Showing posts with label pizza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pizza. Show all posts

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cookbook Review: The Sexy Vegan's Happy Hour at Home (with recipes!)

The Starburst Cocktail. Photo Credit: Dan Boissy

This is a loooong overdue post. I've had my copy of Brian Patton's (aka The Sexy Vegan) Happy Hour at Home for many months now, but as I mentioned in my last post, the arrival of my copy of Brian's latest book coincided with the arrival of a three month bout of morning sickness. While I still won't be drinking any cocktails for the foreseeable future, I've been getting my cooking (and eating) mojo back, thanks in large part to this new book.

I reviewed Brian's first book last year, and it's no secret that I'm a big fan of the guy. He's totally hilarious, and the fact that he floated the idea of naming his second book Sexy 2: Electric Vindaloo means that we are kindred spirits, because if you find a way to toss this particular movie reference into a conversation, I will totally be your BFF. But hilarity aside, the best part of Brian's cookbooks are, naturally, the amazing recipes. Happy Hour at Home is divided into themed menus, each serving four people (more than four is a dinner party), and each accompanied by suggested cocktail/drink pairings. I also really, really appreciate that Brian gives you shopping lists for each menu, and advice on shortcuts like using store-bought pizza dough if you don't have time to make his recipe, for example.

There are so many recipes that I have flagged to make, but the first one I did was the Stromboli. I did use store-bought pizza dough from Trader Joe's, because I don't have time for all that kneading and rising business. This recipe is packed full of veggies - broccoli, mushrooms, olives, peppers - and plenty of vegan cheese (I used Daiya). It was absolutely delicious, and surprisingly easy to make. Although it is meant to serve four people, between my husband and this pregnant woman with pizza cravings, it was more two and a half servings.

These Cannoli Cups are part of the "Holy Stromboli" menu and you wouldn't even believe how easy they were to make. The hardest part was finding the little phyllo dough cups, which we eventually got from Whole Foods, because my neighborhood grocery store really sucks. The cashew/cream cheese filling takes only seconds to whip up in your blender or food processor, and the result is an elegant, not-too-sweet, tasty little bite-sized dessert. Perfect after that not-so-dainty stromboli feast.

I also made these Tamale Bites with Tomatillo Salsa Avocado-Walnut Puree, which have all the flavor of tamales with none of that pesky cornhusk assembly and steaming drudgery. The base is simply baked rounds of prepared polenta, topped with a spicy lentil mixture and the aforementioned salsa and avocado-walnut puree. These were spicy and delicious and again, we stuffed ourselves so much that we were glad we didn't invite over two more happy hour guests. We were plenty happy on our own.

Like I mentioned, there are so many more recipes I'm excited to try out in this book - like the New England jackfruit "Crab" Roll, Samosa Pizzas, or the portobello mushroom version of Unagi Nigiri (my favorite kind of sushi when I still ate seafood). But if you're looking for a recipe to try from this book, you can't go wrong with the Stromboli, which Brian's publisher has been kind enough to let me publish here, below. And as a bonus, you even get the recipe for the Starburst cocktail (pictured at the top of this post), which is Brian's recommended drink to go with the Stromboli, in nostalgic remembrance of his college rager days. Enjoy! And be sexy!

This Stromboli recipe is from the Holy Stromboli Happy Hour Menu that also includes recipes for Quick Giardiniera and Cannoli Cups.

There also is a video for this recipe here

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 pound button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cups bite-size broccoli florets
Unbleached all-purpose flour for dusting the work surface
1 pound store-bought pizza dough or Basic Pizza Dough (recipe follows), at room temperature
8 ounces mozzarella-style vegan cheeze, shredded
1/4 cup sliced pitted black or kalamata olives
2 cups marinara sauce, warmed

Preheat your pizza stone on the middle rack of your oven for 1 hour at 400°F. Yeah, you have to — just open your windows and stop whining about the heat.

In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, oregano, basil, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Cook for 3 to 4 more minutes, until the mushrooms are tender, then add the broccoli. Once the broccoli is tender, about 4 more minutes, season the veggies with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the veggies to a bowl and let cool.

