Monday, October 24, 2011

Nacho Pizza, revisited

On a cold winter day nearly nine months ago, we first made the nacho pizza that inspired this blog. We were lazy, didn't want to go to the store, made a pizza with whatever we could find. It was awesome. Recently, we were reminiscing about that fortuitous discovery and revisited our dear nacho pizza recipe. With seasonal ingredients (and a little advance planning), it was quite possibly more delicious the second time around.

TOPPINGS (layered in this order):
  1. Very best pizza crust ever, par-baked
  2. Mix of grated cheddar and mozzarella cheeses
  3. Cooked black beans, tossed with taco seasoning (It's easy to make your own seasoning! Combine the following: 1 tablespoon chili powder; 1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper, dried oregano; 1/2 teaspoon paprika; 1 and 1/2 teaspoon cumin; 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper.)
  4. Thinly sliced onions
  5. Finely chopped fresh tomatoes
  6. Chopped green bell peppers
  7. Sliced jalapeños
 Bake at 450 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Top with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro leaves.



Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fried Green Tomato Pizza

Remember that movie? The one where the dissatisfied middle-aged housewife becomes friends with the elderly woman at the nursing home and hears a tale of love and abuse and suspected murder? The one where the main plot twist involves barbecuing the abusive husband and serving him to the mean police officer? (Oh sorry, did I spoil that for anyone...)

Movie titles aside, fried green tomatoes turn out to be the perfect pizza topping for all of you gardeners currently gazing wistfully at the never-to-ripen tomatoes left on your vines. I guess technically you could pick green tomatoes all summer long, but it seems like a fall food to me. A final recognition that the harvest is winding down and the cold is settling in.

  1. First, prepare three bowls for breading the tomatoes. In one shallow bowl or pan, put 1/4 cup all-purpose flour.
  2. In a glass measuring cup or similarly deep bowl, combine 1 lightly beaten egg and 1/2 cup buttermilk. (If you don't have buttermilk on hand, you can put a tablespoon of white vinegar in your measuring cup first, then fill up to the 1/2 cup mark with regular milk. Let it sit for a few minutes before adding the egg.)
  3. In another shallow bowl or pan, combine 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Slice 3 medium-sized green tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices.
  5. Dredge the tomato slices in the plain flour first, then dip them in the egg mixture, then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture so they have a nice coating. Flour doesn't stick very well to the juicy tomatoes, so it might not look even.
  6. Pour about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet and heat on medium. Put the tomatoes in a single layer in the hot oil and cook about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. 
  7. Remove and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
We decided to fry some jalapeños while we were at it, so just slice them up and follow the same steps above.

At this stage, I highly recommend helping yourself to a fried green tomato appetizer. Yum yum.

Now, if you still have any fried tomatoes left after your taste-test, it's time to prepare the pizza itself. Layer the toppings in this order:
  1. Very best pizza crust ever, par-baked with a drizzle of olive oil and 2 chopped garlic gloves sprinkled on the top
  2. Grated mozzarella
  3. The fried green tomatoes, evenly spaced across the top (and fried jalapeños if you choose!)
  4. Chopped red bell peppers or mild cherry peppers
  5. Chopped chives
Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes to crisp up the crust and reheat the tomatoes. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.

(Look at those two balls of dough in the background! More pizza en route!)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

French Onion Soup Pizza

With fall rolling in and my fingers permanently cold already, the thought of a steaming bowl of soup holds a special attraction. The richly mingled flavors provide the ultimate comfort: the opportunity to be warm from the inside. So in honor of chilly mornings and yellowing leaves, get out your stock pots and your stirring spoons and let's make a big vat of ... pizza?

... I know, it's confusing. You came to this pizza blog, then I go making you all nostalgic about soup, and now we're back to pizza again. Well, it's not as convenient to cup a slice of pizza between chilly hands, but this one should still satisfy your deepest soup cravings.

French onion soup essentially involves caramelized onions simmered in a broth of wine and beef stock and topped with cheesy croutons. We modified the recipe to achieve a saucier consistency for smearing on a pizza crust (aka the cheesy crouton), and we made it vegetarian.

1. First, melt 1/3 cup unsalted butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add 2-3 large onions, sliced; 2 garlic cloves, minced; 2 bay leaves; a sprinkling of thyme leaves; and salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and caramelized.
raw onions
caramelized onions
2. Next, add about 1/2 cup red wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the wine cooks off, about 5 minutes. Stir regularly.
wine added
wine cooked off
3. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour over the onions and mix. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, to cook out the raw flour taste.
with flour
4. Here's where our recipe veers off from the soup recipe. Add 1 cup of vegetable broth (or beef broth for the French purists among us) and simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently, to thicken the mixture as much as possible. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
broth added
the final result

Once you've got all that done (are your arms tired from stirring?), the pizza itself is a piece of cake (har har).
  1. Whole-wheat crust, par-baked
  2. A generous spread of the onion sauce
  3. A solid covering of grated Gruyère (we ended up using about 1/3 pound of cheese)
Bake at 450 degrees for 7 minutes until the cheese is melted and a little bubbly. Enjoy with a fine French wine and an elegant side salad.

NOTE: If you wanted to actually make soup, you would add 2 quarts of beef/vegetable broth at step #4 above and simmer for 10 minutes. Alternately, if you have leftover onion sauce after making your pizza, you can easily transform it into soup by adding more broth. Then take some chunks of crusty bread, top them with thin slices of Gruyère and broil them in the oven or toast in the toaster oven until the cheese is melted. Float the croutons on the top of the soup to serve.

(See, you got a soup recipe after all!)