Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Pizza! Pizza!

Whenever we get an itch for pizza, the Hawthornes can scratch with the best of 'em. 
Pizza is always just a dough and a sauce away.
Today, it's two pizzas in one - two entirely different pizzas - two entirely different flavor combos- in one pie.

On the left hand side, I have my figgy pizza.
On the right hand side, I have a classic tomato sauce pizza.

For the dough:
1/2 cup warm water
1 package yeast
sprinkling of sugar
1 cup + bread flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
a few good grinds of pepper

Pour water into a medium sized bowl and sprinkle yeast, then sugar on top.  Wait until it "proofs."  That means the dough "proves" it's alive by eating the sugar and emitting carbon dioxide and alcohol.  In other words, it gets all poofy and foamy.  That's when it's ready to fork in the flour.  Mix the flour in until you have a shaggy dough, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough until it comes together in a nice, pliable, smooth ball, adding more flour if needed to keep dough from sticking.  Place ball into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled.

 Heat oven, preferably with a pizza stone in it, to 500° degrees.  If you make pizzas a lot, like the Hawthornes do, go ahead an invest in a pizza stone.  This is what gives you the crisp crust you want.

After rising, place ball in center of oiled pizza pan or rimless baking sheet.  Beginning in center, start pressing the dough outwards.  Take your time doing this.  The dough needs to stretch, then relax.  Press outwards again, working the dough, then letting it rest a bit.  Keep pressing until the dough is 1/8-1/4 inch thick and dimply.  Let it rise.

Now for the toppings.
For the classic tomato sauce pizza:
tomato sauce
sliced onion
chopped green, yellow, orange, and red pepper
sautéed, sliced mushrooms
grated mozzarella
grated Parmesan
more oregano
extra virgin olive oil

Make a sauce:
1 small can tomato paste 
water to thin out the paste  
granulated garlic
onion powder
dried oregano
pinch sugar
pinch kosher salt 

Scrape the tomato paste into a small sauce pan.  Fill can with water, scraping down sides and swirling to use up all the paste, and pour into the pan.  Heat over low heat until simmering, stirring occasionally.  Add more water, as needed, to get a sauce-like consistency.  After a bit of simmering, season the sauce with 1/2 tsp each of the garlic, onion, and oregano.  Add in a pinch of sugar and salt.  Keep at a bare simmer and taste test.  Add more water and seasonings as needed.  Adjust the taste to how you like it.

Make the pizza:
On one half of the pizza dough, thinly spread some of the tomato sauce.  Top with sliced onion and peppers and mushrooms.  For the mushrooms, I sauté them first.  This gives them a more intense flavor and gets a lot of the moisture out so it doesn't seep into the pizza.  Simply melt butter or oil in a skillet over medium heat, add in sliced mushrooms, and sauté for a few minutes.  Sprinkle mozzarella and Parm over top of pizza.  Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  One of my favorites is corto extra virgin.  And remember, there's no such thing as "too much cheese."

For the figgy pizza:
Cambozola cheese
Chèvre cheese
Brie cheese
sliced onions
sliced sautéed mushrooms
sliced figs
sprigs of fresh rosemary
grated mozzarella cheese
grated Parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil

For the base "sauce," smush together some softened Cambozola and Chèvre cheeses.   Equal amounts.  Spread the Cambozola/Chèvre mixture evenly over half the pizza. 

In case you're unfamiliar with Cambozola cheese, it's a combination of a cow's milk brie-style cheese
injected with the same blue Penicillium roqueforti mold used to make Rocquefort, Stilton, and Gorganzola cheeses.  It's like a blue brie.  It's not pungent like a Stilton, nor crumbly like a Rocquefort.  It's soft, moist, rich, and creamy.  Savory and nutty with undertones of sweetness.  It's a good gateway cheese into the sharper blues.  Call it the "bunny slope" of blues.

On top of the cheese base, add some sliced onions, sautèed mushroom slices, and sliced figs.  Dot figs with small dabs of Brie cheese and sprinkle with grated mozzarella and Parmesan.  Sprigs of rosemary make a nice addition.  Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

To bake pizza:
Have oven heated to 500°.  Hopefully you have a baking stone in there which has been heating up with the oven.  It helps to continue heating the stone at 500° for another half hour or so.  You want that stone hothothot!
After the pizza has been assembled on a pan and the oven and stone are hot, place the pan on top of the stone for 3 minutes.  Rotate pan and bake another 3 minutes.  Now, slide the pizza off the pan onto the stone and bake for about 6-8 more minutes, until edges are light brown.  Remove pizza from oven and place on rack.  Let cool a few minutes before placing on cutting board and slicing.

 Classic side.

When you just can't decide what type of pizza to have,
have the best of both worlds.

Figgy side.


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