Friday, November 20, 2009

Roasted Vegetable Pizza

On Wednesday I went to the Spruill Farmers Market in Sandy Springs (Georgia). It's a nice little market that sets up weekly and sells a variety of produce, dairy, meat, jams, and the like. For $37.50 I was able to get this:


I think that's a pretty nice catch for less than 40 bucks. In case some of it is difficult to see or identify, here's a list of the produce pictured above:
*3 sweet potatoes
*1 bunch rose turnips
*1 bunch carrots
*1 bunch kale
*1 bag braising greens (collards, mustard greens, and kale)
*1 bag chickweed
*1 bag totsoi (not sure I have the spelling correct on that one)
*2 winter squash
*7 1/2 oz fresh mozzarella

Charlie and I took some of the produce pictured above (along with a few other ingredients) and turned it into this:


Now, let me tell you something. I am a lucky woman for many, many reasons. I have a wonderful family, a husband who constantly wows me with his kindness and love, amazing friends, good health, a steady job, and such. All of that keeps me going, and I'm grateful for the good fortune I've had in my life. However, I think (and hope) most of those things are shared by a great many people. There is, however, one thing I have that most people don't, and that's a husband who makes awesome pizza. Isn't that lucky? Also, he has a knack for knowing when I'm exhausted and don't feel like cooking dinner. I love when Charlie calls and says he'd like to make a pizza for dinner. My reply is almost always an enthusiastic "Yes! Please!".
We decided to make a roasted vegetable pizza with some of our farmers market bounty. Charlie started by making dough. He's been working on the perfect pizza dough recipe for awhile, and after dozens of pizzas and constant tweaking I think he's finally achieved it.
While Charlie worked his magic on the dough I roasted vegetables. I decided to go with sunchokes (purchased at the Morningside Farmers Market last weekend), winter squash, and kale. I thought that combination would give the pizza a woodsy autumn flavor. I sliced the squash, tossed it with a little olive oil and kosher salt, then popped it in the oven (preheated to 375 degrees) for about 20 minutes.



I also thinly sliced the sunchokes (with the peel still on), treated them to a little oil and salt, and added them to the oven. They took a little longer to roast -- about 30 minutes total. (Sunchokes are also known as jerusalem artichokes, but they aren't from Jerusalem, and they aren't artichokes so I go with the farmsy (just made that word up!) term, sunchokes.)


Next up: kale! I gently sauteed a large handful in just a touch of olive oil, and then the veggies were ready! Charlie rolled out the dough, and we assembled our pizza.



Oooh...the fresh mozzarella is so tasty and melts into ooey gooey deliciousness. Bagged, shredded mozzarella just doesn't compare.
Charlie slid the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone, and 12 minutes later we had dinner!



Yum! Homemade pizza really is super easy to make and can be topped with anything you like. We've tried all sorts of toppings, from capers (nice and salty but you have to trap them with melted cheese or they just roll off) to anchovies (the fish flavor is intense...use sparingly!). It's a great weekday dinner as long as you remember to start the dough as soon as you get home from work.


Charlie's Pizza Dough
(adapted from Michael Ruhlman's Ratio suggestions)

2 cups semolina flour*
1/4 teaspoon yeast
6 oz water, lukewarm
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of red pepper flakes (or more if you want a spicier crust)
1 Tablespoon olive oil (we just use a nice glug), plus additional for oiling the bowl

In a medium bowl combine flour and yeast. Create a well in the center, and add water. Allow to rest 2 - 3 minutes. Add oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough begins to come together then add olive oil. Knead approximately 10 minutes or until dough is smooth, sticky, and bounces back when lightly touched. Lightly oil the inside of a medium bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow to rise 1 - 1 1/2 hours. The dough will not double in size but will swell a little.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the oven to preheat along with the oven.
Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with cornmeal. With floured hands, form the dough into a 8 - 10 inch circle with a flat center and slightly thicker edges (to form the crust), working some of the cornmeal into the dough as you shape it. (Use a gentle hand so you do not tear the dough as you work with it.) In order to prevent tearing, the final dough shaping should occur on whatever you will use to place the pizza in the oven. We use a pizza peel, but if you will be baking your pizza on a baking sheet you should use that at this point.
Top the pizza as you wish and place in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes. Let the cooked pizza rest for five minutes so the cheese and ingredients can settle, then dig in!

