Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to host a live cooking demo event organized in conjunction with Asian Food Channel’s original production The Big Break.
If you haven’t already caught the show, you should. I am a self-confessed reality cooking competition junkie. Be it Hell’s Kitchen, Master Chef, Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, Top Chef: Just Desserts, The Next Food Network Star, Chopped, Challenge, Cupcake wars or Sweet Genius… you name it, I’ve probably watched it. But The Big Break is one of those rare shows with a heart, where competition meets compassion and reality is realism at its best. The show offers 12 underprivileged youths from six different countries in Asia the chance of a lifetime to win a S$30,000 scholarship to At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy. Each week, they learn new culinary skills and techniques and are put to the test with a different challenge, failing which one contestant will be sent home. Watching the youths display courage, determination and camaraderie in the midst of the competition has been truly moving.
Well this week, the theme of the competition is Italiano! The youths will be taught and then tested on their pizza-making skills. In line with that, resident Chef Wendy Ong at the AFC studio taught bloggers how to make their very own pizzas and cannolis.
So inspired by all that, I decided to share her recipe for the pizza base and come up with my very own version. Most pizzas use a tomato base, but I’ve always liked pizzas that don’t. So I made a garlic-infused olive oil and added my favorite toppings to make my very own gourmet portobello, ham and caramelized onion pizza.
Yields: Two 9″ round thin-crust pizzas
(From Chef Wendy, resident chef at AFC studio)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1. Activate yeast by combining warm water, sugar and yeast for 5 minutes, until bubbles form on the surface of the mixture.
2. Place yeast mixture and remaining ingredients into a mixing bowl. Using a dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until dough comes together, ~ 2 min. Then mix on medium high speed for another 3 min.
3. Turn dough out onto work surface, then round it into a ball.
4. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover bowl with clingwrap. Let it rest in a warm place for ~ 1 hr, or until it doubles in size.
5. Meanwhile, prepare garlic oil and toppings.
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1. Gently heat olive oil in a pot until warm, but not too hot!
2. Add in chopped garlic and remove from heat. Let garlic infuse into oil while cooling.
Button mushrooms, sliced
Cheddar cheese, grated
Mozzarella cheese, grated
Onions, sliced and caramelized
1. Saute onions in a pan with a little olive oil. When onions have softened, add some brown sugar and a dash of balsamic vinegar.
2. Cook onions down until they turn dark, but not burnt! Then stir in a knob of butter. Remove from heat and cool.
Assembling the pizza:
1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
2. Turn dough out onto work surface and punch down to remove air bubbles in the dough. Divide into two and round each portion.
3. Roll dough out to desired thickness. Then brush on garlic oil on base, and add toppings and cheese.
4. Bake at 200C/400F for 15-20 minutes until crust is crispy and brown.
Catch The Big Break every Wednesday, 10pm, on the Asian Food Channel.