Candied Smoked Tuna Pizza

     Pizza was one of the first things I learned to make as a kid. I don’t come from an Italian family, but it was an easy way to feed four boys and a father who worked as a contractor. There are many great introductory skills one can gain by learning how to make pizza: basic dough making/kneading/baking, chopping vegetables, shredding cheese.

     Since finding John at Gold Forest Grains and his wonderful heritage grains, freshly milled on the farm, my pizzas have never tasted better or had a better texture. When combined with the fine cold pressed canola oil from Sean and Emily at Mighty Trio Organics, my pizza dough is now something special. The only trick, which many cooks have lost, is to work with the uniqueness of a heritage grain. A recipe is a guide for this, but ultimately, the nature of true whole meal heritage wheat flour means you have to fine tune your water or flour as you knead to achieve the soft texture required.

   With my latest pizza, I was inspired by a recent product I tried while working at Ocean Odyssey Inland: Candied Smoked Tuna. Normally I take the Italian approach and never pair fish with anything that has cheese, but I found with the bold flavour of a hot smoked fish, I thought it would stand up to a good quality aged gouda.

Candied Smoked Tuna Pizza

For the dough:

1 cup Gold Forest Grains soft wheat flour

2 cups Gold Forest Grains Park wheat flour

1 Tbsp salt

1 to 1-1/4 cups warm water

2 tsp (1 pkg) active dry yeast

1 tsp Coal Lake Honey Farms mixed flower honey

6 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil

     Preheat oven to 220C/450F.

     In a large bowl, combine the flours and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm water, yeast, honey and oil. Stir the yeast mixture in the middle of the well in the flour and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until the yeast goes frothy and bubbly. Work the flour into the active yeast mixture and turn out on to the counter. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding water if the mixture is too dry and a bit of flour if the dough is too wet. When the dough has been kneaded adequately into a soft, smooth dough, place in a oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place (I put it next to my preheated oven) for an hour.

For the toppings:

100g(1/4 lb) Candied smoked albacore tuna, torn into rough strips

9-10 Edgar Farms asparagus spears, cut in half

2 medium Doefs bell peppers (yellow, red or orange)

1/2 medium Doefs eggplant, cut into 2 cm/1″ dice (pan roasted in 2 tsp oil for 5-7 minutes until browned)

1/4 cup Sylvan Star herb and garlic gouda, shredded

3/4 cup Sylvan Star Grizzly aged gouda, shredded

1/4 cup tomato paste + 1/4 cup milk + 2 Tbsp fresh chives + 1/2 tsp dried chilli (for sauce)

1/2 cup Greens Eggs and Ham shungiku (or other baby green like arugula)

     On a small baking sheet lay out the asparagus spears and bell peppers, drizzle with 1 or 2 tsp of oil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven to cool, placing the roasted peppers in a bag to steam off the skin.

     Stir together the tomato paste, milk, chives, and dried chillis in a small bowl for the sauce and set aside.

     Peel the roasted peppers and tear into rough 1cm(1/2″) wide strips. Set aside.

     Once the dough has risen for an hour, divide into two equal sized balls of dough. Invert a baking sheet so the bottom of the pan is facing upward. Lightly oil the baking sheet and stretch one ball of dough until about 1cm(1/2″) thick. Place the stretched dough on the inverted, oiled baking sheet, spread with 2-3 Tbsp of the prepared tomato sauce. Lay out lengths of roasted asparagus and peppers evenly over the sauce. Dot with chunks of pan-roasted eggplant and strips of shredded candied smoked tuna. Tear over the shungiku evenly and top with the shredded cheeses. Repeat with the other ball of dough and the remaining ingredients on another pan. Bake the pizzas on the middle or upper racks for 10-12 minutes, turning the pan half way through the baking process, until deeply golden in colour. Makes 2-25cm(10″) pizzas. Serves 3-4.

 

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Candied Smoked Tuna Pizza with roasted asparagus, peppers, eggplant, greens and gouda.

 

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Food and my dad

I grew up in a predominantly Hungarian household when food was concerned. My dad came to Canada after the Revolution in 1956. He spent time as a refugee in parts of what was Yugoslavia, then lived in Italy and France for various lengths of time before coming to Canada. He brought with him a rich culinary tradition learned from his mother. As I grew up I enjoyed many pork-related dishes. In Hungary, the pig is always the protein of choice as most people have at least one or two pigs in their yard as well as their own smokehouse to hang various homemade charcuterie: bacon, sausages and other smoked meat.

My dad struggled with heart problems through much of my teenage years and into my twenties. After pacemakers and various medications did little to help, he finally succumbed to a massive stroke a few days before Christmas in 1997.

While he was alive, I learned many dishes from his native Hungary and subsequently read and researched many more recipes traditional to his youth. I also use many techniques done in Hungarian cuisine and give it twists, as I invariably do with much of my cooking style.

With almost 15 years passing since my father’s death, I always keep his memory with me by cooking something I thought he would enjoy. This Father’s Day I thought I’d make a brunch-style meal including elements of my youth. Czabai, a dry cured, smoked Hungarian sausage was used for many things growing up: flavouring stews, cabbage rolls, casseroles or eaten on its own. I thought I’d fold it into some eggs as a part of a twist on a Steak and Eggs idea.

In the place of steak, I wanted to make a staple of my dining youth: Bécsi szelet or Hungarian-style pork schnitzel. We had this almost weekly for the bulk of my youth with mashed potatoes and a simple vegetable side.

Czabai Eggs with Bécsi Szelet

Bécsi Szelet (Hungarian pork schnitzel)

4 Sunshine Organic pork cutlets (about 100g/4oz each)

1 cup Gold Forest Grains soft white flour

2 Sunshine Organic large eggs

5 or 6 slices of rye bread (I get mine from either Bliss Baked Goods, Artistic Bake Shop or Empress Bakery in Edmonton)

3 Tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup Mighty Trio Organics canola oil

Preheat oven to 90C/200F.

Tear up the bread, place on a baking sheet and dry in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. One can also simply leave the torn bread pieces in the oven while the oven is off overnight to dry. Grind the dried bread in a food processor until fine breadcrumbs are achieved. Set in a medium bowl. Stir in the garlic powder and salt.

In another medium bowl, add the flour. In a third medium bowl, whisk the eggs with a few tablespoons of water. Dredge each pork cutlet in the flour, patting the flour on each cutlet to ensure thorough coverage. Proceed to dredge the floured cutlet into the beaten egg, then into the spiced breadcrumbs, again patting the breadcrumbs on each cutlet to ensure thorough coverage. Set on a plate and allow the breading to set for at least 20 minutes.

In a heavy-bottomed pan (cast iron is best), heat 1/3 cup canola oil over medium high heat. Fry each breaded cutlet for 4-5 minutes per side. Drain on a clean kitchen towel and place on a baking sheet in the preheated oven to keep warm while preparing the egg dish.

Czabai Eggs

2 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics canola oil

1/2 cup sliced onions

1 link czabai, cubed into 1cm/1/2″ pieces (or other dry cured smoked sausage), about 1 cup.

6 Sunshine Organic large eggs, beaten.

In a large non-stick pan, sauté the onions and sausage in 2 Tbsp canola oil (If the sausage is too dry, which it is prone to become, add 1/2 cup water, and allow to absorb into the sausage) until the onions become deeply golden. Add the beaten eggs and stir constantly with broad folding motions to scramble the eggs around the sausage and onions. Split the egg dish over 4 plates and serve with a prepared pork cutlet. Serves 4.

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Czabai Eggs with Bécsi Szelet (Hungarian style pork schnitzel).