People will tell you Gourmandistan is a lovely place, but it can be difficult to visit. Michelle had planned to entertain a couple of friends on Saturday for a multiple birthday lunch, and thought she’d found the perfect casual (and vegetarian!) idea—Yotam Ottolenghi’s brioche “pizzas.” All that was needed was the cooperation of Steve and Mother Nature.
But before Michelle had decided whether the “pizzas” should be the appetizer or the main course, the ominous weather forecast caused her to cancel the lunch. Still, we attempted a “reverse hex” on the weather by parking our car across the creek, well above the near-Biblical flood level of 1997. It didn’t work. The rain began on Friday afternoon while Steve started making brioche dough. By Saturday morning, the creek was already impassable.
As of this writing, the water is is eating our lower driveway.
We, on the other hand, have been eating a very nice brioche treat. Next time we’ll make one- or two-bite versions of the breads with oil-rich tomato, feta, olive and caramelized onion toppings. The itty-bitty briochettes will be perfect for our next party—one we hope will be for more than just the two of us.
“PIZZA” WITH FETA, TOMATO, OLIVE AND ONION
(adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook)
- 2 TB lukewarm water
- 1 tsp. active dry yeast
- 190 grams bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 20 grams sugar
- 2 medium eggs, at room temperature
- 75 grams cold butter, cut into small dice
Place the water and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir until dissolved. Add remaining ingredients, except butter. Use a spatula to mix together.
Attach bowl to mixer. Mix on low speed with flat beater for about 3 minutes. Dough will become smooth, but sticky. Scrape sides of bowl and switch from flat beater to dough hook. Increase speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter. Keep beating with dough hook until dough is shiny, has no lumps and starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. This will take about 9 minutes. During the mixing, you may need to stop the machine once or twice to scrape the bowl clean and dust very lightly with flour.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature for one hour. Then refrigerate overnight.
Put dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll out to a sheet large enough to cut out 6 circles, each about 4 inches wide. (We used English muffin rings.) Place circles on a nonstick baking sheet. Let rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in height.
- Olive oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- Sprinkle of sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- Sun-dried tomato slices
- Balsamic vinegar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2-3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
- Approximately 18 Kalamata olives, pitted
- Salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes
- Parsley leaves for garnishing
Cook onion and sugar in a skillet in approximately 1 TB olive oil, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add garlic at end and cook for just a few more minutes.
Rehydrate dried tomatoes in some olive oil over low heat. Splash with balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 340 degrees.
Brush risen dough circles with a little beaten egg. Top each with onion, then tomatoes, feta and olives. Drizzle olive oil over. Season with salt and peppers.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly, then garnish with parsley leaves.