Sweet Potato, Apple and Bacon Pizza

We’re rolling fast into tradition time, people! Everyone has different ways of celebrating the holidays – doing these things make us feel all warm and fuzzy with nostalgia and comfort.

I’m not going to lie, the past three Christmases (and two Thanksgivings!) on the opposite side of the world and hemisphere have been an adjustment. It’s hard to actually feel like it’s Christmas when you don’t have the usual people, weather, events and traditions.

Sometimes you have to make new ones to feel like you’re making something special for yourself in a new place. Theme party Thanksgiving (with costumes!) anyone? Cricket on the tv all the time? Meh. Piles of chilled peel and eat shrimp with dipping sauces on Christmas day? Yes please!

Ok, I didn’t actually create any of these, but I’ve adopted them.

One of my favorite non-holiday traditions from waaaay back in the day is Friday pizza night. For the majority of my childhood, my grandparents (Gam & Pop) would have me stay over their house on Friday night and we’d order pizza. I’d eat it sitting on the floor at the coffee table in front of the tv, dismantling my slice layer by layer (I’d eat the pepperoni, then the cheese, then the base – all separately. I know, I was a weird kid.)

I like the idea of continuing this tradition today (without the unusual eating method.) Pizza on Friday is a fun and easy way to celebrate the start of the weekend. Pizza Party!

This pizza isn’t quite as easy as getting delivery, but it’s totally worth it.

Feel free to use a pre-prepared pizza dough or base – I know how it is. Dough is intimidating, time-consuming and sometimes faulty. BUT if you’re curious about making your own dough – try this recipe.

That said, some notes about the pizza dough recipe below:

1. It’s awesome. I’ve made my own dough before,  with lack-luster and frustrating results. This dough will not produce either of those. There is no serious kneading and very little hands-on time, in general. It’s very forgiving, stretches out perfectly, and bakes up crispy and a little bubbly.

2. Don’t be afraid if it tears in places when you’re stretching it out, just pinch it back together.

3. I used more yeast than the original Jim Lahey recipe called for, which shaved off some time from the lengthy resting period. You do need to allow this dough to rest so the yeast and gluten can do its thing. This is what cuts out the kneading part. So if you want pizza on a Friday night, I would suggest making the dough Friday morning or the night before.

4. I used a combo of all-purpose flour and whole wheat. I’ve also used spelt and all-purpose. Both worked well, but if you’re keeping it simple you can just use 3 3/4 cups of all-purpose or bread flour.

5. Freeze the leftover dough if you’re only making one pizza. Next Friday, all you need to do is thaw it in the fridge.

SWEET POTATO & APPLE PIZZA

  • 1 pizza base (see dough recipe below)
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet potato, sliced into thin half-moons
  • 1-2 rashers of bacon, chopped into small pieces.
  • 1/4-1/3 cup caramelized onions
  • 1 small apple (I used a pink lady) sliced into thin half-moons
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup provolone cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • salt & pepper

For caramelized onion: heat oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Place a medium to large red onion, thinly sliced in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and continue to cook for another 10 minutes until jammy, stirring occasionally. (Add a little water a teaspoon at a time, if pan looks dry at any point.)

Heat oven to 425 F/220 C. Place sweet potatoes on an oiled baking sheet and season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes in the oven until softened but not mushy. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large plan over a medium high heat.  Cook bacon in the pan for 2-3 minutes until just cooked through and a little browned.

Heat oven to 500F/260 C. Oil a baking sheet well and spread the pizza dough out on it. Patch it up where needed.

Sprinkle half of the provolone and Parmesan cheeses on the base. Arrange sweet potatoes, apple, bacon, onion and rosemary on the base and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes (watch your pizza and toppings – cook time really depends on your oven.)

Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.

Makes about 8 square pieces when spread out on a rectangular baking tray.

NO KNEAD PIZZA DOUGH
Based on Jim Lahey’s recipe via Tracy Shutterbean, makes 2 pizza bases.

