Big Bill Pizza Time for Ma and Pa

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When Mom and Dad were staying with me over Chinese New Year, we fired up Big Bill the clay oven and had many long-time Taiwanese family friends over. The weather wasn’t the most cooperative, but we got a chance to set up the new gazebo in the back garden. Thankfully the on-and-off drizzle never amounted to much, and everyone got really into the whole pizza making business.

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Little Riley had a good time with Diego, and Diego was also very happy to keep by Riley’s side – kids are his best bets at getting food from, both intentionally and unintentionally by dropping food onto the ground 😉

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After the party retired into the house after dark, I started baking all the bread I prepared. Most of them were sourdough loaves I started in the morning. First into the oven were a 1.25Kg fat slab of sourdough focaccia and 3 x 400g sourdough ciabatta. They baked at ~ 260C for 20 minutes. There was meant to be another focaccia to use up the left over pizza dough. However I found it refusing to rise, because I probably forgot to add yeast to that batch… Never worry, I threw the dough into the freezer and turned it into paratha one day.

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The sourdough ciabatta and focaccia both turned out airy and springy at the same time, like memory foam! Mom and Dad absolutely adored them.

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Then I stuffed Big Bill with 2 loaves of sourdough cacao butter chocolate brioche,

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2 loaves of brown sugar cheesy bread made with left over pizza dough,

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and a plum ricotta cheese cake. These all baked for an hour at ~200C. I had the plum cheesecake very close to the door so it’d have a much cooler temperature than the bread, and it did work very well.

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I should share the brown sugar cheesy bread recipe soon, because it is very very nice, despite seemingly strange. It is inspired by Aunty Sophie’s cheesy sugar pizza, and tastes like salted caramel and baked cheese cakes – not bad when you think of it that way!

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The choice of baking this time was basically showcasing my latest favourites for mom and dad. The cacao butter chocolate brioche was as heavenly as the last time I made it. Mom loved it so much, she took half a loaf back to Auckland. If my brother is lucky and well behaved, he just might get a taste 😉 (He went back to Auckland a week ago already.)

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After the bread, into Big Bill I put a pot of sliced onions and capsicums with some butter to caramelise (back), a pot of lamb and vegetables (onions, leeks, capsicum, celery) in shiraz (left), and a piece of free farmed pork belly which had been marinated in sweet soy sauce ginger, and five spices. These dished slept under Big Bill’s remaining gentle heat overnight.

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The slow cooked pork belly were melting-in-the-mouth tender, and in hind sight, I probably should have done more than one piece because it disappeared in a flash…

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The lamb somehow ended up a little bitter from the shiraz, which never happened for me before. To improve it, I pureed 2 cups of cooked carrots and added to the lamb to thicken the soup and sweeten the taste. It worked brilliantly! We served it with some mash potatoes, crusty toasted ciabatta, and the caramelised capsicums on the side. I stashed the rest of the caramelised capsicums away into the freezer, and I plan to make some capsicum and cheese bread like the caramelised onions an cheese bread which I love so much. Some of it I’ll use to repeat the lovely caramelised onion and capsicum soup. Nommmmm……  🙂

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