Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cilantro, Shrimp, and Goat Cheese Pizza with Rebecca Rather's Crust

Rebecca Rather of the Rather Sweet Bakery and Cafe in Fredericksburg, TX is dubbed 'The Pastry Queen' because of her delicious pies, cakes, and cookies. But the funny thing is when I eat at her restaurant, it's the savory items that stick with me. Her chicken salad with field greens and balsamic dressing tastes so much more than the sum of its parts, I feel obligated to rename it something with more oomph (she uses homemade mayo for the chicken salad which is simultaneously lighter and more decadent than other versions.)

But today is all about pizza - the first report back to you all on the pizza smack down challenge between Rebecca and Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman.) With Rebecca's dough, I chose to make a cilantro, shrimp and goat cheese pizza and was not disappointed. Although I mentioned in the last post that Rebecca's dough isn't as simple to make as Ree's (more ingredients), the payoff is that it's incredibly reliable and easy to work with.

It rolls easily, not getting too mushy or sticky no matter how long it's on the counter, and slides easily off the peel onto the preheated pizza stone. I would learn later that this is not a given with every dough. In fact Ree's cannot in my experience be cooked on a pizza stone at a high temp (and in fact she doesn't advise you to do so - it's too loosy goosy.)

Rebecca's cooked up at 450 in about 10-12 minutes with a perfectly crispy, thin crust that was still strong enough to support most anything you put on top of it. Was hers as complex in flavor as I had hoped given the semolina and honey? To be honest - no. When I make it again I'm going to 'age' it in the refrigerator for a couple of days and see what this does to it. I have a feeling it will be the bull's eye.

But as for a really good, wonderfully textured and reliable pizza dough that wont' leave half the crust stuck to the inside of your oven after flinging it in with the peel - you can't beat Rebecca's. She is after all, The Pastry Queen.

Rebecca Rather's Pizza Dough
(from the book The Pastry Queen)
*Requires a standing mixer or a handheld mixer and a sturdy large bowl.

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (110 to 115 F)
2 (1 oz) packages active dry yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing on crusts
2 teaspoons honey
4 to 5 cups flour
3 tablespoons semolina flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I omitted them)
1/4 cup cornmeal or grits

Combine the lukewarm water, yeast, olive oil, and honey in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 3 cups of the all purpose flour, the semolina flour, and salt. Mix on low speed for about a minute or so until all is just combined. With the machine running (start on low and as it gets thicker you may need to kick up the power to keep from straining your machine) add 1 cup of the all purpose flour to make a soft dough. Mix the dough on low speed for about 5 minutes longer until smooth. At this point, the dough will still be quite sticky and useless, falling over on itself. Therefore, keep adding more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time with the motor running. The dough will start to look like viable dough and hold its shape but then become wet and fall apart again at which point you just add in more flour and keep watching. Finally it will hold and keep its shape, at which point you'll also notice it breeding little pea-sized clumps that stick to the sides of the bowl. This is the signal that your dough is ready to go so stop adding flour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and kneed until smooth and elastic, about 10 to 15 turns using the heel of your palms. Place in a large bowl brushed liberally with olive oil. Cover with a damp cloth or several damp paper towels, cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes (no need to hunt down that illusive 'warm place' in your house!)

Check on the dough which should have doubled by now and look nice and puffed and smooth. If you're not convinced, give it some more time to think about life and other things and check it again a little later.

Turn the dough back out onto a floured surface and use a pastry cutter or knife to divide the dough into quarters. Roll each piece into a ball then place the balls on a baking sheet or tray, cover with a damp towel, and let rest another 10 to 15 minutes longer.

At this point, you can roll out to bake off right away or place in plastic bags and refrigerate for up to 3 days. I'm also trying freezing the dough so I'll report back later on how this works out.

Cilantro, Shrimp, and Goat Cheese Pizza
* Ideally you'd use a pizza stone for this which also requires a pizza 'peel' that lets you slip the dough onto the stone. If you don't have these tools, and/or if the idea of pizza flinging scares you, just bake the pizza on a greased baking sheet sprinkled lightly with cornmeal or grits. You might not get quite as crispy a crust but you'll avoid the panic of realizing your afternoon spent making dough was all for not as you try to clean up wayward dough from the inside of your oven - and this is worth it's weight in gold.

1/4 (one ball) of Rebecca's pizza dough, rolled out onto a floured board or counter top into about an 8x8 inch diameter
additional flour, for rolling

3 oz goat cheese
8 thin slices fresh part skim mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno, deseeded and deveined
fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeƱo, (deseeded - optional) minced
1 green onion, minced
Zest of a small lemon
Good pinch (or two) sea salt
Pinch pepper
1 teaspoon or so olive oil
1/4 cup cornmeal or grits, for sprinkling on baking sheet or stone and peel

16 shelled fresh shrimp, with tails on preferably fresh and not previously frozen marinated for ten minutes in:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
good couple cracks black pepper
2 large garlic cloves cut into large chunks
2 bay leaves

After ten minutes, pluck from the marinade shaking vigorously and grill on a hot, oiled grill for about 2-3 minutes per side, just until they've turned opaque and slightly pink.

