Sunday, October 11, 2009

fig and balsamic onion pizza with blue cheese

fig, balsamic onion and danish blue pizza
i can't believe i haven't
told you about this recipe yet.
it's not that i make it a lot -
maybe just twice a year.
but still, it's one of the few
dishes set to repeat in
our kitchen.

it started about five years ago
when - and, i still am embarrassed
to admit this - i learned
that i could just go to the
supermarket or the local pizza place
and buy fresh dough.
how did i not know this?
i have no idea.
i told lauren, who said,
yes, i love it, i use it to
make strombolis and calzones.
hmmm, i had definitely missed
something important.

so i bought dough.
i found this recipe and together,
larry and i roasted squash,
made garlic oil
and decorated the prized dough.
the night felt like a victory -
i was proud
(better than clueless, right?).
so proud,
that i haven't made the recipe
since, but i remember most
of the moments that went down
in the kitchen of my
studio apartment that evening.

after that, i was hooked,
throwing every veggie
i had onto pieces of dough
that were so unevenly rolled
out, a circle wouldn't even
recognize them as its cousin.
i experimented with
chicken apple sausage and rosemary,
feta, spinach and tomatoes,
mixed mushrooms with goat cheese
and so many more.

but one of the only pizzas
to stick was the one i made with
fresh figs
caramelized onions
and blue cheese.
however, i'm not going to lie to you:
i have no idea how it
came to be.
for all my remembering, i cannot
think back to why i first made it,
if any mistakes were made
or what pushed me to make this
particular pizza again.
but i do know that the recipe was mine,
created by what was in my kitchen,
because the second
time around, it did not occur to
me to check my recipe book.

and, i do remember that after
i had made it a few times,
i told a friend
who texted me late one night
to say that she had made the
pizza and loved it (and i remember
that i was jealous because we had
spent the night hanging pictures
in our new apartment
and eating peanut butter
sandwiches for dinner - i knew
i was missing something good
at her house). but, i still don't
remember the beginning.

so, instead of dwelling on
the past, let me tell you about
this pizza. i've made it many
times on store bought fresh
pizza dough - i love it with
multi-grain - and a couple times
on dough that i've attempted
to make myself.
but until recently, i've never
had success making my own dough.
they were always too bready,
or not willing to stretch or roll
or so wet that i got fed up.
risen pizza dough
ready to roll
a recipe by giada in bon appetit
changed all that. her dough is simple
and its springy and beautiful.
so easy to roll that mine was actually round
and so easy to transport that on the
pizza pan, it was still beautiful.
her recipe called for mixing flour with
sugar and salt before adding the
yeast mixture, but i've opted to add honey
to the yeast instead. also, because
the final product is reminiscent of
focaccia, i love to add
chopped rosemary to the dough.
the aftermath
on top,
well, the star is the figs,
which i sometimes layer on fresh,
and other times saute very lightly first.
but a star needs its supporting characters
and this pizza is bursting with them:
onions that are caramelized until golden
and then coated with balsamic vinegar,
crumbled blue cheese to cut
through the sweetness and recently,
a light sprinkling of fontina cheese,
helping glue the whole thing down.
i've made the pizza a couple times
without the bottom cheese, but it's always
lacking and the toppings tend to
topple off the crust.
dough, rolled out, with fontina
pizza, before baking
all together, it's a pizza that i'm
proud of, that gets me excited
for fig season and that makes
me happy to cut into slices
and serve. it's slightly sweet and
soft, yet tangy and crisp.
and even though its beginning
eludes me, its future on our
dinner menus is very, very clear.
crisping up
fresh fig and balsamic onion pizza with blue cheese
i do not have a baking stone and therefore, have never made this pizza with one. if you do, adjust accordingly. because i make this pizza on a regular round baking pan, i like to slide it right onto the rack when it's firm enough and let the pie continue to cook until crispy. if that method does not sound good to you, just leave it on the pan. it may not get as crispy, but it will still be lovely. i like the creaminess of danish blue and the mild meltiness of the fontina, but playing around until you find your favorite is always a good idea.

rosemary pizza dough
adapted from bon appetit magazine
3/4 cup warm water (between 110˚-115˚)
1 envelope dry active yeast
1 teaspoon honey
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bowl

place warm water in bowl; sprinkle yeast over water. add honey; stir. let stand 5 minutes, or until yeast dissolves. very lightly oil large bowl; set aside. in food processor, combine flour, salt and rosemary. add remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and yeast mixture; process just until dough forms.

transfer to a floured surface and knead 1 minute, or until smooth, adding additional flour, if necessary. place dough in bowl, rotating to coat with oil.

cover with clean tea or kitchen towel and place in a warm spot, free of drafts. let sit 1 hour, or until doubled in volume. punch down. using a floured rolling pin, roll into 14" round on floured surface. transfer to pizza pan.

fig and onion pizza
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 large sweet onion, peeled, halved and sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4-6 large fresh black mission figs, trimmed and sliced
1 recipe rosemary pizza dough, above
5 ounces fontina cheese, shredded
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

  • heat oven to 425˚f. while the dough is rising, heat olive oil and half of butter in large skillet over medium heat until oil is hot and butter is melted. add onions; season with kosher salt. cook 25 minutes, or until almost golden brown, reducing heat if onions begin to burn. drizzle balsamic vinegar over onions and stir to combine. cook 1 minute more, or until the vinegar has formed a glaze; transfer onions to plate. let cool.

  • in same skillet over medium heat, melt remaining butter; add slices of figs. as soon as the last one is in the skillet, flip slices over in the order they were placed in the pan. once they're all flipped, remove and transfer to plate in the same order.

  • sprinkle shredded fontina cheese over dough, leaving a 3/4" border for the crust. arrange first the onions, then the figs, over the cheese. Top with crumbled blue cheese.

  • bake the pizza 12-14 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, the crust is beginning to brown and the whole thing is stable. Slide the pizza off the pan and cook on the middle rack 3-4 minutes more, or until the crust has some crunch to it. to remove from oven, carefully slide back onto pan.

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