Thursday, November 7, 2013

Caramelized Onion Pizza with Leeks and Balsamic

This past Monday, I was writing at a cafe near my house and met two women from the 1,000 Days Partnership. They invited me to join them for an evening with Candice Kumai, their first chef ambassador, at Scott Conant's restaurant, Scarpetta in Beverly Hills. I'll pretend I wasn't starstruck. Yeah, no big deal, just sharing a drink with one of the Iron Chef judges at a world-renowned restaurant. Sure. All in a day's work.

 The organization was created three years ago by Hilary Clinton to shine a spotlight on the time from conception to a child's second birthday when the nutrition he or she receives is more pivotal than at any other time in life. According to the project, the right nutrition during the 1,000 day window can:
  • save more than one million lives each year;
  • significantly reduce the human and economic burden of diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS;
  • reduce the risk for developing various non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, and other chronic conditions later in life;
  • improve an individual’s educational achievement and earning potential; and,
  • increase a country’s GDP by at least 2-3 percent annually.
When I realized that both of my boys were past the window, I'll admit, I felt just a tinge of fear. Did I do everything right? Did I breastfeed them for long enough? Did I delay the introduction of solid foods for long enough? Did I invite them to try enough fruits and vegetables? I guess the same questions plague every mother, whether or not she faces food scarcity, like most women in the developing world do.

I walked away from the event with a new found admiration for Candice Kumai and a deep desire to partner with the 1,000 Days program in whatever ways I can to encourage women to nourish themselves and their babies.

To that end, I also walked away with Candice's cookbook Cook Yourself Sexy. I'm working my way through it for a review I'm doing for one of my food writing clients and last night, I tried her grilled mushroom and leek flatbread pizza. It was, hands down the best pizza I have ever eaten. Seriously.

You know why I'm a horrible food writer? All I want to say is, yum, chew, yum, just, chew, try it, yum. nom nom. Oh, that will never do. Must learn to describe food better. For now, let the photography and the recipe inspire you.

serves two 
olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced in rounds
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, rinsed, dried, and very thinly sliced
1 leek, thoroughly rinsed and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 pizza crusts
2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup basil chiffonade

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions until they begin to pick up some color, about 5-7 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, and cook until soft, another 3-5 minutes. Push the onions to the edges of the pan and melt one tablespoon of the butter in the center of the pan.

Turn the heat up to medium-high. Brown the mushrooms in two or three batches, being sure not to overcrowd the pan. Push the finished 'shrooms to the side as you work your way through them.
Add the leek and salt, and cook for another two minutes.

Top the crust with a light drizzle of olive oil and the topping. Grate a generous helping of parmesan over the top. Bake according to the directions of your pizza crust - more if it's frozen, you know the drill.
Remove from the oven and grate another shower of parmesan over the top and the basil chiffonade. Share only with the people you really, really love.

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