Deathly Scalloped Potato Pizza
It’s barely spring and the apartment isn’t even warm yet, but these days every root vegetables in my kitchen seems to be in a hurry to grow up. There’s a pot that my cleaning lady set by the window with green stalks surging so high that I almost thought she was bribing me back (aww, you shouldn’t have…). No, the bottom lies the shallots I bought a few weeks back. And there’s those deceiving heads of garlic cloves each hiding inside its white jacket, only to be exposed when smashed open that they were secretly stretching out mini antennas to listen in on my conversations with my doughs (puff now, my little one… hush hush). Then there’re these baby potatoes. Oh my potato-babies… how it hurts me that they are in such hurry to grow up and leave my loving nest.
Right. By now most people would frantically point out that if my sprouting potatoes want out – I should let them. Trying to keep them by sheer force of affection will only turn them into resentful revolting poisonous MONSTERS like any other children. I’ve heard that, too. But that was only AFTER I kept and turned them into scalloped baby potato pizzas and swallowed it whole… (Is… this heaven…?) Nope, still in Beijing… Well, I guess I lived to Google another day to reassure myself that it is actually OK to eat a sprouted potato AS LONG AS the potatoes remain FIRM and NOT-GREEN with the sprouting part ENTIRELY REMOVED (so goes with garlic as well), which of course I did… sort of. But I trust that you would do it more completely.
So I’m still alive… to talk about my Moroccan spiced scalloped potato pizza, and a quick basic pizza dough from Lahey. Yes, the No-Knead-Lahey, the not-so-quick-18-hours-fermentation-no-knead-dough-Lahey. But if I were in the business of patience, I already chose sides and sworn that allegiance to Bonci, thus only had a snuggly space left in my heart for a quick and easy pizza dough, which Lahey filled happily without arguemet. This guys just doesn’t hold grudges. And to be perfectly honest, although the flavor and texture of Bonci’s pizza floored me, I just never realize that it was Pizza Day’s Eve yesterday… So as practicality goes, this is actually my go-to pizza dough which I could literally start only 3 hours before dinner and have a wonderfully crusty and chewy pizza the next. Not to mention that it charitably sheltered all my corrupted vegetables and turned them into yummies. A person who just courted with death can’t complain…
Servings: two 13″ x 7″ rectangular pizzas
- Pizza dough: adapted from Lahey’s basic pizza dough
- 500 g (3 3/4 cups) of bread flour
- 10 g (2 1/2 tsp) of active dry yeast
- 5 g (3/4 tsp) of salt
- 3 g (3/4 tsp) of sugar
- 300 g (1 1/3 cup) of water
- 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzlig
- 500 g of baby potatoes
- 4 tomatoes
- 10 cloves of garlic
- 2 shallots
- 1 small bunch (3 tbsp when chopped) of fresh mints
- 1 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tsp of ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp of grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp of ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp of ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp of ground cayenne
- 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper
Three hours before it’s needed, start the pizza dough: In a large bowl, whisk together bread flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Measure 300 g of water plus 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a microwave bowl and heat to 110ºF, approx 40 sec on high. It should be warm, but not hot to the touch. Over 115ºF and the heat might kill the yeast. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour mixture and stir together with a wooden spoon to form a dough. This dough is MUCH drier than the no-knead recipe, and I usually end up adding 1~2 tbsp more of water to help it come together. TRY NOT TO over-work the dough. Stop stirring once the dough forms even if there are lumps and uneven-ness, preferably under 1 min or so.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put an extra kitchen towel on top. Leave at a warm place to rise until doubled, approx 2 hours.
After the dough has doubled, scrape it out of the bowl onto the working surface. Pull one side of the dough up and fold it over itself, like folding a letter. Turn it 90 degrees and repeat again. Cut the dough into two equal portions. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the toppings: Cut open the tomatoes and remove the stems. Squeeze the tomatoes until all the juice and seeds are forced out. Add tomato, garlic, shallots, mints, salt and all the spices in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, like a salsa consistency. Set aside in a large bowl. Scrub and clean the baby potatoes (and of course remove any sprouts if any) and slice them very very thinly with a slicer or mandolin. You can do this by hand, too but make sure they are very thin slices to ensure proper cooking. Toss the potato slices with the tomato/spice mixture. Set aside.
Make pizzas: 30 min before baking, set a pizza stone or cast-iron grill pan on the middle rack (if you only have a normal baking sheet, refer to the Bonci post for more details) and preheat the oven on 500ºF/230ºC.
Prepare two pieces of parchment paper larger than the size of the pizza/grill pan. Lay one piece on the working surface and rub extra virgin olive oil LIGHTLY over the parchment. Put one portion of the dough on the parchment, and press/push it gently outward into the shape of the grill pan. The dough may spring back a little, just let it rest for 5 min then keep gently pressing/pushing until it reaches the shape desired. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top (especially on the edges) and sprinkle with some fine sea salt. Start laying out the tomato mixture/potato slices on top in ONE SINGLE LAYER, but let the excess liquid/juice strain through your fingers before putting it on the pizza. Once finished, sprinkle with more fine sea salt. Potatoes really need to be seasoned well to taste good.
Take the preheated cast-iron grill pan out of the oven. Slide the pizza over the top by pulling the parchment over the grill pan, and return the grill pan back in the oven. Bake for 10~15 min until the crust is golden brown. Meanwhile, repeat the same steps with the second pizza.
Serve the pizza with chopped fresh mint or arugula, and drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil.