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06/30/2016

~ Coconut and Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake ~

IMG_8652Remember the first time you watched your mom make a pineapple upside down cake?  I was mesmerized.  I stood stoic, across the counter, watching as she carefully arranged and layered the ingredients in the pan.  I stood vigil, peering through the glass, at the oven while it baked.  I stood  breathless,  fingers crossed behind my back, when she inverted it out of the pan.  In the end, I didn't know whether to joyfully jump up and down or hug her with pride -- I think I did both.

IMG_8669I was five or six at the time, and, that Norman Rockwell moment of my life, is, what life was like back in the late '50's and early '60's.  It was picture perfect, and, it didn't matter that a boxed cake mix was used, the pineapple came out of can, and, the maraschino cherries were full of toxic Red Dye #4.  It still doesn't -- a cake mix isn't a crime, canned pineapple is not a compromise, and, they've since switched to FD&C Red Dye #40.  Peace, love, rock and roll.

Columbian-Exchange1A bit about pineapple and upside down cake:  Pineapple was introduced to the United States in the mid 19th Century via South American trade routes north to the Caribbean and into the West Indies, where Christopher Columbus found them.  In Caribbean native tongue, the pineapple's original name was "anana", meaning "excellent fruit". The European explorers called it the "pine of the Indies", and, when the fruit started being PICT0002exported to English-speaking parts of Europe via The Columbian Exchange, the suffix "apple" was added (to associate it with their favorite "excellent fruit", the apple).  

From there, the pineapple spread to other parts of civilization and was placed on sailing ships because, like oranges, they were found to prevent scurvy.  It was on one of these voyages the pineapple arrived in Hawaii, and, was presented to King Kahehameha by his Spanish advisor, Don Francisco de Paula y Marin. On January 11, 1813 the first pineapples were planted in Hawaiian soil.  In 1901, James Drummond Dole founded the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, and, within a few short years, the pineapple symbolized Hawaii.

^Meet a Pennsylvania pineapple.  Joe grows two or three in pots on our deck every year!

IMG_8649Upside down cakes are a uniquely American dessert as they were first baked in a cast iron skillet for lack of any fancy bakeware -- a brown sugar glaze was prepared on the stovetop in the skillet, any juicy-type of sliced fruit was decoratively arranged in the glaze, an easy to make batter was poured on top of the fruit, and, the "skillet cake" was placed in the oven to bake. Once baked and cooled a bit, the cake was inverted onto a plate and very appealing glazed cake appeared.  

The pineapple upside down cake has been around for almost a Century, with recipes  appearing on Gold Medal flour bags and cans of Dole pineapple in 1925.

Canned pineapple was available everywhere by then and it was very popular with the American housewife.  It was only natural that a pineapple upside down cake with pretty pineapple rings and bright red cherries on top would become a hit at parties and potlucks nationwide.  

 IMG_8606For the hardware:

9" springform pan

parchment paper

For the glaze:

1  cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar

1/2  cup salted butter (1 stick)

no-stick spray, for preparing the springform pan

IMG_8618For the pineapple and the maraschino cherries:

1  well-drained 20-ounce can of 10 pineapple slices, leave one slice whole and round, cut six of the slices into half moon shapes (you need a total of 7 slices), or:

trim and slice a fresh, fully-ripened juicy pineapple into 7 slightly-thicker than 1/4" slices if you are so inclined

13  maraschino cherries, well-drained

IMG_8628For the cake batter:

2  large eggs

1  cup sugar

1 3/4 cups Softasilk cake flour

2  teaspoons baking powder

3/4  teaspoons salt

1  cup heavy or whipping cream

1  tablespoon pure butter rum extract

1/2  cup sweetened, flaked coconut

IMG_8603Step 1. To prepare the pan,  using a pencil or a pen, trace the bottom of the springform pan onto a sheet of parchment paper and using a pair of kitchen shears, cut out the circle.  Insert the pan bottom into the sides and clamp the pan closed. Spray the inside and bottom of the pan with no-stick spray, insert the parchment and give the surface of the parchment a spray too.

IMG_8615 IMG_8611~ Step 2.  To prepare the glaze, in the microwave melt the butter. In 2-4 tablespoon increments, add the brown sugar to the melted butter, stirring thoroughly after each addition.  Pour and distribute (I spread it with a spoon) the glaze evenly over the bottom of the pan, but not up the sides or over the top of the parchment.  You don't want the glaze to seep underneath the parchment.

IMG_8625~ Step 3.  To arrange the pineapple and the maraschino cherries,  drain and pat dry the pineapple slices and maraschino cherries on a few paper towels.  Slice 6 of the pineapple slices as directed into half-moon shapes.  Place one whole slice on top of the glaze, directly in the center pan. Arrange the half moon shapes around the perimeter.  Place a cherry, stemmed side up (you want the pretty side of each cherry facing down for the finished cake), in the center of the whole pineapple slice, and, one cherry between each half-slice. That sure does look pretty!

IMG_1915Step 2.  To make the batter,  

Place two eggs in a large bowl. (Note:  there are 4 eggs in this photo.  I'm making two cakes today so I'm doubling the batter.)

Measure and have ready the sugar.

In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients:  cake flour, baking powder and salt.

Stir butter rum extract into cream.

IMG_1925IMG_1923Step 3.  In a large bowl, starting on low speed of electric mixer and working up to high, beat the eggs until thick, about 6 minutes.

Note:  Don't take any short cuts with this step -- beat for the entire 6 minutes.  It does make a difference.

IMG_1935IMG_1929Step 4. Lower the mixer speed and begin adding the sugar, in three-four increments, mixing thoroughly, about 30-45 seconds after each addition.  

Note:  Once again, take the time to mix well after each addition as this gives the sugar time to dissolve.

IMG_1947IMG_1940                               ~ Step 5.  On medium-speed of mixer, alternating the cream mixture with the dry ingredients, mix until all of the cream and all of the dry ingredients have been added, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula almost constantly.  This will take about 3 minutes.  Remove mixer, and lastly, fold in the coconut.

IMG_8634 IMG_8631Transfer batter to pan and smooth top by giving the pan a few gentle back and forth shakes across the countertop.

IMG_8637Tip from Mel: Place pan on a large parchment lined baking pan.  This will catch the small oozes and drips that, most times, do occur.

IMG_8641Step 6.  Bake cake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 38-40 minutes until golden brown and puffed through to the center, and, a cake tester inserted in the center in 2-3 spots comes out clean. Note:  Only insert the cake tester to the center because, if you go lower, you will poke into the pineapple and bubbling sugar glaze. 

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool in pan for 45-60 minutes.  Remove sides from pan.

IMG_8646It's a bit messy, but, you really do want to remove the sides from the pan while the cake is still warm (even if you're planning on serving the cake at room temperature.  Do this while the cake is still sitting on the parchment-lined baking pan -- it will clean up super easy.  

Invert the cake onto a serving plate, remove the pan bottom and parchment.  Slice and serve warm, or continue to cool to and slice and serve later, at room temperature.

My favorite way to eat this star-spangled American cake... 

IMG_8695... is at any you slice it & at any temperature!

IMG_8704Coconut and Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake:  Recipe yields 1, 9" round cake/12 servings.

Special Equipment List:  9" springform pan; parchment paper; pencil or pen; kitchen shears; 1-cup measuring container; paper towels; cutting board; paring knife; hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 17 1/2" x 12 1/1/2" baking pan

PICT0008Cook's Note:  Say "cobbler" -- apples and peaches usually come to mind.  That said, pineapple makes wonderful cobbler too.  My recipe for ~ A Simple Summertime Treat:  Pineapple Cobbler ~ can be found in Categories 6, 10 or 20.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos Courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

06/27/2016

~State of the Union: Famous US Senate Bean Soup~

IMG_8591Bean soup has always been a part of my life.  While you may think of it as snowstorm fare, I associate it with all sorts of outdoor fun-in-the-sun activities.  When I was growing up, bean soup was served all Summer wherever people gravitated to eat, drink and be merry:  church- and hose-company fund-raising street festivals in ours and neighboring towns, both-of-my-parents and half-of-my-friends-parents annual corporate clambakes, and, when it came to planning the Summer family reunion, the biggest question was "Who's making the bean soup this year?"

IMG_8596When I was twelve, I even ate bean soup in the United States Senate dining room.

Dirksen-senate-diningBean soup is on the menu in all of the Senate's restaurant dining rooms every day and has been for over a hundred years, possibly longer -- it's an official mandate.  It a good thing I like bean soup, because, one Summer, while on a family vacation with my Uncle's family to Washington D.C., Uncle Al mandated that me and my three cousins each have a bowl of their famous bean soup for lunch --  it was very good, and, we each got to keep a copy of that days menu which included a little writeup about the soup's history.  

