This week I’m a guest writer/photographer for heart-stoppingly beautiful new magazine about rural culture, Broadway+Thresher. Here’s a link to the article, featuring my photos and the recipe I developed for “Fennel, Blue Cheese & Spanish Chorizo Mini Pizzas”:http://broadwayandthresher.com/food-and-drink/2012/10/15/forage-for-fennel-bleu-cheese-and-chorizo-pizza
I’ve re-posted the recipe below. Please check out the Broadway & Thresher site for additional photos as well as other recipes from their contributors and editors.
The first time I saw a fennel bulb I thought that if it wasn’t poisonous, it would definitely be bitter. I was wrong. It does have a slightly medicinal quality to it in the way that certain herbs do, but that makes sense because it’s really good for you.
It tastes sweet and clean and a bit astringent. Fennel isn’t a frail herb like cilantro. This plant has substance; a big fat bulb with sturdy stalks similar to celery. It’s become my secret ingredient and it’s a main component to this pizza where I incorporate not only the bulb and stalks, but also the seeds, which are central to authentic Italian cooking.
The fun thing about pizza is that I can throw a bunch of seemingly unrelated items together and make something new. I’ve been experimenting and have found that almost any combination that tastes good on a salad will also be good on a pizza. For these mini pizzas I started with a classic herb and cheese crust. I used good olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of tomato sauce. For the toppings I did a hot layer of fennel and blue cheese, and then a cold layer once it came out of the oven. of meats and fresh tomatoes.
- Preheat your oven to 480 degrees. Spray a large pizza pan or stone olive oil and dust with corn meal. Divide your pizza dough into eight pieces. Flatten each piece onto the pan using a rolling pin or stretch with your hands. Using a pastry brush, paint each pizza with a thin layer of olive oil. Follow by brushing on the balsamic vinegar. Then, sprinkle each pizza evenly with Parmesan/Romano cheese, hot pepper flakes, pizza spice and fennel seeds.
- Remove the foliage and all but and inch or two of the stalk from the top of the fennel bulb. Cut off the bottom 1/2" of the bulb and discard. Set the bulb with the flat bottom facing you. Slice vertically through the remaining bulb, creating long very thin cross-sections of fennel. Place a slice of fennel onto each pizza and then top with the blue cheese crumbles.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the pizzas are nicely browned and cooked throughout.
- Remove from the oven. Tuck a piece of chorizo and a piece of prosciutto next to each other and anchor with a tomato slice.
- Serve immediately.
Top the pizza dough with blue cheese and fennel slice before baking.