Tag Archives: pesto

Daring Bakers: Deep Dish Greek Pizza

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Pizza?  Did someone say pizza?  What pizza?

Pizza with Peter Reinhart's dough from The Bread Baker's Apprentice courtesy of this month's Daring Baker challenge host, Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums.  You'll be able to reference the challenge recipe at her site.

That's what pizza.

Oh…..

But I completely forgot.  I know.  The first time in 17 months. 

So it was after dinner last night when I started my dough and this morning, it's sitting on the counter, flat, and round.  Waiting.

My garlic is roasted.  It will get smashed, mixed with a bit of the roasted garlic oil and spread on the dough before everything else.

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The sundried tomatoes are rehydrating.  They'll go in the pesto.

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And I've still got time to decide what else is going on my pizza.  So far, it's a bit Greek to me:  kalamatas, pinenuts, artichoke hearts, feta….maybe some arugula.  Maybe.  Is that Greek?

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Now why didn't I have this all figured out?  Because when we make pizza — which we do quite a bit — it's sort of anything goes.  That's the fun of it all.

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So this post will be in stages today so I can punish myself for being such a complete dork.

And by all means, tune back in to see where I am on this.  It's not asking much considering you've only got, what?  About a thousand other Daring Bakers' pizzas to check out?

Now, where's my cast iron skillet?  I think we're going deep dish on this one….

Be back later.

10am PST — UPDATE #1:  The Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.

There are lots of pesto recipes out there…or so I thought.  Actually, there are lots of sun-dried tomato pesto recipes out there as long as you're interested in using oil-packed tomatoes.  But I improvised after looking at about 10 different recipes and used what I had on hand:

1 c. rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 c. fresh parmesan, grated

1/2 c. fresh basil

2 T. pepitas, toasted

3 cloves fresh garlic, very large…

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

3 pinches kosher salt

Dash of dried red pepper flakes

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Pour boiling water over the dried tomatoes and let soak for about 30 minutes.  Drain in a fine meshed strainer, reserving the liquid for another use, and press on the tomatoes to remove as much liquid as possible.

In a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, toast the pepitas until just beginning to brown.  Be careful not to burn.  Remove from pan.

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, pulse the tomatoes, parmesan, basil, and garlic until well blended.  With the motor running, then slowly add the olive oil in a steady thin stream.  Add the salt and pulse a few more times.  Check flavor to correct seasoning, then sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and stir.

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Notes:

  • The sun-dried tomatoes I purchase are usually found in bulk in large bins.  I keep them on hand because you just never know when you're going to need them for a Daring Baker's Challenge.  OR something.
  • The flavor is more intense than those packed in oil in my opinion, and the cost is significantly less.  Plus, I usually find that when I purchase oil-packed tomatoes, I don't use them all, and they go to waste.  The plain dried tomatoes are much easier to store and use as I need them.
  • The flavor of this pesto is quite pungent and would be amazing on pasta.  We'll see how it tastes on my pizza.

Okay, back to the kitchen for the next steps.

11:45am PST — UPDATE #2:  The Roasted Garlic

1 head of garlic, peelings on

1/2 c. olive oil

salt and pepper

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Tear off a couple of pieces of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around the head of garlic and provide space for the olive oil.

Slice the top quarter or so off the head of garlic and set the head in the foil.  Pour the olive oil over the head of garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Make a loose package of the foil and crimp the edges tightly.  Set in an oven proof dish and bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour.  Let cool in the package, then carefully open making sure not to spill the roasted garlic oil.  When the garlic is cool, you'll be able to "squirt" each of the cloves of roasted garlic into a dish separate from the oil.  Mash the roasted garlic and spread a small quantity onto the pizza dough.

Notes: 

  • I do have a garlic roaster, and actually use it unless the head of garlic is too large to fit in it.  It's not necessary to have one — the foil produces great results.
  • Roasted garlic is much more mellow than raw.  To me, it's a completely different flavor.  The mashed roasted garlic is something I put out at parties for people to spread on bread or crostini.  It works well with tapenade or soft cheeses as well.  And if you haven't tried it in pasta or mashed potatoes, you're really missing something.
  • Use the oil to brush on bread and toast, or for grilling meat or veggies.  Or use a bit of the oil to thin the roasted garlic.  