(^^^ Photo of Dirkson Senate Dining Room courtesy of tripadvisor.)  For the record, you can't just walk into the Senate or their dining room "off the street".  You are required to make advance arrangements, via a letter to your own State's Senator requesting passes.  The fun part:  The passes we received included tunnel access from the Senate thru to the Senate Dining Room, which gave us a chance to see various Senate offices and committee rooms en route.

IMG_8585US Senate Bean Soup, Famous Senate Bean Soup, or simply, Senate Bean Soup, is always made with navy beans, ham hocks or ham shanks and onion.  A second version includes celery, garlic, parsley and mashed potatoes (which came as a surprise to me).  Those versions are on their website, but they admit there were others because like all things, times change and so does personnel.  There was a time period when the soup was made with dehydrated mashed potato flakes, and, another in which soup base was substituted for the actual ham hocks.

4b806496a5892aa656416e64dc9ab5a2As the story goes, bean soup was a favorite of Speaker of the House, Joseph G. Cannon (1836-1926) of Illinois.  One hot, humid day in 1904, when speaker Cannon arrived for lunch and found out he couldn't order it because it had been taken off the menu for the Summer, he was outraged. "Thunderation", he roared.  "I had my mind set for bean soup.  From now on, hot or cold, rain or shine, I want it on the menu every day."  A resolution was introduced in 1907 by Senator Knute Nellson of Minnesota, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, that decreed that while the Senate is in session, "no day shall pass without Senate Bean Soup".  From that day forward, Senate Bean Soup has appeared on the menu in all eleven Congressional dining rooms every day -- regardless of the weather.

March 3, 1923: GOP Speaker J. G. Cannon is the 1st person to appear on the 1st issue of Time.

Time out to define and discuss ham shanks & ham hocks.

6a00e54ef13a4f8834015393684e10970b-400wiA bit about ham shanks and ham hocks:  Bony cuts of fatty meat taken from the legs and near the feet of the pig, with the shanks being the meatier of the two.

Ham Shank

Ham Hock

Culinarily, the ham shank and the ham hock can be used interchangeably.

IMG_6020The shank refers to a fairly meaty part just below the pork shoulder (if it is the front of the hog) or the hip (if it's from the back of the hog).  The hock refers to a much bonier cut taken from just above the feet.  Both have a thick, tough skin (which is left on) and contain a lot of tendons, ligaments and fat.  They contain a lot of collagen too, which adds silkiness to whatever they are cooked in.  All of this means they require a long, slow, moist-heat IMG_6275method of cooking, like stewing or braising, to make them edible. They are primarily added to dishes to impart smoky flavor, not substance.

Unlike ham, neither contain enough meat to be the focal point of dinner. Instead, after cooking, the skin is discarded, the meat is removed from the bone and is added to hearty dishes like soups and IMG_6015stews containing beans or peas, greens, and/or potatoes or rice.  

Hocks and shanks sold in American markets are all cured and smoked in the same manner as ham, but, the degree to which they are smoked does vary.  I've never encountered any that have been over-smoked, but, if you do, simply soak them in cold water for an hour or two to leach out some of the overly-smokey intensity.

They're both relatively cheap, but, I prefer the slightly more expensive, meatier ham shank to the bonier ham hock.  When I find them on sale, I always buy several because:  they freeze great.

Screen shot 2016-06-26 at 2.18.15 PM< Here is a screen shot of the two official recipes for Senate Bean Soup, as per wikipedia, posted by the Senate.  As you can see, one is very paired down, and, the second, the one with the more flavorful ingredients, yields 5 gallons.

Having made them both, the first was indeed a bit lack-luster for me. The second was quite good, and, I encourage you to make one or both before tweeking either recipe to come up with your own version (which I did and am sharing below). Mine, with a bit more flavor, and a few carrots too, is sure to please!

Time out to discuss soaking dried bean beans vs. canned beans.

IMG_8559I won't lie, I'm not a snob when it comes to canned beans.  They're a time-saving convenience.  My pantry contains a nice variety of beans, both dried and canned.  Like all conveniences, pound for pound, canned beans are more expensive than dried ones, but they hardly fall into the category of "pricey". There's more:  Both canned and dried are healthy. There is little nutritional difference between canned and dried beans either, except for sodium content: canned 450 mg./dried 0 mg.  They both contain just about the same amount of fiber, protein and calories too.

