Week 50: Umami – Mushroom Parmesan Pizza

I’ve been hoping for a pizza assignment like this since I first began this challenge. Umami is an attractive force in my food world with tomatoes ruling the majority of my cravings. While tomato finds its way into the sauce here, mushrooms are the focal point of this pizza.

img_0160

Shiitake and crimini mushrooms, while making up the whole of the toppings, remain just a portion of the umami bomb that was dropped.

img_0162

Tomato snuck in with a hearty rendition of my usual sauce. Parmesan was shaved over top.

img_0157

Oh and then a quick spritz of black truffle salt, a drizzle of white truffle oil and then a dash of MSG just for kicks.

img_0159

Fearing another salt overload as seen in last week’s pizza, I added a moderate amount of salt and chose to apply truffle salt to each individual slice.

img_0161

Then I ate the whole pizza.

img_0158

With a good burgundy nearby, this is not a difficult feat.

Advertisements

Week 44: Dehydrating – Oven-Dried Basil & Tomato Margherita Pizza

This week’s dehydrating challenge was tough to work up the courage for considering how convinced the internet is in needing to purchase a dehydrator. I said nay to this advice, opting to find a more convenient solution: the oven. While I was tempted to sun-dry tomatoes, I’ve had bad luck in recent years with bugs invading what’s mine, thus I didn’t tempt the outside world with a yummy display of sunbathing treats.

img_9940

While the drying portion of the preparation was a success, I did not account for what dehydration means in the face of intense heat.

img_9941

My first attempt was unfortunately a dud. An edible dud, but not a pretty one.

img_9936

I took another swing at this pizza, this time with the additional challenge of dehydrating basil to complete the flavors of a classic margherita.

img_9935

This time I topped my tediously watched over oven goods after the pizza had completed baking. And for a bonus dehydrating affect, all tomato sauce areas not covered by cheese experienced a level of dehydration that concentrated the flavors even further.

img_9937

The spooky designs that came with desiccation seemed all too conveniently timed for the trick-or-treating season. Luckily, this pizza was more than just a halloween gimmick, it actually tasted pretty incredible for something so simple.

img_9938

To draw out the juicy flavors of this pie, a 2009 Rioja accompanied each bite.

img_9939

Having drawn the attention of my dearest babby, this pizza may have been devoured quicker than any other before it, making this second pie a definite win.

Week 36: Famous Dishes – Ratatouille Pizza

This week’s challenge of “Famous Dishes” involved a full exploration of the term “famous.” To ensure true fulfillment of such a broad idea, I decided to take on the well-known French dish made famous by a Disney mouse: ratatouille.

IMG_8888

Eggplant, squash and peppers provided all the colors and textures needed for the dish.s

IMG_8889

On a super thin setting, rhe mandoline made fast work of the slicing.

IMG_8890

Designing each layer so that each slice peeked out from behind the next took a small amount of patience.

IMG_8891

Using a hearty tomato sauce as the base, this ratatouille had all the elements found in the classic dish.

IMG_8892

As a pizza, all this baby was missing was cheese,

IMG_8899

Where there was once no mozzarella, suddenly mozzarella.

IMG_8894

After a bit of doctoring, the mozzarella slices snuggled up quite nicely in their new bed of vegetables.

IMG_8893

Cooking was a tad risky considering the dense sheets of water-laden vegetables and abundance of sauce on such a thin crust.

IMG_8895

The pizza still came out looking like a beast.

IMG_8896

Fresh thyme and cracked black pepper supplied a kick of herbacous, savory notes.

IMG_8900

No dish has wanted more for a rustic French red than this one, an instinct I didn’t trust until the first sip.

IMG_8908

The pairing was outstanding. This Syrah-based red out of Languedoc had a funky fresh personality that was quite a sipper on its own. And despite a somewhat soggy crust and slightly undercooked vegetables, the ratatouille pizza was a treat by itself but it really hit a new height with the wine. The entire experience has been bookmarked for revisiting in the future.

Week 31: Drink Pairings – Classic Pepperoni Pizza with a Trio of Obscure Wine Pairings

Well this week’s challenge is quite the softball of a challenge considering my r/52weeksofcooking metatheme. Since this is the very theme I automatically take part in every week, I will spend my time this week reminiscing about some of my favorite less traditional wine pairings. One bonus in indulging in more obscure styles is the likelihood of finding wines of great value for not very much money.

