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This Caramelised Pear And Blue Cheese Pizza Recipe Is Simply Divine
Da Piero pizza base
Roquefort or Cashel Blue cheese
Pizza is something so simple and tasty that it never really fails us.
It's something we turn to time and time again when we're in the mood for some comfort food and if you make it at home, it's even tastier.
Think it's too complicated? You'll be shocked at how easy it is, especially when you take a few short cuts!
This simple yet delicious recipe of homemade pizza with caramelised pear with blue cheese, rocket and pecan nuts will have you deleting your local Italian from your phone.
Using traditional Italian Da Piero pizza base and just as little as five ingredients, it's a revelation.
Preheat your oven to 250C so it's nice and hot for your pizza.
Place the Da Piero pizza base on top of the oven rack or a pizza tray with holes on counter top. Make sure to use either an oven tray or pizza tray with holes in it, as otherwise, the underneath of the pizza base may not cook fully.
Peel and slice your pears into thick slices.
Prepare the pears in a saucepan and caramelise with butter and brown sugar until they're well coated with the mixture.
Place the pear slices evenly around the pizza base.
Next, chop up chunks of Roquefort or Cashel blue cheese and distribute evenly around the pizza for maximum cheesy goodness.
Throw on a small amount - approximately 25g - of toasted pecan nuts atop your pizza.
Cook the pizza for about 5 mins. Make sure to check on the pizza after 4 minutes to make sure it’s not overcooking. It doesn't take very long!
Once your pizza is cooked to your taste, slice it up and throw on some fresh rocket for an added fresh touch.
Can you really go wrong?
5 mins preparation, 5 mins cooking, and you're satisfied for the whole evening.
The best thing is because you've made it yourself, you know exactly what went into it and you customise your toppings to how you like.
You'll never want to order in again.
Neven Maguire's Easy Pizza Recipe
(This recipe also featured in The Athlone Advertiser, Woman's Way, The Connaught Tribune)
Italian master-baker, Gianpiero De Vallier, is the man behind Pizza da Piero and the baker that introduced fresh, artisan pizza to Ireland, handmade in traditional Italian style.
Pizza da Piero has also taken the attention of local celebrities, such as awardwinning chef, Neven Maguire, who enjoys the “authentic and incredibly easy” aspect of the popular, guiltfree pizza bases. Neven enjoys his Pizza da Piero base with butternut squash and Cashel Blue cheese.
Here’s Neven’s recipe: PUMPKIN PIZZA WITH CASHEL BLUE AND PICKLED RED ONION
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle 450g pumpkin/butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced, 1 Grande ready-made Pizza da Piero artisan bases, 225g Cashel Blue cheese, broken up 2 handfuls of wild rocket leaves,
Pickled Red Onion: 4 tbsp caster sugar 4 tbsp red wine vinegar 1 red onion, very thinly sliced, Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
M ET H O D
1. Preheat the oven to 250° (475°F/gas mark 9).
2. Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan over medium–high heat.
3. Sauté the pumpkin for 8-10 minutes, until it is cooked through but still holding its shape.
4. During this, make the pickled red onions by adding sugar and vinegar to a small pan and bringing to a simmer until the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and add the red onion slices. Season and set aside allowing the flavours to combine.
5. Put the two Pizza da Piero bases on two large baking sheets and place the sautéed squash and Cashel Blue on top.
6. Bake for about 5 minutes until the base is crisp and blue cheese has melted and remove from the oven.
7. Add mounds of the sweet pickled red onion, draining any excess liquid.
8. Serve straight to the table.
Alternatively, if you would prefer a more traditional pizza using Pizza da Piero, drain a good quality can of plum tomatoes with a pinch of sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of oregano. Then, blitz to a purée with a hand blender and spread as a tomato topping on the pizza base. Finish off with chunks of raw chorizo and mozzarella, sprinkling pink peppercorns, or trying slices of cheese with pieces of sun-dried tomatoes. Pizza da Piero bases are widely available in different three sizes, grande (used in Neven Maguire’s recipe), medium 12”and mini bases.
(business section of the journal.ie)
"After nine years in business without a summer holiday, we're taking a week off this year"
This school teacher went from giving French lessons to delivering pizza at 6am before work.
