“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.)