I started this blog in the spring of 2009 at this same time of year and my first post was about the beautiful blonde morels that grow down here in Southeast Ohio.
So now, almost six years later, I present to you another springtime morel pizza with another killer way to use the combination of mozzarella and egg yolk to mimic a luscious creamy egg. I’ve also combined a wonderful piquant cheese and pickled spring dandelion and fresh spring violets for a great crunch.
Let’s get started:
The dough: I am using is a 13 ounce sourdough my excellent baker Torrey makes at Avalanche on a daily basis. It is made with a local spelt starter and contains only a natural leaven, salt and water with no fat. The dough has a 70 percent hydration which I plan to pop in a my Matador oven at 650 degree for a phenomenal moist bounce on contact with the stone creating large, irregular waxy aveoli or cells.
This dough will have a wonderful sour-wheat taste which is why I chose Sartori Montemore cheese to accent this crunchy crust.
Dandelion hips and capers:
I didn’t have to go far to forage the small, spring dandelion popping up everywhere. Taking a sturdy pair of gloves, I took the “weed” by the root and pried it out of the earth then trimmed everything off except the bottom ‘Hip’ which contained the small capers and succulent stalks just poking out of it. I then trimmed and soaked them letting any dirt or bugs to release. Because it is early spring, not much of those two were present. I then trimmed the bottom, woody part of the hip where it attached to the root structure.
Because I am treating these dandelions like small artichoke hearts, I threw out all my spastic plans for the near future and just stayed “In the moment.” trimming and soaking. For any chef who has a large amount of vegetable prep to do, this is called “prep surrender”; a state of mind much like watching after a small child. Surrendering all your time to the task at hand while you could and should be or doing something more exciting and heroic is initially very tough but after fifteen or twenty minutes, calm takes over your psyche and propels you, in a Buddhist mind-set to a zenlike state of trim, soak, wash, trim, soak, wash, trim, soak… The hips themselves blanket one or two smallish buds that I call capers like the one above. If you are very zenlike, you can cut these out and pickle them but I didn’t wanna look like Rip Van Winkle when I completed that task.
After soaking and trimming the hips, I heated up two cups of local apple cider vinegar, one cup of water, three slivered garlic cloves, juice from half a lemon, one teaspoon each of mustard seed, salt, cumin seed, fennel seed and whole peppercorn. I then blanched the hips for 40 seconds in hot water and immediately put them into an ice bath. After the heated pickling liquid cooled off, I added the hips to a sanitized jar, poured in the cooled liquid and checked the ph level which should lie under 4.7. (Always use safety when canning.)
For my incredible mozzarella egg:
Take four to five slim slices of a fresh mozzarella log. (Fresh mozzarella in brine will not work.) Place it on parchment in the shape of a hand. Heat the mozzarella up just until the slices meld and just until soft. Make a small indentation in the mozzarella and place an egg yolk in it. Fold the mozzarella over and cut into the shape of a fried egg. The outside of the egg will cook gently as it sits. Sometimes the mozzarella will split and you have to manipulate it while still warm. Refrigerate the egg if using later, remember the egg yolk must be kept at temperature.
OKAY ALREADY! I have the ingredients together and am now ready for a real gangbuster of a pie!
I have planned to bake this pie fast and hot. The morels will take no time to cook. I am NOT soaking them in salted water to rid them of bugs because this has been a cold spring and I think that destroys some of the mushrooms flavor.
I picked some great vibrant violets and have some ramps also from the 130 pounds in my walk-in. I then cut the dandelion hips and capers in half.
First preheat the oven to 650 degrees or higher. (You home cooks can just stoke your home with a can of gasoline, it should reach temp in a few hours. haha.) Bang the dough out and place about four to five ounces of Montemore cheese on the disc then some chopped ramps and the halved morel mushrooms and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
As soon as the pizza is almost finished baking, (This took only about 10 minutes.) I placed the mozzarella egg on the pie back in the oven to warm up. This is the tricky part. The mozzarella will slide off of the yolk if you apply too much heat so just a minute or two is perfect. The yolk sets up into a thick, creamy gravy on the hot pizza.
Now its time for the fresh violets and dandelion hips for the last toppings for a real bad ass pizza. Cut and enjoy.