Meyer Lemon Pizza
Apologies for my long absence–life has taken over.We have managed to eat here and there in the midst of that life, so this week I hope to share more of the busy-life dinners that have become so much a part of our routine. One of the ways I’m surviving this tornado of grading papers, writing, reading, discussing, tutoring, planning, committee-sitting, and teaching is by spending a little time in the kitchen to prepare for (at least) two meals at a time. This focaccia recipe doubles as a homemade pizza crust, and the dough is freezable. If I make two batches at once, then I have two nights of pizza and two nights of sandwiches (look for it to appear on Thursday or Friday as part of the cheese sandwich protest movement), plus some leftover to accompany soup or salad.
Having dinner on the table every night for me is not a matter of culinary brillance but of efficient time management: this bread recipe is one of my secrets. For this pizza, I topped it with glorious Meyer lemons, which the lovelies Rorie and Darla have both waxed poetic about in recent weeks (and if you are unfamiliar with these huge, thin-skinned, most flavorful of lemons, please go and read their posts about them), garlic, jalapeno peppers, and plenty of good olive oil. The topping sings with a zippy tart spice that suits the smooth, mild focaccia in perfect pizza harmony.
And, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a piece or two leftover to grab for lunch the next day.
Basic Foccacia Bread/Pizza Dough
1 pkg. yeast
1 t. sugar
2 cups very warm water (like for a bath)
5 cups flour (I use 3 cups all-purpose and 2 cups bread flour)
2 t. Kosher salt, plus more to sprinkle on top
2 T. olive oil, plus more for the top
In the bowl of a electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir the yeast, water, and sugar together. Let the mixture stand for about 5 minutes; it should be fizzy on top. Add the flour, salt, and olive oil. Knead with the dough hook for several minutes. The dough should come together in a ball and start trying to climb out of the bowl. Let it knead like this for a few more minutes. Knead with your hands for a minute more, working out any knots of flour. (A trick here: coat your hands with olive oil.) The dough should feel smooth and elastic. Return to the bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm place (I put it in my pantry) for at least an hour. At this point, you have a few options: get it ready to bake, refrigerate if you’re planning to use within a few days, or freeze it for a later use.
To bake as focaccia: divide the dough in half and form into rounds. Place on cookie sheets and allow to rest for about 15 minutes, covered. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Dimple the dough with your fingers, drizzle olive oil on top, and spinkle with Kosher salt (and chopped rosemary if you so desire). Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the top is just beginning to turn golden.
For the Meyer Lemon Pizza:
2 Meyer lemons, thinly sliced and seeds removed
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs rosemary, minced
Zest of one lemon
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the lemon slices. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally until the rinds begin to soften. Add the pepper slices and garlic, and cook for 10 minutes more, or until the garlic and pepper are very soft. Stir frequently to make sure the garlic doesn’t brown.
Spread one half of the dough thinly over a cookie sheet, stretching it with your hands. You may have to be forceful, but try not to tear it or leave any holes. Drizzle the dough with olive oil, salt, the crushed garlic, lemon zest, and minced rosemary. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and spread the lemon topping evenly over the dough. Grate Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup?) evenly over the pizza. Bake for 10 minutes more.
Refrigerate the other half of the dough, freeze it, or bake it as bread to have the rest of the week.