Liliana s pizza tips

MasterChef 2013 contestant Liliana Battle has barely had time to scratch herself since concluding her stint on the show's fifth series last year but when it comes to pizza, Battle, who is flaunting her Italian heritage during this week's A Taste of Harmony initiative, is a full bottle on the subject.

"You can't go past a classic margherita," said Battle, who today runs a burgeoning catering business, Liliana's Kitchen, from her home town of Port Hedland, aside from regular foodie-related radio spots, newspaper columns and a book on the go.

"There are a few things to consider when making a good margherita. Great dough, great sauce and great cheese. There's nowhere to hide. You can't mask the flavours with other ingredients. It's just pure and simple and the ingredients need to speak for themselves - and don't add cooked sauce to the base. This results in double cooking. Canned tomatoes whizzed up in a food processor are ideal as they will cook when the pizza goes in the oven and the flavour will be better."

But it's the dough that counts.

"Don't be intimidated by making your own dough," she said. "Many people have Thermomixes today, so it's easy to make at home, but the key is to make a slow-rise dough.

"By this, I mean allowing the dough to prove over several days in the fridge which enables all the flavours to develop, the glutens break down and the result is a beautiful, light, easy-to-digest dough.

"People think dough should prove in a warm place, which is great for a quick prove but traditional pizzerias, like the ones found all around Italy, always keep their dough in the fridge as it leavens."

Just don't mention pineapple, which is downright sacrilege according to Battle.

"My cousins in Italy ask me how we eat pizza in Australia and I tell them that pineapple with ham and mozzarella is very popular and they can't believe it," she said.

To get involved in A Taste of Harmony (an initiative to celebrate cultural diversity in the workplace via food, from March 17-23), visit tasteofharmony.org.au or to find out more about Battle and her thoughts on food and recipes, visit lilianabattle.com.

The West Australian

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