Category Archives: pizza

Butternut Squash, Pear, and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Do you ever find yourself trapped in the same rut when it comes to certain foods? Butternut squash is one of those things for me.  I’ll typically pick one up, come home, and make soup a few days later.  Exciting stuff, no?

Change can be good, though.  So when I stood at one of my favourite markets this evening contemplating what to make for dinner, and then caught a glimpse of a butternut squash out of the corner of my eye that could be (and would be) all mine for the low investment of $1.36, I knew what had to be done.

Yes, the squash had to come home with me, but it couldn’t be made into soup.  What then, should I make?

Well you see, the decision was actually rather easy.  Don’t ask me why, but there seems to be something about the end of the week that just screams “pizza”.  It also screams “spa” and “tropical vacation”, but I’m going to try to stay focused on pizza for your sake.

As you may recall, I have a love/hate relationship with pizza.  I don’t make it often, but then every time that I DO make it I wonder why I don’t make it more frequently since I always like it.  I know what you’re thinking – butternut squash on pizza? Have you lost your mind?!?!

Perhaps.  But if I keep making food this easy and tasty, I never want to find it.

Besides, some of us (who shall remain nameless) might be suffering from a sugar overload.  And also, it beats soup.

For tonight anyways.  I reserve the right to change my mind often and without warning.

Butternut squash, pear, red onion, garlic, brie cheese, puff pastry, sweet & spicy BBQ-type sauce.

Before we get started, it has come to my attention that some of you are frustrated with my lack of specificity with certain dishes.  I’m sorry in advance, but there is no real “recipe” for this.  In fact, part of the reason I tend to share more sweet things instead of savory is that 99% of the time I just grab whatever looks good that day and make something without measuring or weighing, but at least with baking I can give you a firmer idea of how to follow along.  I want you to feel more comfortable just trusting your intuition, so if you’re a strict recipe follower, please give this pizza a try – it’s pretty much impossible to mess up and you might even surprise yourself with how good of a cook you are!

To get things started, peel, slice, and seed the squash.

Cut it into cubes, toss with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Yes, this is way more than enough squash for one pizza but I figured I might as well roast it all up – I can figure out what to do with the leftovers tomorrow.

Roast the squash for about 25 minutes at 400-degrees, or until it’s tender and starting to caramelize.

Speaking of caramelization, time to slice the onion!

Slice it rather thin, and then get it going in a pan with a pat of butter, a sprinkling of sugar if you wish, and some salt. Oh, and a clove or two of garlic never hurt anyone!

Low and slow is the name of this game….let the onions do their thing over a low flame for the 20 minutes or so that the squash is roasting.

I usually add a pear to my butternut squash soup, so I figured I might as well throw some on the pizza as well.  Slice it up…and snack on about half of it if you’re hungry.

Now, for the cheese…I used brie cheese because that’s what I had in the fridge, but other kinds of cheese would surely be delightful.  Fontina? Bleu? Asiago? Yes please!

I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong with cheese.

Except if you put Velveeta on this. Or spray cheese from a can.  Both would be indications that a serious intervention was needed.

Let’s talk about the pizza crust for just a minute. I am on a mission to thin out my freezer, so instead of making pizza dough I just thawed a piece of puff pastry while the squash was roasting.  After being pricked with a fork several times, it was ready to go into the oven – no flour on the floor required.

MAJOR bonus points if you don’t get flour on the floor while making dough.  My housecleaner will be so pleased with me.

Bake the crush for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, or until it is a light golden brown.

Meanwhile, check out the squash!

Is that gorgeous or is that gorgeous?!?!

Gorgeous AND delicious.  I’m pretty sure I ate a good third of it while standing at the oven, waiting for the puff pastry to bake.  So much for leftovers.

I knew this pizza would be pretty sweet with the squash, pears, and caramelized onions, so I wanted to add a bit of heat.  I scrounged around in my fridge, and this is what I came up with:

Cowgirl sweet & hot finishing glaze.  Don’t ask me where I got it, but it was really good.  Something chipotle-esque would also be yummy.

Toss some squash with the sauce – enough to give it a thin coating – and set it aside.

After 10 minutes, remove the pastry from the oven…

Spread the carmelized onions on first…

Then make a pretty design with the pair slices next…

Don’t forget the roasted squash!

And last but not least, the cheese.

Le sigh.

Cheese makes everything better, don’t you think?

After another 5 minutes in the oven…

Let it cool for a few minutes, then cut into slices and serve.

You don’t have to share if you don’t want to, though.

When your better half and gets home and asks what smells so good/what’s for dinner, smile sweetly and say “pizza” while producing a cardboard disc frozen one from the oven.  Hoard the (hypothetical) leftovers in the fridge in an opaque container marked “liver and onions” or something equally unappealing to him or her.

Conversely, if you want to impress your significant other/neighbour/arch nemesis just casually mention that you whipped up a little something for dinner, and then set a slice in front of them. Make up a faux French name for this, use your hands to gesture a lot, and insist that really, there was nothing to it.  They’ll fall in love with you all over again, I promise.

Either way, your secret is safe with me.

Until we meet again…

Jaclyn

P.S. You have my permission to add bacon if you’d like.

P.P.S. If you make this and add bacon, can you please invite me to your house for dinner? Pretty please?