Note:  1 pound of dried beans (depending upon type and size), yields approximately 2 1/3-2 1/2 cups dried beans.  1  pound of dried beans after soaking overnight (depending upon type and size), yields approximately 5-5 1/2 cups of soaked beans  -- when soaked, beans double in size. For detailed "how to" instructions about soaking beans, along with all of my step-by-step photos, click into Category 15 and read ~ Quick-Soaking Dried Beans vs. Overnight Soaking ~.

IMG_8568^^^Everybody into the pot:  US Senate Bean Soup a la Mel:

IMG_8573As you will see by my ingredients list, I strayed very little from the "5-gallon version" the Senate posted.  While I did add a few bay leaves for flavor and carrots for sweetness and color too (I couldn't resist, I adore carrots in any bean soup recipe), I resisted the urge to substitute chicken or vegetable stock for water.  I made certain to small-dice all of the veggies too, because: the Senate bean soup that I ate in the Senate dining room contained no large pieces of anything.

IMG_85612  quarts cold water

1  pound dried navy beans, soaked over night, about 5 1/2 cups soaked beans, or, 56 ounces canned great northern beans, well-drained (Note:  cannellini beans are of similar-size and texture and may be substituted if that's what you keep on-hand in your pantry.)

1  smoked ham shank (about 1-1 1/4 pounds)

1  tablespoon minced garlic (3-4 cloves)

5  ounces peeled and small-diced carrots (about 1 1/2 cups)

5  ounces small-diced celery (about 1 1/2 cups)

5  ounces small-diced onion (about 1 1/2 cups)

10  ounces peeled and small-diced gold potatos (about 3 cups)

1/2  cup, minced, fresh parsley (about 1/2 ounce)

3  whole bay leaves

2  teaspoons sea salt

1  teaspoon coarsely-ground or cracked black pepper

crusty bread, buttermilk biscuits or cornbread, for accompaniment

IMG_8566~ Step 1.  Place 2 quarts of water in a 6-quart stockpot.  Add the beans and ham hock.  Prep and add the minced garlic, small-diced carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and parsley to the pot as you work.  Add the bay leaves, black pepper and sea salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer, cover the pot and continue to cook for 2 1/2 hours, stopping to give it a stir about every 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to steep for 2 1/2 hours.

IMG_8578 IMG_8569~ Step 2. Remove the shank from the pot. Remove and discard the skin from it, then, remove meat from the bone.  Using a fork, shred it into the smallest pieces you can and return the meat to the pot.  Over medium heat, return the bean soup to a simmer and reheat, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately, or:

Tip from Mel:  If you have the time refrigerate the Senate bean soup, in the stockpot, overnight, and, then reheat it gently.  As with many things, this soups tastes better the second day, and, because the beans continue to absorb moisture, it thickens up nicely.  PS:  It freezes great too!

Simple, Straightforward and Scrumptious:  Senate Bean Soup! 

IMG_8598State of the Union:  Famous US Senate Bean Soup:  Recipe yields 3 1/2 quarts (14 cups).

Special Equipment List:  6 quart stockpot or Dutch oven w/lid; cutting board; chef's knife

IMG_6568Cook's Note:  Another one of my favorite, ham shank recipes is my easy-to-make ~ Thick & Creamy Crockpot Split Pea & Ham Soup ~. You can find the recipe by clicking into Categories 2, 19, 20 or 22.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

06/25/2016

~ Mel's Caramelized Onion & Gruyere Cheese Pizza~

IMG_8520Pizza -- the pie that won the West.  Pizza has been in America since the first Italian immigrants arrived on our shores in the early 1900's, but, we have the GI's returning home to the States from Italy during and after World War II for pizza's induction into the American mainstream. Because they had a hankering for the pizza they had eaten while stationed overseas, its popularity soared.  We adopted it, glorified it, gave it a place of honor, and, made it our own.

Few foods are more comforting than a "za" or a "slice", and, we Americans buy over three billion pizzas a year -- salty, savory, toppings piled high onto crusty, chewy bread -- it's portable perfection.  Take your pick:  California-, Detroit-, Greek-, Hawaiian-, New Haven-, New York-, Sicilian- or St. Louis-style.  There are bar pies, grandma pies and tomato pies too.  There are thick crusts, thin crusts, cracker crusts, and, their shape can be round, rectangular or freeform.

