May 31, 2009

We are the Kings and Queens of Pizza

Last night, after a few delays and a trip to the emergency room earlier in the day for one of our party, our supper club got together for our May dinner. (Don't worry, only a minor eye injury, everyone is fine!)

We almost forgot about it, well, really, we didn't realize it was coming until Thursday morning during the bus run. So with only a little time to spare for planning we decided on pizza. But not just any old pizza's. We decided to try pizza recipes we'd never attempted before. So, much to Will's disappointment, no pepperoni (wimp!)

I have to say, I think I'll never look at pizza the same way again. In fact, I know it. I've been through a similar experience before. Right after high school graduation I spent three months living on the island of Sardinia in Italy. (I know, rough life) It was an unreal kind of summer. Did you ever watch the Gidget movies? Well, my life was pretty much Gidget Goes Abroad that summer. Sitting on the beach, singing songs, playing guitar and, oh yeah, the pizza. The first time I went to eat pizza in Italy, I actually ate before hand because I had never been a big pizza fan and I thought I'd just have a small slice. So when it turned out that everyone got their own pizza, and I don't mean a little personal pan pizza type thing, I mean a big old pizza, all to ourselves, I was a little overwhelmed, but not as overwhelmed as I was when I tasted it.

I literally spent the first two years of college not eating pizza because I knew it just wouldn't compare. Yeah, I was the only college kid who never ate pizza. It took me a long time to even think of ordering pizza in America again, and I'm still pretty snotty about pizza being good, so when I say what was made last night was great, I mean it was GREAT.

Each family brought dough and toppings for a pizza. I won't give you a rundown on pizza dough because, well, who makes their own these days. Our local grocery store actually makes a pretty decent dough that we use all the time, including last night.

The three pizza's that appeared on the table last night were a roasted egg plant and red pepper pizza with marinara sauce and feta cheese. A shredded zucchini pizza with caramelized onions, herbed goats cheese and olive oil (no red sauce, just the oil for a base) and a divine fig and prosciutto pizza that Stephanie pulled from a Todd English cookbook. Now, as we know, I love figs. So anything with the word "fig" in it is just fine by me. But this was honestly one of the best things I've ever eaten in my life. It's a little time consuming but TOTALLY worth the work. And the hard part, the fig jam, could easily be doubled (or tripled or quadruples, it all depends on how much you love it !) and frozen for future use, in which case the pizza would be a snap to whip out. Even Will of the "I only like pepperoni" school of thought liked it, actually he liked them all, which just goes to show you sometimes funky and weird can be better than normal.

Fig and Prosciutto Pizza

adapted from Figs Table

First you need the fig jam:

1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil

3 shallots, diced

1 cup red wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1/4 cup sugar

1 rounded cup dried mission figs, quartered

Saute the shallots in the oil for about three minutes, until soft then deglaze with the wine. When the liquid has reduced by half add the stock and the vinegar and again, reduce by half. Add in the rosemary and sugar and reduce heat, stirring gently, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the figs and cook for about 10 more minutes on a low heat. It should still be fairly runny, not a true "jam"

Now you can make the pizza. You'll need

1 ball of pizza dough (the original called for a pizza stone but we used a pan)

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 pinches salt

2 pinches freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1/2 cup Fig Jam

4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled into pea-sized pieces

3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

1 scallion, thinly sliced lengthwise, for garnish

Roll the dough out and coat with oil. Sprinkle the garlic and rosemary evenly over the oil. Dollop the jam around the pizza and then spread slightly. Crumble on the cheese and then top with prosciutto. Bake in a 450 degree oven. Check the pizza at the 5 minute mark and decide how crispy you want the crust. If the crust is thin or you don't want it very crispy, you may only need another minute or two, otherwise put it back for another 5 minutes. Garnish with the scallions and dig in!