Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Apple, Bacon and Cheddar Pizza

Apple and Cheddar Pizza, Slice Removed



PHOTO TUTORIAL  |  PRINTABLE RECIPE  |  HUNGRY FOR TIPS?

Fear Conquered: Yellow Cheese on Pizza

“What are we doing about dinner?” I ask. We’re at Boyfriend Javelin’s parent’s home and it’s 8 PM. Actually, its after 8 PM and there’s nothing to eat in the house and there’s 8 people to feed.

Well. ACTUALLY, there’s always food in my in-laws house. There’s just not always someone who want to cook it. Or prep it. Or figure out what everybody else wants to eat. Because there’s definitely food in the house and definitely plenty of us capable of cooking it. Definitely.

There’s people like me. Or Boyfriend Javelin. Or Boyfriend Javelin’s dad. Or sister. Or sisters. Or mother. Really, any of us. Only contrary to my own insistence on cooking food from scratch at home, when I’m out and about (what does that mean, anyway?) I often can’t be bothered with cooking. Or prepping. Or really just boiling a pot of pasta and pouring on some sauce. It’s laziness, really. “Out and about” laziness.

Frank Relaxing on Lanai

“I’m hungry,” I prompt again, rifling through bags on the kitchen counter. Because I love potato chips and there’s almost always a bag somewhere on the kitchen counter of my in-laws. And I’m ravenous for potato chips because we don’t keep them stocked at home (because I’m ravenous). “What do you guys want to do for food?” I look expectantly at Boyfriend Javelin.

“I don’t care what we do,” Boyfriend Javelin says and yawns. “What does everyone else want to do?”

“We could do pizza,” Boyfriend Javelin’s mom says without looking up. She’s busy on the computer and I still can’t find chips.

“I’m good with that,” I say. Pizza in a box from a delivery place. Because there are some days I really can’t be bothered beyond lifting the top of a cardboard box and pulling out of piece of soggy dough piled high with cheese and toppings. I’m good with that.

“What kind of pizza do people want?” I ask persistently. I’m hungry, there’s no chips, and not a scrap of food in front of me.

Nobody wants to commit to a pizza topping. There’s a lot of “We could do...” and “What about...” and “I could go for...” and “I don’t care...” and “I’m just hungry...” So I vote for pepperoni and Boyfriend Javelin backs me up. More questions, more not finding chips, more indecision on something as simple as pizza toppings. Someone says supreme and everyone else latches on. Two pizzas - pepperoni and supreme.

Pepperoni Pizza Before Toasting Under Broiler

“Who wants to order?” Boyfriend Javelin’s mom asks. I shrink back into the shadows at the edge of the kitchen and try to look inconspicuous. I hate ordering pizza. All the questions, all the crazy toppings to remember (pepperoni and supreme!) and randomly forgetting my address. Plus there’s the dialing of the phone number and waiting for someone to pick up. And the possibility of rejection when they do pick up. “Sorry, we don’t make pizzas for Marks anymore.”

I hate ordering pizza.

“So who’s ordering?” Boyfriend Javelin asks. He catches my eye and I look meaningfully at him.

“I’m hungry,” I hiss. But I’m not ordering. I don’t say that part but he knows. He always knows.

“Fine,” he growls and pulls out his phone. “Somebody give me the number and I’ll call.”

And 45 minutes later, hot pizza. I say hot rather loosely as it was more of a tepid warm. And I say pizza loosely because it’s more like a pillowy, partially baked bread slathered in sauce and piled with toppings. And I say 45 minutes loosely because we spent at least another 45 minutes deciding on pizza, toppings and location. So really that’s like 90 minutes for tepid, partially baked bread coated with sauce and toppings in the shape of a pizza.

But it was better than the chips I couldn’t find. And nobody had to waste time cooking. And it was so easy to order. Not that I did the ordering.

Apple and Cheddar Pizza, Sliced

Now for my obvious segway: guess how long it takes to make this Apple, Bacon and Cheddar pizza?

I personally hate guessing games - too much pressure to get the right answer. Which is of course a random guess and so odds are it won’t be right. So guessing games seem entirely rigged for failure which makes me feel stupid.

