Thursday, August 13, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers- White Pizzas with Arugula

After seeing Julie and Julia a few nights ago, I realized my blog needed some motivation. I was too willy-nilly about my postings and had no real pressure to commit. For those who know me, what Julia Child was to Julie Powell is what Ina Garten is to me. I love Ina. I am sure that if we just met, we would be instant life long friends.

I would love to be one of those people she invites to sit around her kitchen in the Hamptons and we could talk for hours about the importance of butter in all recipes. "How bad could that be?"
Her cooking style most resembles my own. It's classic, it's comforting, it's accessible for most cooks and it seems like food you would really want to eat.

I found this blogging group, Barefoot Bloggers, who are all..well..Ina fans too! Each month, another blogger (that would be someone like me!) is selected to choose 2 recipes from Ina and then (get this) everyone else has to make them and post on their own blogs! Perfect- that solves my motivation problem AND I get to make Ina recipes!

So this month, the recipes were White Pizzas with Arugula and a Mango Daiquiri or something drink. I didn't make the drink. Not that I didnt plan to (mangoes sitting nicely on my counter as we speak..) but I just flat out got too busy and honestly, I can't exactly serve a rum drink to my kids so..I stuck with the pizzas for this month.

Arugula is probably in my top 5 favorite foods. I LOVE the peppery, crisp taste and it doesn't hurt that my next door neighbors grow some in their herb garden and are always forcing it upon me.
Let me start by saying- I LOVED this recipe. LOVED IT. My husband and I looked at each other with the "OMG where has this been my whole life face". The salty and creamy combination of the cheeses combined with the garlic and peppery lettuce was out of this world.

Some notes:
First, when Ina said NOT to add the salt to the yeast before the flour, she means it. I had one totally flat, failed ball of dough that wouldn't rise.

I usually do not like goat cheese..if that is the case for you, try it anyway. I did and actually really liked the taste on this pizza. Gave it great depth.

Final thoughts: It's a bit of work, no doubt. Anytime you work with dough and things like - three different cheeses and garlic steeped oil it's going to be a bit more advanced of a recipe but it's all worth it. This is now my go-to appetizer for parties.

White Pizzas with Arugula

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.