This past weekend I had the honor of co-hosting a baby shower for one of my closest friends. Since I was in charge of the food, I volunteered my place. I cooked for a total of about 20 people. I've cooked for large groups before, but this was a little different because I wanted to make "dainty" food which means a bunch of individual finger food items. These are usually tedious in nature and more time consuming than making a meal. It was a little overwhelming at first, but I'm a stressball by nature. Once I detailed everything out from grocery lists, prep work to the order of execution, my mind was at ease. I'm all about lists! The shower turned out wonderful, and all the food was very well received. The thrill of accomplishing it was priceless. I would definitely love to cater full time one day, but until then events like this are great practice and keeps my passion alive.
So, today's recipe is the "pizzettes" that I made for the shower. Don't you love words that end in "ette"...croquette, flowerette, toilette, etc...it just makes it sound prettier :) Anyways, these pizzettes are always a hit, and you can do any variation of toppings you want. The variation I made for the shower uses a homemade crust, roasted garlic spread, caramelized onions, sauteed shitake mushrooms, fontina cheese, thyme, and finally a light drizzle of truffle oil. I've posted the recipe to my pizza crust, which was a previous post on this blog. The pizza crust recipe will make about 40-50 pizzettes depending on how thin you make them. I definitely prefer a homemade crust for this. I'm convinced that the crust is the key to a good pizza, and a bad crust completely ruins a pizza. If you don't have the time to make your own crust, call up your favorite pizza place and see if they'll sell you a ball of dough. As for the toppings and method, here's a brief how to:
Roasted Garlic- I used about 4 heads of garlic for this recipe. Peel all cloves of garlic, and place in a saucepan. Pour olive oil over the garlic until almost fully submerged (about 3/4 way). Place on the stove on very low heat. Roast the garlic until it is soft. Be sure to keep checking on it to ensure the garlic isn't burning, and adjust the heat accordingly. It could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Just keep an eye on it periodically. Once it's done, remove the garlic cloves to a bowl and mash with a fork until you have a paste. Save the leftover garlic oil to sautee your mushrooms.
Caramelized Onions- I used 3 large spanish onions for this recipe. Peel and thinly slice your onions. Heat a large skillet on the stove over medium heat and add about a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. Add the onions and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. Sautee on medium heat for a few minutes, and then reduce the heat to low. Season with kosher salt/pepper. Stir in some fresh thyme. Stir every so often until the onions have gotten soft, and golden/caramel colored. This will take about an hour. Taste for seasonings and add sugar/salt/pepper as needed.
Shitake Mushrooms- I used 1.5 pounds of mushrooms for this recipe. You can use a mix of shitake, oyster, and baby bellas too, but I prefer all shitake. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt olive oil and butter. Add your shitake mushrooms and sautee until caramelized. You should do this over med-high to high heat to develop the flavor of the shitake. Season with fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. Increase the heat if the mushrooms aren't caremlizing. Add more butter/oil as needed. You will need to sautee the mushrooms in multiple batches. When cooking mushrooms you never want to overcrowd the pan, because it will prevent the mushrooms form caramelizing and developing it's potential in flavor. Each batch will take about 5-10 minutes to sautee.
Once your pizza dough has risen, you want to roll it out very thin on a floured surface, approx 1/8 of an inch. You can then proceed to cut out circles with a cookie cutter. Note that once the circles are cut, there will be some shrinkage. So, I actually roll out each individual circle again. You then line them up on a greased cookie sheet and bake them in a 400 degrees oven for about 10 minutes. The reason they are half pre-baked is so it's easier to spread the roasted garlic on. Once half baked, let cool. Proceed with spreading roasted garlic. Top with caramelized onions. Top with sauteed shitake mushrooms. Sprinkle with fontina. Sprinkle some thyme. Bake pizzettes in a 425 degrees oven until the cheese has melted. Once baked, removed from the oven, you can drizzle with truffle oil.
This one is pretty time consuming, but the end result is well worth it. It's the perfect item for a party in presentation and taste!
See Pizza Crust Recipe!