The original pizzas of Ancient Greece in Rome were flatbreads topped with oil and herbs.  Pizza as we know it today, in its stereotyped form, the ones made with cheese, tomatoes and crust, made their debut in America's first pizzaria, Lombardi's, in NYC, in 1905.  We've come a long way baby, and nowadays, pizza-lovers like myself are emboldened enough to put whatever we want on our pizza without risk of criticism.  Enter:  caramelized onions and gruyère cheese.

IMG_8545Homemade pizza customized to suit oneself is a thing of beauty:

My favorite pizza is a classic Margarita in all its splendor -- a chunky San Marzano tomato sauce (with bits of garlic), buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and a drizzle of EVOO on a thinnish, crispy, air-hole-blistered crust.  That said, I like pizzas without red sauce (or any sauce) a lot -- I find substitutions like homemade pesto refreshing and "bianca sauces" ("white sauces") like Alfredo or garlic-white sauce a pleasant change-of-pace.  I don't like pizzas with forms of bacon or ham, salami or pepperoni on them -- high-quality sausage is AOK.  I love pizzas piled with fresh, sautéed or blanched veggies -- broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions are my favorites.  A homemade pizza, customized to suit oneself is a thing of beauty.  Behold, my beautiful recipe:

IMG_8447Part One:  Making my "Herbes de Provence Pizza Dough" 

Pizza-with-a-French-twist deserves the proper herbes, and, my choice is herbes de Provence:  a mixture of dried herbs typical of the Provence region of southeast France.  It's easy to make your own, but, I started buying high-quality commercial blends back in the 1970's.  They typically contain savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sometimes, a bit of lavender too.  

Note of importance:  Since it takes 40-45 minutes to adequately caramelize onions for this pizza, I "make up the time" by putting one of my favorite pizza dough recipes in the bread machine.  It mixes itself in 55 minutes.  No matter what pizza dough recipe you decide to use (mine or your favorite one)  add some herbs de provence to it and let it proof while you caramelize the onions.

IMG_3835For the pizza dough:

1 1/2  cups warm water

2  tablespoons olive oil

4 1/2  cups all-purpose flour

2  teaspoons sea salt

2  teaspoons sugar

1  teaspoon each:  garlic powder, herbes de Provence & coarse-gound black pepper

1  packet granulated dry yeast

2  additional tablespoons olive oil, for preparing baking pans

IMG_3843Step 1.  To prepare the dough, place all of the items in pan of bread machine in the order listedexcept for the yeast.  Using your index finger, make a small indentation ("a well") on top of the dry ingredients, but not so deep that it reaches the wet layer.  Place the yeast into the indentation.  Insert the pan into the bread machine, plug IMG_3846the machine in, press the "Select" button, choose the "Pizza Dough" cycle, then press "Start". You will have 2 pounds of dough, ready to use, in about 55 minutes.  

IMG_3851While the dough is rising in the machine, using a pastry brush or a paper towel, generously oil 2, 13" x 9" rectangular baking pans with the additional olive oil, &, caramelize

IMG_3859IMG_3869the onions as directed below in Part Two.

Step 2. Remove dough from bread machine pan and divide it in half. The best way to do this is with a kitchen scale.  The dough will be slightly sticky, yet very manageable.

IMG_3882IMG_3883

Place one piece of dough on each pan and let rest for 10 minutes.  Pat and push dough evenly into the bottom of, into the corners, and, up the sides of each pan, to form a rectangular-shaped pizza crust.  Top pizza as directed in Part Three.

Part Two:  Caramelizing the Onions

IMG_0904A bit about caramelizing onions (bypassing all scientific mumbo jumbo):  Onions contain a lot of sugar and slowly cooking them on the stovetop draws out their natural sweetness.  The longer and slower they cook, the sweeter they get. When lightly-browned or browned, they begin to take on a pleasant, nutty taste.  When caramelized to a deep amber color, they get sweet.  Caramelizing onions could not be easier, but, it can't be done in 15-20 minutes. You'll need to allow a good 35-45 minutes (depending upon how many you are making, how you regulate the heat on your stove, and, on any given day, how long you decide to cook them).  Technically, any onion can be caramelized, but I personally think that sweet onions work best, with yellow onions being my second choice, and, I don't recommend caramelizing red onions at all.  My three favorites are:  Vidalia (from Georgia), Walla Walla (from Washington), and, Maui (from Hawaii).  Also on my list of favorites are Texas Sweet (from Texas) and NuMex (from New Mexico).  Before getting started, here are two important tips:

6a0120a8551282970b014e8a9e51cd970d-800wi

1)  To insure even cooking, the onions must be sliced to a consistent thickness -- 1/4" is best.

