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Entries in Top Your Pizza (5)


Zaza's First Book Signing

I, Elana, recently traveled to three Southern Season locations in Charleston, SC, Chapel Hill, NC, and Richmond VA. There, at one of the most impressive gourmet food stores I have visited to date (and I've been to a few, I have a wee bit of a problem with frequenting them), I taught pizza cooking classes for Colavita and signed the book that I wrote for them, Top Your Pizza.

Now. Before...

Before you say all the things like, "That's amazing!!" and "You're famous!" and "Can I get your autograph?" Let me assure you that, in order:

It is amazing and underwhelming at the same time; I'm only famous in my own mind; and yes, am I signing a check for you?

Let's be clear: I this was a fantastic opportunity. I love teaching cooking classes and my hosts at Southern were so gracious - the whole experience was a treat.

But I want to instill some reality into the experience, for those who have been watching Facebook and think it's all autographs and pizza dough.

As an author, no one knows who I am. Which is fine! A lot of authors fly under the radar. But especially me. So, when you're sitting in the middle of the cookbook aisle, surrounded by volumes by The Barefoot Contessa and Mario Batali with a stock of TOP YOUR PIZZA books and a pen, don't expect the crowds to come flocking.

In Chapel Hill, I managed to sign a total of two books for a very nice lady who had a wood-fired oven in her backyard. As I was smiling up at her, grateful for her request, she said to me with an understanding look in her eye, "I've done book signings with my author friend. I get it."

In Richmond, I signed one for a lady who really wanted to know how to make biscuits, not pizza. I'm still wondering why she bought my book.

One very old and tiny man approached me an commented on how nice my "seated posture" was.

One lady asked me if the wines go on sale every first Monday of the month.

Someone else asked me where the bathroom was.

When I had food in front of me, I received more visitors, some coming back for seconds. Not of me, of the pizza samples.

I did, however, get a really cool sign:

And I read a bunch of other people's cookbooks. Like this one, all about toast:

And this one that had me asking the question, "Do people really look like that, live in a French farmhouse and have disturbingly beautiful children while they pass the hours writing epic cookbooks and twirling their skirts in fields of lavender? Where IS that bathroom anyway? I have to go drown my head in the toilet..."

There was this one about my second love, after pizza:

And then my hour was up and I got to teach. This is the fantastic part. The classes are always so much fun for me, and the reason I'm launching Zaza and the Perfect Pie. I love interacting with people and showing them how to make pizza.

I made three pizzas for them (you can find them all on the Colavita website with links below):

A Spring Pea Pesto and Ricotta Pizza

A Marinated Strawberry, Spinach and Ricotta with Pancetta Pizza

A Three Cheese and Zucchini Pizza.

And they loved them. Each location had a different favorite with Charleston favoriting the Pea Pesto, Chapel Hill preferring the Strawberry and Richmond zany for the Zucchini.

We paired it all with a Marinated Strawberry and Watermelon Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios. And wine! 

I told them stories...most of them were pizza related, they asked questions. I demonstrated home made dough, talked about ingredient pairings, seasonal produce and how small my apartment know, the important stuff. I taught them how to say my last name. We even shot a small cooking video. And they are interested in my returning with the Zaza truck!

A good time was had by all. My hosts at Southern Season could not have been more accomodating. And I'm very grateful to Colavita for letting me run around the country in their name telling people I know how to make a good pie.

Pizza pie, that is. And I do.

And when I got home, I received this text from my mom. She's keeping it real.



An Old Classic - Pear & Gorgonzola Pizza

I'm bringing you back to a John and Elana classic: The Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza. It's unbelievable, but I've never posted the recipe for this particular pizza on our blog. 

I have no excuses. It's just mean of me to leave you out of the loop. I apologize. Please forgive me? 

To be fair, you could have gotten the recipe from our Top Your Pizza Book. Aaaaand speaking of books, I'm working on a new one. This recipe will be in the new pizza book as well, as it's such a good one it deserves repeating.

