24 March 2010

Pizza Party, Part 1

Ohhhh K...so to be fair, the above image was not taken at my pizza party. It is a picture of A pear and blue cheese pizza, not MY pear and blue cheese pizza. That's because my pear and blue cheese pizza was gone before I could photograph it, almost gone before I got a chance to try it, and also, um, because I was too busy making 5 pizzas to remember to photgraph them for Mad Tasty. Sorry folks. I'll do better next time.

So here goes, at almost 30, after being a foodie, a waitress, a cook...after going to some of the best restaurants in town - expensive or not - I still love to eat like I did when I was 5. That means, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and my favorite, PIZZA! I love pizza of all shapes and sizes, styles, thin crust, thick, toppings, whatever. So to introduce my friends to my new apartment, I invited a few people over for, wait for it, a grown-up pizza party. I decided to mess around with toppings to test our palate and there was no doubt that the pear, blue cheese, and bacon pizza was the biggest success; more on this later. For my first foray into dough making (frighteningly close to baking, eeeek), I used this recipe from the interwebz:

In my attempt, I actually doubled the brown sugar content because we have really crappy measuring spoons in my new apartment. Though I was worried the crust was going to taste like cake, it was actually delicious. My only observation was that it was that the end crusts were a little too thick (think breadsticks) but that may just have been how it was layed out, I dunno. Anyway, we saved all of the massive ;) crusts and I have since thrown them in the oven for quick breadsticks to eat with grilled shrimp or proscuitto or whatever you have lying around the house for a quick snack. The remainders will soon become breadcrumbs for stuffed mushrooms, yum.

OK, so once you have your dough all mixed and manhandled and risen ;) it's time to spread it out ;))) and start topping them :) (sorry, i am ridiculous today and thinking about pizza puts me in a mood) . You can use pizza pans or a pizza stone, I used both because that's what I had. If you don't have these items, I'm sure you can use a regular baking pan/cookie tray type thing and maybe just make smaller pizzas of different shapes and sizes. As long as it tastes good, it won't matter what it looks like. The toppings we used were, drumroll please:

1) The aforementioned Pear, Blue Cheese, and Bacon Pizza.

Gah. To set this up, I cut maple bacon slices into half an inch pieces and gently sauteed them in a pan with no butter or oil, just to quickly pre-cook them, turning often to make sure they didn't burn or overcook. Once they were mostly opaque, I pulled the bacon off the stove and set them aside to cool. I covered the pizza dough with thin slices of a just ripe pear. Then I added the bacon, crumbles of a mid-level blue cheese (not too expensive, not too cheap), and regular shredded mozzarella to fill it out. Brush the end crusts with olive oil. Pop this in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for about 18-20 minutes and, um, wow.

2) Cannellini Bean and Parsley Pesto Pizza

Hmmm. Ok, good concept, poor execution. I wanted to use a pesto recipe that didn't have any nuts in it, so I tried this one... I used a variation of this recipe from Emeril:

I sauteed the beans per the recipe and found that the beans had PLENTY of bright, lemon flavor, so I opted out of using the lemon juice that the recipe suggested for the pesto portion. I let the bean mixture cool and then I spread it out on the naked ;) pizza dough. Here's where I made my mistake. I used all of the bean mixture so that the dough was coumpletely covered. Then I dropped the parsley pesto all over the pizza in blobs and covered it with shredded parmesan cheese. Brush the crust with olive oil and then, in the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes and done. So it was delicious, don't get me wrong. So, so tasty. Thanks, Emeril. BUT it was waaaaaay to heavy. It felt more like bean pie then a pizza. Next time, I would either use much less of the bean mixture on the dough orrrr I would just make a pie crust and make a savory bean pizza and be done with it. Basta.

3) Proscuitto and Calimyrna Figs

Pretty self-explanatory. I cut up pieces of proscuitto and cut up the figs and placed them on the dough. Covered the pizza with shredded mozzerella and brushed the crusts in olive oil. In the oven for 18 minutes at 450 and you're done. It was delicious. I felt liked it needed something but I couldn't figure out what. Definitely tasty though.

4) Roasted Red Pepper and Fresh Mozzarella

Really simple sauce. Take a red pepper, put it on your oven range and roast it. Add it to a pan with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of minced garlic, a small can of diced tomatoes, a tablespoon of dried oregano, a dash of cinnamon, squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a teaspoon of salt. Saute on med-high heat, breaking up the tomatoes and pepper with a spoon as you go. Let cook for about 15 minutes and then remove from heat. Blend in a blender of food processor until smooth. When cool, spread across pizza and then top pizza with slices of fresh mozzarella. Brush crust with olive oil. Also, you can add any more spices you like to top the pizza before putting it in the oven - crushed red pepper flakes, more oregano - your choice. Then in the oven at 450 degrees for about 18 minutes and yum!

5) Curried Cauliflower and Cashew Pizza

This recipe is a little complicated but so delicious it deserves its own post. Check back for it!

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