Pinot Pizza

Pizza topped with pinot-soaked, caramelized onions and mushrooms, crispy prosciutto, and potato.

 Forgive me, gentle readers, if this entry is cumbersome and unwieldy for its premise requires some foundation.  At our blog's inception, I anticipated sharing wine-friendly and wine-based recipes to inspire you to incorporate wine into your daily routine.  After all, if you need ¼ cup of wine for a recipe, why not finish the bottle with dinner?  However, after seeing my first recipe framed on the blog space, it looked too long, tedious, and intimidating.  The density of culinary verbiage required to explain pizza-making belies the lovely simplicity of the recipe itself.  Frankly, I guessed most readers lacked the gumption to make yeast-based dough and would simply bypass the recipe challenge.  I struggled to contrive a means of making the recipe more accessible.  Then suddenly, I imagined filming a cooking segment!

Eureka!  I shared my enthusiasm with Brian who was more sobering about the prospect.  Ghastly lighting, a gizmo-free, cheap video camera, and unscripted chaos predict a celluloid disaster; he counseled against it.  Undaunted, I decided to make an ass of myself.

Ultimately the genesis of this video was an ad hoc, off the cuff decision.  I scrapped a well-thought plan to film salmon next week in my exuberance to try it now.  My step-dad was hanging around our house watching TV, having declined an invitation to spend an hour chatting with my mom's flamboyant hair dresser during her appointment.  Since I was making pizza for dinner anyway, I asked Roger to film the process.  I literally pushed the dirty plates to the side (maximizing the only real value in a cheap, narrow angle lens with poor zoom) so the kitchen appeared presentable, and I started talking.  Lest you imagine I donned an apron to inspire professionalism, I confide that I spent the morning at the Children's Museum where my darling artiste doused me with yellow paint.  Somehow it seemed more efficient to grab an apron than change my shirt.  (I swear I was not this sorry or pathetic when I was a practicing MD).

Now let me reiterate the obvious: this was filmed at home, in my kitchen, almost entirely with "first takes."  It is unscripted, amateurish, revealing, and frankly embarrassing.  The video transitions are abysmal, and Brian says it reminds him of "Wayne's World" segments on SNL.  Believe me, I am no Rachel Ray or Nigella Lawson.  My intent was simply to demonstrate a few kitchen tricks to assuage your fears about working with yeast.

With no further ado, I present our first cooking video:  Pizza Dough 101.  Recipe follows.



If you can't see the video in the box above, you can click here to view it.

Now you'll be laughing all the way to Trader Joe's to buy your premade pizza dough from the refrigerated display case!




1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tsp granulated sugar

½ cup good quality pinot noir

2 sweet onions (like Oso sweet or Hawaiian sweet onions), thinly sliced to 4-4 1/2 cups

8 oz mushrooms, cleaned, washed and thinly sliced

3-4 thin slices prosciutto

6 oz. fresh ricotta cheese (fresh from an Italian market is best, although the stuff in a tub works, too)

1-2 small Yukon gold potatoes, very thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1-2 tablespoons of cornmeal for pizza crust and flour for dusting

1 basic homemade pizza dough (recipe follows)

Fresh parmesan cheese for grating on finished pizza



1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Place pizza stone in oven (if using). 

2. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  When oil is hot, add onions and spinkle with sugar.  Sweat onions until they begin to turn translucent and soft (5-10 minutes).  Add mushrooms.  Mushrooms will release liquid and slowly start to turn brown.  After 15-20 minutes, when the pan is dry and onions are golden brown (carmelized), add pinot.  Reduce heat and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

3. While onions are cooking, prepare the potatoes.  Place thinly sliced potatoes in a single layer on a Silpat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Lightly spray with cooking spray, and par cook 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven & set aside.

4. Sprinkle workspace with flour.  Roll pizza dough into a 12 inch circle.  Sprinkle cornmeal on pizza peel (if using) or baking sheet.  Place rolled dough on peel or baking sheet.

5. Cover entire pizza surface with caramelized onion mixture, leaving a ½ inch rim at the periphery.  Top with dollops of ricotta cheese. 

6. Cut prosciutto into thin strips and arrange them radially, like spokes of a wheel, from the center of the pizza to the periphery.  Alternate "spokes" of prosciutto with "spokes" of potato.  You should have alternating stripes of prosciutto and potato.

7. Bake for 10-11 minutes.  Then broil 1-2 minutes until procsuitto is crispy.

8. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Serve with leftover pinot.


Pizza dough:

Disclaimer: I copped this basic pizza dough recipe from Cooking Light (9/2006). 


2 teaspoons honey 1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) 3/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°) 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces), divided 1/2 teaspoon salt  Cooking spray  or olive oil 2 tablespoons stone-ground yellow cornmeal


1. Dissolve the honey and yeast in 3/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).

4. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray (or olive oil), turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If the indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.).  Punch dough down and allow to rest 10-15 minutes.

5. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle (about 1/4 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a rimless baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim. Lightly spray surface of dough with cooking spray, and cover with plastic wrap. Place the dough in refrigerator for up to 30 minutes. Bake according to recipe directions.


Next week we'll return to our regularly scheduled story and complete "Where Does Wine Come From: Part 4."


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