*For those of you in the Atlanta area, semolina flour can be purchased at the Dekalb Farmers Market. It can also be purchased in gourmet food shops, and I'm sure it's available for purchase online. Semolina is made of durham wheat and adds a unique texture to the pizza dough. If you are unable to find it, bread flour can be substituted.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Project Locavore: Step One


The Morningside Farmers Market sets up every Saturday, rain or shine, in the parking lot across from Alon's (in front of Teuscher Chocolates...yumm!). It's beautiful, and unlike a lot of farmers markets, it's open year-round. This past Saturday I went for the first time, which absolutely disgusts me since I live about 2 miles away. Why haven't I been there before? I have no idea. Seriously, I was able to walk there in less than half an hour. It's mostly laziness I suppose. I do love to sleep in on Saturdays.

Here's what I bought:
*2 lovely Berkshire pork chops
*1 giant bunch kale
*1/2 lb sunchokes
*1 winter squash
*1 1/2 heads cauliflower
*2 watermelon radishes

Total cost for all of this wonderful food: $19. And this is what we had for dinner (this is one person's serving):


In case you're unable to tell, the plate above includes:

*1 pan-seared pork chop with apples and onions
*roasted cauliflower and squash
*sauteed kale and dandelion with pine nuts
*roasted sunchokes
*homemade rye

The majority of that dinner came from the farmers market, the exceptions being: olive oil, 1 onion, 1 green apple, pine nuts, dandelion greens, and rye bread (made earlier in the week). Not too shabby, right? It was quite tasty, and we even had leftovers.

Now, time to get down to business. Our household has decided (okay, I decided and poor Charlie is very sweetly going along with my plan) to try a year of living locally. "What does this mean?" you may ask. Well, we're still pounding out the fine points, but here are the main ideas. We're going to attempt to buy at least 80% of our food locally for a full year. We'll begin in earnest this March (when the growing season begins). Until then there's plenty to do. I've been researching local farms, dairies, mills, and such. Fruit and vegetables should be no problem. Local meat, it turns out, is also easy to find. We've already joined a meat CSA -- more on that soon. There's a dairy about 50 miles away that sells milk in a nearby specialty food shop, and I think I've found a mill where we can buy whole wheat flour and grits.

And now for the do-withouts. Obviously, no sugar is grown within 100 miles of Atlanta. This means we'll either have to make a small allowance for sugar, or we'll learn to use honey as our only sweetener. I'm leaning toward honey as it is readily available and a much healthier choice than processed sugar. There are a number of spices that aren't grown near us. We'll have to make some decisions about which we'll continue purchasing even though they aren't local (salt, for example) and which we'll give up (probably cinnamon, nutmeg, and the other lovely holiday baking spices). We are not giving up coffee, but we are looking for a local roaster. Oils are tricky. Olive oil is (maybe) out, but I think we'll be able to get local peanut oil and perhaps a little sesame? Much more research is necessary, clearly.

There will be some exceptions that make up the 20% of non-local products. We'll need yeast for bread baking, and I don't think we can find that locally. I'm also looking into making some cheeses, and the cultures and rennets for those must be ordered. Charlie makes wonderful pizzas, and he needs semolina flour for the dough. I don't think that's available locally (the closest I've found is about 250 miles away), and I'm not asking him to give that up so we'll most likely continue purchasing a brand grown in Michigan.

There's much more to say about this project, but it will have to wait for another day. I leave you with pictures of the gorgeous, tasty watermelon radishes I picked up on Saturday. We ate them hinly sliced on rye bread with a little cream cheese and a sprinkling of sea salt. Delicious.