By Cliona Swan Co-founder, Pizza da Piero
June 23rd 2017 8 min read
I HAVE BEEN teaching in secondary schools for about 15 years. When I was starting out, I never expected that I would work in the food industry.
I was a French teacher initially and did my training over in England, which is where I met my husband and business partner Piero – who has been a baker by trade since he was 15 years old.
As soon as I met him he was making me bread and bringing home real ciabatta and baguettes like I’d never tasted before in Ireland. He couldn’t speak a word of English and I couldn’t speak any Italian, but we managed with a bit of help from the dictionary.
When we came back to Ireland, he worked in bakeries in Galway and then in Dublin. After years working for other people, he got tired of it and really wanted to start his own bread bakery.
But bread production is a highly competitive space in Ireland, and you would need a lot of money to set up something like that. So we saw a gap in the market instead to make fresh, authentic pizza bases – and since nobody else was doing that, it seemed like a good fit.
That was 10 years ago now, and once we realised it was a possibility, I made the calls to all the enterprise centres around.
We were just after getting married, and when we got back from our honeymoon we got a call back from Spade Enterprise Centre saying they had a small 25 sq m unit for us.
Piero quit his job, but I was still teaching full-time. So we had my salary, which meant we could go for it without too much risk.
The plan was to bring affordable-but-premium pizza bases to Ireland, and now that people travel more and know what authentic Italian pizza should taste like, we knew they would recognise the quality of ours.
One of the real, positive moments that stands out has been getting the recognition from Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards. As a result of that award, Neven Maguire wrote about our pizza bases in his cookbook and did up a recipe using them.
We already knew we had a good product, but it’s nice to hear other people think the same.
We started out by exploring the catering industry, as well as retail. From the start, retail worked best for us, even though our packaging at the start was very basic. Through word of mouth and family and friends, we built the business from the ground up.
We started selling in the Dublin Food Co-op market in Newmarket Square, because we were living near there at the time. By chance, someone came in who worked in Fallon & Byrne and asked us why we weren’t selling them there.
Once we got in a few well-known shops, the momentum started to pick up and after around 18 months shops started to call us wanting to get our product in.
Since we were starting up when the recession was picking up pace, we weren’t expecting a whole lot. We were hopeful, but we weren’t expecting to go straight into rapid growth and expansion. We were willing to give it that slow burn.
In terms of making it to profitability, it was really through a distributor that we achieved that. We became a reliable supplier and always made our orders.
There were times when it was hard though. The start was tough, we were always worried if it would work, will we make money, will we succeed, are we crazy?
Piero didn’t pay himself for about two years and hasn’t taken a summer holiday in nine years. But this year, because it’s the 10-year anniversary for us and our business, we’re putting an end to the ‘no holiday’ rule and we’re taking a week during the summer.
The economic crash also had an effect on the high-end shops, which in turn affected us. Supermarkets at the time weren’t interested in local artisan foods, whereas now they’re willing to give it a try.
At the start, only one or two SuperValu stores were interested in stocking our products, but now we’re in the majority of them. Same with Dunnes Stores and Tesco.
Once we got to that stage we were pinching ourselves, but then the issue became keeping up with demand. Within about two years, we realised we couldn’t keep up with orders if we stayed in the space at Spade Enterprise Centre.
We were so lucky in the end. One day we were going for a steak in James Lawlor Butchers in Rathmines; we had never met him before, but we knew he was selling our pizzas.
We got chatting to him, and it just so happened that he was looking for someone to rent a big unit he had, so we got his lot which was about triple the size of what we were in already.
He was also able to introduce us to the distributor Europa Foods, and we were able to get them to take over the distribution side of the business.
At the time I was pregnant and we were trying to move house, so to get someone to take over sales, deliveries and payments was huge.
Until Europa Foods came on board, Piero was doing it all. He is a naturally good businessman, but he had no training or experience in business management. Luckily he knows his product inside out.
A lot of entrepreneurs who go into the food industry these days are experts in marketing or accounting, but I was a secondary school teacher and he was a baker. We didn’t know how to run a business as such, we just knew good pizza.
It was a hectic few years before we got the distributor. We were basically divvying up different aspects of the business to keep it all going.
