Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pizza Night!


I'm on a quest to find the perfect pizza dough recipe.  I often use the Olive Oil Dough from Artisan Bread in 5. It's quick, easy and I can use it to make loaves of bread too.  While it's good, it doesn't really give me that great Neapolitan flavor with just the right amount of chew that I love so much. So I did some web research and found a few recipes that sounded promising, only to realize that many of the good-sounding pizza doughs are recommended to sit for 24 hours.  This was a problem considering I did my research the same night I was planning to make pizza for dinner.  I then came across a recipe from Michael Ruhlman that could be done in a few hours, much more manageable for my purposes this week anyway.  So I set to work making the pizza dough and thinking about what tasty ingredients from my fridge I could put on this pizza.

Pizzas can be a great way to use up either leftovers or veggies and meat that is hanging in your fridge that you just aren't sure what to do with.  My dad was in town last weekend and I bought a couple of sliced salamis that we didn't finish.  One of them was a spicy Calabrese, that even of those of us that like spicy sausages found it to be almost too spicy.  The great thing about it was that it really reminded me of the style of pepperoni pizza places back home put on the pizza.  I find if you go to your average grocery store here in Toronto looking for pepperoni you get this odd, not very spicy almost like a small German salami. It's OK but not what I know and love as pepperoni.


It was this spicy Calabrese that inspired me to make pizza and I knew would be the center focus of this one.  I had some goat milk mozzarella leftover from my Potato Pancakes and had picked up some really delicious looking Smoked Dried tomatoes at the Brickworks Farmer's Market last weekend.  It made for a really delicious sounding pizza in my mind and I couldn't wait to put it together and try it.  I am generally a make your own sauce kind of girl, but for something like a pizza if I don't have some leftover I won't make it unless I know I'll use it all.  The great thing was that I actually had a jar of high-quality tomato sauce in the fridge.  One of the great thing about working in film and having people know you love food is that when the people who travel into Toronto for a show need to pack up and move home I inherit whatever is leftover in their pantry. It's usually lots of nice spices and some canned goods, often canned goods that I don't normally buy, like jarred sauce.  Which ends up being great on pizza night.


Spicy Calabrese Pizza
serves 2

1 lb pizza dough - see below for recipe
1/3 cup prepared tomato sauce
1/4 cup grated goat mozzarella -
4 balls of bocconcini, sliced - fresh mozzarella about the size of a cherry tomato
2 oz of Mastro Spicy Calabrese - or other spicy hard Italian sausage - sliced
5 smoked dried tomates from Cookstown Greens - you can sub sun-dried tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & pepper
fresh oregano
1 egg - optional

1.  Preheat oven to 450F.  Knead the pizza dough to redistribute the yeast and the let rise for 15 minutes while the oven heats and you get your toppings together.
2.  After the 15 minutes are up, roll out the pizza dough to a 10" round.  Place the dough round on a piece of parchment paper and slide it on to a pizza peel.  Dock the dough all over with a fork, place it in the oven and bake for 5 minutes (I didn't dock this one quite enough so it didn't stay as thin and flat as I'd hoped).
3.  Remove the pizza from the oven and add toppings, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano (if not using a spicy sausage I'd also sprinkle with crushed red pepper flake).  Return to pizza stone and cook for 10-15 more minutes.  If adding an egg, carefully pour it onto the center of the pizza when there are only 5 minutes left of cooking time.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Having the cheese slid off the edge of the pizza doesn't always make for the prettiest, but then you get these deliciously crispy bits of browned cheese, so I'll take it.

Pizza Dough
from Michael Ruhlman
makes one 10" pizza

10 oz flour
6 oz warm water
1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp kosher salt
drizzle of olive oil


1. Well before you want your pizza (at least two hours and up to a week), combine the flour, water, yeast, salt (and olive oil if you’re using it).  Mix and kneed the dough till it’s smooth and elastic, about ten minutes (I did it by hand and because of all of the no-knead bread I've been making of late I realized I had forgot how satisfying it was to knead dough).
2. Put it in a bowl, cover it and leave it alone for 2 or 3 hours (a finger indentation should not bounce back but nor should the dough be slack with air, but for pizza this isn't really critical). 


The pizza I photographed was actually one I made for breakfast the next morning.  I love the idea of egg on pizza and since it was breakfast I thought it would be delicious on this one.  The one thing I learned very quickly is that you need some sort of dam of either dough or toppings to keep the whole egg in the center of the pizza.  My pizza may not have been the prettiest but it was still tasty.

As far as the status on my search for the perfect pizza crust , this one was good, really good in fact. The boy said he'd happily eat this crust for the rest of his life, which is pretty high praise, but knowing what I was looking for he and I think I can find better.  So I'm on the hunt.  I plan to try Peter Reinhart's next and am looking forward to it.

Do you have a favorite pizza crust recipe?  I'd love if you'd share it in the comments below.
And our dinners for the last few days were...

Wednesday March 2 - French Onion Soup & Beet Salad

Thursday March 3 - Pizza with Spicy Calabrese & Smoked Dried Tomatoes & leftover Beet Salad

Friday March 4 - Indian take-out

1 comments:

prolix said...

Thanks so much for hosting this challenge, it was fun and a great learning process.
Pizza Equipment

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