23 January 2008

Maple-Glazed Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Pizza

Pizza di Zucca Smaltato con Acero e Formaggi Erborinati
Maple-Glazed Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Pizza (with title)
Hullo everyone! It's blogging-event time once again for me. I'm glad the awesome Joey of 80 Breakfasts is hosting this month's Hay Hay Its Donna Day event all about pizzas. I've always wanted to make one, and this goes beyond my fascination with mixing martial arts with cooking. Of course, it's part of the perfection that is Italian cuisine, which after I've made my own pasta, should be a natural progression. Speaking of martial arts and cooking:

That's Mui from Shaolin Soccer, making steamed buns. That is just brilliant, but I've become too sedentary to engage in Kung Fu. Not to mention that I am SO BAD AT TOSSING (comment away, British friends) during my graduation from medical school that when we tossed our mortarboards at the end, mine landed twenty rows behind me (okay, just three, but that's still abysmal). Which is also why I gave up on tennis, since the initial toss at the start of the serve tends to never make it to the racquet. A shame, since I thought I was okay at returning. I ended up not tossing this one either, despite my plans to catch in on video, since the dough was so tacky that I knew it would stick to itself in the air and land in my hands (if ever) as an amorphous clump. Well, misshapen dough or no, the flavors combined in this vegetarian pizza are just so surprisingly elegant that this was the pizza (among the three I made) that I decided to submit. The sweet, spicy pumpkin with the briny, boozy blue cheese and peppery arugula (rocket) is just an exquisite combination.
Close-up of Maple-Glazed Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Pizza
Chatting with Graeme a few nights ago I expressed a little dismay (okay, a lot) over how "same-y" my food photos have been getting (oh, my God... I'm turning into Tyra Banks... I only have one pho-to in my hands). It seems I get a little comfortable with taking the path of least resistance, so I decided to change it up. For now. I'm just toying with the possibilities; I think the style in the main photo is a little too soft and forlorn for me.

Joey posted a great recipe on her site (and actually the proportions are very good). My own background in research prompted me to go snooping around for weight proportions, since I wanted to be consistent for when I would repeat the recipe (and repeat it I will). I was lucky enough to find Tipo 0 flour (special Italian pizza flour) at Rustan's grocery, a kilo for only PhP78 ($1.75). I was aiming for New York-style pizza (pillowy on the rim and very thin and sagging in the center), but I didn't research enough and I was very cumbersome stretching the dough, hence the very thick (but still very delicious) rim. In the future, I'll roll it out, then finish stretching it by hand. You could knead it 15 minutes in a KitchenAid or use a food processor, but I have neither and that's what the gym is for.

New York-style Pizza Dough (from Dr. Lehman's formula, good for 3 12-inch pizzas)

  • Unbleached all-purpose or Tipo 0 Flour (100%): 630 g 22.2 oz

  • Hot tap water (63%): 370 g 14 oz

  • Instant dry yeast (I used SAF-instant from Cook's exchange) (.35%): 2.2 g 0.08 oz 3/4 tsp 1/4 tbsp

  • Salt (1.5%): 9.44 g 0.33 oz 1-2/3 tsp 1/2 tbsp

  • Olive Oil, preferably virgin (1%): 6.3 g 0.22 oz 1-1/2 tsp 1/2 tbsp

  • Sugar (1%): 6.3 g 0.22 oz 1-1/2 tsp 1/2 tbsp

Whisk together the flour and yeast in a bowl. Mound the flour on your clean counter and make a well in the center. Do it Mui-style as above. Pour the rest of the ingredients into a well in the center and use a fork to gradually but quickly combine the walls of the well with the liquid, until you've formed a thick porridge-like mass. By the time you've incorporated most of it, the fork will be too cumbersome, so lightly flour both hands (or use one floured hand and a bench scraper in the other as I did) and start kneading the mass, incorporating the rest of the flour (the final dough temperature must be 85-95°F or 30-35°C). The motion is to fold the mass in half towards you, then push everything away. Rotate 90° and repeat for 15 minutes. The dough will be slightly sticky but supple and not at all shaggy. Divide it into 3 balls (each weighing 350g or 12.3oz) and tuck the sides under it to form a taut ball. Place each in its own small bowl that has been greased with olive oil and roll the ball around in the bowl to grease the exterior of the ball. Cover each with a tea towel and place in the refrigerator (if you have bowls that stack high, good for you) for at least 8 hours or up to 3 days. If you want, you can freeze the risen dough for a month but give it an overnight thaw in the fridge before using. Leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes before stretching, but don't stretch this dough until you have all the toppings on hand.

You can get real maple syrup, grade A and B, from Healthy Options, a health food store. The price? PhP540 ($13.17) for 8oz. Ouch.

Maple-Glazed Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Pizza (adapted from delicious magazine, May 2007)
  • 1 pizza dough ball from above recipe

  • 450g Japanese pumpkin

  • 1 tsp each chili flakes and freshly ground cumin seeds

  • 60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil

  • 60mL (1/4 cup) pure maple syrup

  • 100g freshly grated mozzarella

  • 100g mild blue cheese, crumbled (I used Bleu d'Auvergne, PhP133 or $3.24 per 100g from Santi's delicatessen-- it is the cheapest blue cheese there)

  • 100g rocket (arugula) leaves (I used Herbana farms organic arugula-- beautiful-- from the Salcedo Village Weekend Market, 6 bunches for PhP60 or $1.45, thanks to a tip from Joey herself)

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Take the dough ball out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Cut the pumpkin into 1.5cm-thick slices and seed them (I peeled them too). In a sheet pan, toss the slices with the chili flakes, cumin, olive oil, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and roast on the top rack for 20 minutes, then turn and roast for another 10 minutes. Collect and reserve the roasting juice.

Place a pizza stone in your oven and preheat to 260°C (500°F).

Stretch the pizza dough to a 12-inch round on a well-floured pizza peel or rimless cookie sheet pan (you may also use cornmeal). You are looking for a very thin dough with a slightly raised rim, but if it windowpanes such that you can read print through it, take care as it might tear-- be gentle and patient. Scatter with mozzarella. Place on the pizza stone for 6 minutes, then retrieve it and scatter the pumpkin slices and blue cheese on top. Return to the oven for 3 minutes. Scatter with arugula. Drizzle the roasting juices over the pizzas before serving.

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