Monday, March 26, 2012
Lots of desserts have been coming out of my kitchen in the past few days, but they're all for an upcoming project that I'm working on (you've seen a few if you follow me on Instagram). So for a bit of variety, I thought I'd change it up a bit with a savory recipe on the blog, one inspired by breakfast for dinner (or lunch): spicy tomato and egg pizza. --and with a broccoli rabe side, for a bit of well-rounded green.
The tomato sauce on this pizza has a punch of heat contributed by one of my favorite sources of spiciness: whole dried peperoncino chilies from Italy. I first encountered these peppers at a BBQ of a friend of a friend years ago. The hostess had made incredible mushroom risotto (yes, it was quite the gourmet BBQ, with risotto and fancy Portuguese sausage--and 8 layer bean dip) and then handed me a bowl of rough-crushed dark red peppers to sprinkle on top. "Be careful," she warned me, "those peppers have quite the kick." And indeed they did, but I loved them at first taste. They're smokier and more flavorful than the bland pre-crushed red pepper variety that I've seen here in the States, and when I gushed over them (more so than the risotto, which must have made me seem quite odd), the hostess kindly packed me a small ziploc bag of them to take home.
The problem was that neither she nor I knew their origins. The hostess's explanation with the peppers was that a friend had given a bag to her on a recent European trip, but she wasn't sure whether they were from Spain or Italy or Portugal. So I spent years after that BBQ hoarding my tiny little ziploc bag of dried peppers like they were nuggets of gold, not wanting to use them all up because I wouldn't ever be able to replace them (thankfully, they're spicy enough where a little goes a long way).
Then, on my recent Italy trip, as I was wandering around the supermarket--something I particularly like to do in foreign countries, yesIknowI'mweird--, it occurred to me that I should double check the spice aisle, just in case these peppers were of Italian origin. Lo and behold, EUREKA! GOLD MINE! Peperoncino PAY DIRT! (Later in Sorrento, we saw tons of these peppers hanging in gorgeous clumps from shop doorways, too.) These peppers turned out to be pretty much the only souvenirs I brought home with me in my suitcase from Italy since I was traveling light, but I made sure to bring back at least two bags for me, a bag for a friend, and my traveling companions also bought a bag. Yay, Italy. :D
Anyways, these peperoncino chilies are fantastic, and I've been all excited about using them in everything I can now that I have a good supply. They are so perfect for this pizza because they add flavor and spice to a fragrant but simple garlic and tomato paste sauce that seriously takes less than a few minutes to whip up. The eggs on top of the pizza flood the crevices between the cheese with an extra layer of creaminess when baked, which melts into the heat from the tomato sauce underneath. The sprinkle of pecorino romano adds just a bit of salty sharpness to the whole thing to make it pop some more. I made this two days in a row because it was so easy and good, having it for lunch and breakfast the next day and then making it again for my parents when they came over for dinner.
P.S. This is also my first time making pizza dough on my own at home (I usually shy away from yeast recipes), and I am thrilled to discover how easy it is! The pizza dough recipe here is from the Cheeseboard Collective Works, the cookbook of one of my favorite bakeries and pizzerias in Berkeley.
Read on for recipes.....
Spicy tomato and egg pizza
pizza dough from The Cheese Board Collective Works
makes one 10-inch pizza
1/2 cup warm water
1 tspn active dry yeast
2 tspn olive oil
1/2 tspn salt
146 - 167 gr (1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups) bread flour
5 cloves garlic
3 Tbspn olive oil, and more for cooking
cornmeal or flour, for dough
2 whole Italian dried peperoncino (see note)
6 oz. tomato paste
pecorino romano, shredded
2 - 3 large eggs
1. For dough. Put the warm water in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast into the water. Whisk to dissolve the yeast. Cover and place in a warm place for 5 minutes.
2. Add 2 tspn olive oil, salt, and 83 grams of bread flour to the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes to form a wet dough.
3. Place the remaining 63 grams of flour on a flat worksurface and add the wet dough. Knead for 8 minutes to form a slightly sticky dough. If the dough is impossibly sticky at the end of the kneading, add the remaining bread flour one tablespoon at a time as necessary.
4. Coat the insides of a large bowl with olive oil. Form the dough into a ball and place in the oiled bowl, rolling the dough around to coat the dough in oil. Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 hour.
5. For baking and toppings. Preheat oven to 450° F with a rack in the lower-third of the oven. Peel and mash the garlic cloves. Combine 3 of the garlic cloves with 3 Tbspn olive oil in a bowl and set aside.
6. Spread cornmeal on the back of a baking pan or a pizza peel. Take the dough and press it into a small round. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a saucepan, heat a small amount of olive oil. Crush the peperoncino. Add the peperoncino and the remaining garlic cloves to the oil and saute briefly. Add the tomato paste and 1 - 2 tablespoons of water to loosen the paste, if necessary. Stir briefly to combine the tomato paste, water, garlic, and peperoncino. Remove from heat and set aside.
8. Uncover the dough and press it into its final shape. Cover with sauce, mozzarella, pecorino romano, and two cracked eggs. Place the pizza on a baking sheet in the lower third of the oven. Bake for 12 minutes. If using a pizza stone, transfer the pizza from the baking sheet to the stone after 8 minutes of baking.
9. Once the crust is golden, remove from the oven and immediately brush the exposed crust with the prepared garlic oil.
Note: if you don't have peperoncino, substitute with a 1/2 tspn of chili pepper flakes.
Lemon and red wine vinegar broccoli rabe
freshly squeezed lemon juice
red wine vinegar
pecorino romano, shredded (optional)
1. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the broccoli rabe for a few minutes, until it turns vibrant green. Remove, drain, and rinse with cold water to halt the cooking.
2. In a saucepan, heat a small amount of olive oil to coat. Saute the broccoli rabe for short few minutes with lemon juice, a small amount of red wine vinegar, and salt. Adjust amounts to taste.
3. Serve with shredded pecorino romano cheese, if desired.