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Entries in Homemade pizza (4)

Monday
Jul292013

Birthday Pizza on the Grill for The Box

I make people pizza. It's what I do. If you have an oven, or better yet a grill, and some people, I'll come over and make pizza for you. Really. Sometimes my family even gets lucky, and I'll come over and make pizza for them.

Two weekends ago it was The Box's birthday. So I hurried home like a dutiful daughter for the celebrations (which also occurred in tandem with Aunt Emily's 99th birthday. Yes, 99.)

A party just isn't a party unless it's a pizza party. Therefore, I set to work over a hot grill making fresh pies for The Box, Marmo, John and even Toby.

This isn't going to be your usual exhaustive instructional on how to make pizza. This will be a handy list and basic how to on how to GRILL pizza. In order to successfully grill pizza, you need a few things:

1. A reckless disregard for eyebrow singe.

2. Quick hands.

3. An assistant (one who will preferably keep pouring you good wine).

4. Pizza dough. You can use our basic recipe here, or our whole wheat recipe here.

5. Mise en place. This is a French term meaning everything should be in its place. This means your toppings. Slice the cheese, put seasonings in bowls, have that olive oil bottle handy, along with a brush to apply it. Get the cutting board ready for the finished pie, etc. That grill gets HOT and you don't have much time to get everything in its place ON the pie, so everything should be in its place BEFOREHAND. This minimizes disaster.

6. Oven mitt and tongs are useful in hot situations (not always grill related).

7. Oil your dough beforehand (use aforementioned pastry brush). 

8. Stretch the dough out.

9. Place it on the grill. Close the lid. Bake for 2 minutes.

10. Flip the dough.

11. Put the toppings on. Close the lid. Bake for 2 minutes.

12. Remove the pizza. Eat.

13. Repeat.

14. Where is that assistant with the wine???

For The Box, I made two pizzas: Cherry Tomato, Salami, Goat Cheese and Arugula Pizza and Apple, Smoked Gouda, Onion Jam and Arugula Pizza. You can see how it all played out here:

Here are the finished results:

and

Sometimes, the grill gets a little crazy and the flipping and placing of the dough gets a little wonky:

Pizzas are not always round. And the irregular shapes are good for grabbing. This was not the result of too much wine. 

You may be wondering how to make onion jam. Check out Martha Stewart's super easy recipe. Mess around with it and see how it turns out for you. 

Everyone was very pleased with the results.

Except for John who looks moderately skeptical.

And just downright angry. It could've been the golf. Or the hair. Or perhaps he didn't like the wine. But you can't blame the pizza. Not if I'm making it, anyway.

Even Toby got some.

And see how happy he was?

Friday
May102013

May Slice of the Month - Artichoke Mini Pizzas

 Here we are in May! May means artichokes, did you know? Now you do.

Artichokes are an art. That's why there's an "art" in them. They take some care and attention, but they are oh-so-worth it. In this recipe, I'll show you how to prune down those 'chokes and poach 'em up all proper and simple for Poached Artichoke and Ricotta Mini Pizzas. Mini pizzas are fantastic for parties and occassions like Memorial Day (which is fast approaching).

If you'd like to download a super-fancy version of this pizza recipe as a pdf, you can head on over to Colavita's Facebook page, like them, and violá! you will have it. It's that simple...just like the 'chokes. Now let's get started.

What You Need:

What To Do:

Heat the oven to 500 degrees. If using a pizza stone, allow the stone to heat up along with the oven for a half hour before baking on it. 

Prepare the artichokes according to the recipe below.

Stretch out your dough on a cornmeal-dusted peel into mini pizza sizes: about  4-5” in diameter, and brush the tops with olive oil.

Spread the ricotta cheese over the top of the dough in a thin, even layer.

Place two of the artichoke quarters on top of the cheese, per mini pizza.

Drizzle some Colavita Extra Virgin olive oil over the top, and sprinkle with a little sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and an extra squeeze of lemon juice.

Slide your mini pizzas onto the stone in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and garnish with more freshly chopped mint and parsley. 