And I hate feeling stupid.

But if you were to guess - because YOU enjoy guessing games - 45 minutes would be a reasonable guess. It’s actually also the right guess. It takes just 45 minutes to make this pizza entirely from scratch. (Except for the pizza dough which you can make in advance and store in the freezer. So I’m not counting the pizza dough.)

45 minutes. Which means if I had brought pizza dough with me to my in-laws, we could have made real pizza in less time than it took for order and delivery of the tepid boxed stuff. And since there were 8 of us, we could have made like 5 pizzas in that time. 5 pizzas, from scratch, really hot, in under 90 minutes. It’s fast.

Slice of Apple and Cheddar Pizza Closeup

But this pizza is really weird, right? It’s ok, I want you to agree with me on this. It’s weird. Weird like, “Why would I ever make this?” weird. Yellow cheese on a pizza is just wrong and what is pizza without tomato sauce? Weird.

It’s also really good. The crust is amazing. First, because my homemade pizza dough is awesome. Or it might just be I think it’s awesome because I made it. But others (Boyfriend Javelin, mostly) say it’s awesome too. It’s crispy, it’s chewy, it’s delicious. And anyway, I wouldn’t lie to you and tell you it’s awesome if it sucks. So the crust is awesome.

Reduced Balsamic Vinegar

Then you add the balsamic reduction on top of the crust and the crust goes from amazing to...well...more amazing. There’s something in the tangy sweetness of the balsamic that just brings the crust to life. But not in a scary, zombie, living dead kind of way. I’m not into zombies. Unless they’re covered in the balsamic reduction and taste like pizza dough. Which sounds creepy, so moving on.

On top of the balsamic crust comes a pile of red onion (not a pile, more like a sprinkling). Next comes the green apple. Then the cheddar. Cheddar and green apple are great friends. More than friends. Meant to be together. I don’t know why. Granny’s a lady and the Big Cheese never tells.

That was corny and I apologize. It will happen again.

Crispy Bacon Pieces Sprinkled Over Pizza

So balsamic, cheddar, onion and apple are all happening. Then comes the smoked bacon - great scott! You can’t stop eating. Well, I can’t stop eating. I don’t care if yellow cheeses don’t belong on pizzas. I don’t care if apples and onions don’t belong together (they do). And confound it all - balsamic reduction is SOOO much better than tomato sauce!

Well, it’s better on this pizza. With pepperoni - not so good.

Yellow cheese on a pizza? Ok, it’s still weird. But on this pizza, it’s so good and it’s the perfect cheese for the job. And I’m not afraid to admit it. Fear of yellow cheese on pizza conquered. (Oh yeah! Happy Halloween!)



STORY  |  PRINTABLE RECIPE  |  HUNGRY FOR TIPS?

Photo Tutorial

1/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
Made a balsamic reduction: Start with 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Reduced Balsamic Vinegar
Pour vinegar into a small pot and simmer over medium heat until reduced by half (about 10 min)

4 Rashers Smoked Bacon
While balsamic reduces, take 4 rashers of smoked bacon

Chopped Bacon
Finely slice the bacon into pieces

Crispy Bacon, Ready to be Drained
Saute bacon in a hot pan until crispy

Crispy Bacon, Draining on Paper Towels
Drain bacon pieces on paper towels while you prepare other ingredients

Pizza Dough Reformed into Ball
While the bacon is sauteing, prepare pizza dough on a lightly floured board

Pressing Out Pizza Dough with Fingers
Press out dough with your fingers or a rolling pin

Pizza Dough fully Stretched
Stretch dough to a 12-inch diameter

Pizza Dough After Pre-Bake
Prebake pizza on a ventilated pizza pan for 3-4 minutes in a 475F preheated oven

8 oz Grated Cheddar Cheese
Before or while pizza dough pre-bakes, grate 8 oz of cheddar cheese

1/2 Red Onion, Peeled
Peel and halve a medium red onion

Sliced Red Onion
Slice onion into pieces and separate pieces

Cored and Sliced Apple
Core and slice a medium tart green apple

Finely Diced Apple Pieces
Finely dice apple

Pre-baked Crust Brushed with Balsamic Reduction
Brush pre-baked pizza crust with balsamic reduction

