Strawberry Sauce and Mascarpone Cheese, oh boy.
Local strawberry season is upon us! Since I haven’t put them on a pizza yet, nor tried a dessert pizza, I had to remedy that, asap. The recipe below features products from vendors at the NIH Farmers Market that we attend. Here’s what I did:
I grated the zest of half a lemon and mixed it with about a third of a cup of mascarpone cheese. To that, I added a couple teaspoons of honey from Randalia Farm. You can taste it to see if you want to add more lemon zest or honey. I put this mixture in the fridge to keep it cold and allow the mascarpone to infuse with the lemon zest.
I chopped up about a cup to one-and-a-half cups strawberries that I got from Linda Vista Farm. I put the strawberries in a small saucepan, and added about one tablespoon of honey. The sweetness level is to my taste, and if you want it sweeter, that’s your call, but it also depends on how sweet the strawberries might be. I cooked the strawberries and honey on medium high heat until the mixture had thickened. At first the juice from the strawberries was pretty thin, but after about 10 minutes it started to look syrupy, like I wanted it.
I preheated my oven to 400 degrees, then applied the strawberry “sauce” to one of our small Classic pizza crusts. I baked it in the oven for about 10 minutes until the crust was golden brown on the edges. I dolloped the mascarpone mixture after removing the pizza from the oven, and it melted quickly into creamy-rich pools that resembled fresh mozzarella!
My husband and I had planned to share this with Ben… but that didn’t happen. 😉 It was decadent, but not super sweet. A warm dessert, served right out of the oven at a dinner party, sounds special and really unique.
I think this would be great with blueberries prepared the same way. Next time, I will make cashew cream instead, as a non-dairy version, maybe flavored with cinnamon or nutmeg.
This past Sunday was maybe the second-worst outdoor experience we have had as farmers market vendors. The first-worst drove us from the the market before it even opened! Nevertheless, it’s still a Happy Anniversary to say we are still at it, and looking forward to what the fourth year brings!
Ben and Sean continue to team up in the kitchen together – Ben prepping our dough, and Sean making sauce and shredding cheese. Ben is invaluable on baking days as my assistant, and enjoys socializing with vendors at our markets.
I anticipate that by the end of the year we will have sold 10,000 crusts since we started! A giant thank you goes out to our awesome pizza-loving “crustomers!” You make it all possible so we can continue to bake up purpose.
Fast, Hearty, Wholesome Farmers Market Food
Anytime I put food on the table that was made from ingredients I got solely from the farmers market, I call it Farmers Market Food. Only from a local orchard can you get really ripe peaches, or blueberries that taste like they are supposed to taste, and apple butter like no other.
You can get pizza crusts there, too. 🙂
I got the idea for this pizza from a nutritionist who visits one of our markets and gives out samples of Farmers Market Food she makes on the spot. She used our whole wheat crust as the base with some of McCleaf Orchard’s apple butter, peaches and blueberries. That’s, basically, all there is to it. After sampling, I had to make it at home.
I had breakfast ready in about 15 minutes. That’s a snap for a weekend, and not too much time on a weekday, if you consider this would feed a few kids before they head off to school.
I washed and sliced a ripe, yet firm peach, leaving the skin on. When the oven was fully preheated to 400 degrees, I spread the apple butter on a large whole wheat crust, arranged the peaches, sprinkled on the blueberries, and placed the pizza directly on the oven rack for 10 minutes. Any longer and the blueberries would have burst open. I drizzled the pizza with honey and cinnamon before slicing, but you could skip that step if your apple butter is spiced and you don’t want to add any more sweetness.
This pizza was made in July when blueberries were still available at the farmers markets. But, I can imagine many different fruit combinations for whatever is in season. Thinly sliced apple comes to mind… maybe fresh figs, or other stone fruits. I can’t wait to try it again! In the mean time, enjoy another pic…
This past weekend marked the beginning of this venture two years ago. Nearly 5000 crusts later… ok, let’s take a moment for that to sink in… my son and I produced and sold almost 5000 crusts in two years.
So, 5000 crusts have made some great dinners that our customers like to tell us about as they stop by our farmers market stall to pick up some more. And we are happy to help make dinner happen!
We continue to grow, too. Last March, we hired a new employee who is also on the autism spectrum. This marks a major milestone and goal in many ways. As a business owner, I would like to be able to tell other business owners that they can benefit from investing time, energy, and patience in hiring and training employees with disabilities. There’s an untapped resource of capable individuals out there that are often overlooked, who would make excellent and loyal employees, if you are willing to explore the possibilities. But, first I needed to make the commitment to do it beyond working with my son.
It’s one thing to say that everyone deserves a chance to work, and it’s another thing entirely to put that into practice. We have our good and bad moments, all of us. But, my team and I come back into the kitchen each day to try again, make mistakes, say “sorry,” and say “that’s ok” to each other. We keep at it until we get it right… if not perfect, then close enough. So far, so good. I will revisit our progress in additional posts in the future.
There is a good chance we will not attend a farmers market if any of the following conditions occur:
- Over night temperatures are in the single digits
- There is an active ice storm or major snow event
If you have placed a special order or reservation, we will do our best to fulfill your request by making arrangements for delivery.
We will update our website to keep you informed. But, feel free to reach out via email to confirm our attendance: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your support!
White Bean Sauce and tons of veggies on a Sun-dried Tomato Crust
This pizza inspiration comes direct from a customer, who mentioned a pizza they had at a restaurant with a white bean sauce on it. Being a big fan of cannellini beans, I had to give this a try. This is not a recipe as much as a concept, the main point being to puree the beans with whatever flavors you like. With that in mind, here’s what I did:
In a skillet, I sauteed a clove of garlic for about 30 seconds in a tablespoon of olive oil. I added about a third of a cup of vegetable stock to that, and then added a can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans. I added salt, pepper, a sprinkle dried thyme, and cooked the beans for 5-10 minutes. Then I pureed this mixture in a food processor. It was a pretty thick puree, but very spreadable. Still, I added another couple of tablespoons of stock to the food processor to smooth it out a bit.
I used almost the entire amount of sauce for one 12-inch pizza and loaded it up with my favorite toppings of sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms.
The pizza was rich and filling, and really satisfying.
Next time – and there will be a next time – I may leave out the olive oil and just cook the garlic in the stock. I might try some greens, like kale. Beans and greens go great together… on a whole wheat crust, perhaps.
I will definitely leave off the tiny amount of cheese I felt obliged to put on out of some loyalty to cheese on a pizza. The flavor got lost in the creamy-garlicky white bean sauce.
What jumps out at me in this photo is the expression on my son Ben’s face. This is a young man who, for all other photo ops, avoids looking at the camera or the person taking the picture. But, he is clearly in his element at this moment. Taking pride in all the work that he does to get to the markets. It’s the look of a person who feels a sense of purpose, focused, and content in his accomplishments. We work in a hot kitchen during the week and then spend muggy summer weekends outdoors, and I rarely if ever hear a complaint from him.
A regular customer of ours said to me, “your business has been a great addition to the market and the community.” I can take pride in that tremendous compliment. But I am most proud of Ben for his precision and hustle in the kitchen, as well as the maturity he is developing. And, on top of that, he is always full of ideas, which I hope to add to the menu in the future. He would prefer that I not say this directly to him, so I will say it here: well done, Ben!