- October. 25 2021
Ryan and I are fans of what Nick over at Macheesmo is cookin’ up (or baking) on a regular basis. He is a regular guy that has a love of food and cooking, and that passion shows in his pictures and precision. Recently, Nick and his “sworn rival” decided to do a food blogger battle, an “Iron Chef – Internet” if you will.
After that initial food battle Nick announced that he would take on more food battles in future installments. Once we saw that opportunity, being the foodies we are and lovers of a good challenge, we decided this was too good an opportunity to pass up.
So, we emailed Nick and are the first, after the initial battle, to take him on with top prize being….nothing. Well bragging rights I guess, but this is all for fun and for us to expose our readers to people we like on the web, and vice versa in Nick’s case… or at least we hope he likes us! 😉
The idea is simple.
Since we are the challenger we came up with a list of 5 ingredients that we wanted to use and Nick got to choose the one ingredient he wanted from that list. T
hen Nick did the same for us and we chose the one ingredient we wanted to use from his list, leaving us with the two main ingredients for the food battle. So, what are the ingredients for our food battle? They are……
Oyster Mushrooms and Anchovies
Yep you read it right. Nick chose the oyster mushrooms from our list and we chose anchovies from Nick’s list. We decided on anchovies because we have never cooked with them before, and thought, let’s do something interesting and really test our skills and creativity with what we can do with these ingredients.
Now that we had our ingredients chosen, it was time to do some brainstorming on what we could make that would include both oyster mushrooms and anchovies.
We had all kinds of ideas, but ended up sticking with a classic – sausage and mushroom pizza and Caesar salad. But, instead of just doing a regular pizza and throwing some mushrooms and anchovies on top and calling it a day, we got creative.
This is a time to pull out all of the stops.
So, of course we made the pizza dough and sauce ourselves from scratch. For the salad, we also whipped up the Caesar dressing… which some of you may not know, traditionally has anchovies and egg yolk in it.
To help keep the calories in check and the foods as whole as possible, we made some substitutions from the “standard” recipes but held true to the basic idea of what we were making.
For example, instead of bleached all purpose flour for the pizza dough, we used an unbleached whole wheat pastry flour, and in place of pork sausage we used chicken sausage. Also, instead of raw egg for the dressing, we used non-fat greek yogurt.
So, without further suspense…. check out our masterpiece and then go over to Macheesmo and check out Nick’s food, which I am sure is going to be amazing. From there you the reader must make a decision, who’s food looks better to you.
We are pretty excited to see what Nick comes up with, as we have no idea what he is doing aside from using oyster mushrooms and anchovies. Likewise, he does not know what we are doing. I think that is what makes this so cool. We each pick an ingredient and go back to our kitchens and do what we do best – make food!
Basic Pizza Dough Ingredients
**Tthe original recipe calls for regular all purpose white flour, instead of whole wheat flour. Using whole wheat flour in this recipe results in a thinner, more crispy crust. In the past, when I have used all purpose white flour, it results in a “normal” light and fluffy crust.
I don’t know if there is a secret to making whole wheat pizza more light and airy, because I have had it this way at a restaurant before… but this recipe always produces a crust that is more dense than airy.
In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar, 1 tablespoon oil and stir to combine.
Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.
Every pizza starts with dough…here is the beginnings of ours, and then… after a few minutes of letting the yeast do its thang!
Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated but the dough is still slightly sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.
Be sure you have floured (and cleaned!) your countertop and hands. If things are still sticky as you are kneading, add more flour. Knead the dough until it is nice and smooth, no cracks, tears, etc.
Once you are to this point go ahead and shape it into a ball as you see here.
Note: These are not my man hands, they are Ryan’s… just wanted to put that out there. He is the dough kneader in this household, because he is waaaay better at it than I am.
Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
** We ended up using only about 2 1/3 cups of flour. You may need more you may need less, you basically have to “listen” to what the dough is telling you, it will let you know when it has had enough, which is why you add the flour in small increments.
Once the dough has risen and about doubled in size, set it aside and preheat the oven to 425° F. Now its time to get going on the pizza sauce. Sauce Igredients
First you will want to add a tiny bit of oil (2 tsp or enough to coat the bottom of the pan but not turn it into a swimming pool of oil) to the pan and brown up your chicken sausage at a medium heat. When done, place the crumbled sausage on a paper towel to drain off any excess grease.
Now add anchovy filets to the pan and “melt” them on a low heat. It only takes a minute or two at a medium low heat. The little bit of fat from the chicken sausage and the oil from the anchovies is all you really need here.
After the anchovy has “melted” (1-2 minutes) add your diced onions, garlic, and about a quarter of the chopped mushrooms.
Once the onion and garlic have turned translucent deglaze the pan with 2 tbsp of a good/your favorite red wine. If you don’t drink wine, you could use a chicken or veggie stock.
After the red wine has reduced add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, thyme, celery seed, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.
Go easy on the salt to start with, the anchovies are salty as is. Allow sauce to simmer on medium heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. I like my sauce a little thicker so I let it go a little longer, plus it lets the flavors come together a bit more.
Side note… Here is the only casualty from this battle… our wooden spoon. Bummer. I guess I got a little too excited stirring this pan of goodness together!
Now lets get back to dough. Punch it down to get the air out and then work your magic to get it into a flat round, semi-round, square, whatever shape you want. This can be done a number of ways, tossing in the air, throwing it in between your hands, using a rolling pin…take your pick.
Whole wheat dough is a bit tricker to work with than white dough, because it’s not as stretchy, so you have to be delicate as you work with it, so you don’t tear it.
Now that you have a base, add your toppings. You will notice we used onions cut into thin rings (diced works too) and fresh mozzarella (shredded works too).
Pop that sucker in the oven at 425°F for 12-15 (or until your crust and cheese is golden brown).
Now on to the salad… Creamy Caesar Dressing Ingredients
Other Salad Ingredients
Any good Caesar dressing starts with anchovy. You will need to mash up the anchovy using a fork or whatever your preferred method. Also, take one clove of raw garlic and grate with a microplane or the smallest part of a cheese grater.
Next add your yogurt, mustard, olive oil, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, and mix. Then add fresh grated parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.
The finished product.
Best friends, pizza and salad!