On a recent Pizz-Off!, we had three amazing pizzas. Two were made by our friends, and this one was our entry into our competition. If you are looking for a new way to enjoy the abundance of butternut squash now making its appearance in fall farmers markets, this is it! I love butternut squash. I have got to find a new way of expressing my pleasure about foods, since I seem to ‘love’ everything. But it really is true. There are very few foods that I don’t absolutely delight it and can’t find a way to work into a tasty meal. That has served me well since I’ve managed to quiet some of Anders initial protests and converted him to many foods that he had previously sworn off: Swiss chard, oxtail, sweet potatoes. Anyway, back to the butternut squash. I think it was about our 7th or 8th pizza night and I was racking my brain trying to come up with a new recipe to serve. When you have a pizza competition with friends every Friday, with each friend making a different pizza, you begin to stretch creativity. Then I remembered my birthday gift to Anders last year – a cooking class at Sur la Table. For that class, we prepared butternut squash ravioli with fried sage. It was wonderful-so much so that the following weekend we made our own homemade version. We haven’t made it since then (an oversight I will have to remedy soon!) So this pizza for me is reminiscent of that meal and combines all the flavors of that meal on a pizza : Butternut squash with fried sage and caramelized onions.
Note: This pizza is a little involved but it’s so worth it. You can prepare some of the ingredients (the squash and the onions) in advance to save time on the day of. I unfortunately thought up this recipe while at work. With two hours to prepare the ingredients before the guests arrived, I had to shop, roast squash, caramelize onions and the most critical thing – clean the kitchen! I needed every second of those 2 hours.
This was a pizza Anders put together during one of our weekly pizz-off’s, where we wave goodbye to the old week… with a friendly pizza competition amongst friends. The goal is not to win, but to have a great time (and win). Our newfound love for smoked paprika once again manifested itself in a generous sprinkle on top, which has the odd side effect of producing some rather red-tinted photos (for which we apologize). As we were all sitting around the table, sipping red wine like the pro’s, we reminisced about our childhood cardboard-pizzas from the nearby Domino’s or local pizza pusher, and wondered why we didn’t make our own pizzas while in college when it’s really not that hard and so much better.
After a night of excess featuring Alton Brown’s “Who Loves Ya Baby-Back?” ribs, we were lucky enough to have a few leftover. Neither myself nor Wendie have ever has a rib-pizza, so we thought we would give it a try. We cleaned the meat of the ribs, and basically used it as one of the ingredients. This pizza was one of 9 we made for Wendie’s 39 years birthday (Surprise!!). That was the last big cooking day in the old kitchen (notice the brown tiles – all gone now), and one day we can’t wait to reconstruct in the new kitchen when it’s ready in a few weeks. For now we will struggle on without a kitchen, dust all over, and a hole in the floor where the drain will connect our island to the ‘mainland.’ Sigh, life’s hard with no kitchen.
If there is one thing we can’t figure out when it comes to pizza, it’s how to make them round. Tossing them in the air is a mystery which has resulted in much swearing. We’ve finally given up, and simply roll them out. This dough pizza we wanted to make extra thin crust, but the middle of the dough got stuck while rolling. After a recovery operation, folding the dough over itself and rolling again, we ended up with this half-moon shape. Looks don’t matter, taste does (or so we tell ourselves, over and over).