Thursday, October 30, 2008
Daring Bakers Pizza Challenge
Never shy of a culinary challenge, I was immediately drawn to the idea of making and tossing my own pizza dough. After viewing several You Tube entries of experts tossing pizza dough, I humbled myself to the fact that it wouldn’t be easy. But surely, with some practice, I too could hurl a piece of dough into the air, watch it swirl above my head, widening as it spins, only to be caught by my eagerly awaiting hands on its way down!
The dough was made and sitting pretty in the fridge. You can find the recipe here: Rosa's Yummy Yums. I loved the silky texture as I was kneading it. I prefer to use my God-given hands, and not a dough hook to make sure all ingredients are blended. (It’s also very therapeutic!) I was ready and eager with my dear friend, Chantal, at hand with the camera.
As I attempted to lift one of the dough rounds, it stretched and exhibited a beautiful lace pattern, holes and all! It stretched so much, that it looked like an exuberant Medieval sleeve around my wrist - not at all favorable for a pizza dough ready to be tossed! After a nervous laugh and in a panic, I quickly kneaded it a little and let it sit for a few minutes.
Fortunately, the dough came together and I was in business. I spread it out carefully so I could get the backs of both hands underneath it. I set my feet as if I was about to sprint in the 100m dash, and after I took a few deep breaths, off it went towards the ceiling! It spun at a 45 degree angle for only a couple of seconds, and came back bigger than it was when it lifted off. I felt the swell of success as Chantal cheered me on!
I tossed the remainder of the dough rounds similarly. Most of them spun at a 45 degree angle, so I’m interested to learn the correct tossing technique so that I too can balance the horizontal hat-shaped dough on one little finger!
I shaped the dough on a pizza paddle generously sprinkled with semolina flour. Now for my two toppings (thanks, Chantal for the tips, pictures and being fun to be with!):
Gorgonzola, Walnut Arugula Pesto, Caramelized Onion and Fresh Pear Pizza
It’s a mouthful, but it’s the most delicious pizza we’ve ever tasted! This will be enough for 2 pizzas.
For the Gorgonzola Sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup Gorgonzola Dolce
Boil cream on medium-low heat in a small saucepan until thickened. Add Gorgonzola and cook until thick and creamy. Set aside to cool.
For the Caramelized Onion:
1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Sauté onion in a little olive oil until brown. It will take about 10 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and stir well. Set aside.
For the Walnut Arugula Pesto:
½ cup walnuts
1 clove garlic
1 large grabby handful of fresh arugula
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place walnuts, garlic and arugula in a food processor. Process until chopped up. Slowly add olive oil and blend well. Season with salt and pepper.
You will also need 1 ripe but firm pear (we used Yellow Bartlett). Slice it into thin wedges.
Here’s how we layered the pizza toppings: First we spread some Gorgonzola sauce evenly on the dough. Then we added a layer of caramelized onions. Next we dolloped the walnut arugula pesto here and there, and topped the pizza with slices of the pear. Bake as directed and you will enjoy a crispy thin-crust pizza with a symphony of velvety Gorgonzola, sweet onions, spicy pesto and juicy pear.
Roasted Tomato, Poblanos and Chorizo Pizza
Our bold south-of-the-border version. Enough for 2 pizzas.
For the roasted tomato sauce:
6 Roma tomatoes
2 poblano peppers
½ cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Roast tomatoes and peppers on a grill until the tomato skins burst and pepper skins are charred. Put them in a pot and cover for a few minutes until the skins loosen. Carefully remove the skins.
Coarsely chop the tomatoes and put them in a pan with a little olive oil. Cook on medium-low heat until the sauce is thick and the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and add cilantro. Set aside to cool.
Slice the peeled poblano peppers into ½” strips and set aside to cool.
½ lb Mexican style chorizo sausage, spicy or mild
Saute the chorizo over medium heat until cooked, breaking it apart. Drain the fat and discard. Set aside to cool.
You will also need 1 cup grated Mexican Oaxaca cheese.
Here’s how we layered the pizza toppings: First we spread the tomato sauce on the dough. Then we added the grated Oaxaca cheese, and a generous amount of chorizo. We topped it off with strips of roasted poblano peppers. Bake as directed and you will hear the Mariachis in the distance – enjoy!