Wild Mushroom Pizza

I took Victoria, my bicycle, out for her first ride of the season last week since I had not ridden her for months. Last fall I stored her in a safe bike rack close to the door of my building’s underground parking lot. That way I was able to see her and wave to her as I drove out of the lot or could check on her from time to time over the winter.

Now that spring is here it was time to take her out for a tune up and cleaning so she will be ready for the season.

I will admit I was a little nervous that I had forgotten all that I learned last season. I wondered if I would be able to ride as well, or as far. Thankfully; I was fine. The feeling of freedom as we made our way down to the lake on the bike trails was invigorating. I had not lost my ability to ride and I felt alive and excited to be out with Victoria again.

I look forward to a new season of adventures on Toronto’s bike trails, parks and beaches.

I also look forward to being able to go to the local outdoor farmer’s markets again. There are a number of markets held across the city where local farmers bring their fresh produce, meats and cheeses each week. It is a wonderful treat to pick up some fresh vegetables and take them home for the evening meal. Many of the local farmers bring organic foods, which I prefer.

I adapted this Wild Mushroom Pizza from a few different recipes and a few of my own ideas. I hope you enjoy it.

Mushroom-Pizza-Uncooked
Wild Mushroom Pizza

Ingredients:
1 tsp. sugar
1 package quick-rise yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cornmeal
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
2 cups thinly mixed wild mushrooms such as oyster, king oyster, enoki, cremini, and chanterelle
2 1/4 cups fontina cheese, diced
1½ cups fresh ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Dissolve the sugar and yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 1/4 cups flour and 1/4 tsp. salt to yeast mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; sprinkle with cornmeal.

Roll dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. Place dough on prepared baking sheet and let rise 10 minutes.

Mushroom-Pizza-Cooked

Preheat oven to 475°F.
While dough rises, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 tsp. salt and mushrooms, and cook 7 minutes or until mushrooms are soft.
Sprinkle 1 cup of the fontina and ricotta evenly over dough, and arrange the mushroom mixture evenly over fontina. Sprinkle remaining fontina and Parmesan cheese evenly over top.

Bake at 475°F for 15 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.

Remove to cutting board, and season with sea salt and pepper.

Cut into slices. Serve immediately.

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Asparagus, Fingerling Potato and Goat Cheese Pizza

Asparagus-Pizza

Writing a food blog is about passion. You need to have passion for food, for cooking, for baking or for sharing your love of life. I am passionate about the joy that great food brings to our lives. Many of my fondest memories include times when I have shared meals with my dear old friends, loved ones and new friends. It is amazing how you can bring people together by sharing a meal with them.

I remember times when I was a child and my family was all gathered around a table having a traditional Sunday dinner. When we got older and moved out on our own we started to experiment with different cuisines. We would gather together a my sister’s ski chalet and create amazing dinners with each person taking responsibility for a course. We experimented with fine French cooking and many Italian dishes. Fondues were a popular way to warm up the evening.

In those days we would all return from a day of skiing and gather around the fire with a glass of wine to recant they day’s events. The stories were always entertaining. Some of us were racers; skiing with the best on the mountain. Others were eager to learn and happy to just enjoy the sunshine and the exercise. I was one of the latter. I never really got to be an expert skier but I always enjoyed the day. I looked forward to coming home to a great meal, a glass of wine by the fire and great times with family and friends.

Last week I went back to Blue Mountain for the first time in many years. The mountain has undergone major development and there is an amazing ski village at the foot of the hill. We stayed in a beautiful condo about 100 yards from the lodge the had a fireplace and a full kitchen. It was like being there so many years ago. A glass of wine by the fire, followed by a dinner in a local bistro made all of those wonderful memories come rolling back.

While we were there we were hit with a major snow storm. We woke up to snow-covered trees right outside our door and a winter wonderland that was breathtaking. Everything was covered in a blanket of sparkling white, fluffy snow. Our thoughts were so far from the drive home. All we were thinking about was living in the moment. My skills on the hills are still not the best, but I had a wonderful time.

