Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Cookbook Cauliflower Pizza

After most present giving holidays I have a stack of chef centric cookbooks with a load of new recipes to try. This year, one I really wanted was bread genius Jim Lahey's "My Bread". I've rattled on about Lahey's no-knead bread before, but until this Christmas I only had two choices of Lahey recipes, crusty white rustic Italian bread and pizza dough, although the pizza recipe left out Lahey's method of stretching the dough for a super thin crust and offered none of his topping recipes. It's not just that Lahey's recipes require next to no effort and can make a more than credible baker out of any kitchen novice . . . but they are crusty and delicious and without fail provoke a stupefied, "You made this?' from guests and the big man alike.
Since I hadn't planned for Lahey's usual 18 hour first rise, we started our Christmas cookbook try outs with his unusual cauliflower pizza. The quick mixed dough (3 1/2 cups bread flour, 2 1/2 tsp yeast. 3/4 tsp salt. 3/4 tsp "plus a pinch" sugar, 1 1/3 cup room temperature water) is left to sit for two hours and then half the resulting bubbly dough (it's a two crust recipe) is stretched thinly over an oiled baking sheet and topped.
For this unusual topping I sliced cauliflower on a mandolin (that was a Christmas present a few years back) and mixed in chopped green olives, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. I layered the vegetable mixture on top of the dough, sprinkled on home-made bread crumbs and baked for 25 minutes at 500º.
The verdict -- pretty darn good. It may not replace my usual pizza stone pies but the crust was thin and crisp (the way his highness likes it) and the topping mild (I might have gone for a bit thinner topping with more cheese and olives) and light. But, the revelation? Cauliflower sliced on the mandolin -- I am seeing a pomme chou-fleur in our near future.
Next up? Lahey's garlic studded Stecca.

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