it sounds) and mouth-breathing my way through a string of bad nights’ sleep. It smells of menthol throat lozenges and tiger balm, and the windows have steamed up from all the bathing, de-congesting and water-boiling going on. It’s a real mess over here. And let me tell you – just in case there was any doubt – there’s



in sight.

On the up side, I got to have popcorn for dinner last night. And between my migrations from the bed to the couch and back, I’ve made a considerable dent in that book my brother gave me, alongside a handful of Toast of London episodes. The perks of being sick are slim, but if popcorn for dinner and a moustached Matt Berry are included in the deal, I’ll certainly take them.

But let’s return to the title of this post, which makes no sense now that I’ve written two paragraphs about being indisposed, laying on the couch. Here’s what you need to know:  prior to feeling like total hell, I’d planned on sharing couple of pizza recipes with you. I’d like to make good on that plan. Because I like you. And I think you would agree that having more pizza in your life can’t possibly be a bad thing. The three you see below were made for a small pizza party we threw for my mom on her birthday. Contrary to our regular family get-togethers, where, without fail, we end up soiling every pot and pan in the cupboard, my aim was to do something simple and pared-down. In other words, with minimal use of kitchen tools and involving tasks that I could easily delegate to my close of kin. (except mom – she shouldn’t have to lift a finger on her birthday, unless she’s lifting her pinky to sip a martini. I think she would agree.)

Below you’ll find two pizza recipes – one veggie, one not. While both use onions, their flavours are worlds apart – in one recipe they’re caramelised beforehand and in the other, they’re thrown on raw. The recipe for the crust is not included because, to preserve my sanity, I bought the dough. (if you live in Quebec, Au pain doré sells good quality dough in little, round, frozen portions.) Since there are very few players involved in these pies, I must emphasise – as your resident food snob – that the quality of the ingredients is paramount. If you’re at the store, hovering over the cheese counter, hesitating between Parmigiano-Reggiano and a cheaper knock-off, allow me to be the voice of reason to shake you out of your stupor: QUIT BEING A DOLT AND BUY THE GOOD STUFF. When it comes to Parmesan, it’s just not worth screwing around. Besides, it’s not that much more expensive when you think about it. And a thin dusting of the good stuff will make all the difference in terms of flavour. Your pizza will return the favour by being drop-dead delicious.

One thing before you scroll down to the recipes: they might seem long and daunting, but they really aren’t. I promise. There’s a good dose of slicing, chopping and grating involved, but nothing that your assigned delegates (an unsuspecting brother or sister-in-law) can’t handle. Supply them with a glass of wine ahead of time and they’ll most certainly oblige. Also – the caramelised onions and tomato sauce can be made in advance, so keep that in mind.

Ok, now go channel your inner pizzaiolo and start spinning out some pizza pies, lovely readers. (and repeat after me: Parmigiano-ReggianoParmigiano-ReggianoParmigiano-Reggiano…)

mise en place pizza pizza + salad

Prepping pizza dough: if you’re using frozen dough, it will generally need about 8 hours to defrost/rise. It’s not a big deal, just remember to pull the dough out of the freezer ahead of time to let it thaw and rise. To ensure a crisp crust all the way through, my mom’s trick is to par-bake the dough. Here are the steps:

1) Preheat the oven to 400°F and lightly oil & flour a circular, 14″ pizza tray.

2) Lift up the dough and work it a little around your fists. No need to work the dough as ferociously as these guys, just enough to form a small, flat disc.

3) Put the disc of dough at the centre of the baking tray and work it outwards, until it reaches the edges. Try to make the edges a little thicker than the centre.

4) Place the pizza tray in the oven and bake the dough until golden, flipping once halfway through (10 mins total).

Fontina, Fennel and Onion Pizza – makes ones 14” pie

– about 1 lb pizza dough, thawed if frozen
– 1/2 bulb of fennel, finely sliced (reserve some of the fronds for garnish)
– 4 oz. fontina cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
– about 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I like to use a microplane)
– good quality olive oil (i.e the best you can afford)
– balsamic vinegar to serve (optional)

For the caramelised onions:
– 1 medium yellow onion, finely sliced
– 1 red onion, finely sliced
– knob of butter
– splash of olive oil
– pinch of sugar
– pinch of salt
– splash of vermouth (optional)

To make the onions (this can be done up to 2 days ahead): set a large pan on medium-high heat. Add the butter and oil. Once the butter gets nice and foamy, add the onions and stir to coat. Sweat the onions; once they start to become soft and transluscent (about 2 minutes), turn down the heat to medium, add the pinch of sugar and salt. Stir and allow to caramelise slowly, stirring occasionally (about 20-30 minutes). Once the onions are dark and caramelised, add a splash of vermouth and allow the liquid to evaporate completely. Store at room temperature if serving soon after, or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (p.s this stuff is great on pasta, crostini, in sandwiches, on eggs…so go nuts with the leftovers.)

Making the pizza:

Spread a layer of the caramelised onions on the pre-baked pizza crust (which is still on its baking tray); add the parmesan, fennel and fontina; drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Bake in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and finish with a thin drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Garnish with reserved fennel fronds and serve.

Escarole Bacon Pizza – makes ones 14” pie

– about 1 lb pizza dough, thawed if frozen
– 3/4 cup-1 cup homemade tomato sauce (click here a quick one)
– 1 red onion, finely sliced
– 1 clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped
– 3 cups escarole, roughly chopped
– 6 slices bacon, cooked until just crisp and roughly chopped
– about 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I like to use a microplane)
– good quality olive oil (i.e the best you can afford)

Making the pizza:

Spread a layer of the tomato sauce on the pre-baked crust (which is still on its baking tray) and half of the parmesan; add the garlic, red onion slices, bacon, escarole and the other half of the parmesan; drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Bake in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the escarole has wilted and the cheese is toasty. Serve straight away.