June 22, 2018
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Creative toppings add excitement to pizza

By Sandy Oliver

There is a heck of a lot of pizza consumed on Friday night, at least among my acquaintances, and I’ll bet among yours as well. Ask around. Some of that pizza comes from the local pizza palace but to my astonishment, a lot is made at home, too. There are so many options for crust: homemade from scratch to premade organic whole wheat, from a blob in a bag to rolled-out and ready for topping. It means a fast supper can be even faster.

Our ideas about pizza toppings have expanded in recent years well beyond tomato sauce and mozzarella, sausage and pepperoni, mushrooms and black olives to feta cheese and spinach, roasted red peppers and onions, pesto and seafood. There are Tex-Mex and Thai pizzas and California all-vegetable pizzas. I suspect you could dump just about anything on a pizza crust except chicken soup or potato salad, add cheese and bake it up.

If you are a pizza maker, on Friday or not, I’d really like to hear from you about your favorite, especially nonstandard, pizza toppings so that we can share them here.

To start the conversation, let me tell you about a stupendous pizza I met lately then went home to re-create for myself. I was visiting in Maryland with my friend Ginny Hall and we went to a bistrolike place in St. Michaels that offered a Gruyere and caramelized onion pizza, which I ordered. Ginny ordered a tomato sauce, onion and cheese one that was adorned with huge, bright green and very fragrant basil leaves. That was a lovely pizza, but the Gruyere and onion won the day. Now, that pie would have been pretty beige, so the pizzeria cross-hatched the top with white creme fraiche which I truly could not taste but which spiffed the top beautifully. Since I don’t happen to keep squirt bottles of creme fraiche handy in the fridge I omit that in the recipe that follows.

If you do not have Gruyere cheese, use Swiss instead, and I think grated is better than slices, but if all I had was slices I’d use those and just make sure I paved the top of the dough very well with them. You know, don’t you, that pre-grated cheeses have stuff like potato or corn starches added to keep the shreds from clumping up, and that it costs more? Why not burn a few calories hand-grating the cheese and save money besides?

Looking for …

Pizza topping ideas. What are your favorites for a homemade pizza? Please share.


In the Feb. 2 column, Byra’s Oatmeal Cookies, I omitted the required 1 teaspoon baking soda that they need to spread out as nicely as I said they would. If you copied that recipe or clipped it, for pity’s sakes, please be sure to add that baking soda. Many thanks to alert readers Mary and Beth for pointing out the problem.

Send queries or answers to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848. E-mail: tastebuds@prexar.com. For recipes, tell us where they came from. List ingredients, specify number of servings and do not abbreviate measurements. Include name, address and daytime phone number.

Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Pizza

Yields one 12-inch pizza

Pizza dough sufficient for 12-inch pizza, more or less
3-4 medium large onions
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 ounces Gruyere or Swiss cheese, more or less to taste
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice onions into rings and spread on baking sheet with olive oil dribbled over them. Bake in oven, stirring occasionally until they are soft and light-brown. Meanwhile, grate cheese and set aside. Spread pizza dough in pizza pan. As soon as the onions are golden-colored, remove from oven and raise temperature to 425 degrees. Spread cheese generously on pizza dough and add onions so they are well-distributed. Add salt and pepper. Bake 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and dough is baked through.

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