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/3 cup warm water
  • olive oil for the baking sheet

Combine yeast, salt, and flours in a large bowl and stir to distribute the yeast evenly.

Pour  in water and stir with a wooden spoon or your hands until combined and you have a raggy dough. Cover with a tea towel and allow to stand at room temp for at least 2 hours. (I let mine sit around for about 5.)

When you’re ready to use the dough, heat the oven to 500 F/260 C. Oil a baking tray well. Place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface and push down into a round disc and divide in half. Mold the halves into rounds. (You can freeze the other half if you’re not using it that day.)

Stretch the dough into the shape of your baking tray. Place on the well oiled baking tray stretching it out with your hands and patching it up in places where needed.

Arrange toppings and bake 15-20 minutes.

Pumpkin and Yogurt Pita Pizza with Dukkah

Really good things: Finding that extra button that came with your blazer right when you need it. Wearing bright colors. Buying the perfect birthday card for someone. Pasta nights. Walking somewhere new. New dresses. Green juices that don’t taste like green things. Planning trips. Planning parties. Planning outfits. Pizza shortcuts.

These are pita pizzas – the easiest kind of cute, individual pizza. And also, my favorite kind of pizza shortcut.

I don’t like most pre-baked pizza crusts – they tend to be too doughy and cardboard-y. And when I’m feeling entirely too lazy to deal with a dough rolling/stretching situation, I want something that – once taken out of the freezer – is ready to be smothered in toppings. I try to buy pocketless pitas for this purpose – so they don’t puff up in the heat of the oven.

As you can see, I was a little heavy-handed with the red pepper flakes here – because…well, I always do that. I also sprinkled it with dukkah, an Egyptian spice blend that you can either make yourself or buy.

I love roasted pumpkin, so I made a whole big batch and used only a portion of it for this recipe. Just make sure you have about 1 cup of chopped pumpkin to work with for each pizza.

Roast that pumpkin.

Mash it up and smooth it out on your pita.

Dollop that situation with some plain Greek yogurt and sprinkle with dukkah, salt, pepper and some chili, if you’re so inclined.

Baking time is super quick. Then, you slice.

Then you eat.

Pumpkin and Yogurt Pita Pizza with Dukkah (Makes 2 pizzas)
– 1 1/2-2 cups roasted Japanese pumpkin
– olive oil
– 2 pitas (mine were about 9-inch/23-cm wide)
– 3-4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
– 1-2 tablespoons dukkah (either homemade or store-bought)
– salt & pepper, to taste
– dash of red pepper flakes

First roast your pumpkin: Heat oven to 425 F/220 C. Cut pumpkin into 1 inch/2.5 cm chunks – you can take off the shin before or after roasting (I do it after – super easy!). Toss the pumpkin with a bit of olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pumpkin is golden and soft enough to mash with a fork. This can be done a day or two ahead.

Heat oven to 400 F/205 C

Mash the pumpkin on the pitas until they are covered as the base (the pumpkin is like you tomato sauce on a traditional pizza here).

Dollop with yogurt and sprinkle with dukkah, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and bake for about 7-8 minutes until the pita is a little golden and crispy around the edges.

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Fig and Caramelized Onion Pita Pizzas

Figs are having their autumn moment!

And I’m majorly feeling the pressure. Figs bring on a case of cook’s block for me every time. It’s like writer’s block, but with ingredients.

My knee-jerk reaction is to slice them open and eat them on their own, but I also don’t want to miss the opportunity to cook with them.

I agonize over what I can make with these revered little parcels. I want something a little different, but I also want to maintain the fig’s natural flavor and texture.  You know, treat them right.

I think it’s best to keep it simple. They’re perfect on toast with ricotta and drizzle of honey. Or sliced with a little sweet cheese on each piece, canape style.

One of my favorite simple short-cuts is using thin pita bread as a quick pizza crust. This time, I decorated them with complimenting flavors like goat cheese, caramelized onion and of course, figs. Top with some mesculin greens tossed with a little olive oil just before serving and we’re in business!

