We made it through January! The darkest, bleakest month of the year, in my opinion. (This, obviously, does not apply to our friends in the Southern Hemisphere- Susie Q, I’m looking at you. I know ‘stinking hot’ in Cape Town can be its own brand of terrible but, speaking from darkness and rainy skies it’s looking pretty good to us right now 😉 )
Today is Groundhog Day. According to folklore, if it is cloudy out when a groundhog emerges from its den today (and the groundhog does not see its shadow), then spring will come early this year; if it is sunny, the groundhog will see its shadow, retreat back into its den, and winter weather will persist for six more weeks. This whole thing seems really, really weird. (you nutty East-Coasters! 😉 )
It’s also, obviously, a cult Bill Murray movie in which a disgruntled TV reporter lives the same day over and over and over and over again. This is also pretty weird and, to my knowledge, has little to do with actual Groundhog Day festivities or… lore, for lack of a better word (the movie is kind of ‘A Christmas Carol’-style Scrooge story where the underlying moral is to be less of a grump, but I still have no idea what this has to do with groundhogs, winter, spring, or Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania)
My favourite part about writing this post on Groundhog Day is that I got to google the names of all the famous groundhogs. They all have amazingly derpy names (Pierre C. Shadeaux!), and it makes me wonder who is in charge of naming The Groundhog, and if its an honour on par with being given they key to a city.
My obviously very thorough and very reliable wikipedia search didn’t tell me much about Groundhog Day foods, which seems like kind of an oversight. Surely every holiday gets a special food, come on!
Thus, I must come up with my own official Groundhog Day Special. Surely, it had to be some kind of comfort food, because February 1st is not going to be particularly pleasant anywhere above a certain latitude. Carbs on carbs, cheese on cheese.
This pizza should weigh you down, but somehow it doesn’t. Rich flavours used fairly sparsely, this pizza hits the mark without making you feel like you ate a brick (unless you eat several of them yourself in which case… why would you do that?).
Rosemary roasted potato slices, sweet caramelized onion threads, creamy and pungent Gorgonzola, a sprinkle of oozy mozzarella. Using a woody herb like rosemary fits perfectly here, since it usually winters well, so you should be able to find some without breaking the bank. The fragrant needles hold up well to heat and (as we know from this pizza- our first ever blog post!), pair amazingly well with a good, stinky blue cheese.
I like to sprinkle some browned fennel sausage over this pizza for some added depth of flavour, but if you’re vegetarian, I promise it’s just as good without. If you can’t find fennel sausage, any good, herbaceous country sausage will do, amped up with a sprinkle of dried fennel seeds.
Finally, balsamic reduction. I can’t help it, it just adds such a good finish of tartness! Finishing off a pizza with a drizzle of balsamic reduction adds a touch of sweetness and acidity, which will prevent the rich flavours on the crust from overwhelming your palette and bogging it down.
So- with this, happy Groundhog Day, I guess? Here’s to spring starting TOMORROW, and sunny days from here on.
|Potato, Caramelized Onion & Gorgonzola Pizza|| |
- Pizza Dough:*
- 1⅓ cups warm water
- 2¼ tsp instant yeast
- 3¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 medium red potatoes, thinly sliced
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
- ⅔ cup mozzarella, grated
- ½ cup gorgonzola, crumbled
- 1 link fennel sausage,** crumbled (optional)
- Balsamic reduction
- To make dough: Preheat oven to 200°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine water and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes until yeast has dissolved and mixture is frothy. Add in flour, sugar, salt, and olive oil; knead on a low speed for 5-10 minutes until dough has formed. It should be elastic and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl; cover with aluminum foil, and place bowl in the oven. TURN OVEN OFF. Let the dough rise in the warm oven for about 2 hours until it has doubled in size. Divide into two balls of dough, then use one for the remainder of this recipe. (Prepare another pizza with the second ball of dough, or store in the fridge for another night.)
- Remove dough from oven, place a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet into the oven. Crank the heat on the oven up to 500 degrees. Let the stone heat for at least 30 minutes in the oven.
- Heat a glug of olive oil in a medium pan and add onions. Cook until golden and sweet. Set onions aside. In the same pan, brown the sausage meat, if using.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Toss the sliced red potatoes with a touch of olive oil, salt, pepper and half the rosemary. Bake in the 500 degree oven until lightly browned- this shouldn't take more than 5 minutes or so.
- Dust a flat surface with some coarse semolina and stretch out the portion of pizza dough you will be using. Take the heated pizza stone/tray out of the oven and transfer the dough directly on to it. This will cause the dough to start cooking right away, ensuring a nice and crispy crust.
- Layer potatoes, caramelized onion, mozzarella, gorgonzola and sausage on to the pizza dough. Bake for 8-12 minutes until the cheese has melted and the edges of the crust are lightly browned. Remove from oven and finish with a sprinkle of fresh rosemary.
** If you can't find a good fennel sausage, any good herby country sausage will do. Add 2 tsp of fennel seeds when frying it up.