Sunday, September 16, 2012

Prosciutto, Capocollo and Carmelized Onion Pizza

Prosciutto, Capocollo and Carmelized Onion Pizza

This is a quick and easy recipe for pizza.  I tend to like thin crust pizza and as a result I had to search a bit to find a recipe that was easy, thin yet substantial enough to hold some hefty ingredients and not be doughy.  In my reading about pizza crust, I learned that the dough doesn't go through the rising process if you are want to achieve a nice thin crust. 

Organic Olive Oil
You will notice that this pizza does not call for a pizza sauce, but rather is simply brushed with extra virgin olive oil, letting the meat and veggies be the stars of the pizza.
I used organic olive oil produced in Italy from Agriturismo Poggio Eutrusco's organic farm near Montepulciano.  This tin of oil was a gift from my friend Pamela, who I was delighted to visit in May. 

A little information about our ingredients.....Prosciutto is an Italian word for ham.  In English, it is almost always used for a dry cured ham.  Prosciutto is made from either a pig's or a wild boar's hind leg or thigh.  The process of making prosciutto can take anywhere from nine months to two years, depending on the size of the ham. 

The prosciutto here from the local deli doesn't even come close to comparing to the fabulous prosciutto in Italy.   It is also expensive, but worth the splurge. I purchased 4 ounces for this pizza and only had a bit little left over for nibbling on later.

During several visits to Italy, I have had the pleasure of staying at Agriturismo Cretaiole where I had the opportunity to visit our host's farm and sample their prosciutto from their farm raised pigs. It is always a melt in your mouth treat!

Luciano's Prosciutto

For my pizza today, I used Prosciutto and another Italian cured meat, Capocollo.  Where Proscuitto comes from the ham, Capocollo is made exclusively of meat from  the shoulder or neck. 

I layered on red, yellow and orange bell peppers along with caramelized onions.  I topped off the pizza with fresh herbs from my garden and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella.
Basil, Rosemary and Oregano

Caramelizing onions is easy to do and they are wonderful on this pizza.    Start by thinly slicing 2 medium vidalia onions.  
Drizzle 2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil into a large non-stick skillet.
Add 1 Tablespoon brown sugar and stir over medium heat.

You will see the onions start to turn opaque.  Continue to let them cook, stirring frequently.  When they are finished they will be a lovely caramel color, like the photo below.  Remove the onions from the heat and set them aside to cool.  I generally cook up a nice supply and keep a stash in the frige.

Caramelized Onions

Now it's time to make the pizza dough.

Pizza Dough


1  .25 oz. package of active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup 110 degree F water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Happy Yeast

  1. Place a pizza or bread baking stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. 
  2. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Set aside for 8 minutes.  At the conclusion of the 8 minutes your yeast should be happy and foamy. 
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and the salt.
  4. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  5. Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  6. Working from the edges to the center, press the dough into a 12" circle.  You can hold the dough up off the counter and stretch it evenly. 
  7. Sprinkle a pizza peel liberally with corn meal.

Assembling the Pizza:

  1. Place the pizza dough onto the peel.
  2. Drizzle the surface of the dough lightly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and spread it evenly with your hands.
  3. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.
  4. Sprinkle with a combination of Italian seasonings that you like.  I used Rosemary, Oregano and Basil from my garden along with some fennel seed  and cracked black pepper. 
  5. Evenly spread the caramelized onions over the crust. 
  6. Arrange the paper thin strips of Prosciutto evenly over the onions.
  7. If you'd like to add additional veggies you can, for my pizza, I use a mixture of bell peppers, whatever I have on hand.
  8. Top it off with another 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese (not that stuff that comes in a green can) and Mozzarella cheese.   
Pizza ready for the grill
I often use my grill to bake the pizzas.  It results in a lovely crust, but you do have to watch it to make sure it doesn't burn.  When I use the grill with the stone positioned on the grate.  I max out the heat, pumping it all the way to 600.  The pizza cooks in around 5 minutes.  I wish I had an outdoor pizza oven...maybe someday!

The list of instructions is long, but if you have things semi ready, you can mix up this pizza and be eating in around 30 minutes, and it is better than the Pizza chains that we all frequent. 

...and that's What's Cooking at Cathy's ~ Enjoy!

Butterscotch Banana Cream Pie

Am I the only person who buys bananas and never manage to get them eaten before they turn brown?
It doesn't seem to matter if I buy 3 or 6, I always end up with at least one that I'm scrambling to use rather than throw it away.  Today, I have 4, so I thought first of banana cream pie, then had the idea of combining the bananas with butterscotch cream  Doesn't that sound yummy?

Early this morning I started making the filling so it would have plenty of time to chill.  Well as luck would have it, I paused from my diligent stirring while the mixture was heating on the stove, just mere moments, while I instant messaged a friend.  In those moments disaster happened....yup, it burned on the bottom.  I strained it to get out the burned bits, but the taste test sealed the deal.  I had to dump it and start over.
The do-over went much better, but it did require a trip to the store.  While I was traveling down the baking isle at the grocery, I spied some Nestles Butterscotch Chips.  Hum....I thought as I put a bag in my cart.  I've made chocolate ganache with semi-sweet chips, I bet that same technique would work with butterscotch.  The plan is in place.  A layer of exquisite butterscotch ganache sitting on a flaky pastry crust, above it, layers of bananas and butterscotch cream topped off with a glorious crown of Italian Meringue.  Shameless?  Maybe, but there were bananas to've gotta dream big!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ham and Beans

Steaming Hot Ham and Beans
As the heat of the summer turned into cool fall days this past weekend, my thoughts turned to warm comfort food.  Immediately, ham and beans came to mind.  I just couldn't shake the thoughts.  A quick check of the pantry and I had nearly all the ingredients.  The only thing missing was the that is kinda important, so a trip to the store for groceries and I was all set.

There are a couple of methods for soaking beans, you can do a quick soak method or just put them in water overnight.  I wasn't in a hurry so I opted for the overnight method.  Of course, if you are in a huge hurry, you can buy canned navy beans and speed up the process even faster!

I tend to make Ham 'n' Beans without a recipe.  I'll share what I did, but I did measure just so I could include the measurements in the event you aren't comfortable "winging it".

About Me

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My career is in IT.  Cooking and photography are among a few of my hobbies. In my spare time, which is most weekends I tie on my apron and exercise my creativity by trying new recipes and adapting them to my tastes. I also have a passion for photography that I incorporate by taking photographs to go along with the recipes I post on my blog.  
I also enjoy travel, both near and abroad. Meeting new people, new experiences and cultures and oh, not to mention the food! I hope you enjoy my blog.