Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sausage and Goat Cheese Pizza, with Balsamic Onions and Fresh Figs



Right now, I am back visiting my family in Ohio.  As I am writing this, it's nighttime so it is quiet, but I can still hear crickets chirping outside and other night critters making their evening noises.  Back where I live in San Diego, there isn't enough grass or trees or forests to even house these insects, so I miss out on their soothing chorus.  Here, the cool air is floating in through the window, and there are no fast cars or loud freeways or other disturbances.  The calm is wonderful.


When the sun comes up tomorrow morning, the light will touch each blade of green grass, each leaf on every tree, and the noise from the nighttime crickets might be replaced with morning bird songs or buzzing cicadas.  But fall is here and rain is always a possibility (unlike San Diego, there is actually weather here in Ohio), so the cool breeze might linger, and if I am lucky, we might even get a thunderstorm.  If we do, I am sure my mom and I will sit on the porch and listen to the rain pouring down while the wet air mists around us.  These are some of the best feelings of home. 

Sliced black mission figs.

I am sure it comes as no surprise when I say that one of my favorite things to do when I am at home is to cook for my family.  My dad is a budding chef himself, so he always likes to get in on the action, and we usually have grand plans.  This time, I went to the Westside Market with some friends, and picked up all the fixings for a fantastic fall-inspired pizza.  I found black mission figs, earthy sage leaves, local meats, and I got a great deal on a log of fresh chevre. 

Cut the goat cheese into medallions easily using a thin piece of thread or wire.

Fantastic local sausage, filled with italian spices.

Balsamic Fig and Onion Marmalade.

With those ingredients in hand, I still wanted something else on my pizza other than a sauce - and then I remembered the Balsamic Fig and Onion Marmalade that I had made last year for my Brie and Bacon Piadina recipe.  Sweet and savory at the same time, I knew this marmalade would provide the perfect taste and texture counterpoint for this pizza.  I arranged all the ingredients on top, tucked in a few fresh sage leaves, and dolloped on the marmalade to finish it.

Sausage and goat cheese pizza before baking...

...golden-crusted pizza after baking. 

Since the goat cheese on this pizza doesn't technically 'melt,' you just watch as it gets very very soft.  So I have to tell you, if you are the kind of person who only likes pizza when you can stretch out a perfect piece of oozing melted cheese... well then this pizza just isn't for you.  But if you can appreciate a warm little pillow of tangy, tender goat cheese... then you have struck the jackpot.  


This pizza has golden crispy crust and soft cheese, but what I love the most is the balance of sweet and savory.  The sausage is hearty and heavily spiced, and the figs and the marmalade are sweet, but not overly so.  It is rustic, but you could also serve this for friends at a casual dinner party.  Especially with the roasted sage leaves and local ingredients, the pizza felt very earthy and very homey.  

So of course, it was appropriate that I got to enjoy this pizza at my favorite place in Cleveland... my parent's house.  

We sat out on the deck in the backyard, and my dad sliced up the pizza.  The three of us ate the whole thing, and so we slid the second pizza into the oven and just put our feet up.  With a glass of wine in our hands, we talked until it got dark and the bugs came out.  My parents told me stories about when they first met, and I got a more clear picture of them as young, fresh-faced, (silly!), and just falling in love.  I will never forget those memories they shared.  Maybe it will rain tomorrow, but tonight, we had the perfect evening, just savoring a simple pizza and the company of each other.       


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Sausage and Goat Cheese Pizza, with Balsamic Onions and Fresh Figs
Makes 2.


Pizza dough --- I like the non-frozen kind from Trader Joe's, but most often I make my own from the Giada DeLaurentiis recipe.  For this version, I added 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, and 1 tsp chopped sage to the dough mixture; however, you could just leave it out.  Prepare the dough according to recipe instructions, then add toppings as directed below. 


Toppings:
About 1/2 lb of Italian sausage, casings removed
8 oz. goat cheese log, also known as chevre
About 8 figs, sliced lengthwise 
1 recipe for Balsamic Fig and Onion Marmalade 
About 12-14 leaves of fresh sage (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil for brushing the dough


Special equipment: 
parchment paper
very thin string/thread/wire for slicing goat cheese


Preheat your oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit, make dough according to recipe above, and prepare a parchment-lined baking sheet.


Prepare the pizza toppings as follows: Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until it is just cooked through (but not tough), breaking up any large chunks into smaller pieces.  Transfer the sausage to a plate lined with paper towels.  Next, slice the goat cheese log into medallions using a piece of string - if you haven't done this before, just take one end of a piece of thread in each hand, then loop the middle part of the string underneath the cheese log, and then cross your hands over the top of the goat cheese, all the way over each other.  This will neatly slice off one medallion.  


Prepare the pizza by rolling out 1/2 of the dough on a lightly floured surface to approximately 12 inches by 6 inches.  Lightly brush the surface of the dough with olive oil, then top with 1/2 of the ingredients listed above, evenly distributing them over the surface of the dough.  If you like, fold up the outside of the dough to make a rolled crust.  


