Saturday, May 16, 2009

Home Made Pizza (and Calzone)

Most of the time, when I shop at a really good grocery like Hubbell and Hudson, Whole Foods or the farmers' market, I buy what looks good to me that day and then take it home and figure out how to prepare it.  Sometimes this entails running out to my neighborhood Kroger to get a few missing ingredients, but I keep my kitchen pretty well stocked with tasty, flavorful essentials. Because of this shopping method, I have discovered some favorite foods that have become weekly staples, such as beets, fennel and leeks.  I buy these weekly and can't get enough of them.  

Having cooked most of my produce from last week by way of a beet and beet green risotto, chicken with leeks, pork with a beet/leek sauce, and meyer lemon braised fennel, I was left with broccolini.  This is a pretty new one for me and didn't go over all that well when I bought it last time and roasted it, so I wanted to try again.

I also had some Niman Ranch uncured applewood smoked bacon that I bought at H and H last week after reading an article in Bon Appetit about bacon being a health food.  "So that means that some could argue that bacon is about half as good for you as olive oil and about 100 times more delicious."   If regular bacon is 100 times more delicious than olive oil, then this bacon is another power of ten.  

So, what to do with broccolini and bacon?  How about pizza? I found a couple of pizza recipes, combined them, made some substitutions with what I had in the fridge and came out with some great results.

Here is a picture of the broccolini, caramelized onion and bacon pizza before it went into the oven. 

Recipe for Bacon, Caramelized Onion and Bacon Pizza:

Dough (adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Hertzber and Francois):

2 3/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 TBSP granulated yeast
1 1/2 TBSP salt
1 TBSP sugar
1/8 cup EVOO
6 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1.  Mix the yeast, salt, sugar and EVOO with water in a big bowl
2.  Using a wooden spoon, mix in the flour.  Use wet hands to incorporate the rest of the flour if necessary
3.  Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses, approx 2 hours
4.  The dough can be used immediately after the rise, but is easier to handle when cold.  Refrigerate in a covered (not airtight) container and use over the next 12 days.

(This recipe makes enough for four pizzas.  I halved the recipes and made two)

1 lb broccolini, chopped and steamed
3 thick slices of bacon
1 onion, cut in half and sliced thin 
3 sprigs thyme
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup ricotta (or do what I did and combine 1/4 cup cream cheese with 1/4 cup fat free greek yogurt)
1 tsp minced garlic
S and P

1.  cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces and cook in skillet to render fat and brown bacon.
2.  remove with a slotted spoon and then dispose of all but 1 TBSP bacon fat (yum!)
3.  Caramelize onion in bacon fat by cooking over medium low heat.  Add sugar and salt in the beginning and then thyme once onions are nice and soft and starting to brown.  Stir frequently and cook until they are nice and brown, about 20 minutes
4.  Mix cheese, garlic, S and P in a bowl

Putting it together:
1.  Forty minutes before baking home, preheat oven with a baking stone to 550 (or 500 if that is your oven's max)
2.  Dust the surface of refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a grapefruit size piece.  Dust with more flour and shape it into a ball.
3.  Flatten dough with your hands and roll on a floured wooden board until it is a thin round.  Dust with flour to keep from sticking.  
4.  Place the rolled out dough on a cornmeal covered pizza peel.
5.  Spread cheese mixture all over crust, leaving 1/2 inch around the edge
6.  Scatter the broccolini, onions and bacon all over
7.  Slide the pizza directly onto the stone.  Check for doneness at 8-10 minutes.  At this time turn pizza around in the oven if one side is browning faster than the other.  Might need a few more minutes.
8.  Use pizza peel, remove from oven, cut and enjoy.

(I had some technical difficulties in sliding the pizza off and ended up with a heart shaped pizza, but it was still delicious)

The broccolini added some bitterness and freshness to the sweet and savory flavors of the onions and bacon.  

I also made a simple sausage pizza by layering store bought tomato sauce, fresh buffala mozzarella and sliced sausage.  However, when I slid this off the peel, it folded over on itself and made a very messy calzone.

Not quite Dolce Vita, but there was no time to drive into Houston last night. 

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