Friday, December 21, 2012

Gumbo Pizza

This is an admittedly complicated pizza recipe, but well worth the time and effort to make. A couple of times a year, we make a huge pot of gumbo, stirring and simmering for hours until all of the flavors have mingled and melded. Here, we've broken down our favorite Louisianan recipe into a pizza-ready version.

The first ingredient in any gumbo is the roux: browned flour and oil that serves as the foundation for the rich stock of okra, seafood and andouille sausage.


Heat 1/4 cup canola oil and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly for 15-20 minutes until it browns to a nice nutty color. Then stir in 1/4 cup chopped onion, another 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper and 1 clove of chopped garlic and continue cooking until the onion is soft.

While that's going on, measure 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped okra (frozen is fine, but thaw it first), 1 tablespoon chopped scallions, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 crumbled bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and a dash each of ground allspice, mace and cloves. Stir all of those ingredients into the pan with the onions and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

Since we're not dedicating hours to cooking down the stock, we then used an immersion blender to make a nice smooth sauce.

TOPPINGS (layered in this order):
  1. Very Best Pizza Crust Ever, par-baked
  2. A generous spread of the onion-okra sauce
  3. Thinly sliced andouille sausage (Do yourself a favor and don't substitute any other kinds of smoked sausages; the andouille adds such a distinctive flavor.)
  4. More chopped okra
  5. Grated mozzarella cheese
  6. Raw shrimp, butterflied and/or sliced in half down the middle
  7. Cooked chicken, chopped

Bake at 450 degrees F for about 11 minutes until the shrimp are pink. Serve topped with a splash of Louisiana-style hot sauce, such as Crystal.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Latke Pizza

Happy Hanukkah! Maybe you're already eating your fill of latkes, but it seems like prime time to experiment with how everyone's favorite potato pancakes might work in pizza-form.

  • Chop a medium onion and saute in 2 tablespoons of oil over low heat until nicely browning.
  • Peel 2-3 baking potatoes and use a food processor or box grater to shred them into thin strips. Add to the pan with the onions and a healthy pinch of salt and saute until the potatoes are cooked and starting to crisp around the edges. Stir often to prevent sticking.

TOPPINGS (layered in this order):
  1. Simple Crust, par-baked
  2. A generous spread of unsweetened apple sauce
  3. The potato-onion mixture
  4. A small amount of grated mozzarella

Bake at 450 degrees F for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the potatoes look a little browner. Sprinkle the top with chopped chives or scallion tops and dollop with sour cream and additional apple sauce.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Fig Pizza Update

Just repeated our Fig Pizza, but this time added a balsamic reduction. Perfection.

To make the reduction, pour 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for several minutes until the liquid has thickened and evaporated out. It's best to do this right before you're ready to use it, otherwise it gets very sticky as it cools.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Kids' Pizzas

Pizza is the perfect way to get kids involved in cooking. Give them an apron and space to use the rolling pin, and let them have at a small ball of dough! We like to set out small bowls with a variety of kid-friendly toppings — such as tomato sauce, pepperoni, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, grated cheese — and give them free reign to pick their own toppings. With younger children, adult hands are helpful to make sure the toppings get somewhat evenly distributed, but older kids enjoy the chance to do their own thing. Leaving the adults to their own pizza indulgence...

Here, our friends' 3-year-old shows off some mad pizza-making skills.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Guatemalan Black Bean Pizza

I spent a semester in college studying Spanish in Guatemala. Black beans and hand-pressed tortillas are THE two staple foods, eaten for three meals a day by many people across the country. My favorite preparation of black beans is called "licuados" — a thick paste perfect with eggs or sauteed veggies or ... really anything. We happened to have some leftover chicken around, which made for the perfect Guatemalan-themed pizza.

Chop a small onion and saute until soft and translucent, but not browned. In a blender, process the sauteed onions, 2 cups cooked black beans and 1 garlic clove. Add water or some reserved bean liquid to make a smooth, thick, saucy consistency.

TOPPINGS (layered in this order):
  1. Corn Masa Crust, par-baked
  2. A generous spread of the liquified beans
  3. Queso fresco, grated or chopped into tiny chunks (queso fresco is a white farm cheese available at Hispanic markets and many mainstream grocery stores) 
  4. Grated mozzarella
  5. Cooked, chopped chicken breast
  6. Sprinkle of chopped cilantro

Bake at 450 degrees F for about 8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust begins to brown. ¡Buen provecho!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Corn Masa Crust

As avid Latin American food-eaters (we seek out the best Mexican taco trucks in whatever city we visit), we were pretty excited to run across a corn masa pizza crust recipe in our newly acquired "Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day" cookbook.

Corn masa is the flour used to make tortillas, tamales, arepas, etc. — it's the staple ingredient for all sorts of our favorite foods. In this pizza dough, the masa adds a slight corn flavor and denser texture that is perfect for topping with beans, seasoned meats, and a sprinkle of queso fresco.

  • 1 cup lukewarm water (100 degrees F or less)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons neutral-flavored oil
  • 1/2 cup corn masa flour (also called masa harina)
  • 1 and 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the masa flour, all-purpose flour and salt.
  3. Once the yeast is proofed (aka frothy), stir in the oil and mix in the dry ingredients without kneading the dough. This can be done in a food processor with a dough attachment, a heavy duty stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or using a wooden spoon. It may help to wet your hands and mix in the last bits of flour manually.
  4. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and allow to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours, until the dough rises and collapses (aka flattens on the top).
  5. The dough can be used right away after that initial rise, but it may be easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate it in a lidded, but not airtight, container and use within 10 days or divide it into two balls and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before use.
  6. When you're ready to make pizza, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. If using a pizza stone, place the stone in the oven for preheating. If using a baking sheet, lightly flour it (but don’t preheat). 
  7. On a well-floured surface, roll out one ball of dough until it is approximately the size of your pizza stone or baking sheet. 
  8. Par-bake the crust until barely brown and rigid, about 3 minutes.
  9. Remove the crust from the oven and let rest on wire racks to avoid sogginess. Top with your favorite toppings and return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minute (depending on toppings), until the cheese is melted and the edges are golden brown.
Recipe yields 2 crusts.

This crust is vegan and I suspect would be pretty easy to make gluten-free by subbing out the all-purpose flour with your favorite blend.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fig Pizza

Kicking off a new season of pizza-making with a bang!

This is actually an old favorite by now, but with figs currently in season, it's prime time to try it again. In these pictures from April (*hanging head in procrastinator shame*), we used dried mission figs, but fresh ones are delightful as well.

TOPPINGS (layered in this order):
  1. Whole wheat crust, par-baked with chopped fresh rosemary pressed into the surface before baking
  2. Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
  3. Grated mozzarella
  4. Crumbled gorgonzola
  5. Thinly sliced shallots
  6. Sliced figs - lots of them
  7. Thinly sliced pears (Bosc are nice)

Slide that pizza back into the oven at 425 degrees F and bake for about 10 minutes, until the pears soften and the cheese browns slightly. Top with freshly grated Parmesan and another flourish of extra-virgin olive oil.