During my early years of studying the hell out of wine, my then-boyfriend/now-husband worked the bar of a super delicious San Diego pizza joint, bringing home pizza after pizza to my endless delight. Pepperoni pizza was our base style that we would choose to build upon with various toppings or not and is the pizza I have the most wine pairing history with. Thus, I made a very clean, classic style of pepperoni pizza to trigger cherished pairings.

IMG_8080

The first pizza pairing experience I ever latched onto was a pepperoni pizza and Dolcetto d’Alba. While Italian wines on the whole are really well built for rich and cheesy dishes considering their tendency towards higher acidity, Dolcetto keeps just the right level of juiciness and structure to bring something new each bite. While complexity is somewhat limited to more youthful dark berry and rustic earthy tones, the style hails from Piedmont where it is overshadowed by the internationally-revered Nebbiolo and even dark and brooding Barbara.

 

IMG_8081

Blaufränkisch is an Austrian varietal I’ve found a range of success in pairing with pizza and beyond. The varietal tends to showcase a dark fruit fruit profile with leather and spice in a structured, medium-bodied format. It provides a platform for pepperoni pizza to dance around on.

IMG_8083

One pairing that caught me by surprise was an unplanned glass of Zweigelt that showed up next to a freshly made pepperoni pizza some years back. The style may be the most obscure varietal of the three chosen here, even as a direct descendent of Blaufränkisch, This particular bottling hails from Lodi, California, displaying a magenta-tinged ruby color, fresh bubblegum raspberry notes and a lighter body that achieve a refreshing contrast to the savory pizza flavors.

IMG_8082

There are so many other pairings to consider with a basic pepperoni pizza but considering the variance found in producer styles and personal preferences, there’s never any one right answer. It’s what pairing food with wine so much damn fun.

Week 27: Tacos – Mushroom & Pepperoni Quesadilla Tacos

This week’s r/52weeksofcooking challenge required a melding of two of the most cooked items in my kitchen: pizza & tacos. Creating a hybrid would prove to be somewhat straightforward as I have also mastered my quesadilla craft during my desperate time with all the ingredients to make tacos but no meat. As a result, this taco experiment began with a pizza quesadilla base.

IMG_7471

On its own, this would make for a dope midnight snack. But we must march forward.

IMG_7472

With pepperoni already lining the foundation of our taco, cumin & black pepper mushrooms made up the meat of the taco.

IMG_7473

With another melting of cheeses, using a mozzarella and Mexican blend throughout, the mushroom tacos were built and ready to be dressed.

IMG_7474

To crush this pizza-taco hybrid, tomato sauce, ricotta & red pepper flakes made up the final touches before it was eating time.

IMG_7475

The pepperoni kills it. There’s a touch of spice here and there so habanero sauce could easily be included or ignored.

IMG_7476

For the sake of the pairing I opted out of extra spiciness so that a red wine has a shot at being a decent pairing. While the fruit in this Grenache is soft and juicy with black raspberries for days, the alcohol is emphasized by the spice and throws the wine a tad off balance. A noticeable but forgivable offense when I’m too busy jamming out with these little handheld feasts.

double taco dance

Week 25: Caribbean – Pineapple & Mango Jerk Shrimp Pizza

For this week’s Caribbean challenge, I took on what seems to be the most common style tackled by many fellow redditors: jerk something. Having never tried jerk anything, I expected to fail in ways I wouldn’t realize without a basis for comparison. Ultimately, my goal was to scrape together a half-edible pizza, which (spoiler) I achieved.

IMG_7001

Jerk seasoning revolves around the aromatics of allspice and the intense heat derived from the Scotch bonnet pepper. Habaneros, which rank in the same Scoville neighborhood, were used in their stead.

IMG_7002

Borrowing a tidy pastry bag prep trick from work, I set raw shrimp in a wet marinade for a 12-hour swim.

IMG_7003

Meanwhile, I juiced a fresh pineapple and reserved some chunks for topping as well.

IMG_7004

Plucking from another jerk pizza recipe, I mixed the pineapple juice into tomato paste with red wine vinegar until a sauce like consistency was achieved.

IMG_7008

The remaining toppings were prepped for a trip to pizza town.

IMG_7005

To ensure the shrimp would cooked completely through, they were given a quick tour of a hot cast-iron pan before joining the rest of the pizza toppings in the oven.