Bake the pizza at 475 degrees for about 14-17 minutes, and check for doneness by watching for golden brown crust and soft cheese.  Slice and serve immediately.  Prepare second pizza with remaining 1/2 of ingredients and bake as directed above.  

43 comments:

  1. Oh goodness me, this looks fantastic! I don't know if I would make it to the actual pizza assembly, however. I think I would just alternate spoonfuls of the fig jam and bites of goat cheese.

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  2. What a beautiful pizza and great choice of toppings!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. Sister this looks amazing! Wish I could be sharing in this yummy pizza...and also the company!Miss you!

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  4. This sounds like too many of my favorite things in one place not to make it! (I actually am guest posting about figs on "opera girl cooks" on Wednesday, too!) Thanks for the comment on my blog, and I love the title of yours. :) now following you!

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  5. Looks gorgeous - I'm totally with you on marrying sweet and savory. Figs and goat cheese are already a favorite combo. Add sausage and this is an absolute winner.

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  6. this just looks like the most balanced pizza ever...the flavors couldn't pair any better!

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  7. Beautiful post. Truth is lost in the cliche, but it is still true: there is no place like home.

    This pizza looks delicious. I love goat cheese, and your pairings here just look and sound so good. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Oh my oh my! This is right up my alley - LOVE LOVE goat cheese and figs together, plus the spicy bite of sausage? Yum! Could totally have this for breakfast and not feel the least bit ashamed. LOL.

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  9. So many delicious ingredients... Your pizza looks amazing! I'm a sucker for goats cheese.

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  10. Looks fantastic! Goat cheese and figs are splendid together.

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  11. Haha, I'm also living in CA with my folks back in Ohio...I totally agree about the insect and other wildlife noise...I love it and totally miss it out here! :)

    That pizza looks GORGEOUS. Love all the flavors, I definitely need to make it while it is still fig season!! :)

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  12. wow this pizza looks amazing!!!! It doesn't help that I'm currently starving! The goatcheese and fig combo is so delicious, I've never thoght ot put it on pizza!!!

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  13. Pics as usual are amazing!!!! I wish I could get fresh figs here!

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  14. I love this recipe. Thanks for the pizza dough references too - I've been looking for a good one. It sounds like the pizza was the perfect compliment to some quality time with the folks!

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  15. What a lovely combo! That balsamic marmalade is the clincher! I want to try this next time. I wonder if I can find some figs around here...

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  16. Amanda this pizza is really beautiful! Sadly, I have not seen one fresh fig in my neck of the woods this year. Not one. Sniff sniff.

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  17. Figs and goat cheese? On a pizza? Holy moly, that sounds divine!

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  18. this pizza has just about everything i LOVE...i made a similar one before using chorizos instead tho. i think i will have to make this very soon...just looking at the pics made me salivate! ahha.

    sounds like a perfect evening, with perfect company and food. such precious moment in life :)

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  19. So pretty! Your evening sounds like the perfect summer evening we get down here often - sad you don't get to experience that normally.

    The flavors in this pizza sound incredible! I already bought my ingredients for pizza tonight but I'm tempted to head out again and get the stuff to try this one.

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  20. What a wonderful way to spend time with your dad. Sounds like a perfect evening.

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  21. Lovely -both the piza and your description of autumn in the Northeast. :-)

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  22. This pizza looks delicious. It has been so rainy and muggy here it doesn't even feel like fall. I think the crickets and locusts are hiding.

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  23. Looks and sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing :-)

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  24. Oh my this is gorgeous. Beautifully done!

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  25. I have been experimenting with different dough recipes... I have yet to try Giada's. It looks excellent though, I may have to whip this up sometime soon, we do love our pizza nights! Thank you!

    Audra
    www.oneloudlemon.blogspot.com

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  26. Hi,
    we just made your pizza, and it tasted very, very good!
    Figs and goat cheese is a known winner, but the sage really brings it over the top.
    Greetings from France,
    Sarah

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  27. This looks really yummy. But, I have to tell you I live in San Diego and have tons of crickets. I enjoy them every night along with the birds and nightingales. You must have missed the rain we had here while you were in Ohio. Quite chilly, perfect day to make this scrumptous pizza. You are just living in the wrong section of San Diego. Come out to the Mission Trails area where you will find crickets, old oaks, trails and babbling brooks...Love your blog title.

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  28. That look so great recipe and i want to try it soon, thanks.

    farida
    http://kitchensuperfood.com

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  29. Great post ... I love essays that mix family with food. I hadn't really thought about the lack of insect noise in SD but you're right. Even when I go home to Sacramento there are incests chirping, biting, etc. I like the sweet-savory mix for your pizza, wonder if I can get my hands on some figs?!

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  30. Anonymous: So glad you enjoyed the pizza, and thrilled to hear you are reading and cooking the recipes all the way over in France!

    Anonymous 2: OOooo, thanks for pointing out that I can hear nature sounds out in Mission Trails area, I had no idea! Maybe I am living in the wrong area. ;)

    Lisa (and others who can't get fresh figs): Though I havent tried it myself, you might think of using dried figs, either just as they are or after rehydrating them? Just an idea I had.

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