Tag Archives: pizza

Honey Cream, Strawberry, and Chocolate Pizza

16 Apr

Perhaps it is not entirely honest to refer to this as a pizza, since, barring the fact that it is pizza-shaped and utilizes a crust that is quite fitting for savory pizza applications, it is quite clear that if something contains strawberries, cream, and chocolate, it’s probably not really a pizza, per se.

But, in yet another example of how I like to turn non-dessert foods into dessert, when I had a leftover pizza crust laying around last week, it just seemed wrong to let it live out the last of its days as something not sweet.  Plus, I had leftover strawberries sitting around.  And leftover cream.  And chocolate.  And also, I am not actually trying to justify what I have done, and I hope I am making that painfully obvious right now.

For something so simple to make, this dessert is a real showstopper.  Not only do the honey cream and strawberries go together like, well, strawberries and cream, but the light drizzle of chocolate at the end provides a finish that is as delicious as it is easy on the eyes.  If you want to be really cheeky, you can serve this pizza as a dessert on pizza night, whipping up this pizza dough the night before, allowing it to rest overnight in the refrigerator, then using 2/3 of the dough for dinner pizzas, the last 1/3 for this dessert pizza.  Resting the dough in the refrigerator overnight is not a necessity, but in my years of pizza making (the last year being the most intensive and experimental), I have discovered that a long-rested dough develops an unbeatable flavor and texture that is difficult to approximate with a dough that has rested at room temperature for a couple of hours.  You’ll have to plan ahead a bit, but it is so worth it.

Plenty more recipes for pizza can be found here.  Also, last year on Indie Fixx I published one of my most favorite pizza recipes, which can be found here.

Last Year: A Trio of Flavored Butters

Honey Cream, Strawberry, and Chocolate Pizza Recipe

Pizza dough for 1 pizza, or 1/3 of this dough, rested in the refrigerator overnight for maximum flavor

¼ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons honey

12 ounces of strawberries, de-stemmed and sliced

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place a baking stone or a heavy sheet pan on the second to lowest shelf in the oven.  Line a rimless baking sheet or an overturned sheet pan with parchment paper, and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, stretch and push the pizza dough with your hands, coaxing, poking, and punching it until it forms a roughly 12-inch circle.  Place the dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cream and honey until the honey has dissolved.  Brush ¾ of the cream mixture over the pizza dough.  Arrange the strawberries over the cream, trying your best to lay them in concentric circles.  Brush the remaining ¼ of the cream mixture over the tops of the strawberries.

Gently slide the pizza—still on its parchment paper—onto the preheated baking stone or sheet pan.  Bake pizza for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges of the pizza are dark golden brown and bubbly.

Remove pizza to a rack to cool a bit.  While the pizza is cooling, melt the chopped chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave on low heat, stirring frequently in both cases.  Melt the chocolate just until it still has come visible chunks, then remove from the heat and stir until the chunks have melted and the chocolate is glossy and smooth.

Drizzle the chocolate over the cooling pizza.  You can eat it while both the pizza and the chocolate are still warm, or you can allow both the pizza and chocolate to cool and firm up before eating.  Either way, it’s delicious.

Butternut Squash and Dry-Cured Olive Pizza with Ricotta and Chevre

27 Oct

In 2010, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, and in the course of that happening I nearly lost my mind.

My father was a kid in the Bay Area when the Giants moved to San Francisco, so he’s been a fan since 1958. This means that when the Giants won the World Series, he had experienced 52 long years of fandom void of seeing the Giants win the World Series. I’ve been a Giants fan since birth. Being as though I was born many years after 1958, one might think that the level of suffering I’ve experienced as a long-term Giants fan could somehow be deemed less fraught with pain and melancholy than my father’s, due to the smaller number of years I have lived as a fan. This assumption would be false. It is important to remember that, before 1958, my father experienced many wonderful, innocent years as a child free from the woe and misery caused by a beloved sports team repeatedly jabbing him in the heart, whilst simultaneously punching him in the face. I, however, have been privy to that pain practically since birth, since my life as a Giants fan essentially began as soon as I was released from the calm, baseball-free confines of the womb.  While it’s true that my father has endured a period of suffering that happens to be markedly longer than mine, I, as I know no other life without said suffering, and he does, would have to declare a draw if called upon to quantify whose life was made more woeful by the oft-crushing presence of the San Francisco Giants.

