Sunday, January 10, 2010

Herbed Cheese Pizza

I often mention that we are tackling foods that other people don't like, specifically mushrooms and tomatoes. I am a big believer in "acquired taste" - if you eat it enough, and in a variety of different ways, eventually you'll like it. I've taught myself to like (even love!) coffee, beer, blue cheese, cilantro, ketchup, eggplant, and I'm sure the list goes on. It sounds stupid, because if you don't like something, then why keep eating it? Why does it matter? I don't know. It's just the way I am.

So. We focus on Gibby's food aversions frequently on this blog. And yet we haven't addressed any of my own. Because, since I make the meal plans, I avoid the foods that turn me off. I am a hypocrite. Until fate stepped in and made me deal with it. You see, I made my meal plan and we went grocery shopping, and the list had "Kasseri cheese" for the pizza I made tonight. I don't know what I expected kasseri cheese to be, but I figured it was another cow's-milk cheese. But it isn't cow. It's goat. AND SHEEP.

EW. That is my biggest dislike: cheese that does not come from cows. It's too earthy and it tastes the way my mother-in-law's goat pen smells. I can't stand it. But I'd already made the meal plan so I sucked it up and bought the cheese. And tonight we made the pizza with it.

And it was not bad.

The pizza as a whole was great. The crust is amazing and I'd make it even for other pizzas. I made a half-recipe so I still had two balls of dough, so I've frozen those to use in the future. I used some pureed tomato (from a box, since we're switching away from canned tomatoes to reduce BPA consumption) instead of diced tomatoes because Gibby wouldn't like it if it was chunky. And then I sliced up the cheese and put that on top. It cooked so beautifully and was really good. He LOVED the cheese. He loves the strong, earthy cheeses. He liked the pizza a lot. I didn't hate it. The aftertaste was still off-putting to me, but it definitely is a more mild cheese than many of the goat/sheep cheeses out there. I may even consider making this again sometime!

kasseri

Herbed Cheese Pizza
Cooking Light, September 2009

Chewy, tender crust, rich Greek cheese, and subtly spiced tomato sauce make this a pie you'll love, too.

Dough:
9.5 ounces bread flour, divided (about 2 cups)
2 cups warm water (100° to 110°), divided
1 teaspoon sugar
2 packages dry yeast (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
14.6 ounces all-purpose flour, divided (about 3 1/4 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
Cooking spray

Topping:
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot paprika
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
10 ounce sliced kasseri cheese
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1. To prepare dough, weigh or lightly spoon bread flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 4.75 ounces (about 1 cup) bread flour, 1 cup warm water, sugar, and yeast in a bowl; let stand for 15 minutes.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon all-purpose flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 13.5 ounces (about 3 cups) all-purpose flour, remaining 4.75 ounces (about 1 cup) bread flour, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; make a well in center. Add yeast mixture, remaining 1 cup warm water, and 2 teaspoons oil to flour mixture; stir well. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.

3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; divide dough into 8 equal portions. Cover and let rest 20 minutes.

4. To prepare topping, combine oregano, cumin, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil to pan. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, garlic, bay leaf, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf.

5. Preheat oven to 450°.

6. Working with 1 dough portion at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), roll each portion into a 6-inch circle on a lightly floured surface; place circle on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions. Top each crust with 1/4 cup tomato mixture, 1 1/4 ounces cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon oregano mixture. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until crusts are lightly browned. Sprinkle evenly with parsley.

Yield: 8 servings

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