Pizza with Mushrooms and Thyme

I had the good fortune to get a reservation at Pizzeria Mozza for my birthday lunch with co-workers. As much as I have a love/hate relationship with L.A., I wouldn’t have been sitting in a world-famous restaurant unless I moved here. So, it was a bit of a peace offering. Great pizza in exchange for a few more smiles driving around town.



It was the first visit each of us (a hungry group of six), so we decided to order five pizzas to share. Of all the slices I had, hands down, this was my absolute favorite. The mushrooms were so rich and flavorful (likely sautéed in butter), the cheese creamy and light, and the thyme echoed the earthiness of the mushrooms. I might not have the pizza dough perfected quite yet, but I figured I could do a decent job attempting the flavors of this pizza at home. So here’s my version of Nancy Silverton’s funghi misti pizza.


Pizza with Mushrooms and Thyme

The measurements are approximate. Depending on the size of your dough, you may need more or less cheese. Just eyeball everything and use any amount you'd like!

Pizza Dough (recipe follows)

Mushrooms, sliced (I had one large portobello and 10 crimini mushrooms to work with, about 2 cups when sliced. I would use a minimum of this amount. If you have access to more, use more.)

1 cup grated Taleggio Cheese
1 cup grated Fontina Cheese
3-5 sprigs fresh Thyme
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Salt and Pepper
Cornmeal, for dusting

1. Add mushrooms to a sauté pan with a tab of butter and the olive oil. Stir to coat. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until mushrooms are cooked through and softened. Add thyme, salt and set aside.

2. If using a pizza stone, slide it in a preheated oven (the highest your oven will go) for 30 minutes prior to baking. Roll out pizza dough and place it on a cornmeal-dusted peel. Top with both cheeses, then spread the reserved mushrooms over the top. Brush the crust with olive oil and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly.

Pizza Dough

Recipe adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

So, you might know that I don't always have time for pizza dough. But last Friday evening, I did. I used active dry instead of instant yeast, and let it rise for an hour instead of my usual 20 minutes. Actually, I might like this dough better. It was flavorful, easy to work with, and a snap to put together, even after coming home from a long day at work.

1/2 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the warm water and yeast with your fingers until blended. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add flour and salt. Add oil. The dough should begin pulling away from the bowl easily. Continue to knead on medium speed for about 8-10 minutes, until dough is smooth.

2. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draft-free area until the dough doubles in volume, about 1 hour. Punch the down dough and divide into 2 equal balls. (The dough can be used immediately or stored airtight in the refrigerator for 1 day.)

Parmesan Pull-Aparts

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Ever since I attempted to make French bagets about four months ago, bread has been my enemy in the kitchen. The three-day experiment was so unsuccessful that I didn’t even bother blogging about it, so I’m thrilled to post that I finally made bread and it wasn’t a disaster. In fact, it was melt-in-your-mouth fantastic. The yeast didn’t defeat me, and when I pulled the pan out of the oven with puffed, golden brown rolls, it was hard to contain my excitement.

Parmesan Pull-Aparts

Recipe courtesy Gourmet

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-oz package)
1 teaspoon mild honey or sugar
2/3 cup warm milk (105–115°F), divided
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbsp for sprinkling
1 1/4 cups grated (with a rasp) Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 1/3 oz)
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into Tbsp pieces and softened
1 tablespoon water

A stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/3 cup warm milk in mixer bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast.) Whisk together flour (2 1/2 cups), cheese, and salt, then mix into yeast mixture along with remaining 1/3 cup warm milk at low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat in 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until a very soft dough forms, about 3 minutes. Beat in butter, 1 Tbsp at a time, until dough is elastic, about 2 minutes. (Dough will be very sticky.)

Scrape dough into center of bowl and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down dough (do not knead) and turn out onto a floured surface. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball by cupping your hand and pushing dough against work surface as you roll in a circular motion. Arrange rolls 1 inch apart in a buttered 9- by 2-inch round cake pan and cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth). Let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled and dough fills pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Whisk together remaining egg with water and brush on tops of rolls. (You will have leftover egg wash.) Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Loosen edges of rolls from pan with a sharp knife and invert rolls onto a rack, then reinvert and cool at least 20 minutes.

Cooks’ note: Rolls are best the day they're made but can be frozen (cool completely, then wrap well) 1 month. Thaw, then reheat on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.

Pizza with Grilled Pear and Prosciutto

I stumbled upon the idea for this pizza while having lunch at one of my favorite Santa Barbara spots, Fresco. Their special pizza of the day was made with grilled pears and prosciutto, which sounded too delicious to pass up. I immediately wrote down the ingredients in my notebook so I could recreate it at home.

What sets this pizza apart is the cheese. I’ve made it several times now, but once accidentally grabbed Fontina cheese instead of Manchego – big mistake! Manchego cheese is essential for this pizza. Its mild flavor perfectly compliments the grilled pear and peppery arugula. Fontina (as I discovered) is way too salty for this dish. I’ve also made this pizza and forgotten the arugula. Yes, it tastes fine without it, but arugula not only adds a sharp bite, but beautiful color. Trust me, it’s much prettier with all the ingredients.

I also use honey to grill the pears and then drizzle a little bit over the hot, bubbly pizza when it comes out of the oven. I find the sweetness enhances every bite, and it’s the final touch that makes this pizza so, so good.


Pizza dough (recipe here)
1 medium pear, thinly sliced and drizzled with honey
1 tbsp. honey
4 slices prosciutto
8 oz Manchego cheese, grated
½ cup arugula

Heat grill pan to medium and add prosciutto. After several minutes, turn and cook other side until it begins to crisp. Place on a paper towel to drain. When cooled, chop into small pieces and set aside.

In the same pan, add pears and grill for 3-5 minutes on each side, until grill marks form and pear is softened. Set aside.

To assemble pizza, place dough on a sheet pan or pizza stone and sprinkle with 6 oz. Manchego cheese. (When baking pizza, I always toss a small handful of cornmeal on the board to keep the pizza from sticking). Then add pears and sprinkle with prosciutto and arugula. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 450F for 8-10 minutes (cook time may vary depending on your oven), until cheese is melted and the edges begin to brown. Before slicing, drizzle with remaining honey.