Backblogged

I won’t be one of those bloggers that pretends to have thousands of clamoring fans that didn’t know what to do with themselves when their favorite blogger went on hiatus. That being said, for the three of you out there who actually care, sorry for depriving you of dry humor and french toast recipes.

It’s been an insanely busy summer, but I’ll spare you the excuses and get straight to the good stuff …

Portobello, red pepper and goat cheese flatbread/pizza

You’ll need:

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1-2 portobello mushrooms, chopped

8 oz. goat cheese

3-5 cloves garlic, minced

Crushed red pepper  and salt to taste

1 bag of Trader Joe’s pizza dough (you can substitute other dough, but I love this one)

A pizza stone

Olive oil

Have I ever preached the merits of a good pizza stone? It is absolutely crucial if you want to achieve the perfect crisp-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside crust. And take it from me—skip the parchment paper and slap that dough right on the stone. There is an art to this people, so allow me to explain the process:

Ideally, you’ll want to pull your dough out of the fridge an hour or so before you start to let it proof.

Then, you’ll set your oven to 500 degrees and put the pizza stone in to heat it up. Next, ready your ingredients.

In this case, I sauteed the chopped red peppers in a little olive oil for a while to soften them up (ever had a pizza with vegetables that were raw and crunchy? Nothing worse.) and then added the mushrooms in toward the end. Set your ingredients aside and let’s get doughing (forgive me for that one, I’ve been out of the food-humor game for a while). I cut the dough in half so each pizza will fit on the stone—that’s a ball of dough about the size of a baseball. You’ll need a flat, floured surface to work on.

Press your fingers into the dough about an inch inside the outer edge to form a crust. Then press down in the middle with your palms to flatten the dough, and start pulling the dough apart with fingers. Once it is thin enough, you can slap the dough back and forth between your palms or hold one end and let the weight of the dough do the work to stretch it more. If you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about, here’s a good video tutorial—unfortunately I didn’t have the foresight to visually document this process.

At this point, your pizza stone should be heated. Professional pie-makers may turn their noses up at my method, but trust me, for the home cook this works like a charm: Take the pizza stone out—very carefully—and set it on your counter or stove top. Again, VERY CAREFULLY, place your shaped dough (no toppings yet) on the stone. The crust will start to cook immediately from the heat of the stone, so quickly brush the dough with olive oil, crumble the goat cheese and sprinkle the toppings over the surface. I added a few grates of parmesan for good measure. Stick the pizza stone back in the oven and keep a close eye on it. It cooks very quickly—in about 5-7 minutes. Remove the stone once the crust is golden brown and let cool for a while. The pizza should slide off the stone fairly easily.

Garnish with crushed red pepper and a bit of sea salt to taste.

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