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Sunday, December 27, 2009

chanterelle leek and pesto pizza

i was born and raised in Brooklyn so if there is one thing i have a clue about it is pizza! Most of what passes for pizza in California and the rest of the country is rather absurd. Dominos is to pizza what Noah's is to bagels and Starbucks is to coffee, simply a far inferior simulation to the real thing; destroying peoples taste buds and sense of anything decent along with plummeting the local economies. Well unfortunately that has become the Amerikan way for the overwhelming majority of people and for whatever reason people accept it and even thrive on the mediocrity force fed them.

However, some of us have retained our tastebuds and our sense of wanting each neighborhood to have its own identity rather than everything turning into a homogenized mess of corporate mediocrity.  Perhaps we are the last generation not to succumb to the factory farmed approach to developing factory food. Anyways, i digress, yet good pizza is part of the solution as well as the problem. :)

Making pizza at home takes work but then again most good things in life require some effort on our part, eh?

Now after i became vegan 5 or 6 years ago (after being vegetarian since my first year of college), one of the things i knew would give me trouble was pizza. But then i started seeing cheese as simply what it is: curdled extract of a lactating cow and well, with that in mind, cheese has as much appeal to me as eating meat or should i put it more honestly, the remains of a tortured enslaved and murdered animal. It is all context, eh? I used to crave pizza dripping with curdled lactating cow extract but now i simply want some really nicely prepared vegetables and perhaps some herbs and nuts.
So cheeseless pizza became the norm in my house with the exception when i use small amounts of my own homemade almond ricotta.
Store bought fake melting vegan cheeses imitate plastic more than actual food and have no place in my kitchen. Anyone who knows my food firsthand or through my writings knows i have zero interest in processed crap, vegan or not and i think food should be healthy for the consumer and the planet and thus fake processed vegan cheese stays on the shelf where it belongs.  Besides most of those companies are owned by evil corporations which i wont support since that is the only way to vote these days; economically.

Anyhow, there are a zillion ways to make great pizza. Dominos method is not one of those ways nor is pizza hut or any of the other chains and most of the small places use the same processed materials as well.  There are more than one exceptional pizza dough recipe and certainly an unlimited amount of toppings. This is my way to make thin crust, neapolitan style pizza. Mushrooms are one of the ideal toppings for pizza and i had freshly foraged chanterelles from the day before and some leeks and basil in the fridge.
Learn some dough recipes and then let your imagination run wild, using any seasonal ingredients to top your delightful dough with.

step 1
the dough
Some will argue that the dough is the most important part, others the sauce and others the topping. This is a rather silly arguement as all parts are equally important. And like in a sandwhich, the sum will go to the lowest denominator so if you have great dough and lame toppings you get a lame pizza as a result. Every part has to be equally awesome in order to get an awesome pizza.
This is an insanely good pizza dough recipe!

1.5 cups white flour
1 cups semolina flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp yeast
1.5 cups water
you may notice there is no sweetener in this dough. Not a mistake! Just making sure you noticed.
combine your dry ingredients and then slowly add the water. Knead for 5 minutes. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes and then knead another 5 minutes. Cover well, and let it rise in a warm dry place for 5 hours.

The pesto
2 cups basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil of a very high quality
place all in a food processor and blend till it becomes a pesto.
put aside

the leeks
2 leeks julienned (clean them well, first, of course!)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
over low heat caramelize the leeks, stirring frequently. This takes about 12 minutes.
put aside

for the chanterelles
clean your wild mushrooms very well.
slice 2 pounds of chanterelles.
Heat up a large frying pan. sprinkle some sea salt on the pan and lay your mushrooms in the pan. Within a short amount of time, the fungus will give off its water. Drain the mushroom water but save it for stock or other uses as it is loaded with earthy flavors and minerals. After mushrooms have released their water, drain well and put aside.

Making the pizza
Take your dough and divide into 4 equal parts.
Roll each part into a circle, about 12 inches in diameter. This crust makes a very thin, neapolitan style pizza.
Smear (brooklyn word!) some pesto onto each one.
lay some caramelized leeks on each one.
place some of the chanterelles on each one.

Place pizza on a preheated pizza stone.
bake at VERY high temperature, 500 or whatever the highest your oven goes to.

this will bake in about 10 minutes.

avoid GMO: Monsanto get your hands off my pizza!


  1. Tell it like it is, Philip! :)

    I wish this pizza was served everywhere. This is truly delicious food.

  2. excellent blog post, PG! your recipes are the best. excited to try your pesto one.