Red Onion Added Over Pizza
Evenly sprinkle onion slices over pizza crust

Green Apple Spread Over Onion
Add apple pieces

Grated Cheddar Sprinkled Over Pizza
Sprinkle cheddar cheese over apple and onion pieces

Crispy Bacon Pieces Sprinkled Over Pizza
Sprinkle crispy bacon over cheddar cheese

Apple and Cheddar Pizza, Sliced
Bake pizza for 8-10 minutes in preheated 475F oven until crust is crisp and cheese is melted

Slice of Apple and Cheddar Pizza
Slice and serve immediately



STORY  |  PHOTO TUTORIAL  |  HUNGRY FOR TIPS?

Apple, Bacon and Cheddar Pizza

    by Javelin Warrior
     Prep Time: 35 min
     Cook Time: 10 min

Ingredients (1x 12-inch pizza)
  • 1 ball (1/4 recipe) homemade pizza dough
  • 1 medium tart apple, thinly diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 rashers bacon, diced and sautéed until crisp
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven; add the balsamic vinegar to a small uncovered pan over medium heat and reduce the vinegar by half (about 10 minutes)
  2. While the vinegar reduces, prepare the bacon, apple, onion and cheese and roll out the pizza dough and pre-bake the crust (for dough recipe technique and tips, see my Homemade Pizza Dough)
  3. Generously brush the pre-baked pizza crust with the vinegar reduction, then top with onion and apple; sprinkle grated cheese evenly over the onion and apple, then sprinkle bacon pieces evenly over the cheese
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the crust is crisp and the cheese is melted; slice and serve immediately
An original recipe by Javelin Warrior. © 2012 Javelin Warrior. All rights reserved.
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Hungry for Tips?
  • If you really, really, REALLY can't stomach yellow cheese on pizza, you can always use a good aged white cheddar cheese instead of yellow. But I like yellow and I love how colorful this pizza becomes with the green apple, purple onion and yellow cheese.
     
  • Be generous with the balsamic reduction when brushing over the pre-baked crust. The reduction really ties this pizza together and you don't want the flavor to be lost by behind the apple, onion and cheese (and bacon).

    Pre-baked Crust Brushed with Balsamic Reduction
     
  • If your pizza dough puffs up dramatically during the pre-bake (as mine often does), just gently press the air out of the pockets before adding the toppings. Once you finish baking the pizza, unsightly air pockets disappear entirely (yet keep the dough crisp and almost airy).

    Pre-Baked Pizza Crust
     
  • Don't overload the pizza with toppings - if you have a big green apple, you may not be able to use the whole apple. Same thing with onion. If you overload the crust, it will become soggy. Which is sad. Don't make sad pizza.
     
  • 8 ounces of grated cheddar cheese looks like a lot, but it melts down quick so you'll need every bit of it. And the sharper the cheddar, the better.

    8 oz Grated Cheddar Cheese
     
  • I recommend a granny smith or similar green apple for this pizza. I've Honey Crisp but the apple is a little too sweet and not quite tart enough.

    Granny Smith Apple



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14 comments:

  1. What an interesting idea for a pizza. I was eating a bowl of porridge with chunks of granny smith apple in whilst reading this and also trying to imagine the taste of the pizza! It's true that not all pizza has to have a tomato base to it, sometimes a change is nice. I agree with you about takeaway pizza, it always seems like a good idea until you eat too much of it, as I always do. Homemade pizza is the way forward!

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  2. I haven't tried a pizza this way before with these ingredients so maybe I will one of these days. I've been buying pizza dough that Publix makes up in their deli - probably not as healthy as homemade, but whatever they do to it, it tastes so delicious. The only thing is, it takes forever to work the darn thing out into the pan. They said it is because it is a "strong dough". (whatever that means).


    I do like homemade pizza but sometimes I order it because in the hour it takes to arrive I can still keep working. Sometimes that is important and on those days I don't have to worry about cleanup and dishes. If I'm working 12 hours a day, I just don't always have the time to cook from scratch because I'm usually exhausted when I get home. I do as much as I can, but it isn't because I'm lazy. Anyway, that is my one cent's worth (probably more like a half a cent).

