As much as I love food, I am not a food blogger. The number one problem I have in taking pictures of food is forgetting to do so before I dig in. Normally, by the time I remember that I want to “blog this”, we’re already halfway or more through the dish. This makes for ugly pictures and totally destroys any attempt at presentation either from the restaurant or myself. That said, I love love love love (love) food. In the hierarchy of love in my life, we’ve got George-Food-Photography and there is little room for anything else. Which of these would I give up for the other? It is very very difficult to think about that question and so I’m not going to. Suffice to say that the trifecta there provides at least 80% of the joy in my life.
On to the food!
Our first images are from Basso56, located in the Theatre District, mid-town Manhattan. I found this place through Yelp, which is my new favorite thing. The yelpers liked this place and so did we. Below you’ll see (in order) duck breast with figs and balsamic reduction, goat cheese-stuffed eggplant and scallops with porcini mushrooms and orange oil. Yes, we ate many other things that night. Our first courses were beet salad and ricotta cheese (him) and buffalo mozzarella with speck (me). The speck (smoked prosciutto) was freaking amazing. I need to have more speck in my life. For dessert we had chocolate crepes and hazelnut gelato. So obviously I remembered to photograph our middle course but not the beginning or end. This is completely typical. I get excited and just dig in.
It was also just one of those lovely nights where George and I really had a great conversation, letting the whole rest of the world blow away. This seems to happen with us at nice restaurants, which is really great because otherwise you’re just having some food.
The other thing that happens with me far too much is I get the food or it’s ready to eat and it’s hot and I know it’s going to be tasty and I just can’t be bothered to make the photo look pretty and so normally I don’t even bother posting. But this little concoction I made deserves some mention. What you see below is what I’ve just decided to call ABC pizza because that way the headline for this post fits on one line. The ABC stands for Apple-Bacon-Caramelized onion. And yeah, it was really, really good.
Here’s the recipe:
Mix 1c white flour, 1c whole wheat flour, 1/2 tsp each salt & yeast and 3/4c warm water. Knead until smooth, about five minutes. You might have to add a little more flour so it isn’t sticky. Divide in two. Roll out thin on parchment paper.
I didn’t use a sauce for this pizza and it didn’t need. For each pizza, I thinly sliced one small apple and laid the slices out so they covered the pizza right up to the crust. Then I added chopped bacon and the caramelized onions. Each pizza got about 1c of mozzarella on top and a generous drizzle of the wine sauce.
The onions and sauce:
Caramelized onions are one of cooking’s greatest joys. Slice up an onion or two or three and maybe some shallots (I did). Then take your enameled cast-iron pan (really, this is your best best. I don’t know how else to do this) and melt a lot of butter in there (maybe 1T for each onion). Put the flame on low low low and cook the onions for an hour. They’ll get brown but shouldn’t burn anywhere.
When you take the onions out, there will be lots of lovely burnt little bits of stuff on the bottom of the pan. Pour 1c or so of red wine into the pan and turn the heat up. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a silicone spatula, trying to get up as much of the bits as possible. Cook until you can scrape the spoon through the wine and the liquid doesn’t immediately fill in the trench left behind. Then melt another 2T (or more) of butter into the sauce and turn off the heat. This will separate as you’re preparing the pizzas, which is fine. Empty the pan into a bowl and whisk until it comes together again.
A half-hour before you start the first pizza, turn your oven up to 500*. If you have a pizza stone, put it in. If not, just use a pan (but don’t preheat it). When the oven is hot, put the pizza, parchment paper and all, onto the stone and cook for 10 minutes or so. The cheese will dry out some, which is fine because the apples will cook down and provide moisture. If your oven has bad hot spots, turn the pizza half way. Then remove and eat. Be prepared to eat a lot.