Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

Pear Brie Flatbread 2 585x383 Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

People often ask me what pizza dough recipe I use. The truth is, most formulas for pizza dough are the same – flour, yeast, water, olive oil and salt. The key ingredient not many recipes call for is time.

pear brie pizza 3 585x781 Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

Yeast doughs are a lot like people – the longer it’s alive before it’s baked, the more character it develops. Which means mixing up a batch of dough on Thursday if Friday is pizza night will make all the difference in the world. Let it hang out in the counter, on the fridge – wherever it won’t get into any trouble. Punch it down when it needs taming. The next day, you’ll see its potential in the stretchy bubbles interspersed throughout the dough. Which I apparently took no photos of, I was so preoccupied with the stretching and the topping. And the chilling of the wine – do you know this trick? Wrap a bottle in wet paper towel and put it into the freezer to chill fast.

(Just make sure it’s not in the vicinity of any bananas. Which in our freezer is impossible.)

pear brie flatbread 2 585x390 Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

Dough:
1 pkg. (2 tsp.) active dry yeast
pinch sugar
2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. (or a good glug) olive oil
1 tsp. salt

canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 ripe but firm pear, thinly sliced
4 oz. Brie, sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

Put 1 cup warm water into a large bowl, add the sugar and sprinkle the yeast overtop; let stand for 5 minutes, until it gets foamy. Add 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, the olive oil and salt and stir until you have a shaggy dough. Let rest for 20 minutes, then knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if you need it – the dough should be tacky, but not too sticky.

If you like, place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat all over. Cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place – if you’re in a hurry, it only needs to wait for about an hour, until it’s doubled in bulk. If you have time, leave it. When it gets too big, punch it down. If you’re going out or to bed, cover it and put it in the fridge, which will slow the rise. Or freeze it. Take it out to thaw or warm up before you use it.

When you’re ready for pizza, heat a generous drizzle of oil in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 5 minutes, or until soft and turning golden. Preheat the oven to 450F.

Divide the dough in half and roll or stretch each out into a 9-inch circle or oval. Place each on a parchment-lined or floured baking sheet and top with half the caramelized onions, half the pear slices and half the Brie. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until deep golden. Let rest for a few minutes, then drizzle with honey before slicing.

Makes 2 pizzas; serves 12-16.

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January 28 2015 | appetizers and bread | 5 Comments »

Really Good Veggie Chili

Veggie chili 585x789 Really Good Veggie Chili

W lives in Minecraft world, where even when he’s not attached to the screen everything revolves around swords and armor and pickaxes and protecting oneself from creepers. The creepers in my world are the cinnamon buns that I have to bake in the morning for a photo shoot, and then sit lustily on the countertop, warm and needing to be eaten. The succession of recipes to be tested and photographed – the pizza straight from the oven, the baked cheese and waffles and pasta carbonara that I have to make and shoot, still steaming, before it gets dark. The lunch meetings and restaurant openings, the rationalization that I need to eat all this, in the name of research. It’s my job, dammit.

Veggie chili 2 585x829 Really Good Veggie Chili

So in the interest of preservation of self and pants, I’ve decided to arm myself with pots of flavourful, veggie-heavy food at all times. Things like soup and chili and baking sheets of roasted veggies. Because it’s harder to go overboard on a bowl of veg than a pile of just-baked biscuits, and even if you do, you’ll feel better for it. Or so I’m told.

(Also? This veggie chili is really good. And it gets better with time in the fridge, so you can dip into it all week.)

Really Good Veggie Chili

This is almost the same as one I made all the time years ago, but I read about Jamie roasting his sweet potato first, which seemed like a very good idea. (On the other hand, I don’t like cinnamon in my chili – I only added a pinch.)

1 medium dark-fleshed sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
canola oil, for cooking
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch cilantro
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
pinch cinnamon
2 19 oz (540 mL) cans beans, such as kidney, black, romano or chickpeas
2 19 oz (540 mL) cans diced or whole tomatoes, or one of each
crumbled feta, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Spread the sweet potato out on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle generously with oil and toss around with your hands to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 25-30 minutes, until tender and turning golden.

Set a medium pot over medium-high heat, add some oil and saute the onion , peppers and garlic for a few minutes, until soft. Chop and add the cilantro stems and about half of the leaves (save the rest to put on top) along with the chili powder and cumin and cook for another few minutes.

Add the beans and tomatoes, scrape the roasted sweet potatoes into the pot, season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer; cook for 30-45 minutes, until thickened. If you like, continue to cook it over low heat, or cool it down and refrigerate overnight to let the flavours develop a bit. Otherwise, it’s good to go. Serve hot, topped with crumbled feta (or sour cream) and fresh cilantro.

Serves 8.

pixel Really Good Veggie Chili
button print gry20 Really Good Veggie Chili

January 19 2015 | beans and one dish and vegetarian | 7 Comments »

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