Monday, April 18, 2011

pizza pizza!

It's the last Monday of Lent!  Only six more totally meat-free days!

Friday night one of my biffles, Brent, came up from Richmond to spend some time with some of us girls.  We were all too busy eating dinner to take pictures, so this is the only one I got (it's dark and from my iPhone, but you should have seen it before instagram made it better!)

So what did we eat?  Tax day left us all poor, so we wanted to stay at home.  My original intention was to host a make-your-own pizza night, but we eventually decided a potluck would be best.  My contribution was flatbread.  I had been wanting to make this carmelized onion and wild mushroom pizza, but I also wanted to make a pizza sauce from my leftover tomato paste.  Then, I remembered that Brittany is not wild about tomatoes, so I decided to get some pesto for a green pizza, too.  Because I am completely incapable of making tough decisions, I ended up with three flatbread "pizzas" - carmelized onion & wild mushroom; pesto, artichoke, tomato & mozzarella; and proscuitto & ricotta with tomato sauce (obviously I didn't eat this one). 

About the proscuitto di parma - that was a complete impulse buy at Whole Foods, likely stemming from how FOMO I was over the proscuitto from the previous week's Tarot card reading.  I was waiting for the pizza lady to bring me my pizza dough, and the proscuitto was screaming my name from behind the neighboring deli counter.  "Buy me, Maria.  I know I'm $22 a pound but I am so yummy and delicious and you only need a little bit.  And I know you can't eat me right now but think about how yummy I'll be once you can.  And don't worry, I'm cured with so much salt that I won't go bad between now and then.  You know you love me." 

So, in a desperate attempt to get the dead, talking Italian pig out of my head, I asked for a quarter pound.  And I talked to the butcher about how I gave up meat for Lent but that man, wouldn't proscuitto be nice on a pizza?  He told me what a nice friend I was for buying the proscuitto for my friends (nothing like a nice stroke of the ego at 4pm on a Friday to really get you ready for the weekend).  I, of course, told him that the real reason why I was buying it was not because I was nice, but that I wanted to live vicariously through them AND I was going to hoard the leftovers and cash them like Western Union once Lent ends.  He just looked at me like I was a nutcase as he weighed the beautiful meat.  I felt awkward.  The scale read 0.21 and I blurted out, "That's fine!  Thanks!"  I had to get out of there before I walked out with the whole meat counter.

I came home, tucked the proscuitto away, and got down to business.  I started the tomato sauce and let it simmer, got to work caramelizing the onions in butter and olive oil, and sauteed the mushrooms in a bit of white wine.  Later, I cut the ball of pizza dough into three sections, and Whitney and I rolled them out with a wine bottle, bringing back bad memories from my butternut squash ravioli nightmare).  

If you're ever making a pizza in the oven, just remember that high heat is your friend.  We preheated the oven at 500° (with the pizza stone inside) and, once we were ready to cook, cut the oven temperature down to 450°.  Be careful when you open the oven because I'm pretty sure my eyelashes almost caught on fire. 

Wild Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Pizza, adapted from Woodfire Grill's recipe on epicurious
makes one 6-ounce flatbread 

2 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced crosswise
4 ounces assorted wild mushrooms (I used a mixture of baby bello, oyster, and shiitake), cut into bite-sized pieces
3 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
1/2 cup white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
1/4 cup freshly grated Italian cheese (I used a mixture of asiago, parmesan, and fontina)

1.  Position rack in bottom third of oven.  Preheat oven to 500°F at least 30 minutes before baking and place pizza stone (or inverted baking sheet) in there while the oven is heating.  This allows for more fast and even cooking. 
2.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3.  Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in another heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and two teaspoons garlic, sauté 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  
4. Roll out pizza dough and reduce oven temperature to 450°F.  Remove preheated pizza stone or baking sheet from oven. If the baking sheet is rimmed, you may want to invert it and cook the pizza on the bottom.  You could line the sheet with parchment paper, but I think it would work fine without it.  In either case, sprinkle the sheet well with cornmeal or flour.  Carefully slide the rolled out dough onto the cooking device.  
5. Quickly drizzle the dough with one tablespoon olive oil and one teaspoon garlic.  Top with the onions and mushrooms.  Sprinkle grated cheese on top.
6.  Return stone to oven,  and bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
7.  Let pizza rest one minute, slice into wedges and serve. 

