This beautiful pizza had the odds stacked against it from the beginning: I was tired, I was very sore (I am now training to become a kick ass super fly fighting machine) and (drum roll please) I had just bought a new Canon Digital Rebel XTi. Yes, I have finally stepped into the world of SLR (thank you economic stimulus package). To say I was excited is an understatement…and as Greyhound Celebrity pointed out, it was kind of sad a piece of gear would get me that worked up. Either way, all of these things spelled impending doom for my little pizza. But it would not accept defeat easily and the brave little soldier came through in the clutch!
I love making homemade pizzas…usually. But I was not in the mood to make it on Friday night, especially since I could barely lift my arms (seriously, you try doing punching drills for two minute intervals and tell me if you want to roll out dough). All this aside, I had already made the dough two days before and had all the ingredients staring at me. Not only that, since I have always had issues with my pizza crusts, I had researched and researched to find a great pizza dough recipe and I really believed I stumbled upon a winner. So with tired arms (and legs…and abs…and back), I rolled out the dough and let it rest, as the recipe instructed, while I made the roasted garlic white sauce and carmelized fig infused balsamic vinegar onions/mushroom mixture for the top.
Before starting anything, if you have a baking stone, place it in the oven and set the oven at its highest temperature. If you don’t have a baking stone, just preheat the oven at its highest temperature and get out a large, non-stick baking sheet.
For the carmelized onions:
1 large white onion
1/4 cup fig infused balsamic vinegar (can substitute other flavored balsamic vinegars)
2 tablespoons butter
1 package of shiitake mushrooms
Over medium heat, melt the butter in a saute pan. While the butter is melting, cut the onion in half lengthwise and then thinly slice each half. Throw the onions into the pan, stirring them on a constant basis (to prevent burning). A little after the onions become translucent (and start to brown a little) add the vinegar, making sure to pour it evenly over all the onions. Continue stirring until the onions have carmelized nicely. At this point, toss in the mushrooms and let them saute for about two to three minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
For the roasted garlic white sauce:
4 garlic heads, roasted
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
NOTE: Make sure you have all ingredients right at the stove and ready to go before starting to make the sauce. Also, make sure you have a small whisk at the ready.
Roast four heads of garlic for about an hour (see this post if you are not familiar with roasting garlic). Remove the garlic from the oven, slightly open each garlic pouch and allow to cool completely. Once cool, squeeze out the garlic “paste” from each clove of garlic into a bowl.
Next, warm the milk slightly (this can be achieved either via the stove or the microwave…I used the microwave and it worked great), making sure to keep it from foaming up. Set aside the warmed milk. In a saucepan, completely melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble, slowly stir in the flour and milk, whisking with the other hand. Whisk until the mixture is smooth, ensuring no lumps have formed. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the garlic paste. Continue whisking until the garlic is incorporated into the sauce completely.
Building the pizza:
1/2 to 1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
Roasted garlic sauce
Carmelized onions and mushroom mixture
Lightly dust a baker’s peel with cornmeal and gently place the dough on top of it. With a wide spoon, dish out a generous amount of the sauce onto the center of the dough. With the back of the spoon, and in a circular pattern, spread the sauce out evenly onto the dough. Sprinkle the onion/mushroom mixture evenly over the dough and then liberally toss the cheese over the pizza. As usual, I have no restraint, so I used a whole cup of cheese. But I’m an addict and have no shame…don’t let this happen to you. Open up the oven and slide the pizza from the peel onto the stone carefully. Close the oven and allow the pizza to cook for four minutes. Then rotate the pizza and continue to bake it for another four minutes (or until the crust reaches your desired crispiness).
Let me just tell you that I was fiddling with my camera and the pizza was temporarily neglected. So my pizza ended up a wee bit crispier than I anticipated. However, this in no way detracted from how unbelievably awesome it tasted. The fruity flavor of the carmelized onions were the Shaggy to the Gruyere Cheese’s Scooby Doo. And the crust was one of the best thin pizza crusts I have ever tasted. Even better: the dough recipe I used (linked at the beginning of this post) made a total of four balls, three of which are happily residing in my freezer – and can stay there for up to four months (read: I will be making lots of pizzas in the coming weeks).
Finally, please bear with me as I learn all of the bells and whistles of my new Canon (sadly, it took me almost an hour to realize I left the lens cap on and that’s why my shots weren’t coming out – I told you I was tired). Hopefully in the coming weeks, you will notice a marked improvement in my pictures (or for you DC folks, you may see a news story about a crazy woman in Shaw running down the streets screaming “How the hell do you adjust the aperture).