Sunday, September 25, 2011

Eat: Fig and Pear Pizza

When it comes to this week’s recipe, I really have to pat myself on the back. My husband described this pear and fig pizza as one of the best dishes I have ever made. I did not come by it easily, though. The pizza features homemade dough and fancy ingredients that were a challenge to find. Were it not for Trader Joe’s, this venture would have been a failure before I ever set foot in the kitchen. Such efforts coupled with two hours of labor were handsomely rewarded in the end. The subtle but sweet flavors of pear, fig, and caramelized onion are balanced by sharp Gorgonzola cheese and crème fraiche. If the following recipe sounds delicious but you aren’t interested in investing so much of your time, you need only to visit Eleven Eleven Mississippi. This dish is readily available on their lunch and dinner menus. It actually presented itself to me in a weekly e-newsletter from Sauce Magazine. It was just too intriguing to not try.

Please note before you begin this recipe that the onions can be prepared up to two days in advance. I recommend doing this to break up such a lengthy preparation time.

TIME: 2 hours (including prep and cooking)
YIELDS: 10-12 servings

3.5 cups flour
1 cup warm water (100-110°F)
2 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1 pear, peeled and sliced
1.5 cups red wine
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons crème fraiche (sub: sour cream)
1/2 cup of thinly sliced dried black mission figs
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Begin by preheating the oven to 425 degrees.

To prepare the dough, add the yeast to warm water and allow to dissolve.
In a large mixer (preferably with a dough hook) combine the yeast/water blend, flour, honey, olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Run the mixer for 5 minutes (or knead with your hands) until a smooth ball of dough is formed.

Set the dough aside in its bowl, covering the top with a dish towel. If possible, set it somewhere warm. I put the bowl on top of my oven while preheating.

While dough is rising, melt butter in a medium-sized pan. Add the onion slices and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Saute over medium-low heat for roughly 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Once soft and brown, let the slices cool to room temperature.

In a medium-sized sauce pan (or a large skillet), combine the pear, red wine, vanilla, 1/2 cup of sugar, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and then simmer approximately 20-30 minutes until the pear slices are tender and a bright red-purple color (they will absorb the poaching liquid).

Spread the dough over a pizza pan or cookie sheet. Cover the dough with a thin layer of crème fraiche. Evenly distribute the onion slices, pear slices, and figs across the pizza. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake for 10-12 minutes and get ready to impress yourself!

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