The second pizza was made with a store-bought pesto and topped with mozzarella, artichoke hearts, and cherry tomatoes. This one (and the proscuitto/ricotta/tomato sauce pizza with it in the picture) was placed on an inverted baking sheet.  As you can tell from the photo, I lined the sheet with parchment paper.  I had problems getting the pizza off the paper (or the paper off the pizza?) so next time I will probably leave it off and just make sure the sheet has plenty of cornmeal or flour on it.  For the tomato sauce, I used leftover tomato paste to make a sauce similar to the one I had eaten with breakfast, but added a few more ingredients and tasted as I went along.  The recipe is as follows:

40-day Vegetarian tomato sauce, re-tweaked
Makes about 3 cups

1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion
3 teaspoons garlic
7 tablespoons tomato sauce
5 ounces water (10 tablespoons, or about 2/3 cup)
15 ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon white sugar
salt & pepper, to taste

1.  Heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion and garlic until translucent and fragrant.
2.  Add tomato paste, water, San Marzano tomatoes.  Cook on medium-high, stirring well and crushing tomato paste into the water.  After five minutes, add Italian seasoning, dried basil, and sugar.  Stir well for another five minutes or so.  Once the sauce gets very hot and begins to bubble, cover and let simmer 20-25 minutes.  Adjust seasoning as needed. 

Whitney made a delicious Greek orzo salad with sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, and parsley.  I was "taste-testing" it all day long!  Kate brought a delicious California salad - mixed greens with avocado, tomato, cucumber, and almonds, topped with balsamic.  It was crunchy and light and refreshing, the perfect complement to the flatbreads and Whitney's orzo.

And don't think we stuffed ourselves before dessert!  For dessert, Brent made some (tasty!) raw vegan cookies from oats, quinoa, coconut, peanut butter, agave, and vegan chocolate chips.  Y'all head over to My Sweet Natured Life to see the recipe! Brittany went all smitten kitchen on us and made an amazing blueberry crumble topped with ice cream, of course!

The rest of my weekend was low-key - spent some quality time with my mat at Hot Yoga DC and went on a long walk with Rae.  I also got a nice grilled vegetable burrito from Surfside on Sunday with some friends.  It's been a whirlwind of a Spring and there's even more on the agenda for the next several weekends.  Easter, NASCAR in Richmond, Gold Cup, UVA Riverboat Reception, Bollie's Graduation, Italy!!  It's wonderful to be busy.

Have a great week!


  1. The blueberry crumble looks absolutely delicious. A slight twist from the vanilla ice cream could/would be possibly butter pecan.
    Glad to see that you were appropriately shocked by "Tax Day." Actually, every day is tax day. Likely you are paying a multitude of taxes EVERY day. The problems currently being discussed in the USA are not because of a lack of taxes on the American people, but rather are due to a massive excess in spending.
    Oh, just to keep this focused on food. Did you know that you can grind flax seed and use it as a substitute for egg whites? Kelly's mom made some bread this way and it was delicious! She also made a watercress and avocado salad that was the bomb.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. I had prosciutto pizza this weekend too!! After reading the Italy Rough Guide all evening on my porch, Bethy stopped by to tell me she was ordering Pizza from the newly hip Fry Spring Station (on JPA) and as soon as she mentioned the "Jefferson Pizza"- their white pizza with crispy prosciutto added- I knew my Italian cravings would be satisfied. It was far beyond dank.
    Sweet Natured's treats look DELICIOUS. I'm so envious, we miss her baking skills at kkg.

  3. a delicious spread! thanks for making some tomato-free pizza!