Pizza Fiesta!

by Marjan

Last week I shared with you my favorite Mexican Chicken Pozole Verde Soup recipe which truly is food for the soul. This week's culinary travels brings to you my Tex-Mex pizza recipe and a little fiesta to chase away your winter blues. Yes, you read that right: Tex-Mex Pizza!


This past October, I created a autumn inspired pizza capturing all the comforting flavors of the season such as sage, arugula, and pumpkin. Now for winter, it's time to bring in some color and fun festivities with cheer. Taco seasoned ground beef, Mexican mix cheese and cream, cilantro, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and scallions will take your palate on a journey south of the border. This easy to make and delicious pizza will transform your gatherings into a fiesta of fun. I suggest having all the cold toppings (such as black beans, jalapeño, lettuce, tomatoes, scallions, avocados, Mexican creme and cilantro) in little bowls for your guests to individualize their own pizza creation! Fun and interactive, your Pizza Fiesta will be a smash hit!



Margarita Please!

Serves 2 large pizzas (6-8 people)
Ingredients:
Crust:
3 1/2 - 4 cups bread flour
2 tablespoon sugar
1 envelop instant dry yeast (approximately 2 /14 teaspoon)
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (115 degrees F)
4 tablespoons olive oil

Baked Toppings:
1 1/2 lb. ground beef (ground turkey is a healthier option; tastes equally good!)
1/2 cup taco seasoning (add more if you prefer)
1 28 oz. can organic chopped tomatoes (I prefer to chop 8 Roma tomatoes instead of using can tomatoes)
10-12 oz of Mexican blend shredded cheese

Cold Toppings:
Choose some or all the ingredients below; amounts may be varied based on your individual choice.
1 8 oz. can black beans; strained
1/4 iceberg lettuce finely chopped
6 Roma tomatoes; chopped
2 avocados; chopped
6 scallions; chopped (green and white part)
1/2 roughly chopped cilantro
1/2 cup Mexican Cream
1-2 jalapeño (seeded and chopped); optional

Using a stand mixer with bread knead attachment, combine yeast, sugar and water. Stir 3-4 times and rest yeast for 15 minutes until bubbles form.  Meanwhile in a separate large bowl, swift 3 cups flour & salt. Turn machine on low speed and gently add flour 1 cup at a time. Add olive oil and continue to mix increasing speed to medium. If bread is sticky and not forming into a firm ball after a minute of mixing, add flour one tablespoon at a time until a slightly sticky round dough is rendered. Remove dough and knead with your hands on a clean floured surface for 2-3 minutes. Divide dough into two equal size balls. Grease 2 large mixing bowls with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil; one dough in each separate bowl and cover with plastic wrap to keep warm for one hour until dough doubles in size. I prefer keeping dough in the oven that is slightly warm (80 degrees) from either the auto pilot being on or turning the oven on to 150 degrees for 5 minutes; turning the oven off, and placing covered dough in bowl to rise.

An hour later, knead each dough on to itself three or four times into a round ball. Cover each with plastic wrap and rest it for 15 minutes.

With a rolling pin, roll out each dough flat on a lightly floured surface into a large circle to cover baking tray. Place rolled out dough onto pizza pan tray. Repeat with second dough.

Prepare all vegetables which will be used as topping prior to baking dough (such as lettuce, tomatoes, scallions, avocado, jalapeños, etc.)

Preheat oven to 500° F.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium heat, cook ground beef until no longer raw or red; add taco seasoning and tomatoes from the can or 8 Roma tomatoes chopped with juice. Blend and simmer ingredients for 6-8 minutes; turn heat off.

When oven is 500° F, place both doughs in the oven for 10 minutes until partially baked.
If you are planning to have guests individually choose and create their own toppings, I suggest placing each cold topping in decorative serving bowls. Otherwise, prepare all the toppings in advance and once pizza is baked, top with as many ingredients and amount desired.

Remove partially baked dough from the oven and spread half of the cooked ground beef mix on top of each pizza and top each with Mexican Cheese.
Place both pizzas back into the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly golden. Remove from oven and top with desired mouth of cold toppings!

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