At the beginning of May I started to freak out about the impending doom of turning 30. Something inside of me felt like I needed change. There was this desire to get out of the comfortable sloth that I had grown used to. I wanted the athleticism I had when I was going to yoga nearly everyday.
One thing my mother told me in my early twenties was, “A lot of single people are skinny because they want to get laid.” (My mother is very open.) At the time I shrugged it off, but recently, especially when I have to dress for an evening out, I find myself remembering what she said. In the past couple of months, I’ve gone from walking to Harvard Square for a yoga class every night after work, to sporadically going during my lunch break once I moved in with Roo, to making dinner after work and watching three hours of Netflix every night.
The only conclusion I’ve made from this is that I’m happy. Because I’m happy, I cook. As a colleague once mentioned to another about me, “she must really be in love because all she does now is cook.”
When Roo and I had a major argument back in October, I had no desire to go into the kitchen. Making something for dinner that night was especially painful, because the normalcy of Roo coming in while I’m cooking to say “that smells delicious,” or try to grab whatever was simmering, didn’t happen. Strangely enough, without that positive reinforcement of cooking for someone that I cared for, made me uncomfortable, and almost unbearable, to be working in the kitchen.
I am not saying that every person who’s in a happy relationship gains weight. Nor am I saying that all singles are “skinny bitches.” This is just what I’ve observed for myself. Roo and I have both gained weight since we’ve moved in together. I’ve gained about ten pounds, and I think Roo has gained maybe twenty. And I’ll admit, when I first moved in with Roo, I may have gone overboard. I was so happy to be living with him in our apartment, that all I wanted was to be in the kitchen and bake “breakfast cakes,” crusty loaves of bread, brown pancetta in a pan, and sear scallops in butter (mmm butter) – popping them into my mouth as soon as they caramelized.
But with that love of butter (and other not-so-good-for-you things) came on the high cholesterol numbers for Roo, and a couple pounds for both of us to carry around as well. I don’t think it helped that Roo has a habit of eating until he feels almost sick, and I go back to the kitchen to grab a slice of cake to have with tea around 9 at night, even though I’m full.
I feel as if this blog is at a crossroads. I wanted to fill it with a lot of the recipes (mostly baked goods) I’ve made over the past year, but now I feel as if it’s in the upswing of trying to be healthy. I don’t want it to be a “health food blog,” but as of late, my recipes have been technically healthier. I guess where I’m trying to steer it now is making food that’s delicious but not laden with butter, eggs, or cream. I still want it to be known for wholesome ingredients, without chemical substitutions.
So with that, dear reader (ie Me), I have a recipe that I absolutely adore that is a great replacement for the original. I love, I mean, love Alsatian Pizza.
A pizza with a cream base and caramelized onions and bacon?!? Amazing. But with a couple adjustments, this pizza is one that I make probably once a month for Roo and I, and I love it even more than the original. It has the heat that I always desire with every dish (I’m addicted) and just lots and lots of caramelized onions. Perhaps more than any recipe has suggested, but I don’t care!
Give me those onions!
Adapted from Food and Wine
For One Medium Pizza (about the size of a pizza stone, sometimes if I stretch it out really thin, it hangs off of the stone)
Pizza Dough *You can use the no-knead recipe from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois that I adore (halve it for two medium – by American standards – thin crust pizzas). If you intend to use all the dough (from the half recipe), you can double the ingredients below (or freeze the second half for later use). Whole Foods (under $2!) hasn’t let me down for any dinner parties I’ve thrown where I just didn’t have the time to make my own. Their pizza dough is also enough for two medium very thin crust pizzas.*
2 – 3 large onions thinly sliced into rounds (I love caramelized onions!)
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (I love heat. If you don’t, start small, maybe a 1/4 teaspoon. And if you’re really nervous, 1/8. But I think you should try!)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup sour cream (I used low fat)
1/4 cup ricotta (I used part skim)
salt to taste (I used Diamond Fine Sea Salt)
Flour (to work with the dough)
A sharp knife
1 small bowl
1 medium – large sauté pan
A pizza stone (You can use a baking sheet)
Parchment paper (or a pizza peel)
Set the pizza stone/baking sheet on the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to at least 450F (I crank it up as high as our’s will go without broiling, ~500F).
In a small bowl, mix the ricotta and sour cream together with a spatula, until somewhat smooth. Add salt to taste. Set aside. *If you want super smooth, I would recommend doing this in a food processor, but it’s not necessary. Really.*
Add the olive oil to a medium – large sauté pan and turn the burned on to a medium-high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the onions, ground cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Always be sure to taste what you’re making, and it’s especially important here. These are the main part of the pizza and you’re going to want to love them. Start with a little cayenne, cook the onions down a bit. Taste it. Is it hot enough? Or in my case, not hot enough?
Cook the onions until caramelized, about nine minutes (it may be more or less with your oven burner, so keep an eye on it), stirring occasionally. When golden brown and practically melting (you’ll get it once you see it), remove from heat and set aside.
Place a square of parchment paper about the size of your pizza stone (or baking sheet) down on your working surface. Throw a bit of flour onto the parchment paper, and then your dough. Stretching out the dough with your hands, trying to make it as large and as thin as possible. I’ll admit I’ve grabbed the rolling pin when I just don’t have the patience to stretch out the dough by hand. Yes, I said it.
When the pizza reaches your desired thickness, spread the ricotta and sour cream mixture over the dough. Some people like a definite border so that they can see a crust. Do what you like, this is your pizza! Sometimes I forget to have a crust. It’s true.
Add the onions over the ricotta and sour cream mixture. I like to add it in little mounds, so that every bite is a super spicy sweet bite. But, again, this is your pizza, spread them out thinly if you want.
Open the oven, and then taking the parchment paper (or using your peel to sweep up the pizza), place it on your pizza stone (parchment and all)/baking sheet.
*I’ve never baked a pizza on a baking sheet, but my worry would be that if you’re not using parchment paper, that the dough may stick. Try adding some olive oil onto a paper towel and very carefully (preferably with an oven gloved hand) wipe the oil onto the hot baking sheet, and then set the dough onto it.*
I like a very brown crust, and at ~500F it takes about ten minutes to get there. If you’re baking at 450, it should be golden brown at around twelve minutes. But, as usual, keep an eye on it. My oven is incredibly small, and runs really hot, so your oven may make me into a liar.
I do like at the five minute marker to remove the parchment paper from underneath the pizza, just yanking it out like the old school magic trick of removing a table cloth from under a set table. I’m convinced that the direct contact with the stone makes the crust crispier, but I’ve never left the parchment paper in to be proven otherwise.