By the time last year’s World Series rolled around, we’d seen the Giants work their way towards the World Series before, and, sadly, we’d seen them lose the World Series before. Before my husband and I were married, he was an unfortunate audience member in the tragic real life play entitled I Watched the Giants Blow the World Series in 2002 (this bit of theater exists on a similar level of horror as I Watched the Giants Get Absolutely Creamed in the World Series in 1989). As he once told someone, he knew I was a fan, but up until then he did not realize the sheer intensity of that fandom. When the Giants are losing, I tend to curse a lot. I also tend to violently turn off the television, leave the room while muttering about how much I hate those bums, then stomp back into the room, turn the television back on, and proceed to let loose with a string of exceptionally unladylike obscenities. This will happen several times in the course of a game. Sometimes the Giants don’t even have to be losing for me to reach that level of unpleasantness. Sometimes they are winning, but are threatening to lose, and that’s enough to set me off on a long tirade of Oh, my god, those lousy bums.

But now, as a mother and a person rapidly settling into my mid-30s, I try to tone things down a bit. I’ve cut out the salty language and the hurling of the remote control, but I seem to have replaced those two things with the type of obsessive superstitions ordinarily reserved for the sort of people who frequent Bingo halls or palm readers. Last year, when San Francisco had made their way through the playoffs and into the World Series, I began to wear an awful lot of black and orange, which happen to be the Giants’ signature colors. Halloween was coming up, so, if anyone asked, I could always fabricate a plausible excuse for my color choices. As time went on, however, and the Giants came closer and closer to winning the World Series, my will began to unravel. First and foremost, I stopped being able to talk about anything other than baseball. Rather than hiding the true reasons behind my sartorial leanings, I instead began to randomly point out to other people that they, too, were wearing the Giants colors. Whether or not I actually knew said people was not of concern to me.  By the end of October, when I would pick up my son from preschool and the other parents would casually ask about our afternoon plans, I had lost the ability to speak in a rational manner or utilize complete sentences.

“The Giants are in the World Series!” I would blurt out, quickly shuffling my son towards the car. “It’s an afternoon game. Early evening. East Coast time. Pregame coverage starts in an hour. Giants are up two games. Can’t talk. We have to go now.  I’MSORRYWEHAVETOGONOTIMETOTALK.”

Throughout the duration of the Series, I also started making game time meals for us that were entirely orange and black.  Things with poppy seeds and cheddar cheese, baby carrots and black beans. I was possessed with the spirit of Giants baseball, and I had sucked everyone else in with me. Sure, my dad was already along for the ride, but when my son began to wake up every day and make an immediate beeline for his Giants cap and baseball glove, I really began to understand what was happening. Much like my dad had passed on the Giants to me, I, too, was setting up my son for a lifetime of agony and despair as a Giants fan.

But not last year.  My son, that lucky little devil, got to see the Giants win the World Series before he had even started kindergarten.  On November 1st, 2010, we all watched the Giants’ Brian Wilson (and his beard) strike out the Texas Rangers’ Nelson Cruz to end Game 5 of the World Series and take home the crown.  As it was repeated by Giants fans all around the country, the torture was over.  My father’s 52 years as a fan, along with my 33, were finally rewarded with the biggest win in baseball.  85 cumulative years of fandom between us, and our souls were finally released from the clutches of sadness.

That was last year. Things, as you might know if you have spent any time around me since about April, did not go so well for the Giants this year. Plagued with injuries and softened by lackluster offense, my memories of the 2011 Giants will not be as filled with excitement as my memories of the fellows of 2010. Since the Texas Rangers are getting their second chance at the World Series title this year, it seems only fitting that I would revisit a little bit of 2010 and recall one of the many orange and black meals I made during the month of October (and one day in November). This pizza, textured and flavorful, was a definite highlight. Chunks of roasted butternut squash atop a layer of creamy, tangy chevre and ricotta cheese. Intense and salty dry-cured olives. It’s the essence of fall on a pizza, or, if you’re a fan of the boys in orange and black, it’s a tip of the cap to the excitement of 2010 and the greatest autumn of my baseball-loving life.

Butternut Squash and Dry-Cured Olive Pizza with Ricotta and Chevre

Pizza dough for 1 pizza (this is my favorite no-fail pizza dough)

1 small butternut squash

2 tablespoons olive oil

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

¼ cup chevre

1/3 cup dry-cured black olives, pits removed if not purchased already pitted

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a sturdy vegetable peeler or shaver, remove the peel from the squash, then cut it in half and remove the seeds.  Slice the squash into ½-inch chunks.  Place squash chunks on a heavy baking sheet, add the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, then toss to combine.  Roast the squash until it is soft but not falling apart, and the bottoms have just begun to caramelize, about 20-25 minutes.  Remove squash from oven and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the other ingredients.

Turn the oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and place an oven rack at the second-lowest level.  Place a heavy baking sheet or pizza stone on the rack while the oven preheats.

In a small bowl, combine ricotta and chevre and set aside.

Using your hands (not a rolling pin, which will force all the air out of the dough and make it tough), coax your pizza dough into an approximate circle of about 12 to 13 inches in diameter.  Place your dough round on a large piece of parchment paper.

Spread the ricotta and chevre mixture over the surface of the dough.  Add 2 cups of roasted butternut squash chunks to the top of the pizza (you can refrigerate any remaining butternut squash chunks).  Sprinkle with olives.