Okay, back later…Pizza Numero Uno is up next!

12:45pm PST — UPDATE #3:  The Flat & Crispy Greek Pizza.

1 disk proofed pizza dough

1 T roasted garlic

2 T sun-dried tomato pesto

artichoke hearts (not marinated)

1/4 red onion, sliced

1/4 c. feta cheese, crumbled

1 T fresh rosemary

Amoeba Shaped Greek Pizza

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and position a rack in the lower third of your oven.

Stretch the pizza dough over your extremely floured knuckles until the weight of it causes it to stretch and drape.  Place it on an inverted baking pan covered with parchment.

Thin the roasted garlic with a bit of the garlic oil and using a basting brush, brush it over the pizza dough.

Dot dollops of the tomato pesto over the garlic and spread with the back of a spoon.  It's not necessary to cover the entire surface.

Place artichokes here and there, then the onions, and sprinkle the feta over.  Then sprinkle on the rosemary.

Bake for 5-7 minutes or until crust is pleasantly brown.  Let cool briefly before digging in.

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Notes:

  • I decided to make a flat pizza first since the whole idea behind this challenge was to try and stretch (um, throw?) the dough, which is a bit sticky if there's not enough flour on it, but is quite nice to work with as long as you have more patience than I do.
  • I chose an amoeba-shape because it's Halloween and I thought I'd be clever about it.  Actually, I barely got the dough on my knuckles and boy did it ever want to stretch.  So I slapped it on the baking sheet and proceeded with my toppings.
  • I enjoyed the flavors on this pizza.  They worked nicely with the salty dough.  Usually when we have artichoke pizza, there's a ton of cheese on it and that's all I can taste. 
  • Even without a "wet" sauce and a very thin crust, this crust wasn't crisp.  I actually prefer something with more substance than this.
  • All in all — not bad.

Okay, next up, Deep Dish Pizza.

1:37pm PST — UPDATE #4:  The Deep Dish Greek Pizza

You need a cast iron skillet for this.

1 disk proofed pizza dough

1 T olive oil

3-4 San Marzano Whole Tomatoes, canned

2 T sun-dried tomato pesto

1 tsp. roasted garlic

1/4 red onion, sliced

1/2 c. artichoke hearts (non-marinated)

6 kalamatas, sliced

1/4 c. feta

1 T fresh rosemary

red pepper flakes

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Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Oil the bottom and sides of the cast iron skillet with olive oil and set aside.

In a small bowl, squish the tomatoes with your hands until they're small chunks and add the tomato pesto and roasted garlic.  Sprinkle in some dried red pepper flakes and stir well.  Taste for seasoning and correct if necessary.

Using well-floured hands, and a bench scraper if necessary, gently pry the proofed pizza disk off of your counter where it has been sitting for two hours. (See entire directions for making dough at Rosa's site linked above…)  Make sure the skillet is near by because the dough stretches quickly and you'll want to place it into the bottom of the skillet.

Once the dough is in the skillet, push it around to form a thick edge that just begins to rise up the sides.  Pour on the tomato sauce, place the artichokes and onions over the sauce, and sprinkle on the olives, feta, and rosemary.  Add another sprinkle of red pepper flakes if you like it spicy.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the sides are nicely browned.  Let cool a bit in the skillet before chowing down.

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Notes:

  • So, this is deep dish compared to the first pizza I made, but by no means deep dish.  I don't think this dough would hold up, but I have two more disks I can try out.
  • The tomato sauce is excellent.  It's very rich in flavor and quite wonderful.  I love San Marzano tomatoes and could eat them right out of the can, so clearly I have a problem.  But adding the tomato pesto quickly turns a few canned tomatoes into a very nice sauce.
  • I used my convection settings for this, so 10 minutes would most likely take longer using conventional settings.  At least 15 minutes depending on how thick your crust is.
  • Comparatively, I liked the thick pizza better than the thin one.  The tomato sauce is very nice with the thicker crust and the olives a perfect addition.
  • On the issue of the dough in general, I have a dough recipe I use and like that is very easy to work with and takes much less time.  The flavor of this dough is pleasant, but not for the wait time.  So many recipes, so little time, right?

