Guest Blogger: The Home Bistro: Stay-at-Home Cheeseless Pizza
After months, wait a minute, years of prodding, Henry has finally written up one of his long-awaited recipes. I’m not sure if he is going to post it on The Home Bistro and this is the start of a revival or not. Maybe… I will keep you posted. But this is one of our more delicious sans-dairy dinners.
Whether it’s the significant amount of cooking we’ve been doing at home lately, the ribbing I’ve been getting over having a recipe website that’s inactive in all but name, or the inspiration I get from looking at Beyond Friendship Gate several times a day for new pictures of Lucy, I’ve decided to post the recipe for this pizza, which came together tonight pretty much on the fly. It was fast, delicious, and – my personal favorite – allowed me to use a lot of standbys that were piling up in the fridge and on the kitchen countertop.
The star of this pizza isn’t the beech mushrooms, the fresh arugula, the quail eggs, or even the surprisingly flavorful near-butter we’ve been using since Caroline and Lucy gave up dairy. It’s the Downtown Freshfarm Farmer’s Market, where C and L pick up all these toppings and more every Thursday afternoon. I’m happy to report to former Home Bistro readers that my goal this summer has been to master grilling green beans. It’s harder than one might think, for a somewhat obvious reason: in nearly all cases, a green bean is thinner than the space between two grill grates. The key, I’ve learned (assuming you don’t have a fish grilling basket, which I suppose would work fine), is to lay them as perpendicular to the grill grates as possible, then turn them, slowly, in bunches, with the back of a spatula.
I digress. The list below might look like a lot, but topping prep will go quickly. You can use the same skillet for frying the quail eggs as you used for sautéing the mushrooms. I generally like to put most cooked meats and greens on a pizza after it’s finished baking in the oven so that they stay crisp, but in this particular case I used the oven to wilt the arugula, mostly because I took the pizza out too early and wanted to cook the tomatoes for a few more minutes. As Mario himself might say, Italian cooking rewards experimentation.
(One word about the dough. I know I’m risking any chance at future membership in the Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana by posting a recipe that calls for a prefab pizza dough. But not everyone has 1) a mixer or 2) the time to knead dough from scratch. Matching a chowhound-approved Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough with a perforated pizza pan or preheated pizza stone and a drizzle of olive oil will get you a thin, flavorful canvas for these toppings that’s more than adequate. If you insist on using fresh dough, pick one up at Vace [warning: following link will prompt playing of awesome Italian polka] or use this recipe for no-knead pizza dough from NYC’s Co.)
As always, amounts and times on recipe are rough estimates. Life is too short for measuring cups and spoons, and I’d rather get dinner finished so I can watch Mad Men and play with Lucy.
Mushroom, Arugula, and Quail Egg Pizza
(serves 2 to 4)
• 1 bunch fresh brown beech mushrooms [sliced buttons are fine if you can’t find beech]
• 1 handful arugula
• 6 quail eggs
• 5-8 strips prosciutto
• ½ very ripe vine tomato, sliced thinly
• 1 shallot, diced finely
• several pats butter (or near-butter, if you’ve’ given up dairy for your baby while breastfeeding)
• 1 Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough
• 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup marsala wine
• Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (if desired), to taste
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread pizza dough out on sprayed pan or pizza stone. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake until crust is golden brown, 6-8 min.
2. Meanwhile, heat butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Separate mushrooms from root ball and brush off any dirt. When butter is melted, add shallot and cook until soft, 1-2 min. Add mushrooms and stir. Add salt and pepper. When mushroom stems begin to turn translucent, 5-6 min., add marsala wine. Cook until most of wine is evaporated. Remove mushrooms from pan. Avoid eating too many of them with a small fork and piece of bread.
3. Remove pizza dough from oven. Spread mushrooms across pizza dough. Add sliced tomato. Return to oven for another 3 mins. or so, until tomato begins to wrinkle and shrink from roasting.
4. Add a bit more butter to pan, along with a few drops of olive oil, and heat. Break quail eggs into pan. (WARNING: quail eggshells are much, much more difficult to crack than chicken eggs, because of their size as well as the thicker membrane surrounding the interior of the shell. You will probably need to use a paring knife to cut the eggs open; don’t worry about breaking the yolks. If that last sentence made you want to stop reading this recipe, substitute 2-3 fresh regular eggs.) Cook eggs to your preference, at least until yolks are set.
5. Remove pizza dough from oven. Add arugula, prosciutto, and quail eggs. Return to oven for another minute or two if desired.
6. Add salt, fresh black pepper, and red pepper flake. Cut into slices and serve immediately.