Thursday, March 19, 2009

pizza night!

Last Saturday, I made dinner with my great friends Meryl and Jessica (of sacatonjune!)

We made asparagus with baked egg and grana padano cheese, mushroom and goat cheese-bechamel sauce pizza, and polenta-crust pizza with pancetta and spinach.

For the Asparagus, we just blanched the asparagus in boiling water for 3-5 minute, until they turned a brighter green. We then cut off the tough, bottom portion of the stems. Then we assembled them in a deep roasting pan, cracked open three eggs over different sections, and sprinkled generously with shaved grana padano cheese. We put in in the oven at about 400 degrees for roughly 10-15 minutes, until the cheese was melted and the egg should be cooked medium, with the yolk still runny. (*Watch this carefully--last night I overcooked this!)

The Mushroom-Bechamel Sauce pizza came from a recipe in Food & Wine Magazine:


1. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2. 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3. 1 1/2 cups milk
4. 2 ounces fresh goat cheese, thickly sliced
5. Freshly grated nutmeg
6. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
7. 1 pound pizza dough
8. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
9. 1 garlic clove, smashed
10. 1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, such as porcini, white button and stemmed shiitake, thinly sliced
11. 1 teaspoon thyme leaves


1. Preheat the oven to 500°. Preheat a pizza stone or generously oil a large baking sheet. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Stir in the 3 tablespoons of flour until a paste forms. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking until smooth. Bring the béchamel sauce to a simmer over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking often, until no floury taste remains, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the goat cheese until melted. Season the sauce with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
2. Cut the pizza dough into 4 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece to a 6-inch round. Dust the rounds with flour and let rest until slightly puffed, about 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the smashed garlic clove and cook over moderate heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, about 15 minutes. Discard the garlic. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper and stir in the thyme leaves.
4. Roll out one of the dough rounds to form a 9-inch round. Transfer the round to the peel and brush the edge of the dough with olive oil. Spread 1/3 cup of the béchamel over the dough and scatter one-fourth of the mushrooms on top.
5. Transfer the round to the pizza stone and bake for about 5 minutes, until the edges are crisp and the béchamel is bubbling. Transfer the pizza to a work surface, cut into wedges and serve. Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings.

And I believe Jess got the recipe for the polenta pizza from the NYTimes' Minimalist:

-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for pan
-1/2 cup milk, preferably whole
-1 cup coarse cornmeal
-Freshly ground black pepper
-1 small onion, chopped
-1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) chopped pancetta
-1 pound spinach, washed, trimmed and dried
-1 to 1 1/2 cups Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled.

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees; brush a layer of olive oil on a pizza pan or cookie sheet. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk with 2 1/2 cups water and a large pinch of salt. Bring just about to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and add cornmeal in a steady stream, whisking all the while to prevent lumps from forming. Turn heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently, until thick, 10 or 15 minutes. If mixture becomes too thick, whisk in a bit more water; you want a consistency approaching thick oatmeal.

2. Stir 1 tablespoon oil into cooked cornmeal (polenta). Spoon it onto prepared pan, working quickly so polenta does not stiffen; spread it evenly to a thickness of about 1/2 inch all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and put it in refrigerator until it is firm, an hour or more (you can refrigerate polenta overnight if you prefer).

3. Put polenta in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it begins to brown and crisp on edges. Meanwhile, put two tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and pancetta is nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to take onion and pancetta out of pan; set aside. Add spinach to skillet and sauté until it releases its water and pan becomes dry; sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.

4. Take polenta out of oven, sprinkle with Gorgonzola, then spread onion-pancetta mixture and spinach evenly on top of cheese; drizzle with another tablespoon olive oil. Put pizza back in oven for two minutes, or until cheese begins to melt and pancetta and vegetables are warmed through. Cut into slices and serve hot or at room temperature.

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