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So there you go!  Another Daring Baker challenge done.  Pizza anyone?  Anyone?

Panini with Chicken, Pesto & Heirloom Tomatoes

I celebrated yet another birthday this past week — mine.  And although I’ve heard that many women don’t enjoy receiving gifts that have anything to do with kitchens, I’m not one of those women.  To be fair, I’ve worked this out over the years knowing that my husband likes to purchase several gifts instead of one large gift.  You won’t ever find me arguing with that strategy, of course.  But what that does mean is that I usually expect to receive something involving fragrance, or personal "upkeep," a few chocolates, and….

…a trip to Great News, a local cooking store.  I love Great News.  It is beyond rare that I’m not able to find what I need there when a unique type of cookware is called for, an odd ingredient (juniper berries…), or I just want a new pan.  And this year, that would be a panini pan.

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Tah-dah……I just love this green color.  I’m not so in love with how heavy it is, however.  Of course I couldn’t resist putting it on the scale and was surprised to find that it only weighs 12 lbs. It seems heavier.  I’m not going to argue about whether my scale is not accurate because that would mean that I would weigh more than it says I do.  I don’t even want to think about that.  It’s a big problem to begin with.  What was I talking about?  Oh.  The pan.  My cute green pan.    I considered the Le Cruset rectangular pan (also in very cool colors…) but decided upon Mario Batali’s because I love the green, and I loved the price — about half of the cost of the Le Cruset.  The clerk did inform me that a warranty came with the Le Cruset products, but I ended up with the one casserole my mother owned which is now over 50 years old.  I don’t think a warranty is needed.  Do you?

So what do you make with a panini pan?  Paninis, of course.  And no, I didn’t use a recipe.  Yes, recipes are most likely out there, and I’m sure you may even be able to get a panini cookbook, but I don’t need one.  I love making sandwiches, and the combinations are endless.  It depends on what is in the freezer and/or refrigerator.

To inaugurate my new pan, I used chicken breast, basil pesto, fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, red onions, and a rustic loaf of bread.  I’m drooling just remembering it…

  1. Pound chicken breasts encased in plastic wrap firmly with a rolling pin until flattened.  Salt and pepper them, and add a sprinkling of whatever seasoning you enjoy depending on the other ingredients.
  2. Prepare tomatoes by slicing thickly, and saute briefly in a skillet with a couple of splashes of olive oil and some balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle on some herbs de provence or whatever type of herb you enjoy. Img_3542
  3. Rub the bottom and top of the pan with some oil using a paper towel or brush and heat on medium with the lid sitting inside.
  4. While the pan is heating, slice the bread into 1" slices on the diagonal to increase the surface area for sandwich ingredients.
  5. Place the chicken breasts into the pan and cover with the lid.  Cook about 3 minutes (depending on thickness and size of chicken breasts) on each side.  Remove from pan and slice into thick pieces.Img_3543
  6. Replace the lid so that it will get hot while you build the sandwiches.
  7. Drizzle olive oil over the outside of two pieces of sliced bread.  Spread a bit of pesto on the inside.
  8. Stack chicken, tomatoes, slices of fresh mozzarella, and red onions onto one slice of bread and top with the second.Img_3549
  9. Place the sandwich in the pan and put the lid on top, pressing a bit.  Heat for a few minutes on each side just to grill the bread, and melt the cheese.  Img_3547
  10. Slice and enjoy.

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You can obviously make paninis with a skillet and either a cast iron skillet placed on top to press, or, a brick that has been covered with foil.  And if you have one of those pans with the ridges on the bottom, you’ll get great "stripes" on your paninis.  But come on.  It’s not going to be a chic green color.  And I don’t want to give my husband any ideas about wrapping bricks for my birthday. 

I do enjoy that the lid on mine is very hot when used, and that this does speed things up a bit.

I’m thinking this is going to be a pretty popular item in our house.  And I’ll have great biceps, as well!