Friday, October 10, 2008

My favorite pizzas, with Broccolis and with onions

Cool weather vegetables are showing up more at the market and among the warm orange and yellow hue of fall vegetables, broccolis are standing up green. When Gwen of Glade-Link Farm brought broccolis to the farmer's market, I had to make my favorite pizza with broccolis. I think broccolis are best when it is sautéed in a little bit of olive oil and garlic, and this pizza showcases broccoli at its best flavor with backdrop of melting cheese and crispy crust. Yum - it can't get any better!
My another favorite is a pizza with onions. These are not the ordinary onions. They are cooked in butter and soaked and simmered in red wine till they become caramelized with complex flavors from wine. Yellow, white and red onions from Chris of Jubilee Organic Farm are delicious and I had enough red onions to make my onion pizza.

I have made pizzas with different dough recipes and liked them all, from thin crispy kind to thick soft kind. However for the past year or two, I have been making this very simple dough, which turns out extra crispy thin pizzas. The recipe came with a pizza pan (a non-stick metal round pan with holes in it), courtesy of Cook's Illustrated. I modified it to use whole wheat flour and do without a food processor.

Dough for extra crispy thin pizzas
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast or active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup warm water (~100 F)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. If using instant (or rapid) yeast, combine flours, yeast, honey and salt and mix well. Add water, stir with a wooden spoon a few times, then add olive oil and stir a few more time. If using active dry yeast, stir in yeast in warm water first and let it dissolve. Wait a few minutes till it makes bubbles. Add honey, salt, flour, olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon to mix well.
  2. Turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead for five minutes. I usually use a big mixing bowl and just knead the dough inside the bowl to minimize the clean up. When you are done kneading, the dough will look very smooth.
  3. If you are going to make pizzas the next day, place the dough in a ziplock back and put it in a refrigerator. The dough will rise very slowly. If you are making pizzas the same day, put it in a mixing bowl, covered with plastic wrap and a towel, and let it rise at a warm place for about two hours.
Once the dough is made, the following steps are quite simple. Go through your refrigerator and find all the cheeses and food-leftovers that you like to use.
For broccoli pizza, saute broccolis in olive oil and sliced garlic for a brief time, until they just turn bright green. Since they are going to be baked in a very hot oven, you don't want to cook them too long. We used mozzarella, manchego and fresh mozzarella cheese this time. Dan sprinkled fresh ground black pepper and very thinly sliced dried Thai pepper (from Wendy of Persimmon Pond Plants). This Thai pepper was a nice touch. Those tiny specs of pepper strip gave a nice surprising kick to the pizza.

For onion pizza, we layered a leftover meat (roasted eye-round beef) and olives underneath onions. The sauteed onions in wine is the recipe from Baking with Julia (my baking bible). The original recipe calls for a long long time to gently cook the onions in the lowest heat setting once wine is introduced. Since I make pizzas on a whim, I don't have that long long time to cook down the onions. So here is what I do.
  • Slice thin two medium sized onions.
  • Melt two tablespoon of butter in your skillet. Sautee onions in medium high heat. Sprinkle a pinch of fresh or dry thyme.
  • When onions turn transparent, pour in red wine enough to cover the onions (~3 Tbs). Let them cook in medium heat for a few minutes till the wine is reduced to a half.
  • Continue cooking in low-medium heat until wine is all reduced and absorbed into onions.
You want to use a good drinking red wine for this. I have a bottle of red that was gifted and when we opened it up, it was sadly passed the prime. So I use it for cooking and when I use this wine, I add a really good balsamic vinegar toward the end of reduction.

Preheat the oven at 475 F and bake the pizza for 10 minutes. Once it comes out of oven, let it rest for a few minutes before you cut and dig in.

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