On a floured surface, roll the pizza dough into an oval that is approximately 13 to 14 inches long and 9 to 10 inches wide. Transfer the dough to a floured pizza peel — one of those giant spatulas they use to put the pizzas in the oven at pizzerias. You have one, remember? I told you to buy one in my first book; therefore, you did.

Fold the mozzarella and olives into the bowl of veggies — this is your filling. Place the filling in an elongated pile in the middle of the dough, making sure that there are 2 to 3 inches between the edges of the dough and the filling on all sides. Fold in the short sides of the dough so that they cover a couple inches of the filling. Then take one long side of the dough and fold it in half so that the long sides meet, completely covering the filling. Pinch the edges of the dough together.

With a paring knife, make three 1-inch slits in the top of the stromboli to release steam. Brush the top of the stromboli with a generous amount of olive oil. At this point the dough might be sticking to the peel, so gently run your hands under the stromboli to make sure it’s not sticking. Just before transferring the stromboli to the pizza stone, give it a little shimmy shake to make sure it will slide off. Then with one easy motion, thrust the peel forward over the stone, then quickly pull back to let the stromboli slide off.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until the top is browned and crisp. Let cool for 5 minutes, then cut crosswise into 4 pieces. Serve with the warmed marinara.

Basic Pizza Dough
1 cup warm water
One 7-gram package or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to coat the dough and bowl
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Healthy pinch of salt
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface

In a bowl, combine the water, yeast, 1 tablespoon oil, agave nectar, and salt. Gently mix it all together and let it sit for 5 minutes, until it starts to froth. This ensures the yeast is active and has not expired. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix it up (I do it by hand, but you could use a stand mixer with a dough hook). Continue to slowly add the rest of the flour until you have a slightly sticky ball. Then knead the dough by hand or in your stand mixer. You can add a little flour if the dough starts to stick to your hands. You’ll need to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic; this will take about 10 minutes by hand (or 5 minutes on medium speed if you’re using a stand mixer). After kneading, form it into a ball.

Coat a large bowl with olive oil. (The dough is going to double in size in that bowl, so make sure the bowl is big enough.) Also coat the dough in olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl, cover it with a damp kitchen towel, and stash it someplace warm for 90 minutes for its first rise. I find that turning my oven on to 200°F for 2 minutes,
then turning it off, creates the perfect environment for rising dough. After the first rise, give the dough a couple of light, open-handed slaps to make it collapse so that it’s flattened out. Then let it rise for 40 more minutes.

Now your dough is ready to use and is the equivalent of 1 pound of store-bought dough.

The Starburst
Makes 1 cocktail

Ice cubes
1 1/2 fluid ounces (1 shot) strawberry vodka
2 fluid ounces fresh carrot juice
2 fluid ounces fresh orange juice
Splash of pineapple juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar
2 fluid ounces club soda
1 lemon wedge
1 lime wedge

Fill a tumbler halfway with ice cubes. Add the vodka, carrot juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, agave nectar, and club soda. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon and lime wedges and drop the wedges into the drink. Stir with a long spoon.

Both recipes excerpted with permission from The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home ©2013 by Brian Patton. Published with permission of New World Library

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza. My Secret Weapon.

So I know that I've been posting sporadically for quite some time now, then all of a sudden I have two posts up in one day. Crazy, right? I'm unpredictable that way.

Anyway, this is just a short post to relate a funny story that happened to me recently. A very close, very dear friend of mine, whom we could refer to as a "vegan flirt," to use one of Alicia Silverstone's favorite terms, recently said in an offhanded, joking manner that she'd consider going vegan, "when someone invents vegan pepperoni."

So I sent her a picture of this. We had just made this vegan pepperoni pizza the day before she made the comment. I'm not going to post a recipe because I really just assembled a bunch of store-bought ingredients: a cornmeal crust from Whole Foods, pizza sauce (use your favorite brand), Daiya mozzarella cheese, and Lightlife Pepperoni-style slices. Sprinkle liberally with fresh or dried basil, oregano, and bake at 450 for about 15 minutes.

It remains to be seen if this pepperoni pizza will in fact convert my friend to veganism, but I hope that it helps prove that being vegan needn't mean depriving yourself of your favorite foods. Even if that food happens to be pepperoni.

