Pizza

I don’t know about you, but when I think of pizza, I think of warm melted cheese. The stretchy, ooey, gooey, yummy goodness of the cheese pulling away from the pizza giving us a flavor that we all love. This recipe uses a base of a chili jam topping that is a combination of savory, sweet and spicy. It is a great substitute for your usual tomato-based marinaras that we are used to. The arugula gives this pizza the alternative bitter taste that counters the sweetness of the figs.

This is where I may lose people. “Is it a salad or a pizza?” At least that is what my husband asked. This is where we must step out of our “oh so comfortable pepperoni pizza box.” Just trust me.

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Chili Jam Topping

Ingredients:

5 fresh red chilies (if not available, use dried, but double the amount)

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons of water

1½ cups of sugar

⅓ cup white wine vinegar

Juice from 1 lime

1 tsp fish sauce

Directions:

Chop chilies, onions and garlic. Place them into a food processor with water and finely chop. (Chef’s note: Some of my chilis were not as finely chopped as the onions and it turned out to be very visually appealing, so it truly is up to personal preference.)

Transfer mixture to a saucepan and cook on low- to medium-low heat. Add sugar, vinegar, lime and fish sauce. This needs to cook low and slow. Allow sugar to dissolve and cook the onions and peppers down. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil once the sugar is dissolved. Lower the temperature slightly and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

Remember, this is a jam and should be allowed to form a jell. This can be tested with the spoon test. Coat the back of a spoon with the jam, take your finger and swipe down the length of the back of the spoon. If the mixture does not run but stays put on the spoon, it is ready.

This mixture is now ready to use or place into dry sanitized jars to store for later.

Pizza

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Pizza Dough Recipe

Ingredients:

3¾ cups bread flour

⅓ cup sugar

2 grams instant yeast

1¼ cups ice water

1½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup of corn meal

2 tablespoons olive Italian oil herb mixture

Directions:

I use a stand mixer with a dough hook, but this can be done by hand, as well.

Add flour, sugar and yeast into mixer bowl and give it a few spins to mix these ingredients up. Mix consistently throughout to prevent clumping of yeast or sugar.

Next, turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour in ice water. If needed, turn the mixer up to the second speed to hydrate the flour mixture. You do not want any dry flour when you are done, but you also do not want to over mix at this time.

Allow dough to rest for 15 minutes.

After dough has rested, turn the mixer on speed 2 and add salt and olive oil to the dough. Mix until dough is smooth and silky. Remove dough from mixer and knead by hand or knead in the mixer for approximately 10-15 minutes. Test the dough with a windowpane test: tear a piece of dough off, hold it up to the light. If you can stretch it out between your fingers slowly and it not tear but become thin enough for the light to come through, similar to a window pane, it is ready.

Dough can be refrigerated overnight to proof. If using immediately, lay dough out on a lightly floured surface for roughly an hour, until it is light and easy to work with. Working with dough after this is the fun part. Use both hands to gently stretch and form the dough into the crust of your pizza. Using the weight of the dough itself to stretch it is the best method. Leave a thicker part around the outside to form your crust, then go back and forth using your knuckles to get it to your desired thickness.

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Spread cornmeal lightly onto pizza pan. This helps to keep the pizza from sticking and adds a light crunch to your crust. Lay crust onto pan and form into the shape you desire. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the crust with olive oil and herb mixture. This will ensure the beautiful browning and the taste of the crust. For a crispier crust, cook the pizza in the oven for 3 minutes before removing and adding sauce and toppings.

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Sweet and Savory Pizza

Ingredients:

½ cup chili jam

1 package fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced (or feel free to experiment with different types of cheeses)

4 fresh figs sliced thin (if not in season, use fig preserves with whole figs)

4 slices prosciutto, cut into 2-inch strips

3 cups fresh arugula

Balsamic reduction for drizzle

Optional red pepper flakes and parmesan, grated

Directions:

Spread chili jam onto pizza with the back of a spoon. I prefer more of the crust flavor, so I was minimal in the amount I used.

Add mozzarella. Place the fig slices around the pizza about an inch from the crust of the pizza. Placing them too close to the middle of the pizza will cause the center of the pizza to get soggy and not easy to pick up and eat. Also note, the water content of the mozzarella may make the pizza have additional liquid. This is normal.

Put pizza into oven and cook for approximately 8 minutes. You will see the rise and slight browning in the crust and on the mozzarella. This caramelization just adds to your flavor palate. When you see this take the pizza out of the oven.

Add prosciutto to your pizza.

Place arugula in the center of the pizza and don’t be shy. Bring your arugula all the way out to close to where you placed your fig slices. Make sure the figs don’t get completely covered.

Lightly drizzle balsamic reduction over the top of your pizza.

If desired, sprinkle red pepper flakes and large grated pieces of parmesan cheese on the pizza. Cut, slice and enjoy.

Chef’s note: Place your toppings on pizza like artwork. This may sound crazy, but you eat with your eyes first. This is what I always tell my students. So, when placing these ingredients onto your pizza, take pride in it, this is your art piece.