How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Comfort Pizza Variations

Advisory: Today's post is more about a comfort food with modest flavor improvements and only modest nods toward health and sustainability. The usual obsessions of this blog will return shortly.

In the Hayes-Boh house, a "usual" pizza order is one cheese -- for our vegetarian daughter -- and one pepperoni and mushroom for us 'rents. This order is placed on average once a month or so, when both our menu planning and our good intentions to cook at home fall short. We've actually resorted to this much less than usual in recent months, proof that the Nueva Receta mindset is taking hold.

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Preparation for this evening's meal began in the early afternoon, when Pam put ingredients for pizza dough in our bread machine. If you have such a machine, it must have a setting and recipe for dough. This is useful both for pizza and for bagels; we make the former fairly often and have prepared the latter only once or twice. As is our wont, Pam modified the standard recipe by adding a little wheat germ (we pronounce that with a hard G in our house) and substituting whole wheat for the portion of the white flour. We then set off on some errands, which included dropping off said vegetarian daughter and stopping by Trader Joe's on the way home.

While at TJ's, we looked for our usual and finding no pepperoni, took a walk on the wild side. We picked up some Canadian bacon, prosciutto being out of the question for its strong saltihood. We also picked up a package of white button mushrooms. (See above note about today's entry not having gourmet pretensions.) I always buy them whole, since slicing is good (if minimal) exercise and pre-slicing simply multiplies the surface area for spoilage.

When we got home, we started heating up the oven and Pam rolled the dough out on the slightly warm baking stone. Meanwhile, I started shredding the mozz (also from TJ's), of which we used about 2/3 of a pound. Not a fancy cheese, but a bit more flavorful than the usual from our local grocery. I also removed about half of the Canadian bacon slices and cut them into quarters (a total of three ounces).

I then sliced all of the mushrooms and cooked them in a little butter on medium-high heat. When soft, I added a generous splash of wine and cooked until reduced. I usually would use sherry, but we had none. We consolidated partial bottles of our home-made wine and commercial cooking wine, and I added this, cooking on high heat until greatly reduced.

Meanwhile, Pam build the pizza (on the baking stone) with organic commercial sauce, the shredded mozz, and a sprinkling of feta cheese (we keep a big container on hand for just such opportunities), We added the Canadian bacon and the well-cooked mushrooms. We baked at 425 (convection) for 18 minutes, and it turned out perfect!

Here is the real comfort-food portion of the meal. As much as we love fresh fruit, with pizza we enjoy jarred peaches from Costco, in little cups with a dusting of cinnamon. We served this alongside the pizza, which we sprinkled liberally with pepper flakes. This all paired beautifully -- if modestly -- with a Little Penguin Shiraz, which has lasted just long enough for me to complete this post.

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