Patty, Pizza, and Purses

“Oh my gawd. The crust is epic!” That is what Aunt Patty said when she had her first bite of my latest most favorite party trick — otherwise known as the Jim Lahey pizza that you’ve  already heard me go on and on and on about. This is Aunt Patty we’re talking here  — Aunt Patty of milk-braised pork fame — so we like it when she likes something. Of course, the focus of the evening was not so much on the pizza (split personality pizza, as usual — half mushroom/onion and half mozz/tomato) as it was on the Santa-like sack she entered the house with. Auntie’s appreciation of the finer things in life extends to presents (one might call her an epic gift-giver) and this time it looked like she hit the jackpot with the girls. She had scoured her local thrift shop and turned up two sparkly green vintage handbags which she then filled with random trinkets and treasures procured at the thrift shop, the hardware store, God knows where else. (Where does one find a protractor these days?) Epic.

The contents of Abby’s evening bag: A few Indian rupees, a shell make-up compact, a scrap of lacey ribbon, an “A” monogrammed handkerchief, a protractor (a protractor????), a penny, an antique pin, a bejeweled barrette. You’ve never seen two happier girls.

Click to the jump for the full pizza recipe.

Pizza Two Ways (1/2 Mushroom, 1/2 Margherita)

3 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or other active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cup room-temperature water

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. The dough will be stiff, not wet and sticky. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Divide the dough in two and shape each into flattened balls. Freeze one for later if you’re not cooking for a large crowd. (One dough will make a pizza that serves about five people)

Oil one large rimmed baking sheet (two sheets if you’re making two pizzas). Use a rubber spatula to scrape half the dough on to oiled pan in one piece. Gently pull and stretch the dough across the surface of the pan, and use your  hands to press it evenly out to the edges. If the dough sticks to your fingers, lightly dust it with flour or coat your hands with oil. Pinch any holes together.

Preheat oven to 500°F. Top one half with pizza sauce and fresh mozzarella slices. Top the other with two cups of chopped mushrooms and 1 chopped onion that have been tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of fresh thyme. Toss a little shredded basil on top if you have it. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crust is brown and curling up from the sides. (Start checking after about 15 minutes to make sure the crust is not cooking faster than the toppings.)

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This sounds good. We have pizza every Friday and I usually follow this old Cooking Light recipe for the dough and it works pretty well. But this sounds like a nice change of pace for us and less fussing with the temp of the water for me. Thanks!

Jan (Family Bites)

I’m quite smitten with Jim, too! His book has a permanent place on my kitchen counter. And Aunt Patty….she sounds like a fabulous character from a great novel.

Patty Rockmore

You give me way too much credit. You are the most multi-talented person on earth. You are always brimming over with never-before creative ideas . ‘Dinner: A Love Story’ is just one aspect of your limitless Incandescent & Important beliefs of what matters most in these chaotic & challenging times.
All the best, Auntie Patty


we made the pizza last night (but instead with mushrooms/onions/bell peppers/pesto on 1/3, ground beef and cheese on 1/3, and just cheese& tomato on the remaining. HUGE hit! and the dough was SO easy…thank you thank you thank you!!! so happy i found you 🙂


Dough update – What a winner that is!! We gobbled it all up and it was far easier than my other recipes. It felt good to toss out my other recipes and I just got the Lahey book from the library – I may have to buy a copy now. Thanks!!!


We made two batches of this dough this weekend and both turned out perfect (a first for me). The only problem we had was with the cooking instructions. At 500 for 20-25 min, these would have been burnt to a crisp. Things were kinda toasty after only 15 minutes when I pulled them. I don’t know if it’s my oven or our altitude (Denver, CO) or what, but we adjusted that bit.


You know, come to think of it, that HAS happened to me every now and again. I will add a note to the recipe telling people to start watching after 15 minutes. Thanks for the feedback jesser!


I love Aunt Patty. The contents of the purse are genius and thoughtful and creative in a way that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The pizza is the icing on the cake. brava.
ps “epic” rocks

Patty Rockmore

Jenny– You are beyond sublime! Thank you
so much. No more of my Dinner, A Disaster.

Love & kisses, Auntie Patty


Sadly, this has not turned out very well for me. I’m at 2.5 hours of rising time and nothing much has happened. I wonder if my yeast is off.


Dear Jenny – we are planning to make this pizza! When it comes to yeast, I’m confused. I’m finding Active Dry is different than Instant/Rapid Rise. Which one should we be using? Thank you!