Slide the pizza, still on the parchment, onto a rimless baking sheet, or onto a baking sheet that has been overturned.  Using the rimless or overturned baking sheet, slide the pizza, still on the parchment, onto the baking sheet or pizza stone that has been heating in the oven.  Bake pizza for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are dark golden brown and the cheese is just beginning to turn brown in places.

Pizza can be eaten piping hot or slightly cooled.  Enjoyed best when accompanied by the sweet taste of victory.

Pizza with Chicken Sausage, Fennel, and Spinach

8 Jun

Having just shared with you my favorite recipe for pizza dough, it seems only natural that I should then share with you what currently holds court as my most favorite pizza.  As you may have guessed, it involves a lot of vegetables.

I have no idea if this is actually true, but a friend of mine who hails from a long line of Italian descendants once told me that, in Italy, one is more likely to spot a great deal of vegetables on a pizza than a great deal of meat.  Toppings are sparse, he told me, and slices are not meant to be weighted down with a heavy pile of cheeses and meats.  Again, I have no idea if this is actually true, but I was intrigued to hear it.  Not being Italian, and having never been to Italy, I can only venture a guess as to what the Italian pizza-eating experience is like, and I would never judge what someone did or did not want on a pizza.  I am Indian, for heavens sake.  My people put mutton and peas on pizza.  That right there disqualifies me from passing judgment on any and all matters related to pizza toppings.

What I feel I can do, however, is at least make a valid statement concerning what I think is the best way to handle and cook pizza dough.  In my mind there are two very important steps that one can follow and be almost guaranteed a flawless pizza experience.

1) Hand stretching dough, though it takes marginally more time than using a rolling pin, produces a light and bubbly crust with plenty of stretch and chew.  The heat from your hands helps the dough to relax, and you don’t end up toughening the dough and forcing out all the air like you do when you flatten out a disc of dough with a rolling pin.  Take the extra four minutes and hand stretch your dough.  You won’t regret it.

2) Bake your pizza on the lowest oven rack possible, at the highest temperature possible.  You don’t need a pizza stone to get a great crunch on your pizza dough, but you do need to create a bit of auxiliary heat under your pizza.  Placing a heavy baking sheet in the oven, on the lowest rack possible, while your oven preheats, will help crisp up the bottom crust of your pizza.  The heat from the hot pan will work its way up through the crust of your pizza while the cheese on top melts and the top crust browns.  Ever make a pizza with crisp edges and a soft and gummy middle?  Using a preheated pan in the lower portion of your oven will solve that problem.

This particular pizza, while featuring a bit of meat, is heavy on vegetables without being heavy itself.  It is also extremely satisfying.  Thin slices of Italian chicken sausage add a slightly salty bite, and the fresh slices of fennel give the pizza a fresh crunch.  In bypassing red sauce all together, the gentle taste of the toppings really have a chance to stand out against the mellow flavor of the garlic and olive oil base.  Authentic?  I have no idea.  But delicious?  Definitely.

Pizza with Chicken Sausage, Fennel, and Spinach

pizza dough for 1 pizza

2 cloves of garlic, minced and then smashed into a paste with a pinch of salt

fresh ground pepper

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil

6 ounces Italian chicken sausage

1/2 bulb of fennel, sliced into thin ribs

8 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese

4 ounces chopped fresh spinach

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F, or as high as your oven will go.  Set an oven rack on the lowest level or second lowest level (the heat zones of every oven are different, so, to exercise caution, start with baking your first pizza on the second lowest level of your oven then, if your pizza does not get sufficiently crisped on the bottom, you’ll know to move your oven rack one level lower the next time you bake pizza), and place a heavy baking sheet on the rack to preheat along with the oven.

In a very small bowl, combine smashed garlic with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set aside.

Slice chicken sausage into small coins or, if you are using bulk chicken sausage, break it up into small, nickel-sized pieces. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a medium pan and briefly cook chicken sausage in oil until sausage just begins to brown slightly.  Remove from heat and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, using your hands, shape pizza dough into a 14-inch round.  The more you handle the dough, the more the heat of your hands will warm the dough and make it more pliable.

Place the shaped dough on a piece of parchment paper.  Place parchment paper and dough on a rimless baking sheet or a rimmed baking sheet that has been overturned.

Spoon garlic and olive oil mixture over the surface of the pizza dough.  Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper to taste.  Top with cheese, then add the sliced fennel and browned sausage.

Slide the uncooked pizza, still on the parchment paper, from the rimless baking sheet to the preheated baking sheet in the oven. Bake pizza for 8 to 12 minutes, until the crust is puffed and browned at the edges and the cheese has melted and just started to turn slightly brown in places.

Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle with chopped spinach.  The spinach will wilt ever so slightly.

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