rustic pizza with feta, heirloom cherry tomatoes, kalamata and marinara + invitation to Julia Child croissant challenge

by Stevie on August 25, 2011

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I’ve been out of town at the World Science Fiction Convention in Reno. It was really fun, but I’ve fallen dreadfully behind with you, my fellow food bloggers. So this week, as I re-adjust to the “real world” again, I’m scrambling to get on the ball. To that end, I’m pleased, no, thrilled to announce a September cooking challenge to any and all of you. Heavenly from donuts to delirium and I agreed to try the elegant but surely prone to disaster Julia Child recipe for butter croissants. Follow this link for the recipe.

rustic pizza with feta, heirloom cherry tomatoes, kalamata and marinara

rustic pizza with feta, heirloom cherry tomatoes, kalamata and marinara

The recent Ottolenghi cheesecake challenge was a wild success and amazingly fun. That one was quite specific however. Here, should you be daring enough, you can tinker with the croissant recipe to your heart’s content. I’m already fantasizing about stuffing mine with tropical fruit and mascarpone. All you need do is contact Heavenly or me to let us know that you’re on board. Make the recipe and publish it on your blog on September 19, 2011. We’ll send you a list of links of other participants a few days before for you to add to your post. C’est tout! I do hope all of you try this with us. The more, the merrier.

Today’s rustic pizza doesn’t have a thing to do with Julia Child or butter croissants. But it’s one that I’ve been thinking of trying since July when I saw it posted on Karen’s wonderful The Gourmet Food Blog. Her pizza tri-colore was stunning! I was particularly impressed with her gorgeous crust.

chilly and overcast Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco

chilly and overcast Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco last Sunday

I tried mine on a very cool foggy San Francisco day—you could say almost winter-like weather (I know most of you are suffering over the record-breaking temperatures everywhere, but it has been a might cold in the City by the Bay.) I think that affected my final product. My dough rose, but remained fairly dense, even after I doubled the time. It had a firm texture that really held onto the heavy toppings. It reminded me of Chicago style pizza. I added heirloom cherry tomatoes, feta, Kalamata olives, and marinara sauce. I like a lot of toppings.

Also, I baked mine on our new, amazing-because-you-can-actually-wash-it-with-soap-and-water coated pizza stone! Gone are the days of crusty gross pizza stones growing funk in my oven. Hurrah! It was twice as expensive as the other kind of uncoated stone, but so worth it.

our glorious new washable pizza stone

our glorious new washable pizza stone

rustic pizza with feta, heirloom cherry tomatoes, Kalamata and marinara

for toppings:

½ cup feta cheese
1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, in halves
12 kalamata olives in halves
2 tbps. Parmesan
Small bunch fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
Plus some coarse corn meal to move pizza

for marinara:

14 oz. Diced canned tomatoes with juice
1 clove garlic, minced
½ small onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp. Olive oil
1 tsp. Dried oregano
1 bay leaf
½ tsp salt
crushed red and black pepper to taste

Prepare pizza dough from Karen’s recipe.

Pre-heat oven to 425F with pizza stone inside.

In a small saucepan, add 3 tbsp. olive oil, garlic, onion and salt on high heat. Cook for a few minutes. Add remaining marinara ingredients. Bring to boil then reduce heat to rapid simmer to reduce liquid by at least half. Discard bay leaf.

Shape pizza dough. Prepare a board with some corn meal. Place dough on top of corn meal. Spread with marinara sauce. Sprinkle with feta, then heirloom cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives and parmesan. Gently slide onto pizza stone. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until crust becomes golden.

Remove from oven then drizzle with some olive oil and finally toss basil leaves on top.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen August 26, 2011 at 8:47 am

Hi Stevie, thanks so much for your kind shout out – I hope the dough recipe worked for you! I am totally drooling over your amazing pizza, and I so wish I could have had a piece of it. The crust looks gorgeous, too. Do you find that the pizza stone made a difference?
The latest baking challenge you and HH have come up with sounds so tempting, but while I am generally not afraid to try anything, I am very afraid of making puff pastry dough. Working those crazy amounts of butter into the dough…sheer horror! But I’ll think about it. 🙂
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Heavenly Housewife August 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Actually, I had my beady eyes on that very same pizza stone. I wanted to buy it, but you beat me to it daaahling .I’m glad to hear you say its worth it, cause I thought it was a lot, but it looks like it would be fab. This week I actually did a mini class on pizza making and this is what I learned:
Preheat your oven as super hot as it can go
Roll out your dough super thin
Dont go crazy with toppings and sauces, it makes the pizza too heavy and soggy. The crust wont get crisp enough.
Got to say, your pizza looks completely lush!
*kisses* HH
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Heavenly Housewife August 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm

p.s. the stone would also be great for baking bread (and maybe croissants?)
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Magic of Spice August 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm

First…Julia Child butter croissants, how could you do this to me?! I am already committed to that posting time, but I have faith that you will continue with these amazingly fun ventures and I will be able to join in 🙂 Second, a soap and water washable pizza stone..I must have!
OK on to the primary topic of my comment, your pizza is glorious, and oh how I love olives and feta on pizza…with the fresh basil, worth a trip to SF any day!
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Olga @ MangoTomato August 31, 2011 at 8:11 am

Love tomatoes with feta and olives. It sounds like a perfect salad, but when you put it on a pizza, it’s a real winner!

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