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  3. Jody_thehobbyroomdiariesOctober 31, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    I love this post! I just keep laughing and I think I'm going to leave it in my inbox for a while so I can read it again later so I can laugh some more. I HATE being responsible for the pizza ordering. And it's not like it's difficult, it's just a big fat hassle. I'm so there with you.


    Onions and apples belong together and apples with cheddar and onions with balsamic and bacon with cheddar, so it's a perfectly flavor-matched pizza. Orange cheese on pizza, totally wrong somehow, but I think it works here. Maybe calling it a flatbread would make it seem less weird? Regardless, it looks and sounds delicious!

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  4. Thanks for the kind words, Jen, and I'm so glad you found the pizza intriguing. It's so interesting to me how balsamic vinegar changes from "vinegary" to more of a sweet syrup as it reduces. And the first time I made a version of this pizza, I didn't use a granny smith or the balsamic vinegar base and realized I needed both to punch up the flavors...

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  5. "Strong dough" I believe refers to the gluten strands within the dough. That's why the dough is so difficult to press out - have you tried a rolling pin? I find a rolling pin works best with the pizza dough and helps to "force" it out from a ball into a disc...


    I hear you on using the extra time for working on other projects (and saving on dishes and cleanup afterward). Most nights, I actually spend less than 20 minutes preparing dinner because it's mostly throwing together a salad and reheated leftovers from a big batch of whatever I've made earlier (or something from the freezer). Of course, I also have the luxury of spending at least a couple days a week intensively cooking or baking. But I certainly don't want to imply anyone is being lazy by not cooking from scratch...

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  6. Thanks for the kind words, Jody, and I'm so glad the pizza sounds good to you :D I chuckled when you said you hate ordering pizza - like you said, I don't really know WHY it's so painful for me, but I really will do most anything to avoid it. And I'm generally quite successful ;)

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  7. I don't know if a rolling pin would help or not, but I'll try that the next time. I just know that if you push it out, it like contracts back into a small diameter shape. I find I have to really let it warm up for hours and keep pushing it out, letting it contract, keep pushing it out, letting it contract..


    It gets hard to balance life, cooking and everything else. I try to cook enough and plan things out to go at least 2 or 3 meals, then sometimes we split it up so it isn't like we're eating the same thing day after day. Thanks for not implying the lazy part...cuz I thought I'd have to come up and throw a snowball at you... just kidding!

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  8. lol you'd have to bring the snowball with you! No snow up here :)

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  9. We have two great take-out pizza places within a 5 minute drive from our house, so that's what we usually do (and it takes no more than 25 minutes, tops, from the time we're ordered to the time we're munching. And because we always order the same thing, no stress there! But I really should start making my own pizza more - it's fun, and also fun to change things up. Great combo of flavors you've come up with. I don't believe I've had yellow cheese on pizza, but it sounds darn good!

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  10. mjskit @ mjskitchen.comNovember 1, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    Oh my! You've really outdone yourself with this pizza! You better include it in your Foodie Friday because this is awesome! Creative, great-looking, and delicious pizza! Can't wait to make this!

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  11. When we lived in Ohio, we had a good pizza place about 5 minutes away and it wasn't until we moved that I started seriously experimenting with homemade pizza and pizza dough. Now that I've got a dough that works for me and a couple recipes that are easy to put together quick, I've given up the delivery version pretty much entirely. Well, except when I'm "out and about" :D But as my friend Don pointed out in his comment, sometimes ordering in just makes sense... And I'm so glad the yellow cheese didn't freak you out too much :)

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  12. lol I reserve Food Fetish Friday for other bloggers' creations, but I'm so pleased you loved it, MJ. I smiled so big when I read your comment - and it's a tasty combination that I can't stop making :D

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  13. Made it! Loved it! Great flavor combo. I served it to guests last night, on my first time of making it, and it was a resounding success!

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  14. I'm so glad it was a success for you, Aimee, and I'm so glad you enjoyed! It's been a little while since I have made this pizza and now you've made me hungry for it again :)

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