second installment

Part of what I love about baking (or cooking, in general) is sharing what I make with others. This contributes a lot, actually, to why my solo meals are often uncomplicated things like, uh, cheese and crackers and olives. That, and cooking for one person always, always involves reducing recipes. But that's neither here nor there.

But I also like cooking with other people - and, well, Daniel and I make the perfect team because our names are the same. So here comes the second installment of Danielle & Daniel Make Dinner. This time our inspiration was twofold: a pizzeria in Greensboro that made all sorts of delicious pizza variations, and my own focaccia recipe. Throw in my rapidly expanding cookbook collection and it is really just a recipe for greatness.

We had the perfect set-up for making this pizza too - namely, a captive audience. Jo, of course, was there for the first installment of Danielle & Daniel Make Dinner (we are thinking about "daniel(le)" - which we figure is just pretentious enough), but this time Andy decided to join us. About three years ago, Andy's Christmas present to me was a lovely pizza dinner, made from scratch, so I was excited to present my own offering.

And well, Daniel said it best: "Sexy people make sexy pizza." (Which was, of course, followed with: "put that on your blog!" And so I have.)

Because there were four of us, we made two pizzas. The first had a tomato sauce base (Newman's bombolina, which I highly recommend), mozzerella, and sun-dried tomatoes. It was pretty good, but could have benefited from cutting up the sun-dried tomatoes and spreading them out more. Also, dousing them in olive oil before putting them in the oven, since baking made them even chewier.

And then there was our masterpiece.

Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza

There are different kinds of gorgonzola (which we did not realize until last night) - we used piquante for this, but dolce would work too. Piquante, though, adds a nice variety of taste and stands in contrast to the sweetness of the pear.

For the pizza crust (makes two):
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 package active-dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

For the toppings:
1 pear
gorgonzola (see above)
carmelized onions

Combine the yeast and the water in a bowl, letting it sit while the yeast dissolves, or about five minutes. Mix in the flour, olive oil, salt, and sugar for about a minute with a wooden spoon. Knead by hand for about 10 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough, flipping it to make sure the whole thing gets oiled. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475°F.

While the oven preheats and the dough rises, carmelize onions. To do so, just splash some olive oil into a pan and - on low heat - put the onions in. This is just about it - you'll want to keep an eye on them and move them around to make sure they evenly carmelize. You may want to put a pinch of salt and sugar in there (we did). This is a good time to prepare the other toppings, too!

When the dough has risen, split into two sections and transfer each to a baking sheet. If you have space, you may want to roll them out first, but it can be done by hand once on the sheet. On one, place sliced pears, chunks of gorgonzola, and the carmelized onions, making sure to evenly distribute the flavors. Brush olive oil onto the crusts.

Bake the pizza for about 15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

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