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Monday, June 9, 2014

Fairy-ring Mushroom, Prosciutto, and Leek Pizza inspired by Little Island

Fairy-ring Mushroom, Prosciutto, and Leek Pizza inspired by Little Island
Katharine Britton has a way with family. Realism. The good, the bad, and the ugly. She writes about the secrets, the hurt, and the struggle that lies buried beneath the surface. And I find that extremely refreshing.

What goes hand in hand with family gatherings? Food, of course! I wouldn't necessarily classify Britton's novels as foodie novels, but I noticed that with Her Sister's Shadow, and even more so with this one, that it plays an important part in the lives of the people within.

Family dynamic, secrets, and forgiveness (again, similar to her first novel) seem to be the themes that drive this story. Oh, and the setting is just gorgeous; a quaint island in New England, where "the air smelled like creosote and clam broth". I would have loved to plant myself in an adirondack chair overlooking the harbor while I read the book.

So, the food...what to make, what to make? I changed my mind several times. From mentions of fried clams and ice cream, muffins and blueberry jam, homemade marshmallows, blueberry cobbler, potato chip-lined sandwiches, hummus, and picnic fixins to lobster stew, corn bread, and a salad of tomato and fresh mozzarella, topped with roasted corn and bits of bacon. There were cups of warm milk with cardamom and honey, there was a breakfast strata and muffins studded with walnuts and granola, and ladyfingers with butterscotch pudding.  Spinach and leek panini bites...chevre and smoked trout scones...tenderloin...mozzarella, basil, and grape tomatoes on skewers...baklava...cake...

NEED I GO ON!? Seriously, I changed my mind every 5 minutes.
Fairy-ring Mushroom, Prosciutto, and Leek Pizza inspired by Little Island
But what I ultimately decided on was pizza. One of my favorite passages in the book features sister (Joy) and brother (Roger) in the kitchen. Joy is watching Roger knead a mound of pizza dough when they start bandying about ideas for what would be good on a pizza. Each one sounded better than the next. There was winter squash with capers and white sauce. There was morels, chanterelles, ramps, and fiddleheads. Or perhaps black trumpets and salmon. The one I was dying to make was lobster, sweet red pepper, and vodka cream sauce - but I can't afford lobster right now. So I decided on the last idea that the two collaborated on...

Roger glanced over, noting my silence. "Fairy-ring mushrooms with prosciutto?" he said, with a twinkle in his eye.
"We'd have to have leeks with that," I said, smiling back.

The fairy-ring mushrooms come from earlier in the story. As the extended family is walking down a path in a fairly wooded part of the island, Joy tells her nieces a story that she used to tell her brother and sister when they were young...

"Fairies plant mushrooms around the spots where they have their dances and sing-alongs. You have to look very carefully, along the trail, both sides, and in the woods. And be very quiet so you can hear them singing. If you spot a mushroom, keep looking in a big circle to see if there are others."

It was sweet moment...a familiar moment, because it reminded me of something that my own brother and I might have. We both love to cook and do it often, so you'll often hear us bouncing ideas back and forth. I'm pretty sure we've had the pizza discussion before - or some version of it. And even funnier is, when I shot a photo of this pizza and posted it to Facebook, my brother left a comment telling me that it looked good AND that we may have to have a throwdown. Knowing the inspiration behind this particular pizza, that gave me a good giggle. Exactly why I loved that passage in the book.

(Fairy-ring) Mushroom, Leek, and Prosciutto Pizza
A sauceless pizza topped with thinly sliced mushrooms, leeks, and salty prosciutto, and finished with a drizzle of truffle oil.
Print Friendly and PDF
Fairy-ring Mushroom, Prosciutto, and Leek Pizza
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Keywords: bake bread entree mushrooms prosciutto leeks

Ingredients (1 (12-inch) pizza)
  • 1 pound ball of pizza dough
  • olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large leek, trimmed, cleaned, and thinly sliced (white & some of light green part only)
  • 2 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced (your choice)
  • 1 1/2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • truffle oil, optional
  • cornmeal, for the paddle or cutting board
Set a baking stone on the center rack of your oven. Preheat to 450° F.