And if pepperoni pizza isn't enough to convert someone to veganism, I should point out the Vegan MoFo is in full swing for the entire month of October, and if these vegan bloggers can't convert you, then I don't know what will. I participated in Vegan MoFo last year, and it was a great, albeit exhausting experience. It's great exposure for your own blog, and you get to connect with and discover lots of other vegan bloggers while you're at it. It was a difficult decision to not sign up again this year, but I just didn't think I could keep up the pace of daily posting for a solid month. Between my job, which has been insane lately, being 8 months pregnant and tired all the time, and preparing our apartment for the baby, I can barely manage to throw together a pepperoni pizza made out of store-bought ingredients, you know? But I will be reading the daily updates and hope to discover some great new vegan blogs. You should do it too. Support your fellow vegans!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer Squash & Tomato Pizza

Sometimes you get a craving for pizza. Sometimes that craving takes you all the way to a neighborhood known as Dumbo, where you are inexplicably willing to stand outside in the heat waiting for half an hour to get into Grimaldi's Pizza for a sublime, no cheese pie with an utterly perfect coal-fired brick oven crust. Call it temporary insanity.

Crazy for Grimaldi's pizza.
Strangely enough, eating pizza this past weekend at Grimaldi's only made me crave more pizza. I wanted something different though, and this recipe I found in Food & Wine seemed like a good way to use up some of the zucchini that I had just bought at the farmer's market. I made a few changes - instead of yellow squash I used green zucchini, I made it on a pizza crust instead of puff pastry, and I substituted a vegan cream cheese for the goat cheese. The end result was really good, something between a pizza and a tart, and was filling without being heavy. Lots of great summer flavors in there, and perfect for when it's not too hot to turn your oven on for a half hour. Even though I made this using a store-bought pizza dough, I do think that this would also be really tasty using the puff pastry as directed in the original recipe. Just make sure to get a vegan (no-butter) brand if you decide to go the puff pastry route. The Pepperidge Farm brand is (accidentally) vegan and widely available.

Summer Squash & Tomato Pizza (adapted from this recipe)
serves 4

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound small yellow squash or zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 Tbsp. prepared pesto* (see note on pesto at bottom)
8 oz. plain vegan cream cheese, softened
1 batch of store-bought pizza dough
1 plum tomato, very thinly sliced
8 small pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
fresh basil, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 425° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the squash and onion and season with salt and white pepper. Cover and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash and onion are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a strainer and press lightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, blend the pesto* with the vegan cream cheese. 

3. Press your pizza dough out evenly on your baking sheet. Spread the pesto cream cheese all over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Top with the squash mixture. Arrange the tomato slices on top of the squash and sprinkle with salt and white pepper. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 25 - 30 minutes, until the edges are golden and the bottom is completely cooked through. Sprinkle with the olives and fresh basil, cut into squares and serve right away.

Spread the pesto cream cheese over your pizza dough.

Arrange squash or zucchini mixture on top of cream cheese.
Arrange tomato slices on top (this pic was taken after baking).
Close up of all the good stuff.
Cut into slices and enjoy!
*Note on pesto: It is nearly impossible to find prepared pesto that doesn't contain cheese, and since this recipe calls for such a small amount I didn't want to include an entire recipe for pesto here. I whipped up a very small batch of it in my food processor using about a 1/2 cup of tightly packed basil leaves, about a half teaspoon of vegan parmesan, one garlic clove, and drizzled olive oil while it was running until the pesto reached the consistency I was happy with. I know this isn't a real recipe for pesto, but I just kind of improvised it, and I think you can too. I have faith in you.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happy Vegan Pizza Day!

It's Vegan Pizza Day! In my house, every day is Vegan Pizza Day, although I confess we don't observe it every single day. But some geniuses went and made it an official day, so hopefully you have the day off from work to properly celebrate, and by celebrate I mean stuff your face with some delicious vegan pizza!

I have some favorite homemade pizzas. First, there's the Two Moons Special, our beloved creation of Shitake Mushrooms on a Cornmeal Crust.

