What does “gourmet” really mean? One of the reasons I started this blog was because I don’t like how a lot of “foodies” act snobby and superior when it comes to “gourmet” ingredients and food.
Case in point – I was doing a Google search for a bottled salad dressing that I like. I usually make my own dressing, but I’d had this bottled honey-dijon dressing before and liked it. You know, sometimes it’s nice to have a bottled dressing to mix things up a bit, and this one claimed to be all-natural. Well, I came across this “foodie” forum where some poor man had innocently asked which of this brand’s dressing people liked. Poor, poor man. He didn’t realize that his question would unleash a page of belittling, superior, and almost rude comments. One person said that making a salad dressing was (for him/her) as easy as boiling water, and therefore s/he couldn’t understand why anyone would want a bottled dressing. Some people refused to answer the question without knowing what was in the salad. One person said s/he thought “this thread was a joke”. I could go on.
I’m generalizing of course. Most people were very nice and helpful. But the few so-called gourmets who liked to hear themselves talk (or type I guess), and tell people that they’re not a cook if they use bottled dressing, really stood out. I mean, geez Louise, can’t you ask a simple question these days and expect a simple answer?
So I want you to know, that even though this post is called “Homemade Gourmet Pizza”, no one is going to judge you for ordering from Domino’s or Little Caesar’s or whatever’s closest to your house. Or for eating a whole bag of Crazy Bread by yourself.
It’s just called “gourmet” because it uses a few ingredients that you wouldn’t necessarily find at your local pizza joint, toppings that are normally associated with more expensive gourmet pizzas. But you can use the crust and add anything you like, of course. And it’s E-A-S-Y.
Homemade Gourmet Pizza with Wild Mushrooms, Broccoli and Sweet Potato
Don’t be intimidated by making your own crust – this one is so easy and fast, even I can do it.
Makes 2 9×12 pizzas.
2 tsp dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
¾ cup chopped broccoli florets
½ cup thinly sliced wild mushrooms (I used shiitake)
1 medium sweet potato
¼ thinly sliced red onion
1 ½ cups grated cheese (I used Gouda, because that’s all I have)
Preheat oven to 400F or 200C.
First, make the dough. Proof the yeast by mixing it in a bowl with the sugar and water (water should be about the temperature of a hot Jacuzzi). Let it sit 5 minutes until it starts to foam. If it doesn’t foam, throw it out and try again (your water might be too cold or too hot…it should be about 40-45 Celsius). If it still doesn’t work, you might need to get new yeast.
Meanwhile mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Add the yeast mixture and the oil, and stir together with a spoon. Use your hands to shape it into a ball, and knead it for 2-3 minutes until smooth and homogenous (I like to knead it right in the bowl as it picks up any extra floury bits). Remove the ball of dough from the bowl, grease the bowl with a light coat of oil, and put the dough back in, turning to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise while you prep other ingredients.
Peel sweet potato and chop into ½ inch dice. Toss with a bit of salt, thyme and olive oil, just enough to coat, and roast in oven for about 20 minutes, until cooked through. While potato roasts, prep other vegetables if you have not yet done so.
When potato is done, turn oven up to 500F. Divide dough into two equal portions. Roll each into a 9×12 rectangle (or make circular pizzas, whatever you like!) and place on a baking sheet.
Spread thinly with sun-dried tomato pesto (a little goes a long way, but add more if you want a strong tomato taste). Sprinkle evenly with cheese and toppings. Add some salt, pepper or herbs if you like.
Bake in blazing hot oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and crust is browned.