Thursday, August 27, 2009

BB: White Pizza Topped with Baby Spinach & Lemon Vinaigrette

Perfeecttt for a summer day was the latest Barefoot Bloggers recipe. In fact, BOTH August recipes were very apropos for the end of summer (check out the mango banana daiquiris from earlier this month!). Andrea from Nummy Kitchen had us Barefoot Bloggers try the lovely Ms. Ina's white pizza with baby arugula. The way I described it to my friends was: "a white pizza with fontina, mozzarella, and goat cheese, brushed and drizzled with homemade garlic oil (garlic, hot red peppers flakes, and thyme steeped in olive oil) with a bed of baby spinach (in my case) and lemon vinaigrette on top." My friends all drooled in response.

Now, the actual pizza though that I created was still quite delicious. But, a little blander than I expected. I think that I needed to knock it up a notch with a bit more red pepper flakes (or I also think that my red pepper flakes may not have been fresh enough) -- or I would have taken the leaves off the fresh thyme while steeping in the oil, so more of the thyme made it on to the pizza.

I used baby spinach instead of arugula -- I definitely think that the arugula would have offered a fantastic bite to pair with the mellowness of the pizza. My supermarket was fresh out of arugula though, so I went for the baby spinach.

My favorite part of making the pizzas was making the DOUGH. I had never made fresh pizza dough from scratch and found it so much fun. Mr. J helped me with it -- he used to work at an Italian restaurant and was quite used to make pizza dough. The pizza dough came out incredibly fluffy and was very tasty -- will definitely make the dough again and perhaps top it with other items.

Mr. J helping me knead the dough

And if you are a fan of cheese sticks or "cheesy bread" -- this pizza makes the perfect leftover item for you! We didn't eat all six of the pizzas in one sitting (hah), so the next day, we warmed up some marinara sauce and dipped pieces of our pizza into the sauce. Delish. (I really love anything with melted cheese)

(And as a small aside, I have to say that I was thrilled that both of the August recipes came from the Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basic cookbook... I had purchased the book earlier this summer and have been dying to try recipes from it. This was the perfect excuse!)

Without further ado, here's the recipe! Enjoy!


For the dough:
1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
Good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:
3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled
For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces baby arugula
1 lemon, sliced

Mix the dough: Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

Knead by hand: When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.

Let it rise: Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make garlic oil: Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Portion the dough: Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Stretch the dough: Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Top the dough: Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Make the vinaigrette: Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Add the greens: When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.

TIP Make sure the bowl is warm before you put the water and yeast in; the water must be warm for the yeast to develop.

TIP Salt inhibits the growth of yeast; add half the flour, then the salt, and then the rest of the flour.

TIP To make sure yeast is still "alive," or active, put it in water and allow it to sit for a few minutes. If it becomes creamy or foamy, it's active.


Snowbell said...

It looks as good as mine :)

Andrea said...

Your pizzas look amazing! I'm so glad you liked this recipe, and comparing it to cheesy bread is spot on, yum! Great job on your first pizza dough, it must have been fun having your husband help in the kitchen, and I agree the dough was extra fluffy. Thanks for cooking along with me :)

Peggy said...

They look wonderful. We seriously loved this. I thought I might try more flakes next time as well.

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Penny said...

Love your pictures. This pizza was awesome and lends itself to variations.

Jackie said...

Thank you for all the lovely comments! :) I can't wait to try it again... will def post when I do!

blissfullydelicious said...

I should try the red flakes when I make my dough from scratch next time! Thanks for stopping by my blog!! ;-)