Then there's the close second runner-up, my Mexican Pizza with Homemade Seitan Chorizo:

I've even made a Zucchini Blossom Pizza:

And this quick Mushroom & Sausage Pizza, inspired by Pala, one of our favorite places to get vegan pizza in the city:

But in honor of Vegan Pizza Day, we wanted to do something new. I decided on making two different pizzas, both with gluten-free crusts that I made from a Bob's Red Mill mix. I found the gluten-free crusts to be slightly chewier than the normal kind, but not unpleasantly so. I would definitely make them again.

The first pizza was a classic Veggie Lover's pizza because, you know, I love the veggies. Simply topped with organic pizza sauce, mushrooms, red pepper, artichoke hearts, fresh garlic, black olives, and Mozzarella Teese. It would have been good with some spinach on there too, but I didn't have any, so whatever. I didn't reinvent the wheel or anything with this one, but it was really, really good, and more than satisfied our pizza craving.

Veggie Lover's before going in the oven...
And after! Delicious!
The second pizza, a Pesto Potato one, was a little experimental for me. I made a homemade pesto with fresh basil, pine nuts, vegan Parmesan, garlic, and olive oil. I cut a potato into some very thin slices, sprinkled them with salt, and soaked them in cold water for about an hour before draining and patting dry. The potato slices went on top of the pesto sauce, then I topped with fresh garlic, fresh thyme & rosemary, and just a small amount of the Mozzarella Teese. 

Fresh from the oven!

The result was a hearty, flavorful pizza. The potatoes got just lightly crisped, and the flavors from the fresh pesto and fresh herbs on top really complemented each other.  I was glad I didn't put too much cheese on this one, because it might have become too heavy, but as it was it was a perfect winter pie. And the best part is that with the leftovers, I can hereby declare January 30th the official Vegan Pizza for Breakfast Day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mexican Pizza With Homemade Seitan Chorizo

I've been craving pizza lately. Not that there's ever a bad time to eat pizza, but something about the crisp fall air makes me crave a nice hearty pizza. And beer. Pizza and beer. Spicy pizza and beer. Oh yeah.

I've been meaning to make a Mexican pizza for some time now and I knew that I wanted to top it with a spicy sausage. I'm a huge fan of the Field Roast Mexican Chipotle sausages, and the Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo isn't bad, but when my friend Wendy told me that she had a recipe for homemade seitan chorizo, well there was no question. I had to make my own. And lucky for you folks, she said I could share her recipe here.

The directions for Wendy's chorizo really couldn't be any easier, and it is addictively good. The hardest part is waiting for it to finish cooking, because it smells so mouth-wateringly delicious. And I am extremely happy to report that it actually packs quite a punch! I wanted something really spicy, and I got it. It's not for the faint of heart or palate. But if you like spicy food, as I do, then you will love this stuff.

I also made pickled red onions to go on top of the pizza, but other than the time it takes to make the chorizo and the onions, everything else comes together pretty instantly. Although you could use any type of crust, I really recommend a cornmeal crust for this pizza. It's so hearty and delicious, and just really goes well with these types of toppings. You could make my Cornmeal Crust recipe, but I would leave out the herbs if you do so, or you could buy frozen cornmeal crusts from Whole Foods. Go ahead. I won't tell.

Mexican Pizza With Homemade Seitan Chorizo
makes one 9" pizza (2 servings)

1 cornmeal crust (homemade or frozen)
1/2 cup of your favorite pizza sauce
sliced black olives
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced with seeds removed
1/2 batch of Wendy's homemade chorizo (recipe below), cut into small cubes
Daiya or other vegan cheddar cheese
vegan sour cream
pickled red onions (I made a 1/2 batch of this recipe)
sliced fresh avocado
*Note: I'm not giving exact amounts for the pizza toppings. Use as much or as little as you like. Go crazy!

1. Preheat oven to 450. Top your crust with sauce, sliced jalapenos, and sliced olives.

2. Sprinkle chorizo cubes over pizza, then top with cheddar cheese.

3. Bake on pizza stone (recommended) or a crisper for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Top with dollops of sour cream, pickled red onions, slices of fresh avocado, and cilantro. Pour yourself a Mexican beer and enjoy!

Wendy's Seitan Chorizo

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
2 TB nutritional yeast
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp fine sea salt (or kosher)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
3 TB water
1 TB apple cider vinegar
2 TB ketchup
1 TB canola

1. Preheat oven to 325. In a large mixing bowl, mix all of your dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk all of your liquid ingredients together.

2. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, it should be elastic and spongy. Let it rest while you clean your hands and prep your pans.
3. Put a glass loaf pan into the center of a brownie pan or roaster (2" sides) and fill the outer pan about half way full with water.
4. Now form your dough into a loaf (about 7" - 8" long) and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil, twisting the ends. Place the wrapped loaf inside of the dry glass loaf pan and bake it for 90 minutes. I recommend turning it after 60 minutes (this method won't give it a thick crust, but I like it to cook as evenly as possible). Also be sure to check the water level. If it evaporates, then you're looking at crusty city.
5. When it's done, unwrap and let it cool completely. After cooling, you can re-wrap it in plastic or foil (or store in a tightly sealed container, recommended) and store it in the refrigerator for when you're ready to use it. It also freezes well so if you don't use it up in about 5 days or so, divide it into portions and store it in the freezer.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Return of the Blossoms: Zucchini Blossom Pizza

This past weekend I made zucchini blossoms for the first time, stuffing them full of cheesy goodness and frying them. Fortunately I had some leftover blossoms to work with, so I made one of my favorite vegan good things: a cornmeal-crust pizza. I don't normally put zucchini on pizzas...I don't know why, because I love zucchini and I love pizza, but they don't necessarily need to go together, you know? But maybe I've been missing out because I really loved this zucchini pizza, with its one-two punch of fresh zucchini slices and zucchini blossoms. Another thing? The word "zucchini" starts to look really weird the more you type it. Zucchini zucchini zucchini.

Anyway, here is my super fast, easy, and delicious Zucchini Blossom Pizza. Here's a big tip: you can either make your own cornmeal crust, per my recipe, OR you can save yourself just a teensy bit of work and buy the frozen cornmeal pizza crusts from Whole Foods. Here's a secret: I buy them all the time, and they're awesome. In the 8 minutes you save from not kneading the dough, you can do something else productive, like drink a martini.

Zucchini Blossom Pizza
serves two people

1 cornmeal crust (homemade or frozen)
about 1/2 cup of your favorite pizza sauce
2 lg. cloves garlic, minced
1 sm. zucchini, sliced thinly
salt and pepper, to taste
6-8 fresh zucchini blossoms
about 1/4 cup Daiya Mozzarella shreds
fresh basil for garnish, coarsely torn or chiffonade

1. Preheat oven to 450. Spread sauce over pizza crust. I like a lot of sauce, but you don't want too much or else your crust will get soggy. Sprinkle garlic over sauce.

2. Arrange zucchini slices over sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Note: I happened to have some leftover sauteed onions and mushrooms in my fridge, so I threw those in under the zucchini layer. Feel free to add any additional pizza toppings you like. Go crazy!

3. Arrange blossoms over zucchini slices, like so:

4. Top with Daiya cheese and some fresh basil.

5. Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes, until cheese has melted on top. Before serving, add some more fresh basil.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Weekend: Eating Good Things Other People Made

I can't believe it's been an entire week since I last posted. I blame it on my job, which has been sapping me of all energy by the time I get home, and a very busy weekend, too busy to do much cooking of my own. The weekend wasn't a complete bust, however, because I did get to sample some very tasty treats.

Saturday morning I met up with Evan from bjorkedoff. After seeing the dizzying assortment of homemade vegan pastries on Evan's blog (kabocha squash, peanut butter/banana/chocolate chip, grape with raisins, to name just a few of her mouth-watering flavors), I knew I needed to order some. I got a half dozen raspberry cream cheese danishes, and a half dozen croissants too. They were so yummy!  Evan's pastry dough is light, flaky, and buttery, just like it should be. The croissants are a little crisper than the non-vegan variety, but that may be because they are shaped a bit thinner. They were still very tasty, but the danishes are really to die for. They were finger-licking good and I think they could fool any non-vegan. We had a lovely breakfast with the pastries and some chai tea with soy creamer.

