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Diplomats work in countries that aren’t their own.  They are outsiders that need to know insiders to do their job.  And insiders are many things…Sometimes they are the best and the brightest of their nation…

But power, influence and knowledge are not always particular about the company they keep.  So,…sometimes significant insiders come from a darker side of life.

Killing Time with a Killer is a Dinner for Two.  It is unhurried and private.  A bit of a wait between courses will be good.  There are only two people at the table, and the person doing the cooking isn’t one of them.  Therefore, the Menu can include items that are not easy to make in larger quantities, and ones  that should be sent to the table as soon as they leave the pan or come out of the oven. 

Dinner begins with aperitifs and small, crisp Pizza Rounds of Fig, Raddichio, Walnuts, and Tallegio Cheese.

Pizza Rounds with Figs, Raddichio, Walnuts, and Tallegio Cheese (for 5 rounds)

These Pizza Rounds include a number of steps.  But as with Hungarian Chocolate Crepes ~ Gundel’s Style, they are simple, quick ones.  The No-Knead Pizza Dough is mixed together a day in advance.  The figs may be marinated a day ahead, too, and will be even better if they are.  At the same time, the walnuts may be browned and reserved for the next day.

I.  The No-Knead Pizza Dough:

Ingredients for the Dough:

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of instant dry yeast
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of water

1.  Mix the flour, yeast and salt with the water.  Cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature overnight:

It is not a large, high-rising amount of dough, and so cannot be judged by its height in the bowl.  On the second day the dough should have a spongy texture.  It will be sticky:

II.  The Toppings for the Pizzas:

Ingredients:

  • 3 dried figs
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/3 cup of walnuts
  • 1 cup of Radicchio
  • 4 ounces of Tallegio

1.  In a small pan, combine the figs and red wine.  Bring the wine to a boil and remove the pan from the heat.  Leave the figs in the wine for at least 30 minutes. (They will be even better if left to soak in the wine overnight.)

2.  Take the figs out of the wine and chop them in small-ish pieces.

3.  Brown the nuts in a dry pan, either on top of the stove or in it.  In a 425 F oven, the nuts will probably color and begin to sizzle in about 5 -8 minutes.  Cool them and chop them into coarse pieces.  This step may also be finished a day in advance:

4.  Slice the Raddichio into long shreds.

5.  Cut the Tallegio cheese into small cubes.

III. Making the Pizza Rounds:

Ingredients:

  • the No-Knead Pizza Dough
  • the chopped figs
  • the walnuts
  • the shreds of Raddichio
  • the cubes of Tallegio
  • some olive oil for oiling the pan
  • flour for dusting the board, the rolling pin, the dough, and your hands while rolling it out
  • An optional garnish:  a few basil leaves, rolled up and sliced crosswise into thin slivers

Equipment:

  • a pastry board and rolling pin
  • a flat, ovenproof griddle or cast iron pizza pan:  the pictured Pizza Rounds were made on a Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan
  • 2 cooling racks:  one on which to place the hot pan while you assemble a Pizza Round on it and, a second on which to place the finished Rounds that haven’t been served yet
  • a cutting board
  • a pizza cutter is useful

1.  Preheat the oven to its highest setting:  the photographed Pizza Rounds baked at 550 F.

2.  Rub a little olive oil over the grill or pan and place it in the oven when you begin preheating it.  Its surface should be very hot when you place a round of dough on it.

3.  Divide the dough into 5 balls:

If you are making only 1 or 2 Pizza Rounds, wrap each unused ball in oiled plastic wrap and freeze them.  Thaw them whenever you want to make more Pizza Rounds or Individual Pizzas:

4.  Flour the pastry board, the rolling pin, the dough and your hands, for the dough is sticky.  Roll the dough out into 8-inch rounds and place them near-at-hand on a cotton towel.

5.  Arrange the toppings next to the cooling rack on which the unbaked Pizza Rounds will be assembled and baked, one at a time.  Take the hot pan out of the oven and place it on the rack.  Place a circle of dough on it and sprinkle it first, with Walnuts:

second, with Raddichio:

third, with Figs:

and last, with Tallegio:

The fragrance and flavour of Tallegio are pronounced.  Both become tamer when the cheese melts.

6.  Slide the pizza on the pan into the hot oven and bake it until the cheese melts and bubbles and the dough puffs–probably in 5 minutes.  Transfer ithe Pizza Round to a cutting board and put the pan back in the oven to reheat:

7.  Slice the first baked Round…

and serve it hot–scattered over with slivers of fresh basil leaves, if you want:

8.  Make additional rounds in the same way.  For 2 people, two Pizza Rounds with aperitifs will probably be more than enough.

A Note:  Pizza Rounds with Figs, Raddichio, Walnuts and Tallegio Cheese is an hors d’oeuvre in the Dinner Menu:  Killing Time with a Killer and is adapted from a recipe in the cookbook Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan.  Serious Eats has reproduced Mr. Yonan’s recipe.

A Second Note:  Extra dough and toppings are very good turned into Individual Pizzas for lunch.

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012

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