Glutton for Punishment

Look what magically appears when I decide to clean out my fridge:

Meet you in therapy,

Love,

Jaclyn

Homemade Pizza

I have a love/hate relationship with pizza.  I love that it is a blank canvas for an array of toppings, but hate that most pizza parlours are so skimpy on the toppings.  AND speaking of toppings, I also hate that any decent place seems to charge an arm and a leg if you want multiple “premium” toppings.  What’s with that?!?! Not impressed, if you can’t tell already. I should be able to have feta AND spinach AND roasted red peppers AND chicken on my pizza without paying more than the standard pepperoni & cheese customers, thank you very much. And, speaking of delivery, is it just me or does anyone else find that these days it can take up to an hour for your order to arrive? Not into that. Don’t even get me started on the so-called cardboard discs pizzas that line the frozen foods aisle of the grocery store…

I’ll stop my rant now, I promise.

As a child I was spoiled with homemade pizza to the point where I thought it was more normal to make your own instead of ordering it in or popping a frozen one in the oven.  This probably is to blame for my blatant dislike of many restaurants and preference to cook myself, now that I think about it.  More often than not, homemade is better and pizza is no exception.  My Mom would often make the pizza dough early in the afternoon in her trusty Kitchen Aid and by dinner time it was ready to be personalized.  It was always fun to do, especially when our friends our cousins came over to join us in the mayhem.  Making my own pizza is a tradition that I’ve carried on, and one you should start if you haven’t already.  The dough takes under 10 minutes from start to finish (including kneading time) and it’s really easy to work with.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Yeast, water, olive oil, flour (some combination of bread flour, all-purpose, and/or whole wheat), and salt.

Let’s begin!

Sprinkle 2 1/4 tsp of instant or rapid-rise yeast over warm water. Be careful that the water isn’t too hot or you’ll kill the yeast – I did that when I was making rolls for Christmas dinner, and the results weren’t pretty. That was pre-blog, but you’ll have to trust me.

If, after 5 minutes or so, the mixture doesn’t look like this…

…then you have a problem. With your yeast, that is.  I’ll refrain from commenting any more than that.

No, but seriously, if your yeast doesn’t “bloom” then it’s probably old and you need to either (a) get more yeast, (b) call for delivery (please don’t), or (c) change your dinner plans.

While the yeast is doing its thing, measure out 4 c (or 22 oz, for you purists out there) of flour and 1 1/2 tsp salt into the bowl of your standing mixer:

Let’s talk about flour for a minute.  I like to use a combination of white and whole-wheat for my dough, but typically won’t use more than 1/2 whole wheat.  If I have bread flour I also like to use it more than just my standard all-purpose, as it tends to make the crust crispier.

Back to the yeast.  Add 1 1/4 c room temperature water and 2 TBSP of olive oil to the yeast.

Give it a stir, and add it to the flour and salt.

Put your dough hook on the mixer, and mix on a low setting until everything gets incorporated.  Unless, of course, you enjoy cleaning up flour storms in your kitchen. To each their own, I suppose.

Once it’s starting to resemble a cohesive mass of dough, increase the speed to medium and let the mixer do the kneading for you.

Five minutes later, you’ll have dough!

I know what some of you are thinking – if you don’t have a standing mixer you can also use your food processor or your biceps (gasp!).  I’ve done both with equally good results, so no excuses! If I can do it, so can you.

Put the dough in an oiled bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap.

We’re going to need to let the dough rise until it’s doubled in size…this should take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Sometimes I speed up the process by sticking the dough in my oven at the proofing setting.

While the dough is rising, let’s get some toppings ready.  As I was saying before, pizza dough is merely a blank canvas.  You can put whatever you like on it – from the ordinary to the obscure.  Don’t be shy! Try some new combinations…instead of pizza sauce, why not try fig preserves, or pesto, or bruschetta? Instead of mozzarella, why not asiago, or feta, or brie, or chevre? Instead of pepperoni, why not proscuitto , or chicken, or tofu (just kidding)? The list is truly endless, my friends. You are only limited by your imagination!

Yes, I have a big imagination, and I know you’re jealous.

How’s that dough looking, you ask?

Now THAT’s what I’m talking about!

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide it into at least 3 pieces.

Cover the dough with a teatowel and let it rest for up to 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Are you hungry yet? I know I am so let’s finish what we started!

Either roll out or stretch the dough by hand until its a thickness that you can live with.  I would like to tell you that I threw the dough above my head while singing Italian opera, but pictures don’t lie.

I like to do what my Italian grandmother taught me, and sprinkle a little cornmeal down before I roll out the dough.

Ok – so much for not lying – I don’t have an Italian grandmother.  If you’re an Italian grandmother and you’re reading this, would you like to adopt me and teach me your ways in the kitchen?

Back to the pizza. Go wild! With toppings, that is. I take no responsibility for anything else.

And after 8-9 minutes in the oven, here’s what you can expect to greet you:

Up close and personal:

Ooh baby – now THAT’S what I’m talking about! This sure isn’t 2-for-1, and I can’t say I’m sorry about that. Next time you feel like pizza, please try making your own instead of ordering out.  You’ll be converted in no time!

P.S. If you’d like to purchase a pizza stone and donate it to my cause, I’d be most grateful…