smoked trout & roasted garlic vs. pepperoni & roasted red peppers

Most days, I’ll hit the gym at lunch if I have the time to spare at work. With my commute, it’s the only chance I ever have for a real workout and I always feel better when I manage to do it. But Friday, I just wasn’t feeling it, so I hiked over to Chelsea Market instead. I’ve read great things about the gluten-free offerings at Friedman’s Lunch and wanted to try out one of their sandwiches after picking up some pantry staples at Buon Italia. The reuben from Friedman’s came back to work with me, and it was really, truly delicious, so much so that I didn’t miss the “real” bread one bit. Of course, I was ready to nap within 15 minutes of finishing it, but what a happy food coma it was.

My heavenly sandwich notwithstanding, the best part of my shopping expedition was scoring The Last Package of sheep’s milk ricotta at Buon Italia. They were out the last few times I’ve been, so my search started to feel a little like Woody Harrelson’s eternal quest for Twinkies in Zombieland. But then that lone package appeared before me, like a cream-covered grail.

Ummm yeah, you could say I love the stuff.

Anyway, the wheels started spinning even before I left the building . . . pasta would be good, maybe with some butternut squash. My old standby — ravioli stuffed with ricotta and an egg yolk — wasn’t something I wanted to waste this precious bundle on during my first attempt at making a fresh gluten-free pasta, so that was out. But how about pizza? Gluten-Free Girl‘s pizza crust was just featured on Michael Ruhlman’s blog, so I could share the recipe. And from there, I was off, doing taste tests in my imagination, adding/rejecting toppings based on how they’d play with the ricotta. I finally settled upon a recipe that, while simple, worked perfectly, with roasted garlic, smoked trout, a touch of parmesan and baby arugula. The ingredients married well, without any one component overshadowing the others.

I went with bolder toppings for the second pizza, adding muenster cheese (we had no mozzarella), plum tomatoes, sliced pepperoni, roasted red peppers, more ricotta, parmesan, red pepper flakes and the few remaining leaves of basil from my plant on the deck. Neither Gil nor I could decide which pizza we liked more, even after taste testing until we nearly burst. The only thing I’d change for next time would be to roll out the crust as thin as possible, till it’s almost crackly, but that’s just a personal preference.

So remember, kids:
1. Friedman’s Lunch = awesome, but plan for a nap.
2. Try to take my sheep’s milk ricotta and you’ll lose a hand.

recipes after the jump

Gluten-Free Pizza Dough from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef via Michael Ruhlman

Makes two 10-inch crusts if you like them thick, 12-inch if you like them thin

125 grams (1 cup) cornstarch
125 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) corn flour
125 grams (3/4 cup) potato starch
125 grams (3/4 cup) sweet rice flour
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
375 grams (1 3/4 cup) warm water, heated to about 110°F
50 grams (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
15 grams (4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
gluten-free cornmeal for sprinkling on pan (not all are gluten-free due to manufacturing practices)
olive oil, for brushing

Combining the dry ingredients. Sift cornstarch, corn flour, potato starch, and sweet rice flours into large bowl. Add xanthan gum, guar gum, and salt. Sift mixture into bowl of stand mixer

Activating the yeast. Combine warm water, olive oil, and yeast in small bowl. Stir gently. Let rest for a minute.

Making the dough. Pour yeasty water into dry ingredients. Mix at medium speed (using the dough hook attachment) for 2 minutes, until dough comes together and feels soft and pliable. Set dough aside in a warm place and let rise for 1 hour.

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 550°F (or as hot as your oven will allow it). If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven now. Sprinkle a pizza tray or baking sheet with cornmeal.

Rolling out the dough. Cut the dough ball in half. Put one of the balls of dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Through the paper, roll out the dough as thin as you can make it.

Pre-baking the crust. Carefully transfer dough onto the pizza pan. Brush dough with olive oil. Bake until the dough feels firm and you can lift it off the pan and will hold its shape, about 7 minutes. (Note: I never transfer dough to a pizza pan, but instead place the dough along with the bottom sheet of parchment paper on the pan or baking stone. Once baked, the pizza lifts off with no sticking…much easier than transferring raw dough.)

Take the crust out of the oven and top it as you wish.

You can make the second crust immediately (and really, you probably will). Or, you can put it in the refrigerator and have pizza again the next day.

Smoked Trout Pizza

Ingredients are to taste. Play around with proportions to come up with something you love.

1/2 recipe gluten-free pizza dough
1 head roasted garlic, cloves mashed with a little olive oil and kosher salt
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Smoked trout, broken into large chunks
Sheep’s milk ricotta (preferred *by me* but use whatever you like)
Freshly ground black pepper
Baby arugula

Pre-bake the pizza crust according to directions. Take the crust out of the oven and spread the roasted garlic-olive oil mixture over the crust. Top with parmesan cheese and smoked trout, and dot with ricotta. Bake for another 8-10 minutes or until pizza edges and ricotta turn golden. Remove from oven, cut into pieces and top with black pepper and baby arugula before serving.

Pepperoni and Roasted Red Pepper Pizza

Ingredients are to taste. Play around with proportions to come up with something you love.

1/2 recipe gluten-free pizza dough
Cheese — any good melting cheese is fine
1 large can whole fire roasted tomatoes, torn and drained
Pepperoni, cut into small pieces
Roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped
Sheep’s milk ricotta (preferred *by me* but use whatever you like)
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Red pepper flakes
Basil leaves, torn

Pre-bake the pizza crust according to directions. Take the crust out of the oven and layer remaining ingredients minus basil. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until pizza edges and ricotta turn golden. Remove from oven, cut into pieces and top with fresh basil.

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