Preheat the oven to 450 and place a pizza stone inside to let heat through for at least 30 minutes.

When ready, brush the rolled out crust with olive oil (use a pastry brush dipped in olive oil and use a lighter hand - you don't want to drown the dough but just lightly glaze it with the oil.)

Sprinkle your pizza peel with cornmeal or grits, then place the rolled pizza dough on top. You can now assemble your pizza (if using a baking sheet go ahead and transfer the dough to the oiled sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or grits and then assemble right on the sheet.) Place the slices of mozzarella evenly around the dough, leaving a good 3/4 inch edge free all the way around. Crumble the goat cheese into small chunks with your fingers and place in any empty spaces around the mozzarella, trying to distribute it as evenly as possible. Sprinkle evenly with the tablespoon of minced jalapeno then with fresh cracked pepper then open the oven and carefully but quickly 'fling' the pizza onto the preheated stone, trying to get it evenly onto the stone and not over the sides (I close my eyes and pray as I do this but you do whatever works for you.)

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges are becoming golden brown and the cheese has melted nicely and begun to bubble and brown in places. Meanwhile, blend the cilantro, jalepeno, green onion, lemon zest, salt, pepper and olive oil up with a fork in a small bowl. As soon as the pizza comes out, sprinkle evenly with the cilantro mixture then top with the cut up shrimp. You can hit the whole thing with another light drizzle of olive oil and teensy pinch of sea salt, if desired. Cut into wedges and serve.


Jenn said...

OMG.. can I come to dinner please? This pizza looks incredible! I love that you compared the two doughs, very scientific :) Guess sometimes it pays to put time and effort into something!

Kathleen said...

I soooo love Rebecca Rathers recipes. I haven't tried this one yet. It looks flippin outrageously delicious. Thanks for the motivation to try it!!!!

Andrea said...

I'm going to try this pizza dough next time I make pizza. On my short list of things to get is a replacement pizza stone and a pizza peel :) Loving the shrimp on the pizza, thanks for a great post!!

Velva said...

I would gladly pull-up a chair and join you to enjoy this pizza. Looks really good.

Helena said...

This pizza looks delish! Want some right now! Guess I'll have to order out...I need a pizza stone!

Cinnamon-Girl said...

I'm doing a happy dance over my comments going through! I love the topping combo - totally delicious! We must have a mind connect - I made a grilled shrimp and grape tomato pizza - but my dough sucked. Yours looks a lot better. And why is it I've never heard of Rebecca Rather? I'll come out from under my rock now...

Deborah said...

I love the Pastry Queen and this looks like a very sophisticated and delicious pizza!

Heidi said...

Can't wait to try this! My husband once said he could eat pizza every night of the week, so we often play around with homemade pizza varieties. For some reason in MD we always made pizza when it snowed, alas we can't subscribe to that tradition down here in TX (although it did flurry this year and the entire neighborhood stood outside and gazed). Maybe we'll make pizza every time it reaches 90 degrees:)

Karen said...

Cilantro, shrimp and goat cheese? What an amazingly delicious combination of flavors that I just love! The crust looks perfect!

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

Jenn - come to dinner. I'm moving back to Austin soon so I'll be closer;)

Kathleen - I am SO glad you're a Rebecca fan too. Not many people have heard of her out of Texas so I'm committed to spreading the word:)

Andrea - I just saw an old Jamie Oliver episode and he advised getting a home improvement store to cut a piece of granite to fit your oven as a pizza stone. He's convinced this is the best (but then again I'd be much more inclined to lazily order a pizza stone off Amazon...)

Velva - I sure wish you could join me! Maybe one day!

Helena - pizza stones are great but not essential. Ree's dough works better without one - you just assemble it right on the baking sheet:)

Cinnamon Girl - not many people have heard of Rebecca - she's more of a Texas culinary personality - but her books are excellent. I have a feeling you would like a lot of the flavors she plays with. And somehow I doubt your dough sucked... (Oh and I'm SOOOO happy the comments finally work - I had about given up all hope!)

Deborah - thank you! And I love her too!

Heidi - my husband is the exact same. I have actually watched him eat pizza for lunch and dinner, back to back, multiple days in a row. And I'm about to move back to Texas - cannot wait!!

Karen - the flavors are a home run I must say. And you could achieve the same effect using it in pasta, on a sandwich, etc. if you didn't feel like making the dough.