Instructions for the Artichokes:

Trim the artichokes. Using a sharp knife, cut off the tough outer leaves, removing about two inches of leaves from the artichoke. Also trim one inch from the tops of all the artichokes. Cut the trimmed artichokes into quarters, scraping out the fuzzy heart and stem area.

Rub the artichoke quarters with lemon, and add the all the trimmed artichokes to a bowl filled with cold water and the juice from 1 lemon.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of Colavita Extra Virgin olive oil in saucepan on your stove top over medium-low heat. Add the crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, mint, parsley and lemon slices and allow to simmer softly for about 3 minutes.

Pour 3/4 cup each of wine and 1/2 cup water to the pan. Drain the artichokes from the bowl of water, and season them with a sprinkle of salt and some freshly ground pepper.  Add them to the saucepan and increase the heat to medium.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer, covered for about 20-25 minutes. The artichokes should be tender. Remove them from the heat and reserve for the pizza.

 

Monday
Nov122012

An Italian Thanksgiving? Have Some Apple "Pie".

I'd like to discuss an oxymoron: Italian Thanksgiving.

As you know, Thanksgiving is an American Holiday. Italians have similar feast days of thanks, called Le Feste di Ringraziamento, but these are usually religious holidays, held at various times of the year.

Thanksgiving comes but once a year. And "thanks" be for that...there is only so much gin on the planet to appease Aunt Emily's tolerance for turkey. And speaking of turkeys, you most likely wouldn't find one on a table in Italy, as they are pretty hard to come by in that country.

Which brings me to my point: What we have here is an Italian-American Thanksgiving, and as such, it presents a challenge to John and myself. You see, our passion for Italian food extends to protecting the authenticity of its traditions....when and where is limoncello served? Why are rice dishes more popular in the North of Italy? And etcetera.

So where Thanksgiving is concerned, we really only have our Italian-American family traditions. However, many of these (except for serving Aunt Emily copious amounts of gin) are derived from actual Italian food and holiday traditions. And with Thanksgiving on the horizon, this is what we would like to focus on:

How to incorporate traditional Italian foods into your feast, giving your holiday some Italian flair.

And in true John and Elana fashion, I will begin with pizza.

I can't think of a dessert more American than apple pie, or more appropriate to Thanksgiving. Except when the "pie" in question is, in fact, a pizza pie. I think this is the beauty of pizza – its versatility. A traditional Southern Italian food, pizza has been adopted by American culture wholeheartedly (admittedly not always in the healthiest ways).

This particular "pie" is a true collision of Italian and American cultures. It combines an earthy whole wheat crust with farm fresh apples, thinly sliced gouda cheese, plump cranberries, fried sage and a smattering of honey.

This pie works as an appetizer, a wonderful addition to an antipasto plate, or as a sweet and savory dessert, to be served along side a selection of other cheeses and fruit.

Here's how you do it:

What You Need:

1 recipe whole wheat pizza dough (found here). This recipe makes 4-5 personal sized pizzas. You can also purchase uncooked pizza dough from your grocery store or local pizzeria.

3 apples, thinly sliced. Use what your local orchard is dishing out. I like Honey Crisp, but I also threw in some Golden Delicious and a tart Granny Smith.

1/4 Gouda cheese. You want something semi-soft.

1/4 cup dried cranberries

6-8 sage leaves, fried in olive oil and crumbled

honey - as much as you like

salt to taste

What To Do:

Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of your oven and heat to 500 degrees for at least a half hour prior to using it.

In the meantime, thinly slice the apples. I sliced mine to an 1/8" thickness. 

Next, slice the cheese.

You can also prepare the fried sage by heating tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is nice and hot, place in the sage leaves. They won't take long to fry, about 30 seconds or so. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them on paper towels to absorb the oil (like bacon!). You can crumble them with your hands, and once the pizza pops out of the oven, sprinkle them on top.

Sprinkle some semolina flour or cornmeal on a pizza peel and stretch out a pizza dough round to about 10-12" in diameter.

Place some of the apple slices down on the dough. Don't overload it with slices at this point, just about 8 should do it. 

Follow up with some slices of cheese, and then another layer of apples.