2)  Because the onions will loose most of their volume as they slowly caramelize, start out with a lot more than you think you will need.

For onion slicing instructions, read: ~ How to: Select, Slice, Mince, Dice & Chop Onions ~, which can be found in Category 15.

IMG_08052 1/2 pounds (after peeling) 1/4"-thick "half-ring-shaped" slices of yellow or sweet onion (9 cups) 

4  tablespoons olive oil

4  tablespoons salted butter

3/4  teaspoon sugar 

3/4  teaspoon sea salt

2-4  tablespoons white wine, for deglazing pan (stock or water may be substituted)

IMG_0831IMG_0820Step 1. Prep the onions as directed. Over low heat, in skillet, melt butter into olive oil.  Add the onions to the skillet. Season with the sugar and salt.  

Using a large slotted spoon or spatula, toss until the onions are evenly coated in the oil/butter mix.

IMG_0837 IMG_0848 IMG_0860 IMG_0879~Step 2.  Increase heat to medium-high.  Continue to slowly cook, stirring occasionally.  After 10 minutes, the onions will have lost a lot of their volume and will be limp and steamed through. ~ Step 3.  At this point there will be no signs of browning.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, another 10 minutes. It's now that you are going to start to see what I refer to as light browning. ~ Step 4.  Continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, another 10 minutes. Now the onions are nicely browned and they are truly beginning to caramelize.  From this point on, do not leave the stove.  The onions require constant stirring, and, can go from browned to burned quickly.

IMG_0889~ Step 5.  Today, my onions cooked for another 10 minutes, with me stirring constantly, before I added the wine and deglazed the pan, or: for a total of 40 minutes.  Deglazing the pan is an important step that takes caramelized onions from ordinary to great. These are some mighty-fine looking caramelized onions (if I do say so myself).

Part Three:  Topping and baking the Pizza 

IMG_8406For the pizza toppings:

dough (from above recipe)

garlic-infused olive oil or olive oil

1 pound grated gruyère cheese (6 cups)

all of the caramelized onions (from above recipe)

herbes de Provence and coarsely ground-black pepper

EVOO & freshly ground sea salt 

IMG_8413 IMG_8419 IMG_8425 IMG_8435~Step 1.  To top the pizzas, using a pastry brush and a light touch, paint a thin coating of garlic-infused olive oil evenly over the surface of each crust.  Sprinkle half of the cheese, 1 1/2 cups evenly over the bottom of each crust.  Evenly distribute half of the caramelized onions, 3/4 cup, over the cheese on each crust.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese (3 cups) evenly over the tops, 1 1/2 cups on each pizza.  Lightly sprinkle with herbes de Provence and pepper.

IMG_8450 IMG_8452 IMG_8453 IMG_8464 IMG_8439 IMG_8483~Step 2.  To bake the pizzas, one-at-a-time, place pizza, in its pan, on a hot pizza stone preheated in a 375 degree oven.  The stone must be hot.  

Bake each pizza, one-at-a-time, in pan, 11-12 minutes.  Using a long-handled spatula, slide pizza from pan onto stone and continue to bake 5-6 minutes.  Cheese will be bubbling and lightly golden on top and crust will be golden and crispy on bottom.  Using a pizza peel, remove from oven and place on a rack for 3-4 minutes prior to slicing and serving drizzled with olive oil.

Cool on wire rack 3-4 minutes prior to slicing & serving...

IMG_8477... drizzled with EVOO and freshly ground sea salt: 

IMG_8555"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that's amore."

Mel's Caramelized Onion & Gruyere Cheese Pizza:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups of caramelized onions and 2, 13" x 9" pizzas of 8-10 servings each, depending upon how you slice it.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 12" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; large slotted spoon or spatula; bread machine (optional); 2, 13" x 9" baking pans; pastry brush; pizza stone; long-handled metal spatula; pizza peel; wire cooking rack; pizza cutter

IMG_4012 IMG_4038Cook's Note: Sliced and served cold, or hot right out of the oven, when I do have a hankering for ham, salami and pepperoni on a pizza, I put it in my pizza and make ~ Mel's Rotolo Di Pizza (Stuffed Pizza Rolls/Bread) ~.  You can find my recipe by clicking into Categories 1, 2, 11, 12, 17, 18 or 22.  It can be made ahead and frozen!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)