Sauteed fennel, chanterelle & maitake mushrooms, aquavit & gjetost cheese sauce, shallots & dill
We came up with this pizza after a visit to Adam’s parents in Minnesota, where Scandinavian cuisine is second only to cheese, and where we tried Aquavit and gjetost for the first time. Aquavit is kind of like a Scandinavian gin made with caraway and other flavors. It’s intense, but definitely worth trying. Gjetost (pronounced yay-toast) is a strangely sweet, almost caramely rich cheese which you may have never noticed before, but you can actually find it in the cheese section of a lot of grocery stores. And since we were planning our trip to Iceland at the time, it was basically inevitable that we combine as many Nordic flavors as we could onto one wintry pizza.
Ingredients: 1 ball of dough flour for dusting semolina flour for pizza stone olive oil salt & pepper 1/3 cup shallots, thinly sliced (about 2 small shallots) 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 medium fennel bulb, halved & sliced ½ teaspoon herbs de Provence 1/8 teaspoon ground fennel seeds 8 ounces chanterelle & maitake (or other wild mushrooms), cut into bite size slices juice of half a lemon 1/8 cup heavy cream fennel fronds & fresh dill to garnish
For the sauce: 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon flour 1 cup vegetable stock, warmed on the stove ½ cup sour cream 3 ounces gjetost cheese, coarsely grated 2 tablespoons aquavit ~2 teaspoons chopped dill
Directions: Preheat your oven to 550° F, or as hot as it will go. Next, melt a tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic & a pinch of salt and cook for a minute or two, until translucent and fragrant but not browned.
Add the fennel, herbs de Provence, fennel seed & another pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel begins to soften. Add the mushrooms, lemon juice & a bit more salt, cooking until the mushrooms are softened and just cooked through.
Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cream. Set the mixture aside until ready to use.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt the butter for the sauce over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden. Keep whisking and slowly pour in the hot vegetable stock until it is fully incorporated.
Next, whisk in the sour cream and let cook and thicken to a saucy consistency. Stir in the grated gjetost and continue cooking until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth, stirring occasionally to keep it from burning. Finally, stir in the aquavit & your chopped dill and remove from the heat (or keep warm over low heat until ready to use).
Prepare your dough using the instructions on the right. When you’ve baked it for a minute, brush it very lightly with olive oil and spoon out an even layer of the cheese sauce to form your base. Next, add the fennel and mushroom mixture, making sure everything is evenly distributed across your pizza. Sprinkle a few pieces of dill over top, reserving most of your garnish to add at the end.
Bake until the cheese sauce is almost bubbly and the crust is a nice golden brown. Take it out, top with your fresh garnish, and enjoy with a strong Nordic beverage like Aquavit or Brennivín.