Date Night Pizza

March 30th, 2011 · 16 Comments · Dinner, Rituals, Vegetarian

I’m not quite sure how this happened, but last Friday night, Andy and I managed to have a nice quiet dinner at home — just the two of us — even though there were six girls under nine years old in our house as we did so. It was Dinner-and-a-Movie night — P and A were allowed to invite a few friends over for pizza, ice cream sundaes, and a screening of Despicable Me — and it was pure madness until we pressed play on the DVD player. At that point, we 2.0′ed the kids’ basic mozzarella-and-marinara pizza and made this arugula-and-ricotta version, then poured a glass of Pinot and had an actual, audible conversation.

White Pizza with Arugula

Preheat oven to 500°F. Using your fingers, flatten and “push” 1 ball of pizza dough (preferably Jim Lahey’s homemade) as thin as you can on an olive-oiled cookie sheet. Cover dough with slices of fresh mozzarella (about 1 ball) and brush exposed edge of crust with a little olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes until crust is crispy and cheese is bubbly. (If cheese starts to bubble before crust looks done, cover center of pizza with foil.) While pizza bakes, toss together a few handfuls of arugula with 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, 1/3 cup olive oil and a generous squeeze of lemon. Top pizza with salad and dollops of fresh ricotta. Finish with a few grinds of black pepper and a few leaves of fresh oregano if you have it.

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Patty, Pizza, and Purses

May 6th, 2010 · 15 Comments · Dinner, Vegetarian

“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.

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Perfect Pizza Crust

February 24th, 2010 · 14 Comments · Vegetarian

Homemade Pizza Crust
This recipe comes from Sullivan Street Bakery guru Jim Lahey, author of My Pizza and My Bread, the cookbook that I credit for a) upgrading my pizza life and b) upgrading my life in general. It’s that great. This recipe makes two balls of dough — enough for two separate thin crust pizzas. If you want a Whole Wheat Pizza Crust, replace anywhere from two to three of the cups of flour with whole wheat flour in equal measurements.

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. (Dough can be frozen at this point.)

When you are ready to make a pizza, preheat oven to 500°F roll out one ball of dough in a rectangular shape and place on an oiled cookie sheet. Top with:

Potatoes, Cheddar, and Thyme
Mushroom and Onion
Salad
Green Tomatoes and Onion
Mushroom and Margherita

Or if you want to experiment with your own toppings, the general rule is to bake it at 500°F for about 15-20 minutes. I always brush the exposed crust around the rim with olive oil. Keep an eye on cheese and crust while it bakes to make sure nothing burns.

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