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Thursday, July 22, 2010

~Pizzaπr∙Round!~ At home alternative to expensive, delivery, pizza-like objects

With the Tomato and Chevre Tarte Tartin post, I was skirting the crusts of really pizza-like recipes.  This time I thought I would go all the way and try my hand at copying one of my favorite things in the world: The Cheese Board's sourdough, thin-crust, goat cheese and tomato pizza!  With my herb garden really rolling and the Farmer's Markets full to the brim with fresh, sun-ripened-sweet cherry tomatoes, the phrase "no time like the present" holds water...  or olive oil as the case may be...

~Herb Tomato & Caramelized Onion Sourdough Pizza~
Printable Recipe

1 3/4 C Sourdough Starter
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Oregano or Marjoram
1/4 Teaspoon Basil
1 Small Clove Garlic
1 1/2 C AP Flour

Caramelized Onions:
     2 Large Sweet Yellow Onions
     1 Tablespoons Olive Oil
     1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
     1.5 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
     1 oz Butter
Slow Roasted Cherry or Plumb Tomatoes:
     10-12 Cherry or Plumb tomatoes
     2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
     1 Teaspoon Chopped Oregano
     1/2 Teaspoon Chopped Basil
     Ground Black Pepper
Garlic Infused Olive Oil
10-12 oz crumbled Chevre cheese
8-10 Baby mozzarella
Finely Chopped Fresh Thyme and Oregano
Black Pepper

SPECIAL TOOLS: Pizza Pan or Stone
                              Cast Iron Skillet
                              Pizza Peel or Large, Thin Cutting Board or Cookie Sheet

Yield - 1 Large Pie (8 to10 servings)
Preheat your oven to 350f. Preheat your pizza stone (if you plan to use one) on the lower rack of the oven to allow one free rack near the top for roasting.

This recipe is my first foray into the world of at home pizza making, but with the help of my culinary school notes I feel it turned out well.  The trick with a sourdough crust is getting it thin enough because the sourdough starter can make it rise more that I at least had predicted...  All in all a minor issue but one to keep in mind.  Of course you can omit the herbs or substitute any spices you want to try!  Lets get going!

Begin by separating herb leaves and chopping them as fine as you like.  Remember that with stronger spices (like marjoram and oregano) the finer you chop and mince, the more cut surface area you have exposed to the other ingredients and the stronger the flavors will be. Mince garlic fine and combine with olive oil and herbs in a small bowl to "steep" covered for about 10 minutes at room temperature.

Thoroughly combine flour, salt and sourdough starter in a large bowl then add your herb olive oil and stir with the hands until it comes together and forms a slightly sticky ball.  Add a small amount more flour if needed.  It shouldn't cling to the fingers too much but will be slightly tacky.  Turn the lot out onto a well floured work surface and knead a few times just to get an even consistency, then wrap in plastic and let sit at least 30 minutes in the fridge.  Don't knead too much or you run the risk of bready, overly chewy crusts...

While that chills out for a bit, lets get to getting on the toppings!  You can use any combination of these you like but this is my recommendation based on an educated guess at the cheese boards recipe!


First for the tomatoes!  Cut them in half and toss with salt, pepper, oil and herbs.  Distribute them evenly in your cast iron skillet and roast at 350f for 1.5 hours or until just before done as they will bake further on the pie. You can also roast quickly at 425 for about 30 to 40 minutes if you're in a hurry but be mindful that this method doesn't develop the sugars as well, so they will be less sweet.

While the tomatoes are roasting, start caramelizing your onions.  Skin your onions and slice them in half, then into strips.  Place along with olive oil into a large skillet and cook slowly over low heat, stirring gently all the while until they become transparent and start to turn golden.  This may very well take up to an hour but don't be tempted to turn up the heat prematurely.  I always get a high stool to sit on, put on Beethoven's 9th symphony and make a time of it.

~ FOOD SCIENCE NOTES: Pyrolysis acting in caramelization of sugars in the onions

Once the onions smell sweet and have a nice, even golden color, turn up heat just slightly and add butter, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Cook further until the onions have absorbed most of the liquid and the remaining syrup is thickened and very sweet.  I use quite a bit of balsamic but if you aren't as big of a fan as of it as I am, you can easily cut the amount in half.

Now that most of the hard work is done, its pizza time in earnest!  If you slow roasted the tomatoes, turn up your oven temperature to 400f.  Remove your  pizza dough from the refrigerator and let stand 10 minutes to take off the chill then punch down into a fairly flat circle.  Toss or roll out until its just under 1/8" thick and place on a well floured pizza peel or baking sheet to work.  The coarser the flour the better for this.

Rub the tossed pie with olive oil and minced garlic. Top with caramelized onions and herbs then add tomatoes, Chevre and mozzarella cheeses however you like it.  Season with a small amount of black pepper and bake on your pizza stone or pizza pan 15 - 18 minutes until the cheese is melty and the crust is golden brown!

Pizza is one of those recipes that can be easily compared to many household chores...  it can seem intimidating but once you get yourself going on it its a lot of fun and can be much simpler than it seems.  Pizza dough also just happens to be one of the most versatile things in the culinary world!  Once you have pizza dough, you can add practically anything you like to it and it will turn out great!  You can even make a sweet pizza by adding honey, cinnamon, and lots of Raisins and apples to a plain flour/water crust!  As always, don't go taking my word for it!  Go and have fun with it and experiment, experiment, experiment!



Kathryn said...

Oh my gosh, that looks amazing! My absolute favorite pizza is this one with blackened shrimp on it- you should try it!

Pastry Ninja said...

mmmm... That does look really good. I'm a sucker for spicy shrimp. Have to give it a shot once I have a kitchen again. Thanks!