apple pizza with avocado and pulled pork

I know it might sound really weird but I have to say this is an amazing marriage of flavours. I  am on a pizza binge as of late–because it is just so easy to pull together and I am trying to use up what I have purchased previously instead of buying stuff every night. This just happened to be what was hanging around my kitchen.

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  1. I  had a bag of dough left over from yesterday that I let rest on the counter to warm up.
  2. there was a HUGE avocado that I had picked up on the weekend and it was finally ready to use along with fresh cilantro that was on its last legs.
  3.  pork loin was thawing the fridge –still a bit frosty
  4. a couple of apples/pears were lying around just begging to be eaten
  5. My cheese choices included some old cheese strings, some paneer, and a small block of aged white cheddar. I opted for the cheddar.
  • First I slathered the skinny lean pork loin with EVOO, salt, pepper and grainy mustard – then roasted @ 450 degree F oven for 20 min…. end then I turned the  oven down to 300, placing foil around it  in order to keep it from drying. I added in some mango juice that was leftover in the fridge as well just to add a bit of flavour and moisture (but you can use apple juice, OJ or even just a bit of water).

When I was ready to do the pizza, I pulled out the heated stone ( i just keep it in the oven with the roasting pork) and placed the thin rolled out dough on it. At this point you should remove the PORK and let it rest and turn the oven to 400 Degrees again.

  • Back to the Pizza Dough: spread some EVOO , salt and pepper, thin layer of cheese, and thinly sliced apples THEN pop into oven again (on the bottom of the oven floor if you have a peel and stone)
  • Set timer for approx 10 min. Remove when crisp on bottom. You can broil the top a for a couple of minutes if the apples need browning up.

Remove from oven.

  • Separate the pork with 2 forks and add on top of apple pizza
  • Top with homemade Guacamole (fresh avocado, cilantro, finely chopped onion, lime zest and juice and salt and pepper to taste) or however you like your Guac.
  • Walnuts would also be a great addition to the pizza and add some extra texture and interest.

I dare you to try it!

 

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hump day first week at culinary school

Ok, I admit it. Standing through an entire 3 hour class without leaning, slouching, no hands in pockets and ( WARNING TMI ALERT) oozing buckets of menstrual blood is not my idea of fun. Top it off I had a migraine most of the day; but I still loved my classes and the experience… but  I was very happy to head home on my scooter ( in the rain) by 4 o’clock… but “I digress” 

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First up was my baking class. I did not get to make cookies, or pie or anything. Instead we were tortured by the 2nd year students baking next door. The smells were amazing. I did however get to follow along with everyone as we were warned of the perils of the giant mixers, procedures, store rooms, honour codes, and keeping your sh*thole clean…according to my old German Chef instructor. He was amazing. My first 15 minutes of fame resulted from either being old, or smart…but I was the  only student in class who understood how to measure on a counterbalanced scale, meaning I got to tutor one half of the class while Chef helped the rest. I know it really does not sound like a blast, but it was! really …i swear it was.

The second class of the day was Intro to Fine Dining ( Service etc) and Wine ( last 7 weeks). I think I will stick with the under 19 set and smell intently and record other student’s impressions of the wine. Some of you may not know that one of my few claims to fame is that I have never had a drink in my life. It seems pointless to break a streak at this point. There will still be plenty to learn about grapes and regions and blah blah blah…and I am happy to soak it all in. I do have a bloodhound type nose so I should do just fine.

When I walked in the door I flaked out for an hour and still woke up with a headache. I resorted to my old favorite drug of choice, Imitrex and all is well.

topped with balsamic glaze
topped with balsamic glaze

Pizza tonight , using my NEW PIZZA PEEL. When I purchased school supplies yesterday I decided to splurge on the wood pizza peel . I needed to explore the bottom of the oven technique that Jules from Stone Soup recommended. It worked perfectly this time with NO BURNS. For $15 it was money well spent!

  • I made the dough up in the food processor first ( SEE TERRONI PIZZA POST or the STONE SOUP LINK above )
  • Turned oven on to preheat–tried 400 degrees this time
  •  fried up some onions in one pan and mushrooms in another on high heat.
  • Removed the HOT PIZZA STONE ( 400 Degree preheating) from the oven and placed the rolled out pizza dough on it.
  • Top bottom dough with a bit of EVOO.
  • Spread small amount of grated old white cheddar ( or whatever you have on hand) on the dough,
  • top with onions and mushrooms
  • sprinkle feta cheese on top. Season with pepper and salt if feta is not too salty.
  • Pop pizza in oven for approx 12 min. ( check )
  • If using the BOTTOM of the OVEN TECHNIQUE, remove pizza from the stone using the wooden peel
  • –or just remove from the rack
  • squeeze balsamic glaze over the top if desired.
  • MUSHROOMS are amazing when paired with a blue cheese or brie type as well. Just add on when you remove from the heat. The delicate cheese will melt and not burn off this way.

