; Supermarket Serenade: Barefoot Contessa White Pizza

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Barefoot Contessa White Pizza

It's Barefoot Thursday! Barefoot Thursday is the day when a group of food bloggers (known as "Barefoot Bloggers") with deep admiration for the Barefoot Contessa-Ina Garten, all prepare a delicious recipe from one of her many cookbooks. This week's recipe was chosen by Andrea of Nummy Kitchen.

We are a pizza family. Some of my best memories involve pizza. The very first "meal" I ever purchased with my very own money was a slice of cheese pizza and an icy cold coke from Salvatore's pizza in East Northport, New York; I was eight and I remember feeling incredibly proud when I dropped the crumpled bills on the counter to pay. My favorite college meal was a (huge) slice of Rocco's pizza and 1/2 chicken Parmesan hero that I would split with my roommate Ginger in the Bronx, New York. After getting engaged my now husband and I grabbed two slices of Sicilian from Umberto's on Long Island before heading to a friend's baby shower (that remains my favorite slice of pizza to this day).

Last summer when I was getting my new kitchen put in I experimented a lot with cooking my own pizzas on the grill. I burned quite a few, but all in all they came out great. (In fact one of the pizzas I came up with then was a steak pizza which I will be preparing at The National Beef Cook off in Sonoma in a few weeks...so I was happy to make this barefoot blogger pizza in order to have a little bit of practice with dough stretching!)

I was actually a little skeptical about this recipe which is essentially salad on a pizza but I must say it was fabulous! I made a few changes...I did not have arugula so I substituted fresh baby spinach and I just cannot stomach goat cheese so I substituted Manchego cheese-not really the same texture as the goat cheese, but I was happy with the results. The lemon vinaigrette was an absolutely wonderful complement to the cheeses on the pizza. I added some thin slices of plum tomatoes from the local farm stand to one of the pizzas and that was delicious too. Making pizza at home has really never been easier...while making a homemade crust is wonderful, I am grateful that most well stocked supermarkets carry ready to stretch doughs to make pizza creation at home a snap!

Barefoot Contessa's White Pizza

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.


Chef E said...

I can smell that delicious pizza now...I might have to make this tomorrow since I just thawed out chicken...

Suzie said...

Yours looks heavenly - and good luck for your pizza comp. Hope that all the practice pays off.

The Japanese Redneck said...

It does look kinda like salad on a pizza. The lemon is an interesting touch!

Mary said...

Your interpretation looks divine. You've made me hungry.

Tonya @ What's On My Plate said...

i really enjoyed this pizza. neat suggestion on using baby spinach and tomatoes!

Jennifer said...

Howdy! Now, I need to make me some pizza for breakfast on this rainy saturday. Can you email me at savorthethyme@cox.net?

Emily said...

Goodness gracious this looks good. I love when cheese gets all bubbly and brown on the crust like that.

Good luck in the beef contest! That must be coming up, right?

Zaara said...

I did like this pizza - I'm not an arugula fan, and even made a spinach and onion "back-up" but the arugula actually tasted pretty good with the vinaigrette. Who knew?? ;-) Your pics look good!