Don't make your pizza too heavy – save some toppings for the other pies! 

Sprinkle with a little salt and a handful of cranberries.

Drizzle with honey. 

Shimmy the pizza into the oven and bake for about 8 minutes. 

Using the pizza peel, remove the pizza from the oven, drizzle with a little more honey and sprinkle with the crumbled, fried sage.

Buon Appetito!

What You Should Drink:

I politely begged Jameson Fink of Wine Without Worry to give me a pairing recommendation for this pizza. Here is what he suggested:

When Elana asked for my help picking a wine to pair with pizza, I said, “No problem.” Tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni? Have a Chianti. Boom. Done! Then I actually paid attention to what she told me: a pizza topped with apple, gouda, cranberries and fried sage. Gouda grief! I’d have to put on my thinking cap.

In honor of Elana’s family heritage, I’m sticking with my initial thought of an Italian wine. And in honor of my personal penchant, I’m selecting a rosé. Which gives me the opportunity to go on a mini-wine rant. You think rosé is just for summer sipping? Let me give you my best John McLaughlin: WRONG! My pick, the 2011 “Il Chiaretto” from producer Azienda Agricola San Giovanni, has year-round charm and appeal. It’s from the region of Lombardy, not far from the lovely shores of Lake Garda. A refreshingly unusual blend of four grapes (Groppello, Marzemino, Barbera, and Sangiovese), it is pizza-ready.

So let’s take a look at Elana’s culinary creation, starting with the cranberries. (Especially since Thanksgiving thoughts are turning in my head.) A dry rosé has a reminiscent tartness; a fine match whether cranberries are a side dish or atop a pizza. And rosés also have a savory, slightly herbaceous quality perfect with crispy fried sage. Plus the acidity in the Il Chiaretto will play nice with crisp apple, and cut through the rich gouda to get you ready for another dang slice.

Last but not least, it comes in a squat, stubby, attention-getting bottle. Turns out it’s a bottle with a purpose. I asked Birk O'Halloran, who is a manager for the company that imports the wine (A. I. Selections), about the bottle. Here’s what Birk had to say:

When I spoke with [owner/winemaker] Paolo, he told me that by his calculations about 70% of the total carbon footprint of wine comes from the glass. The bottles he uses are about 30-40 grams less than a conventional bottle. This has been one of many ways he tries to minimize the carbon footprint of his wine. If you look on the back label you can find amount of carbon produced by the production of the wine. Since he has started recording it he has lowered it every year.

I would also add that this design makes it less difficult to knock over on a table crowded with pizza and friends.

Monday
Jan092012

Twelve for 2012!

The year 2012 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon. But here on John and Elana Talk About Food, it's the Year of the Pizza. In order to start this year off right, we are kicking it off with a giveaway! You like free stuff, yes?

Yes! And free stuff is what you shall have.

You also like pizza, yes? No? Then why are you here? Seriously, let's talk about this...

Of course you like pizza! So, it follows that you must like free pizza.

We are not giving away free pizza... I'm sorry. BUT! We are giving away free Top Your Pizza Cookbooks. Twelve of them, in fact, to mark the year 2012.

In our Top Your Pizza Cookbook you will learn to make the following pies:

You will also get our trusty and reliable dough recipe that comes with helpful photographs and tips on getting your dough just right:

We also wax poetical on things like:

The Magnificent Pizza Peel and other fine implements....like the unsung hero - TONGS! Oh yes.

Finally, you will also be subject to my food photography which gets you up-close-and-personal with a fried leaf of sage:

Shows off the delicate entanglement of onions and gooey cheese:

And pizza in its purest form:

So what do you have to do to win one of the 12 cookbooks? We want you to like us. Our egos been running on low these days. We need a pat on the back...a thumbs up... So, if you like us, let us know by liking us on Facebook! The first 12 NEW people to like us on Facebook will receive one of these Top Your Pizza Cookbooks.

So, head on over to The John and Elana Facebook page and click "Like."

If you do, you will have pizza recipes and our eternal gratitude. And John may tell you how his hair does that funny flippy-thing. Maybe...

This offer will run until those first 12 people click "like"!