Roll out your pizza dough to desired thickness and size. Set it on a pizza paddle that has been dusted liberally with cornmeal. If you don't have a pizza paddle, do this on a large cutting board. If you don't have a baking stone, just put the dough onto a pizza pan or the back of a large baking sheet (no rim).

Drizzle the crust with a bit of olive oil, just enough for a thin coat; rub it around with your hands. Finely grate as much Parmesan as you like over the olive oil-coated dough; I like a good layer, probably 1/4 cup or so. Leaving a bit of open dough around the outside to form a crust, scatter with the leeks and the mushrooms. Tear the prosciutto into large pieces and scatter over the top.

Scoot the pizza off of the pizza paddle and onto the hot stone into the preheated oven. If you don't have a stone, slide the baking sheet onto the rack. Bake for ~13 minutes, or until the crust is puffed, golden, and cooked through.

Drizzle with a small amount of truffle oil (or you could use a little more olive oil) just before serving, and if you like, shave a few large, thin slices of Parmesan over the top.
Fairy-ring Mushroom, Prosciutto, and Leek Pizza inspired by Little Island

Little Island by Katharine Britton - a book tour stop

Little Island

author: Katharine Britton
more titles by this author: Her Sister's Shadow

publisher: Berkley Trade
source: tlc book tours
soft cover: 320 pages

"foodie" read: Not necessarily, but food is prevalent throughout.

random excerpt: The bear took one look at Roger, with his arms windmilling, and his hat's blond braids bouncing, and cantered off around the side of the inn, squealing. The guests made it safely onto the porch, the aunts insisted that they were fine, and we all stood and watched as the wind finally found its way under the now-unsupervised tablecloth and sheared it off, sending platters of salmon, baklava, panini bites, smoked salmon scones, skewered tomatoes, and the cake tumbling onto the bright green sod. Then the heavens opened, and the rains came, slicing in sideways, soaking the carnage. (p. 295)

synopsis (from tlc book tours page):
By the water
Have fun!

These are Grace’s mother’s last words – left behind on a note. A note that Grace interprets as instructions for her memorial service. And so her far-flung clan will gather at their inn on Little Island, Maine, to honor her.

Twenty years ago, a tragedy nearly destroyed the Little family – and still defines them. Grace, her husband Gar, and their three grown children, Joy, Roger and Tamar each played a role in what transpired. But this weekend, they will discover that there is more than pain and heartbreak that binds their family together, when a few simple words lift the fog and reveal what truly matters.

about the author: Katharine Britton has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College, and a Master’s in Education from the University of Vermont. Her screenplay, “Goodbye Don’t Mean Gone,” was a Moondance Film Festival winner and a finalist in the New England Women in Film and Television contest. Katharine is a member of the League of Vermont Writers, New England Independent Booksellers Association, and The New Hampshire Writer’s Project. She has taught at Institute for Lifelong Education at Dartmouth, Colby-Sawyer College, and The Writer’s Center in White River Junction.

When not at her desk, Katharine can often be found in her Norwich garden, waging a non-toxic war against the slugs, snails, deer, woodchucks, chipmunks, moles, voles, and beetles with whom she shares her yard. Katharine’s defense consists mainly of hand-wringing, after the fact.

Katharine’s first novel HER SISTER’S SHADOW was published in 2011 by Berkley Books (Penguin, USA).  LITTLE ISLAND is her second novel. She is currently working on another manuscript.

further info: website | facebook | pinteresttwitter

recipe inspired by the book: Fairy-ring Mushroom, Prosciutto, and Leek Pizza

As a part of the book tour, I received a free copy of this book. All opinions stated in this post are my own.