Today’s going to be a rather short post with Dragon Con coming up this weekend, and with the fact that recording my band‘s new album has backed up my posting schedule. Don’t worry. This recipe is going to be a fun one: The ‘Za Lord Elite Deep Dish Pizza!
One of my first entries for the blog was a dish mentioned in the urban fantasy series The Dresden Files. I’m still not sure if I should be surprised, thrilled, or both that Mac’s Steak Sandwich continues to be my most popularly searched recipe — especially when I wrote it when I was still getting my feet wet in the world of food blogging. Admittedly, it was put together with what ingredients I could find at the time, and I have every intention of revisiting it soon with some new, tasty additions that I think fit Dresden’s Chicago a little better.
That said, I want to move onto a recipe I’ve had in mind before I even started the blog: pizza for everyone’s favorite band of degenerates – The ‘Za Lord’s Elite!
For those who have not read the series, The Dresden Files follows the noir-style adventures of a modern day wizard named Harry Dresden as he stumbles, bloodies, and near kills himself with the grace of a drunken, pyromaniacal ferret while solving the mysteries of Chicago’s supernatural community. Every once in awhile, he would summon the aid of a local pixie named Toot Toot to help him gather information. At their first meeting, he lures the wayward fae with the traditional offering of bread, milk, and honey.
He soon learns from Toot Toot that he and his kin prefer a slightly more modern take. And doesn’t it just figure that the pixies of Chicago nurse an all-consuming pizza addiction? Soon Dresden’s regular deliveries garner him the following of a winged, plastic bottle-armored, box-cutter wielding, pie-loving army who are more than happy to hail their ‘Za Lord in exchange for a slice or five of flakey-crusted cheesy goodness.
So with Chicago, pizza, and fairies in mind, I wanted to create a pixie-themed Chicago-style deep dish pizza. In my research, I learned that while the deep dish pizza is iconic to the city’s food culture, native Chicagoans are more likely to chow down on a thin and crispy crust pizza and leave the deep dish to the tourists. Don’t worry, I plan on making that too. In the meantime, let’s start with the cake equivalent of the ‘za world.
So for the crust, I used honey to activate the yeast and mixed in fresh thyme as the herb is reputed in folklore to help one see into the Otherworld (or the Never Never in Dresden’s case). Into this, I pressed slabs of mozzarella, plenty of sliced button mushrooms, and more fresh thyme. Then I topped the whole thing off with some crushed tomato with basil and a faerie ring of mushrooms.
Trust me, folks, this is circle you’ll want to get trapped in. I used an aluminum springform cake pan to bake this in. I recommend the same as it makes it much easier to remove the pie than it would in a standard pan. You could use a cast iron skillet, just make sure you don’t serve the result to any faeries unless you’re planning an assassination attempt.
So here it is, pizza good enough to inspire one to take up a tape-wrapped screw or boxcutter and fight against the forces of Summer, Winter, Heaven, or Hell in the name of the mighty ‘Za Lord!
'Za Lord Elite Deep Dish Pizza
Makes 6 slices
Equipment: Whisk, spatula, plastic wrap, oven, 9-inch springform cake pan.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
- 2 1/2 tablespoons corn oil
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 8 oz block mozzarella cheese
- 14 oz can (or half of a 28 oz can) crushed tomatoes with basil
- 10 medium button mushrooms
- garlic powder
- grated Parmesan cheese
Baking spray (optional)
- Activate the yeast by warming water to no higher than 109° F in the microwave. 5 seconds should do it. Pour it a mixing bowl with the honey and salt. Whisk to dissolve, then stir in yeast, corn oil, and a little flour.
- Gradually mix in the rest of the flour with a spatula or your hands. Knead for up to 2-3 minutes and stop. Spray the dough with some cooking spray and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for two hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 450° F. Spray your cake pan with baking or cooking spray. Place your dough in the center and press outwards until the bottom is covered and comes at least 1 inch up the sides.
- Slice the cheese into slabs and cover the bottom, overlapping the slices and pressing into the dough. Slice four of the mushrooms, remove the stems from the remaining six and slice, then place the whole sliced lot on the cheese. Sprinkle the remainder of the fresh thyme leaves over them.
- Cover the mushrooms with crushed tomato and sprinkle some garlic powder and parmesan cheese over it. Arrange the remaining six mushroom caps stem-side down in a ring on top. Bake for 35 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes before releasing the pizza from it and serving.