We would do the deliveries early each morning. I would do the south Dublin deliveries at 6am before I went to teach, and he would do the city centre and north Dublin areas.
Then at night time, after work, we would look after the accounting or whatever else needed to be done.
It was a hard slog, but at the time we didn’t have kids – the business was our child. Now we have three little kids, so the business is number four.
One of the biggest moments for the business was after about seven years when we bought our own unit in Rathcoole. It’s big and Piero has been able to fit it out exactly as he needed it.
Since settling in, we’re trying to improve ourselves in other ways. The product is perfect, but we knew our packaging wasn’t completely right and our branding wasn’t great.
That’s what I have been working on for the past few years, so I’ve taken a career break. It felt like a big decision at the time, because I’ve always wanted to be a working mum.
I was very lucky that the senior management at my school in Booterstown were kind enough to allow me this time to support Piero full-time and stay at home with our children to manage the home at the same time.
My advice to anyone launching a business is not to be afraid to start small. Do your research and make sure you have the right product and you truly believe in your product.
Hopefully there would be a niche in the market, but be prepared to make those cold calls to start with.
We do the business plan every couple of years, but then we usually end up tweaking it.
Our goals for the medium term would be to add other ‘da Piero’ products such as salami, mozzarella and other sauces as toppings. We would also like to add additional pizza base products such as flatbreads and focaccia to our range in the future.
Our products are available in pockets of the country and a lot of the cities, but at the moment we are really trying to get the pizza bases out nationwide – and, if possible, Northern Ireland, depending on what way the sterling goes.
We were really hoping to get them across to the UK this year to a few good shops around London, but we’re biding our time.
Cliona Swan is the co-founder of Pizza da Piero. This article was written in conversation with Killian Woods as part of a series on unlikely entrepreneurs.
More to Adore from Artisan Pizzas... The Sunday Business Post Magazine
They've saved my bacon on more than one occasion with their excellent ready-made pizza bases - throw a good quality can of pizza sauce and some decent mozzarella on top, and dinner is done - and now Gianpiero De Vallier and Cliona Swan have added a new larger variety to their Artisan Pizza Company range.
The pair make their bases in the traditional Italian way, using just flour, water, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and a little yeast, then relying on a long ferment to produce a crispy, tasty result.
You'll find the bases in Tesco, Dunnes and Supervalu as well as in independent food stores such as Ardkeen in Waterford, Sheridan's in Galway and Caviston's in Dublin, priced at €5.99 for the new grande size, and €3.99 for a pack of two medium, or four mini bases. They cook in five minutes, and are sugar-free.
Piero's pizza bases ... The Sunday Times magazine
Made by The Artisan Pizza Company in Dublin, these deservedly popular pizza bases areproduced using extra virgin olive oil. Top with Toonsbridge mozzarella and Gubeen salami, both from Cork, for extra patriotic brownie points.
Ace of Base ... Food and Wine Magazine
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
A pizza base that will not bloat you
Easy Health Magazine
The Artisan Pizza Company's range of pizza bases, Pizza da Piero uses only the simplest of ingredients. The dough is made using a long fermentation process, which ensures a light, highly digestible base that wont leave that bloated carb-overload feeling. The pizzas are cooked in minutes and are available in transparent packs of two or three.
Tried and tasted ... Gillian Nelis, The Sunday Business Post
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?
Quick Party Fixes ... Domini Kemp, The Irish Times Magazine
TASTE: Well chosen freezer finds are just what you need to make instantly appealing party food
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.
BASE DESIRES Pictured is 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
Sweet potato pizzas
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
2fm interview March 2017
We featured on 2fm with Nicky Byrne, in March 2017 and cooked two fresh pizzas for Nicky, Jenny and their team to taste. Piero made his favourite pizza margherita as well as Neven Maguire's recommended pizza using roasted butternut squash, Cashel Blue and red onion relish. Both went down a treat with the gang there at 2fm, though Nicky (like Piero) really preferred to keep it simple with a plain margherita pizza.
Real Italian pizza bases ... Marie Claire Digby, Irish Times Magazine
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.
A Pizza Perfection... Hugo Arnold, The Irish Times Magazine
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.
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.