I still am experimenting with new foods and discovering new cuisines but I still love to cook Italian food. I enjoy discovering new ways to bake a pizza. This recipe offers a sensational combination of fingerling potatoes, goat cheese and asparagus. This vegetarian pizza is a healthy, yet delicious choice.

Asparagus, Fingerling Potato, and Goat Cheese Pizza

Makes 4 -6 servings

Ingredients:

5 ounces fingerling potatoes
Cornmeal or Semolina (for sprinkling)
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Pizza dough (for recipe see below)
1 garlic clove, pressed
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 1/3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
4 oz. soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
8 oz. asparagus, trimmed, each spear cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2 to 3-inch pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Asparagus-Pizza-on-paddle

Directions:

Place potatoes in small saucepan. Cover with salted water to 1 inch above the potatoes. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool. Cut potatoes into thin slices.

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Place pizza stone in bottom 1/3 of the oven to heat. Sprinkle with ¼ cup cornmeal.

Roll and stretch pizza dough to 16 inch round. Transfer to a pizza paddle that has also been sprinkled with cornmeal.

Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic in small bowl. Brush garlic oil over dough. Sprinkle green onions over dough, then mozzarella, leaving 1/2-inch plain border. Top with potato slices and goat cheese. Toss asparagus and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium-sized bowl. Scatter asparagus over pizza. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then lightly with salt and generously with pepper.

Reduce the oven temperature to 450°F.

Slide pizza from pizza paddle to pizza stone carefully.

Bake pizza until crust is browned and asparagus is tender, about 16-18 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into pieces.

Recipe modified from Epicurious.com

For Pizza Dough recipe click here

Prosciutto, Fig and Arugula Pizza- fit for Angels and Demons

The first time I was in Paris I was reading the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown while I was on the plane to France. When I got to The Louvre I was so excited to hunt for places described in the book while, I was exploring the museum.

The last time I was in Rome I was touring the Vatican and Castel Sant’ Angelo. These two sites are only a few blocks apart and seeing them both in one day is a good way to experience the history of the area. What I did not know when I was seeing these sites, was that I would be seeing them in a movie, soon afterward. The week after I got home the movie Angels and Demons came out on DVD. I was able to revisit so many of the great spots in Rome while watching the movie. It was like reliving my time in Rome through one of Tom Hanks’ adventures.

Rome is a great food city. I love the espresso bars where you stand and have your morning coffee. I love the gelateria where you can go for sweet treats until the wee hours of the morning. I love the panini trucks that will make you delicious toasted sandwiches for lunch. I love the small cafes hosted by families that make you simple, but flavourful bowls of pasta for your dinner. I love the pizzerias in Rome.

I made this pizza recipe in memory of this great city.


Pizza Dough

Makes 1 pound or enough for 4 individual pizzas

Ingredients
3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. sugar
Extra-virgin olive oil

Pizza Topping

Ingredients
6 slices of buffalo mozzarella cheese, ¼ inch thick
½ cup arugula
3 slices prosciutto
3 fresh figs, quartered or 3 dried figs, quartered
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp. Semolina flour
2 tbsp. honey

Directions
Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix until just blended, then, add 1 1/3 cups warm water. Mix until the dough comes together, then mix for another minute.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for 8 hours or until risen dough is marshmallowy.
On a lightly floured surface, use a bench scraper or sharp knife to divide into quarters. With lightly floured hands, shape the pieces into balls by cupping the dough and turning it against the floured surface until round and tight.
Transfer the balls to a highly oiled baking sheet or bowls, then, lightly brush the tops with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until tripled in volume, about 1 ½ hours. Use immediately or put a sheet of parchment on top of the dough balls, then cover tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to use, remove from the refrigerator and let stand in a warm place for 1 hour.

Place a pizza stone on the lowest rack of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Let the stone heat up with the oven.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until it is approximately 9 inches in diameter. Lay on a pizza paddle lightly floured with semolina flour. Add cheese, prosciutto, arugula, figs, salt and pepper.
Slide pizza onto the heated stone and bake on 12- 15 minutes, until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Slide pizza back onto paddle and remove from the oven. Drizzle pizza with honey and serve.

Let pizza stone cool down with the oven to avoid cracking.

Recipe for pizza dough from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges by Jean-Georges Vongerichten