Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Fennel and Pizza Experiment

Well, we have hopefully seen the last of winter for at least a few months, we have passed the test of setting our clocks forward and it not messing with our internal clocks - onwards and upwards people!

We are coming into my personal favorite season - FARMERS MARKET season!!!

Last year I made it my goal to start visiting our local markets once a week (I started a bit late and do I regret it boy let me tell you!)

This year will be different.
I plan to be there when the first stand opens and every week until it closes, pinky promise.

My purpose was to introduce new fruits and vegetables into our diets by having a mini competition.  Each week one of us got to pick our veggie or fruit and I would search for it and prepare it (hoping that we would love them) and we would keep buying this new addition and others we would put on the wayside.
Some of our adventures were not well received but THIS year we will have more varieties, more options, more time and different recipes.  I am gitty.

To kick off my favorite time of year I started the competition early. 
While grocery shopping this past weekend we picked up some fennel (and for you Italians out there I did not pick up any women - finocchio)

We've never had it fresh before - I have used seeds in meatballs and loafs but I didn't know what to do with a fresh one until I recently spotted a post on the Tasty Kitchen website. 
I like to give credit where credit is due so thanks to sweetpeachef for posting this Sausage and Fennel Pizza recipe.
I used the basis of roasting the fennel and the white cream sauce for my creation from her post but changed things up to suit our tastes.
I loved it so much that I can't wait to have it again, and again, and maybe again with some tomatoes or some artichokes.

The White Pizza - Fennel, Chicken & Goat Cheese

For the crust:
1 pkg. active dry yeast

1 tsp. white sugar
1 c. warm water (110 F)
2 1/2 c. flour
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt

In a bowl add the yeast to the water, stir and let sit about 5 minutes to activate.

In your stand mixer place flour, sugar and salt.  Add in the water and oil and with the dough hook attachment begin to mix. 

Once the dough forms a ball and attaches itself to the hook stop.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes.
Roll it out into your desired shape.
Place onto a pizza stone or lightly oiled pan

For the cream sauce:
3 tbsp. butter
4 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
1/2 c. shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
fresh cracked pepper to taste

Melt butter in a saucepan and add in the garlic.  Saute for about 1 minute. 

Stir in the flour to create a roux.
Slowly add the milk while continuing to stir.
Don't panic if you see lumps - they will go away.

As the sauce thickens add your cheese and pepper. 

If you want a thinner sauce add more milk in a tbsp. at a time.

For the pizza toppings:
1 fennel bulb, core removed and sliced - toss in fresh cracked pepper and salt and place on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

2 c. cut up pre cooked chicken breast

1/4 c. crumbled goat cheese

Now, this sounds so complex but it really isn't ;)
Spread out your sauce all over your dough.  Add your fennel strips then your chicken, you want more, add more, you want less, you're crazy.  Sporadically throwing the goat cheese about and voila!
Bake in a preheated 475 F oven for about 15 minutes or until the crust is browned.

Oh man I KNOW you'll enjoy!
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