It’s late spring again, and that is always a wonderful time for food…although, come to think of it, when isn’t it a wonderful time for food? But this is a particularly mild and pleasant time of year, and tonight we’re having a turnip omelet made with tiny white turnips so peppery and sweet they make me smile to think of them. And to start, sauteéd oyster/puffball/and Zeller’s bolete mushrooms found by the Beloved Husband while he was raking up the dead pine needles of winter from the meadow floor, tossed with young turnip leaves and a little cream and garlic and wine. The omelet (which I always like at room temperature) will come after, served with thinly sliced sauteéd potatoes. Yum.
But I’ve more or less shared all those recipes before, so now I’ll tell you about a pizza I discovered a few days ago, and how terrific it was. I had all these sweet onions (onions always being inexpensive this time of year, even organic ones, which are the only ones you should be feeding yourself and your loved ones, given the toxic qualities of sprouticide), and a bag full of mushrooms, and various other odds and ends, and a lot of lettuce from the garden. So something, I thought, something to go with a nice lightly dressed salad, that would use all of those things. Well, pizza, of course. By which I don’t mean the kind you order in, though that is delicious, most times, or the kind I normally make, which is a biscuit dough patted into a pan and covered with various things. I don’t know, I felt like a thinner kind of dough, but one that didn’t need yeast or rising time, and I found just what I needed in Richard Olney’s PROVENCE THE BEAUTIFUL cookbook. He recommends a pastry dough made of 2 cups flour, 1 egg, a pinch of salt, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and a 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Mix it in the usual way (in my case, throw it all in the food processor, and, if it’s too dry, add a tiny bit more oil and water bit by bit till it’s the right consistency). Roll it in a ball and let it stand for about an hour at room temp.
Now this made a terrific dough, easy to work–I could have just patted it into the pan, but it was even easier to sprinkle with extra flour and roll out to the desired shape. This is enough dough to fit a cookie sheet, which is what I would have done if we’d had company. But since it was only the two of us, I split the dough in half, wrapped one in plastic and froze it for another time (which is, in fact, the time I’m going to tell you about in more detail…but hang on). Rolled out the other, and covered it with sweet onions, about a pound and a half sliced, that I’d cooked for a long, slow time in a crowded pan to keep them from browning. Just got them to be white and meltingly tender, about an hour’s worth of cooking. Then I mixed them with a little fresh chopped thyme, spread them across the dough that I’d rolled into a small pizza pan, crisscrossed them with whole anchovies, dotted them with black olives, and peppered the whole. Preheated the oven to 500º, and then popped the pizza in for about fifteen/twenty minutes. Just terrific. PIssaladière is what that’s called, when it’s at home in Nice.
A week or so later I was somewhat harassed to think of something for dinner quick, and I still had all those onions and mushrooms lying around. So this time, what I did was the best, I think, as sometimes seems to happen when one operates under pressures of this sort. First I pulled the pastry out of the freezer and let it defrost for a couple of hours. (Luckily I’d remembered I needed a dinner option earlier that day, which if I didn’t have time to do anything about it, at least I had time to pull that dough out.)
Then this is what I did:
I sliced a couple of onions and sauteéd them over medium high heat in a nice wide pan that gave them plenty of room to move around and caramelize to their heart’s content. While they did that, sternly ordering them not to burn while I was gone, I rushed out and picked myself a bowl of salad. While I was at it, I picked a branch or two of sage. Then I hurried back into the house, oh the relief, the onions were just turning nice and brown, not burning at all, and just needed a stir. I chopped the sage and threw that in with the onions, stirring. I kept at them till they were a beautiful mahogany color, then I salted them and took them off the heat.
When I was just about ready for dinner, I preheated the oven to 500º, and sliced as many mushrooms as I thought would fit on top (about a half a pound, as I recall). Then I rolled out the dough, fit it into the pan, spread the cooled onions on top and scattered the mushrooms all over. THEN I rooted around in my cheese drawer and found a wedge of gorgonzola, which I proceeded to crumble with abandon all over the mushrooms.
Into the oven it went for about fifteen/twenty minutes, until the house smelled heavenly. Pulled it out, poured a glass of wine, tossed the greens with a little salt and walnut oil and a spritz of lemon, served some of both on our two plates, and in about twenty minutes all of it was gone. I don’t know how that happened, but I know we had a good time while it did.