EAT

Terroni Pizza knock-off faster than you can order take-out!

I fell in love with Terroni’s years before I moved to Toronto.

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The Queen West location was chosen by a beloved couple’s wedding rehearsal family dinner and it was love at first bite! Seriously–If you come to Toronto, you must GO TO TERRONI’S !

http://terroni.com/Gallery

Our personal favorite:                 C’t Mang                                           16.95

white pizza with mozzarella, gorgonzola, fresh pears, walnuts, speck (smoked prosciutto), honey

Since then I have been on a quest to recreate the perfect thin crust pizza at home.

SO LET’S GET STARTED!

Making your own dough is sooo easy–but sometimes I just grab a bag of dough from the grocery store and shove it in the fridge so it is even easier to make pizza in the blink of an eye. (you MUST MUST MUST warm to room temp before working the dough)

HOMEMADE DOUGH: I love my food processor for this- insert the plastic blade (or use your mixer , by hand or plan ahead and use that old bread maker in the back of your cupboard)

RECIPE— 2 tsp yeast mixed in * 1 c of warm water with * 1 T of sugar

Throw in 2 c of flour | mix MIX mix|  Remove lid & add in 1 tsp of SALT*

**DO NOT FORGET THE SALT!!! I have done this and believe me, it is tasteless without it. (think tender cardboard)

Not needed, but I add olive oil–a splash or more  | and add up to
*1 more cup of flour and run processor again. Dough is very hardy. Balance out wet and dry if texture is too wet or too crumbly

The dough should be elastic and formed into a ball.  Take out and knead a couple of times to smooth out. Sprinkle counter with a little flour before kneading. Let rest for several hours or even just a few minutes.  Divide into 3 balls if using right away. You do not have to let it rise at all if you are in a hurry. Letting it rise will produce a bit chewier tender crust.

ASSEMBLE YOUR TOPPINGS and HEAT the OVEN to 500 Degrees F. * If you are using a PIZZA STONE throw this in to heat up as well.

Grate Mozza- plan on a light hand with the cheese.  I use less that 1 c per pizza*

BE PREPARED TO IMPROVISE

No Pears?- Use Apples

No Speck?- Go meatless or use what you have on hand–I used sliced corned beef

No Gorgonzola I often use Feta or whatever I have on hand–but I try to keep a bit of blue cheese around. ( Fragile soft cheeses go on after you take out of oven )

OF COURSE–you can add any combo of ingredients you want–Fresh Tomatoes, Basil, and Unripened cheese | Sausage, Mushroom garlic | Caramelized Onions, and anything!

For soft cheeses, just add after you have removed pizza from the oven. Otherwise it will melt and drip away into oblivion.

I also throw some more EVOO on the surface. Sometimes I squirt a little honey or balsamic glaze. Yummy to bite into an unexpected flavour pop of sweetness. 

VERY IMPORTANT—Veggies need to be pre cooked to produce a good outcome unless they are sliced paper thin.  For Red Pizzas use sauces sparingly. A light hand with toppings make the best thin crust pizzas.

Pay attention to your favourite flavours when you eat out and recreate them at home.

ASSEMBLE

My favourite platform to cook the pizza is the stone. I bought this for $10 . You DO NOT need an expensive stone. I also have a pizza pan with holes in the bottom and plain old cookie sheets. A crisp thin crust is possible on all of them and I have the pictures to prove it.

I spray with Pam or use a swipe of olive oil cause it SUCKS when it sticks!

ROLL YOUR DOUGH- Ssstttrrreettcchh YOUR DOUGH and make it as thin as you can. I use a rolling pin but if the dough is super soft, you might be able to use  just plain hands. If your dough has been chilled you MUST WAIT UNTIL IT IS ROOM TEMP for this process. This is one time I do not ignore the rules. It will not WORK COLD!!

NEXT–Place your dough on the stone or pans. If you have a heated stone your crust will start cooking immediately!

DRIZZLE with a little OLIVE OIL and salt and pepper

Add CHEESE next

Place toppings on next and you can sprinkle with some Romano or Parmesan or Feta or ?  if desired.

Place as low on the oven rack as possible but you can rotate around if you are doing more that one pizza. I often put the stone in and start it baking and assemble the next one while it’s bubbling away.

You can even place the stone right on the OVEN FLOOR if you have a gas or hidden burner. This is amazing but can be awkward to remove without a pizza peel .

Your pizza will be done in approx 10 to 15 min. Keep checking to make sure it is crisp on the bottom. Nothing screams crappy pizza more than a moist, wet bottomed  crust …almost impossible if you also used fat uncooked veggie chunks and a bunch of red sauce.

For a great pizza tutorial check out this Stone soup video. Jules does a great job showcasing her own process. of turning your home oven into a PIZZA OVEN.