Vegan raspberry cream cheese danish
Vegan croissants

Saturday night we went to Pala, a restaurant I had previously mentioned really liking (the one that inspired this pizza). I had been there before, but my husband had not, so I was really excited to introduce him to it. We started with a couple of appetizers - I ordered the caponata for myself because A doesn't like eggplant, and he returned the favor by ordering a beet salad. I hate beets. Funny enough, we both tasted each other's appetizers, and we both really liked them. So we ended up sharing after all, as we usually do. 

The caponata includes eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onions, capers, olives, and cherry tomatoes in a sweet and tangy sauce. All of the veggies tasted superbly fresh, and the sauce has a nice zing to it.  Being as this seems to be one of the only ways that A will agree to eat eggplant, I will certainly try to recreate this dish at home in the near future.

Pala's caponata
Pala's "Rapa" beet salad
The beet salad was made with golden beets, which I found to have a much more subtle flavor than the red variety. One of my new year's resolutions was to eat more beets, so I think that golden is the way for me to go. The beets were mixed with ginger (another great zing to our palate), red onions, mixed greens, and Daiya cheese. I'm a big fan of Daiya cheese, but I don't know if it was entirely necessary on this salad. I don't think that it added much to it, especially since we were about to embark on this Daiya cheese extravaganza...

Pala's Sausage & Mushroom pizza

A full half of Pala's menu is vegan, and although you can order pasta, the real reason to go is for their amazing pizza. I had the "Funghi e Salsiccia," or sausage and mushroom, the last time I was there, but it was so good that we had to order it again. They use Field Roast Italian Sausages, and of course top it with oodles of Daiya cheese. The crust is thin, light, and airy - exactly the way I like them. We are really lucky to have a lot of great places in NY to get great vegan pizza, but Pala's pizza is definitely among the best, and they also win points for great ambience, and a menu that will elate vegans and carnivores (and even gluten-free eaters!) alike. And if that doesn't convince you, then this should:

Vegan chocolate-chocolate chip cake with vanilla soy ice cream

Yep, that would be our absolutely ridiculously decadent vegan dessert. Chocolate cake with chocolate chips (even white chocolate chips on top) with a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream. Our server had told us at first that they were out of their vegan dessert, but when she saw the look of despair on my face she must have gone to have another look, and came back to surprise us with this gem. What can I say? It was chocolatey, it was rich, it was naughty, it was good. And it was a perfect ending to an already incredible meal.

Pala Pizza
198 Allen St. 
New York, NY 10012

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Two Moons Special: Shitake Mushroom-Cornmeal Crust Pizza

I've been holding out on this recipe for some time now. It's probably our favorite dinner to make at home, so much so that we've dubbed it the "Two Moons Special." And while I've wanted to share it with my loyal readers (are there any out there?), I've been worried that I wouldn't have any original recipes good enough to follow this one.

But I can't hold out any longer. This is my absolute favorite pizza, and it is so hearty, savory, and satisfying that it won't even occur to you that there isn't any cheese or cheese-like topping on it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Shitake Mushroom - Cornmeal Crust Pizza
Serves two people.
For crust:
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil

For topping:
1/2 cup of your favorite pizza sauce
6 oz. fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup artichoke hearts, cut into pieces
1/4 cup black olives, sliced or chopped (I prefer the oil-cured variety for this pizza)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade

1. Preheat oven to 450. Place all dry ingredients for crust into a large bowl, mix well. Add oil and water, then knead with your hands for about 8 minutes, until dough becomes smooth and elastic.

2. Press crust into a tart or pie pan, as shown below. I find this crust turns out best when you cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer at least as long as it takes you to prepare the topping ingredients. Even better if you freeze it at least an hour. For some reason, the scientific explanation for which I couldn't begin to tell you, this seems to make the crust come out crisper and crunchier.

3. Heat olive oil on medium-high. Saute garlic for a few minutes until softened and barely golden (do not allow to crisp). Add mushrooms and a pinch of crushed red pepper and saute several minutes until softened and browned. Salt and pepper to taste.

4. Spoon about 1/2 cup of sauce (I like a lot of sauce on this pizza, use less if you prefer) onto the crust, and spread around evenly. The bottom of a ladle works well for this. Spoon mushroom/garlic mixture evenly over sauce, then add bits of artichoke hearts and olives, evenly.

5. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until crust is golden and crispy. Before serving, sprinkle fresh basil chiffonade on top.