Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pizza Report

Asparagus, Proscuitto and Egg Pizza
The pizza experiment concluded last night with the making of two mostly organic pizzas: an asparagus, proscuitto and egg pizza and a spinach and garlic pizza.  The new dough recipe was a mixed success.  I let it rise initially for 22 hours without any kneading.  It had risen slightly and was still extremely soft to the touch.  I took it out of the bowl and folded it twice over itself and let it rest for another 15 minutes.  It was extremely soft and very sticky; stuck all over my hands and every surface even though I was careful to cover everything with a lot of flour.  As it is a no-knead dough, the glutens hadn't been stretched and it therefore wasn't elastic and springy like it usually is.  At this point, I started getting skeptical, but continued on nevertheless.  After 15 minutes, I divided the dough into two (as opposed to 4 per the recipe), put it on two plates, covered it with a flour covered kitchen towel and let it rise for two hours.  Then I was ready to make the pizzas.  The dough was extremely difficult to work with.  Since it was so soft, it was hard to slowly stretch out in the air as I usually do it: hold two edges up and let gravity slowly stretch it out.  It would fall too quickly and unevenly.  Also, the dough would stick to my fingers so it would be hard to adjust.  Once I put it on the parchment paper, like I usually do, it was so sticky that it was impossible to really pull and stretch out; it would just stick to the parchment paper.  Instead, I had to basically press down on the paper and spread the dough out that way; using the stickiness as a way to spread out the pizza instead of stretching it out.  It turned out extremely misshapen; I just focused on trying to get uniform thinness so that it would cook evenly.  However, once cooked, the crust was delicious.  It was a less dense, a lot lighter than the usual crust.  While it was pretty crunchy and chewy all the way through, it did not have the soft center that the Co. pizza had, but it was still really good.  So now I'm torn as to whether I will try the same technique again; it tasted really good, but was really hard to work with.  I did notice that I used active dry yeast instead of instant yeast; I wonder if that made a difference.  Otherwise, I followed the recipe pretty precisely.

For the asparagus, proscuitto, egg pizza, I quickly roasted a little over 1 bunch of organic asparagus from the farmer's market for about 8 minutes as I was preheating the oven to 515 degrees (my oven just doesn't get warmer than 515).  I just tossed it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and put it in the oven.  After I spread out the dough, I brushed the dough lightly with a little olive oil, and sprinkled across the dough thinly sliced garlic cloves (about 4-5 cloves), sliced cave aged gruyere, sliced pecorino romano and sliced fresh mozzerella, all from TJs.  Then, I put on a layer of the roasted asparagus, and popped the pizza in the oven for 8 minutes.  After 8 minutes, I put on a layer of 1/4 lb of proscuitto, and slid four organic eggs onto the pizza and cook it for another 4 minutes.  After I took it out, I sprinkled a little grated pecorino romano, a little bit of truffle salt, and chili flakes upon request.  It was delicious; the egg yolk was still a little runny when it was cut into, and the roasted asparagus, salty proscuitto, egg, roasted garlic and cheese went perfectly together.  The proscuitto I got from Whole Foods was just a little too salty; next time I will get better proscuitto which won't be as salty, and the pizza will be perfect.  I love the mixture of the cheeses; it is now my standard cheese blend; very flavorful with some piquancy and the perfect texture.
 I made the spinach pizza pretty much the same as last time, except I use pecorino romano (Co. uses aged pecorino romano), instead of parmigiano reggiano and a little bit more organic spinach from the farmer's market and some red chili flakes.  It was great, I just love the fresh spinach with the garlic, and the chili flakes gave it a nice kick.
We paired the pizza with an inexpensive bottle of Marques de Caceres Rioja Rose from Trader Joes ($6.99).  I have been testing out inexpensive wine for a Memorial Day party we are throwing next week.  On its own, the rose was not that interesting, but it was the perfect pairing and balance to the pizza.  I remain undecided on whether I will be serving it next weekend.

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