It is On! Genuine Cayman’s Pizza Episode Airs Tonight & Hedy FN Dishes on the Afterlife of a Vanilla Bean

It’s always fun when our genuinely talented team shines outside of the restaurant. Hedy and Michael are doing just that today — and making us proud in the process! Check ’em out.

The Afterlife of a Vanilla Bean As previously reported, Hedy is now blogging sweet somethings on’s FN Dish. Hedy’s posts on FN Dish go live every other Wednesday and highlight her bold, playful approach to nostalgic treats and the sweet side of comfort food. In today’s post, her second, Hedy wastes not and wants not with the majestic vanilla bean. The treasure does not lie solely in the sticky beans inside!

Genuine Cayman: Pizza Episode In his debut television series, Genuine Cayman, Michael celebrates two years on-island by sharing the stories of Cayman’s own farmers and food sources. In tonight’s episode, cheffie heads to East End to visit with Patrick Panton and harvest some delicious calabaza for a hand-formed, thin crust pizza. Just how we like it. Find the recipe below, with a clip of how it comes together in our kitchen at Camana Bay.

Shaved Pumpkin & Grilled Green Onion Pizza with Fresh Homemade Ricotta & Cave-Aged Gruyere

You don’t need a wood-burning oven to make great pizza at home, although it helps. I recommend purchasing a pizza stone from your local kitchen store to ensure a crispy and crunchy crust. While you are at it, pick up at pizza paddle too. They often are sold as a set and run only around $30 so they’re not a major investment.

Makes 1 10-inch Pizza

3 green onions, white and green parts, tops trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small pumpkin, quartered, peeled & seeds removed
1 6 ounce ball Pizza Dough (recipe follows)
All-purpose flour, for dusting
½ cup Homemade Ricotta (recipe follows)
¼ pound cave-aged gruyere, shredded (1 cup)

Preheat the oven to 500˚F. Put a pizza stone or a baking pan on the middle rack and preheat it along with the oven for at least a good 20 minutes.

Preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal grill until very hot or put a grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Toss the onions in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of oil to lightly coat and season with salt and pepper. Place them on the grill to char, turning often so they soften a bit, about 2-3 minutes. Let cool and chop into ½ inch pieces.

Using a mandolin, thinly slice a quarter of the pumpkin, totaling about ½ cup. Save the remaining pumpkin for another use.

To prepare the pizza, dip the ball of dough into a little flour, shake off the excess, and put the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface. Stretch the dough with your hands, turning the ball as you press down the center. Continue spreading the dough into a 10-inch circle either with your hands or a rolling pin. Don’t worry if it is not perfect, it looks homemade and rustic. Leave the dough slightly thick so the topping does not seep through.

Dust a pizza paddle (if you don’t have a paddle you can use a rimless cookie sheet as a substitute) with flour and slide it under the pizza dough. Lightly brush the outer circle of the dough with the remaining olive oil to create a sheen on the outside part of the crust. An important tip: Take care not to get ANY oil on the pizza paddle, or else when you try to slide the dough off, it will stick.

Spread the ricotta evenly over the pizza dough, leaving about a 1/4-inch rim around the outside, then place the sliced pumpkin evenly on top, then the chopped grilled onion and finally sprinkle with the shredded gruyere.

Slide the prepared pizza onto the hot baking stone and bake until the pizza crust is nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Cut into slices with a pizza cutter. Serve immediately.

Pizza Dough

First off, don’t be scared to make pizza dough at home. The little bit of whole-wheat flour adds an earthiness to the dough, making it really versatile. The touch of honey adds a background sweetness that rounds it out without you being able to really put your finger on it.

Makes 1 ½ pounds dough, or 4 10-inch pizzas

1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the bowl

Combine the yeast, honey, and 1/4 cup of warm water in a small bowl; stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.

In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. With the mixer running on slow speed, add the oil, the yeast mixture, and the remaining 3/4 cup of water and mix until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl, 3 to 5 minutes. (alternatively, the dough can be made in a food processor.)

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand for just 1 to 2 minutes. The dough should be a little sticky. Gather the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat with the oil. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Knead the dough gently on an unfloured surface and divide into 4 equal balls, they should be about 6 ounces each and the size of large tangerines. Roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. The balls can now be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days, or wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks.

Homemade Ricotta

Makes about 1 quart

1 gallon whole milk, preferably organic
1 quart buttermilk
1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ cup heavy cream

Note: Always make sure your pots and utensils are super clean. Any pot or utensil with remnants of strong food flavor on it will impart that taste to the cheese. This is why you should not use a wooden spoon unless it is brand-new. I recommend stainless steel pans and utensils.

If you are new to making ricotta at home, use a thermometer to check how hot the milk mixture is; guessing is not a good option. Aim for 170°F to 180°F. Slow heating is the best for making curds. Don’t try to rush the process or you’ll end up with much less ricotta.

In a heavy-bottomed nonreactive pot, combine the whole milk, buttermilk, and salt over medium-low heat. After about 20 minutes, you will start to see steam rise from the milk; at that point give it a gentle stir with a metal spoon.

After about 10 more minutes you’ll begin to see curds rise to the surface (the curds are the clumpy white mass). Once you see curds floating, cook for 5 more minutes. At that point the curds will begin to sink, and that means it is time to strain the mixture.

Line a colander with a large piece of cheesecloth that has been folded over a couple of times. Set the colander in the sink. Pour the curds into the cheesecloth, leaving as much of the whey—the liquid—in the pot as possible. Gather the edges of the cloth, tie or fasten into a knot, and tie the bundle to the faucet; let the curds drip for 5 minutes.

Transfer the ricotta to a food processor and add the zest, cream, and more salt if desired. Pulse until smooth and combined. If you aren’t going to use it immediately, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Try to eat it within 2 days; it really is best the first day you make it.

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