So, today is my birthday. I have been making a lot of yummy foods to enjoy over the weekend, which means I am behind in my posts. This recipe and some of the ones soon to follow may included slightly less commentary, just until I get caught up: however, I promise to continue including helpful hints and suggestions that will ensure delectable results.
Most parts of this recipe are pretty self-explanatory from the instructions, but I do have just a few things to add.
Do be mindful of the temperature of the water you use to proof the yeast. If it is not warm enough, it will not fully activate the yeast, but if it is too hot, it can kill the yeast. Either will prevent you from having a successful crust. Make sure the water feels very warm, but not hot, when dripped on your inner wrist.
If, for whatever reason, the yeast does not get frothy during the first step when it is proofed with the water and honey, simply discard and start over. If it won’t rise, it’s not worth taking the time to prepare…
Two essential preparations that need to be done for this pizza to be possible are the roasting of the garlic and the roasting of the bell peppers.
For the roasting of the bell peppers, well, I hope you have a gas stove. I try to avoid living anywhere with an electric stove, and roasting bell peppers is part of the reason why. Just turn a burner on, and rest a washed bell pepper over the flame, turning with cooking tongs ever minute or so, until it is completely charred. Place the charred pepper in a plastic bag to sweat for a few minutes, then remove the burnt skin and seeds and rinse under running water.
To roast the garlic, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the uppermost quarter of the heads of garlic, rub the heads with olive oil, and wrap in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet or in a muffin tin and bake until the cloves are soft and golden, approximately 35-45 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oven and allow to cool just enough to handle the heads. Carefully remove each clove of garlic head by gently squeezing from the base of the head (this isn’t as kinky as it sounds, really).
Free feel to change the pizza toppings based on your preferences and what is seasonal. Just be sure to consider the overall balance of flavor and texture.
Spinach, Mushroom, Kalamata and Roasted Pepper White Pizza
- 1 c whole milk
- 4 T salted butter
- 2 T all-purpose flour
- 1/4 t salt
- 1/4 t cayenne pepper
- 3 to 4 heads roasted garlic
- 2-3 T yellow cornmeal
- 1 recipe Parmesan Pizza Dough (recipe follows)
- 6 oz baby spinach, washed, rinsed and sauteed
- 8 oz. mushrooms, washed, rinsed and sliced
- 10-15 kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
- 2 roasted red peppers, sliced into thin strips
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 4 oz. feta, crumbled
- 2 T chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 T chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- Gently heat milk in a small saucepan, just until barely simmering. Remove and keep covered.
- In a separate saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour and stir until smooth. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring: do not allow the flour to brown. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking to combine. Add the salt and cayenne; increase heat to medium. Cook the mixture, whisking continuously, until the sauce comes to a boil and is thickened. Remove from heat.
- Add 15 of the garlic cloves to the sauce. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor, cover, and process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and cool slightly.
- Place a pizza stone in the oven (if you have one) and preheat to 500 degrees F.
- Sprinkle about 2 T of the yellow cornmeal on a baking sheet or 15-inch-pizza pan. Place the rolled out pizza dough on the prepared baking sheet.
- Spread the cooled sauce over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border. Distribute the spinach, mushrooms, kalamatas, and roasted red pepper strips over the sauce. Place sliced mozzarella over the toppings, then sprinkle the remaining roasted garlic cloves over the cheese and top with the feta.
- Bake the pizza for 8-15 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted, bubbly and golden brown in spots.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chopped herbs over the top. Serve immediately.
Parmesan Pizza Dough
- 1 c warm water (105-115 degrees F)
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 1 t honey
- 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 1/4- 2 3/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c finely grated parmesan
- pinch salt
- In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, honey and 1 T oil, stirring to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Add 1 1/2 c of the flour, the parmesan and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
- Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but slightly tacky to the touch, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat. Cover with a warm, moist towel and set in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Punch dough dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 9 by 13 inch rectangle or a 15-inch circle, depending on the shape of pan you are using.