Boom. Celebration of figs.

Fig and Caramelized Onion Pita Pizzas
(makes 2 pizzas)
– 2 pita breads, poked with a fork*
– 1 large red onion, sliced thin
– 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing and garnishing
– 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
– 2-4 fresh figs, sliced into discs*
– 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
– 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
– 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
– salt and pepper, to taste

For salad topping
– 1 cup mesculin greens or arugula
– 1 teaspoon olive oil
– salt and pepper to taste

To caramelize the onions, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add onions, salt and balsamic vinegar. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes until browned and completely soft.

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F.

Prepare a baking tray by coating it in a small amount of olive oil. (This helps the pitas crisp up without becoming brittle.)

Put together your pizzas, starting with spreading the caramelized onions on the pitas. Top with sliced figs, cheese and nuts. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper and drizzle each pizza with a small about of olive oil (about a 1/2-1 teaspoon for each pizza.)

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until everything is heated through.

In a bowl mix greens with olive oil, salt and pepper. Top heated pizzas with the greens and serve immediately.

*Notes:
– Putting little holes in the pitas prevents them from ballooning in the oven.
– The amount of figs you’ll need depends on the size of your figs and of your pitas. I only used two figs for the pizzas pictured.

weekend foodventures

I love going out to eat and discovering new restaurants as much as the next girl, but it can get pricey. I like to make going out to eat an event to share with my favorite people and I also love to cook at home, which makes saving restaurant exploring for the weekend the perfect compromise.

This week’s food adventuring  (fooxploring? No. foodventuring?…I’ll work on it.) involved one of my favorite weekend pastimes: brunch!

While I miss the bottomless boozy brunches of my New York days, nothing beats a beautiful, sunny day brunch by the beach. On Saturday we tried out Brown Sugar on Curlewis Street for our first brunch expedition as Bondi residents. Now, I’m a newbie when it comes to the whole Sydney Dining Scene, so I had not heard the buzz around the breakfast here until afterward, but the menu did the talking. Mr. F ordered the banana bread with caramelized bananas, fresh strawberries and yogurt and I ordered the Moroccan Eggs. I cannot resist stewed tomatoes and  melting poached eggy goodness before noon. I just can’t. It was delicious. But I must say, the banana bread was sinfully good in its own right. (Picking leftover crusts off of your dining partner’s plate kind of good.)

Afterward we did a loop through the Bondi Farmer’s Market and collected all sorts of exciting gems. Purple kale, a box of figs, dandelion greens, fresh herbs, a fantastic multigrain sourdough loaf and a remarkable stringybark honey from Tamworth.

I used the figs, herbs and dandelion greens on pizzas later that night (along with olive oil, prosciutto, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, roasted garlic, caramelized onions and Taste’s pizza dough).


I used the kale for seasoned kale chips – lightly sprayed with olive oil on either side and seasoned with salt&pepper, cumin and chilli flakes and baked for 10 minutes. They may sound a little on the healthy side, and they are, but the flavor and light/flaky/crunchy texture should be celebrated for just being a quality snack. I also threw the rest of the kale, along with their bright purple stems, into a barley, lentil and vegetable soup I made yesterday.

My favorite dish of this weekend, however, was surprisingly a condiment. I recreated Heidi Swanson’s (of 101Cookbooks.com) Magic Sauce. I did not have a bay leaf or fresh oregano on hand and I added two roasted garlic cloves (in addition to the two fresh) into the mix, but it still came out that sexy, paprika-stained color and it tastes fabulous. So far I have had it with a vegetable frittata, on salad and as a marinade for pan-grilled zucchini and carrot. My cooking this week will heavily feature foods that I can pour this elixir onto.

And that beautiful ricotta from last week’s visit to Harris Farms was the gift that kept giving. While writing this post (I tend to get hungry while writing), I polished the rest it off on top of a toasted slice of multigrain sourdough with  honey and cinnamon stewed pear and a dash of sea salt. Hand held perfection.