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Monday, 24 December 2007

Ladenia (Λαδένια - Greek pizza)

I've never found an easier recipe to work with for making a pizza base (and a delicious pizza crust). Laurie Constantino was kind enough to comment on my recipe for black-eyed beans, and I found this recipe on her own food blog. All I can say is that the whole process of making ladenia was very soothing; I felt as if I was making an ancient form of pizza without the cholesterolic additions of ham and cheese. The house smelt of baking bread while the dough was rising, and, as Lauren says, the colours of ladenia remind you of Christmas, so it's seasonal fare, which easily substitutes for bread at your Christmas meal. My only addition was green pepper, because it is still found, albeit in small quantities, in our garden, and it adds to the Christmas colouring. Ladenia is baked in a traditional Greek oven dish called a 'tapsi' - the same pan we use to cook the Sunday roast. Because there is so much oil in this pizza, you can't bake it in a traditional pizza pan, which has holes in the base.

For the dough, you need:
1 cup of warm water
a packet of dried yeast (6-9 grams)
1 dash of salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3-4 cups of flour
Put the water in a large bowl and sprinkle it with the yeast. When you see some small bubbles on the surface of the water, you know that the yeast is working. Add the salt,and oil. Mix this into the water, and add about 3 cups of flour to make dough. Add enough flour to make a smooth, elastic and not very sticky dough. This takes practice; I just kept adding a fistful of flour until I felt that the dough looked and felt right. Let the dough rise a little before putting it in the baking dish.

Spread some olive oil over the bottom of a large round roasting pan. It must have high sides, otherwise the olive oil will spill over and burn your oven. Stretch the dough out with your hands, and put it in the tin. Knead it outwards to the sides of the pan until it covers the pan and turns up at the side. Don't worry if the oil oozes over the top of the dough; it'll make it more tasty. Cover the pan with a dish cloth; let it rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about 1 hour).

For the filling: Dice some tomatos, chop up some green peppers and slice a few onions. Season them with salt, pepper and oregano, and pour over some olive oil, as if making Greek salad. Mix this well in a bowl, and spread it evenly over the dough when it has risen. Bake it in a moderately hot oven, until the sides of the pizza have browned and the dough is cooked through. You can eat this bready meal hot or at room temperature, and it's perfect to eat the next day. It is also an excellent accompaniment to a plain soup, and if you live in a northern country, your friends won't forget you if you ever cook this for them in the middle of winter; it'll remind them of their Mediterranean summer holidays. Don't forget that the same dough mixture can be turned into the most delicious, stomach-warming pizza you've ever tasted!

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MORE PIZZA/PIE RECIPES:
Pizza without yeast
Pizza with yeast
Pizza carbonara
Chicken pie
Cottage pie
Spanakopita/hortopita
Kalitsounia
Leek pie
Sfakianes pites
Spiral pie