Monday, February 3, 2014

A Very Different Pizza

This weekend we hosted a wine and cheese tasting party for nine guests.  It was a lot of fun to choose different cheeses to try and pair them with different wines.  We also set out thin slices of apple and pear plus honey and apricot jam to try with the cheese and crackers.  In addition to the normal cheese and cracker spread that one expects at a wine and cheese tasting party, I made this into a full fledged meal beginning with a salad topped with grated cheese, a savory cheese cake that included the usual cream cheese plus the addition of Gruyere cheese combined with spinach and mushrooms topped with a marinara tomato sauce, a savory cheese and prosciutto flan, and a pizza topped with Gorgonzola cheese.  The pizza was a favorite with all the guests (actually every dish was well received).  I have chosen to share the pizza recipe because a) it is very different from your usual pizza and b) it is the first left over that the hubby went for!  The original recipe comes from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop  (Jack Bishop is often seen on America's Test Kitchen on PBS and his book is very interesting).  I made a few changes to the recipe but not by much.  Plus it was no problem to double this recipe and the doubled recipe served up 12 moderate-sized slices.

Caramelized Onion Pizza with Blue Cheese and Walnuts  (serves 2-3 for a main course)

1 pre-baked pizza skin (I used a thin pizza skin but something like "Bobboli" which is kind of thick would also work) The original recipe calls for making your own dough which you can do but you have to adjust the cooking time and add the walnuts 2 minutes before removing the pizza from the oven)
2 TBSP oil*
1 1/2 lbs yellow onions
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
~5 oz Gorgonzola (or any other hard blue cheese) - about 1 cup
1/4 coarsely chopped walnuts

Peel the onions and thinly slice them (I use a mandolin for this task but if using a knife, cut the onions in half length-wise and then slice).  Heat the oil* in a frying pan over medium high heat until the oil shimmers.  Add the onions, sugar and salt and saute until the onions are a golden brown.  Stir more frequently as the onions cook down.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the onions are really soft and a delicious brown.  Remember to keep stirring for an even browning.  Remove the onions from the skillet and add the wine to deglaze the pan, stir to liquidize all the brown bits.  Reduce the wine until it is about 2 TBSP.  Pour the deglazed wine into the onions.  The onions can be cooked the day before.

Heat the oven to 500 degrees.  If you have a pizza stone preheat it in the oven.  Place the pizza skin on a cookie sheet (or your preheated stone).  Top with the caramelized onions and spread evenly leaving 1/2 inch border around the edge.  Top with crumbled cheese and walnuts.  Bake until the cheese has melted and everything is warm (about 5 minutes)

* A Note About Cooking with Oils - The best stuff to use for high heat cooking are canola, grape-seed, and peanut oils and lard (any kind of meat oil works but the flavors are different, duck fat is said to be used for the best ever French fries - I will have to try it once I find a source!).  Olive oil can be used for sauteing but should not be used at a very high heat because it burns easily.  Olive oil can be used in this recipe because it is only brought to a "shimmer" rather than a "smoke".  The rule being - don't smoke the olive oil!

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