So, I'm taking the time to post a few of the photos of this pie that I'm NOT using in the new book and giving you a little preview in the form of this recipe.

And if you needed reasons to make this pizza, here they are: 

Sweet. Powerful. Innovative. Who says fruit doesn’t belong on pizza? It does when when you’re craving that sweet-meets-savory flavor combination, which is precisely what this pie is. You’ll dig the candy-like transformation of your oven-crusted pears, particularly when they’re contrasted with some tangy, oozing Gorgonzola. Serve and impress – yourself.

What You Need:

makes 4 personal pizzas

1 recipe pizza dough (find it here)

3 pears (Choose your favorites! I used Bosc - pictured above).

1 cup gorgonzola cheese

Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

fresh rosemary - as much as you like!

What You 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. 

Stretch out your dough on a cornmeal-dusted peel to about 10-12” in diameter. Distribute the sliced pears evenly on the top of the dough

Scatter the gorgonzola cheese on top of the pears.

Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and fresh rosemary.

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

Remove from the oven and serve!



Make Pizza with Thanksgiving Leftovers!

I have come to the conclusion that there are an infinite number of pleasing pizza toppings and combinations. I'm not saying that everything you throw on a pizza is going to taste good, but I will say that your Thanksgiving leftovers will. Taste good on a pizza. And how.

Seriously, I've tried it. Now, I know you like diving into the fridge in the dead of night when you think no one is watching, quietly rolling back the foil on that picked over bird and pulling just a few more cold, roasted chucks from the turkey carcass.

I'm guilty, I do it too. And I may use leftover cranberry sauce for dipping.

But what if, just WHAT IF, you saved some of that turkey and put it on a pizza? For the pizza pictured above, I used pan fried mini potatoes, turkey sausage (but you can use your leftover bird), a slightly firm and nutty goat's milk cheese, lemon olive oil, cranberries and fresh herbs.

I also used a whole wheat crust, because let's face it, you just gorged yourself on a smorgasbord of tasty treats drenched in various amounts of butter. Some dietary fiber might be a good idea at this juncture. Just saying.

OK, so let's see how it all goes down. First the whole wheat pizza recipe:

What You Need
1 envelope dried yeast
1 cup warm water
3 cup all purpose flour or bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil

What You Do:
In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of warm water…stir in ½ cup of the flour.  Cover and let stand for about 30 minutes

Then add the other ½ cup of warm water salt and olive oil.  Slowly begin to add the remaining flour.  When all of the flour is incorporated knead the dough until it is smooth.  It may take about 10 minutes….

Then dust the dough lightly all over with flour and place in a bowl – covered with a cloth  to rise for about 1 hour.

When it has doubled in size, punch down the dough and divide into 4 parts.  Form each fourth into a smooth ball and let rise covered on a floured board for 30 minutes.  In the meantime heat the oven to 500 degrees for 30 minutes

Now for the assembly and toppings.

What You Need:
Makes 4 personal sized pizzas
1/4 lb goats milk cheese. I used "Midnight Moon" from Cypress Grove
Lemon olive oil (you can use this recipe)
4 turkey sausage links OR strips of leftover Thanksgiving turkey, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup chicken or turkey stock
1 small bag of mini roasting potatoes cut into very thin slices
Fresh thyme and rosemary
1/2 cup of fresh cranberries
salt and pepper
olive oil

What You Do:
Place a pizza stone in your oven and heat it up to 500 degrees. You will want to make sure that pizza stone has been heating for at least a half an hour before you cook your pizza.

If using turkey sausage: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small frying pan. Add your turkey sausage, removed from the casings. As it cooks, break it up into small chunks with a wooden spoon. Add the 1/2 cup of chicken or turkey stock and let the sausage simmer until cooked, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

In another small pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the lemon oil (from this recipe). Add your sliced potatoes and some fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Fry 'em up until they are tender and also a little crispy and brown on the edges. Set aside.

