Make Something New Every Day

This blog is inspired by all those who love to cook, whether experienced or not, and who continue to experiment with new ideas & ingredients, and best of all, share their passion with others.

The first entries are recipes prepared by the students of Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland, CA. Fifteen students with varying cooking experience participated in my weekly workshop (via Tutorpedia), and successfully prepared various meals, snacks, and baked goods as part of an after-school program.

Along with the recipes from that class, I will continue to add new seasonal items, spanning every genre of the culinary world, as well as a helpful list of links to recipes, instructional videos, and places to shop and volunteer in your area.

Feel free to ask me questions and share your recipes and ideas as well. I look forward to cooking with you.

November 30, 2014

Crisp & Chewy Thin Crust Pizza

The dough for this pizza rises at room temperature for about 90 minutes. From start to finish, the process takes about 3 hours. You can certainly save time by purchasing dough, but if you have the time and enjoy baking from scratch, this simple meal is very rewarding. 

Top it with anything from traditional red sauce and mozzarella, to what I've done here - a fridge cleanout. This is a great way to make leftovers sing. Below I have the recipes and techniques for the dough, the bechamel (white sauce), and the sauteed mushrooms and onions that topped part of my "kitchen sink" pizza. You can find the recipe for the lox here. 

Because this technique uses a baking sheet rather than a pizza stone, it's important to prepare the dough and bake it in stages as described. The toppings are up to you! 

The Dough
2t yeast
1t sugar
3/4C warm water
1T olive oil (plus extra for the dough rise and baking the pizza)

2.5C bread or AP flour
1t salt

Heat the water to about 110' (it should feel warm, but not piping hot). Gently stir in the sugar and yeast. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast blooms and looks foamy. 

Add the flour, salt, and yeast mixture to a stand mixer bowl. Using the hook attachment, slowly combine the ingredients, then knead on a higher speed for about 3 minutes til the dough comes together in a smooth ball. 

Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel, and let it rise in a draft-free place until doubled in bulk (about 90 minutes). 

The Bechamel
2T butter
2T flour
1.5C milk
3-4T fresh goat cheese

In a glass measuring cup, heat the milk until warm, but not piping hot (don't scald it). Melt the butter in a saucepan, then whisk in the flour. Whisk this mixture on med/low heat for about a minute to cook the flour, then slowly whisk in the warm milk. Raise the heat to med/med-hi, and whisk continuously until it begins to boil and thicken. Turn the heat down as low as possible, and stir in the goat cheese. Season with S&P to taste. Turn off heat. Whisk occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. 

Sauteed Onions & Mushrooms
I had some of these leftover from the night before, and just heated them up a bit before adding them to my pizza. If you're making them the same day, make them before starting the bechamel. 

1 white or yellow onion, peeled, halved, & sliced into half rings
8oz crimini mushrooms, washed and sliced
olive oil
3T dry sherry, red wine, port, or broth 

Heat about 3T olive oil in a large skillet on med-high heat. Saute the onions until translucent, then sprinkle with about 1/2t salt. Reduce the heat to med-low, and cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring to avoid hot spots. This slow process will result in deliciously caramelized onions. 

When the onions are beginning to brown a bit, add 1T butter and raise the heat to med-high. Stir in the sliced mushrooms, and saute until the mushrooms are golden brown. Sprinkle with about 1/4t salt and freshly ground pepper. Deglaze the pan with about 3T of dry sherry. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Back to the Dough
After the pizza dough has doubled in bulk, transfer it to a floured work surface, and gently roll in out to a 16"x12" rectangle. Oil a rimmed baking sheet, and transfer the dough to it, gently stretching it out to fit inside the pan. Brush the dough with more olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450'.

<1C grated parmigiano reggiano
chopped lox or smoked salmon
mushrooms & onions
extra goat cheese, crumbled
chopped basil 

Assemble and Bake the Pizza
After the dough has rested for another 20 minutes, remove the plastic wrap, and dimple the dough all over with your fingers. Sprinkle the grated parm all over, and bake for 7-10 minutes (til the cheese is melted, and the dough becomes lightly golden. 

Remove the pan from the oven, and carefully spread the bechamel over the crust, leaving a small border. Cover part of the pizza with the mushrooms and onions, and part of the pizza with the lox. Sprinkle with the crumbled goat cheese, and bake the pizza for another 10 minutes, or until the bechamel begins to bubble and the outer crust is a deep golden brown. 
I only had a little bit of the mushrooms left over, but next time I'll make a whole pizza's worth. It was the BOMB. 
Transfer the cooked pizza to a cutting board. 
Sprinkle with basil. Let it rest for a few minutes before cutting. 

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