IMG_7016

Mozzarella cheese was sprinkled on lightly for some cohesiveness and a small relief from the potentially high heat of the habaneros. Based on how badly my fingertips stung 12 hours and some 20 hand-washing sessions after I had last touched the peppers, I was ready for a battle.

IMG_7011

After sacrificing aesthetics of using whole shrimp in the name of overall consistency, I still went batty over the colorful vibe of this pizza.

IMG_7012

Distracting and friendly, these hues are a bit deceiving of the dangers here. Luckily, the sweetness in wine can play defense for your tongue.

IMG_7009

To help relieve the local wine shop, Village Vino, of the wall of tasty rosé they’ve amassed in a short amount of time, I selected a light and fruity style to accompany this pizza and all of its Caribbean flair.

IMG_7010

Hailing from the Chehalem Mountains of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, this Teutonic rosé bursts with fleshy melons and peach on a white pepper backdrop all while keeping a tame 11.54% abv. Such a plump, summer style is a hammer to a bad mood and does a pretty decent job wrangling in the spice on this pie. As this is a fruity but dry style, this wine is not as spice-repellant as a sweeter wine might be, but it does match the brightness of fruit in every bite. I consider the pairing passable and the pizza a win.

IMG_7015

It’s hard to say if I’m more excited about receiving my shiny new 25-week apple badge than I am about hitting the midway point to my 52-week commitment next week. I get that, like karma, these small achievements don’t mean much. But still…

pat on the back

Week 23: Deep Fried – Fried Eggplant, Basil & Pepperoni Pizza

Having less and less time to adequately prepare for these weekly endeavors, a quick peek in the fridge was all the inspiration needed for this week’s deep fried challenge. In the O’Bryan household, we have a tendency to pick up a plump eggplant with ambitions of transforming the shiny beast into an Ottolenghi masterpiece. More often, we find ourselves dumping a blotched and festering limp vegetable corpse into the trash. This is all to say that we have yet to find the way to embrace their presence in our fridge. And we may have found the way.

IMG_6385

Fried eggplant on pizza is no genius idea of mine. Its true origin story remains a mystery to this blogger as she hasn’t the time nor the inclination to seek out any backstory, no matter how grateful I should be for the abundance of information available at my fingertips.

My first personal encounter, one that I remember quite fondly due to timing (I had just landed a job, albeit a shitty one, that would secure the path of my now career) and the tasty, tasty combination of toppings, was one that came recommended by the Bar Basic staff: fried eggplant, pepperoni, basil and garlic atop a large red pie. I went gaga for this shit. So here goes my attempt at recreating a super built-up cherished moment of my recent past. What could go wrong?

IMG_6386

After slicing up an eggplant to a consistenly moderate thickness, the slices were breaded in a panko and Italian crumb mix, the blend of the two resulting from a petty bout of indecision.

IMG_6387

Using a combination of high-heat oils, as I hadn’t the foresight to buy enough of any one kind, the breaded eggplant slices took turns crisping up in the pot.

IMG_6388

A rather sizable batch was produced, enough to feed three large pizzas as each pizza could barely take on more than 7 or 8. Any leftovers stayed rather well. If they never make it onto crust, they were reheated in the oven with tomato sauce and cheese on top for a quickie eggplant parmesana.

IMG_6389

While the original inclusion of garlic was mostly ignored (aside from the generous heap of garlic found in the tomato sauce), a few dollops of ricotta here and there made up for its absence with creamy, textured bites.

IMG_6390

After some fussing around with pairings, Barolo stepped up as the winner of the bunch. This 2006 Marchesi di Barolo from Piedmonte, Italy had just the right structure of tannin and acidity to tackle the richness here, but then the deeply-resonant tart fruits provided a great backdrop for all the savory notes to play off of.

IMG_6391

I loved this pairing. I loved this wine and the pizza and the whole experience of making it and eating it. This was so fantastic I wanted to die. Instead, I snapped some photos and obsessed over new angles and lighting. The work didn’t really pay off but the pizza itself was worth all the effort.

 

IMG_6394

It was so good, I actually made two.

IMG_6393

As for things that could go wrong? Nothing did. This was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever made. It will be one I continue to make for as long as I have eggplant in my refrigerator, which turns out to be more often than needed. It’s time to embrace their ever-presence.

eggplant love