Sprinkle some semolina flour on a pizza peel and stretch out your dough.

Drizzle some of the lemon oil on top of the stretched out dough and smooth it over the top.

Distribute the roasted potatoes over the surface of the dough.

Add small slices of the goats milk cheese on top of the potatoes.

Sprinkle the turkey sausage or the leftover turkey on top of the potatoes and cheese.

Drizzle a bit more lemon oil over the top and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Now would be an excellent time to add some more thyme and rosemary.

Place the 1/2 cup of cranberries in a microwave safe bowl. Add water to the bowl - enough to cover the berries. Place the cup of water and berries in the microwave and heat on high for about 45 seconds, just enough to pop the cranberries (you will actually hear them pop). Remove the cup from the microwave and drain the water out of the cup.

Place the popped cranberries along the top of the pizza. They will add a nice tang to the the smooth, lemony and salty pizza.

Slide your pizza onto the stone and into the oven. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven (using the pizza peel). You can add more fresh herbs or oil if you like.

Now, I know I'm slightly obsessed with pizza. I swear it's healthy... Regardless of the mental effects of this pizza preoccupation, I have started to compile quite a library of pizza recipes. The first of which are in our first cookbook, Top Your Pizza. You can see a preview of the book below. This book is available for purchase (click here), and in tune with the holiday season, most of the proceeds from the book sales go to the non-profit Just Food (which you can check out here). It's a win-win situation. Pizza for you, profits for a non-profit. Happiness all around.



Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

We wish you a healthy, festive, belt-loosening, gin-infused (ok, that might just be me) holiday.

Eat some turkey, watch some football, get into an immature name-calling argument with your siblings, and make sure to wear those safety goggles! We'll see you on Monday. With something .... um... cleansing.


A Birthday Give Away!

Monday is my birthday. It's the big 3-5. Unlike some other people on this blog, I enjoy celebrating birthdays. Particularly my own. People say nice things to me. I think they feel obligated. So I let them. Some of them even buy me gifts. Go nuts. No complaining here.

This year for my birthday, I bought myself a gift: A trip to San Francisco. I haven't been to San Fran since I lived on the West Coast, and when I lived on the Westerly side of the country, I was in SoCal not NoCal, so I didn't get up there much.

My friend Kaz who lives in L.A. is obligingly meeting me there, so we are going to have a little Foodie weekend. I promise you pictures! I promise you food reports (especially from this place)! I promise you all kinds of nonsense!

In return I ask for not much. Except.....

Well, I decided to run a little give away. Perhaps you heard that we have a pizza cookbook? I'd love to encourage you to buy it, as it's for a good cause. However, I will be giving away a copy of the cookbook PLUS a little treat (yet to be named) from San Francisco.

What do you have to do?

Please comment on this blog post. Send me some birthday wishes. Tell John to get his hair cut, whatever (I'd prefer the birthday wishes).

I will pick one commenter and award the prize to that person. Sound good?

You have until midnight of November 7th to post your comments.


Top Your Pizza Cookbook!

I'm very excited to announce our first cookbook. I ate A LOT of pizza to produce this here book, yessiree, I did.
I personally tested each and every one of these recipes, making sure that they are not only edible, but 100% delicious.
I also wanted to give back. Not only a few calories, but a few dollars. That's why 80% of the proceeds from this book go straight to the non profit organization Just Food.
Are you familiar with Just Food? They are a local New York City organization with the mission to unite local farms and city residents of all economic backgrounds with fresh, seasonal, sustainably grown food.
It's a good mission. One I would like to help out with, and if you'd like to help too you can by buying this book. Plus, you'll get a bunch of amazing make-at-home pizza recipes.
What say you?
The book includes 8 pizza topping recipes, plus a recipe for dough and tips, tricks and tools! I'm hoping that this will be the first of more books to come.
Price: $18.00 (USD) Includes shipping and handling.