Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pizza Party!

Our friends, Cindy and Eric came over Saturday night for dinner. I have been going through the bon appetit May issue, The Italy Issue and decided to try the pizza dough recipe and one of the asparagus recipes. Pizza and asparagus! Doesn't get much better.

I got into the habit of buying pizza dough from a restaurant near my office which made it so easy to make pizza any night. I'd buy two pieces of dough and make Abigail a vegetarian pizza and would usually make Mike and I a lamb, smoked mozzarella and plum pizza from the San Francisco Chronicle. Sounds strange but it is truly delicious and was a hit with Cindy and Eric.

The restaurant has gone out of business and I haven't made pizza since. I'd been wanting to make it again and knew I wanted to try home made pizza dough. A dinner party seemed a great opportunity to go for it. One of the many things I love about making your own pizza is that you control what's on it and it tends to be healthier that way.

I also made a strawberry rhubarb crumble from The Fearless Baker so there will be several recipes here today. Make one or make them all I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Roman Style Pizza Dough

2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/4 cups (or more) unbleached, all-purpose flour
corn meal for dusting

Combine 3/4 cup warm water (105°-115°), sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let sit until spongy, 4-5 minutes. Mix in olive oil and salt. Stir in 2 1/4 cups flour. Turn out onto a work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticking, about 6 minutes. Grease a large bowl with oil. Add dough, cover bowl with plastic; let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

After it rose I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Take the dough out of the fridge about 1 hour before you are going to make your pizzas. This make 2 pizzas.

I use a pizza stone. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and put in your stone. Let it heat up for at least 20 minutes before cooking your pizzas.

Divide the dough in 2 pieces. Roll or stretch into a large rectangle. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for 15 minutes.

Lamb, Plum & Smoked Mozzarella Pizza

3/4 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon thyme
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 black plums, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
Very thin slices of red onion, as desired
4 ounces mildly smoked mozzarella, grated

Place a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium heat and brown lamb, breaking it into small pieces. Drain any grease. Add the thyme. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Place the pizza crust on a rimless baking sheet coated with corn meal. Spread lamb evenly over pizza crust, and then add plums, onion and cheese. Shake the pizza off the baking sheet onto the pizza stone preheated in the oven. Bake pizza for 8 minutes or until cheese has melted and the edges of the crust are golden brown. Use the rimless baking sheet to slide under the pizza and remove it from the stone. Slice and serve immediately.

For the other pizza I layered about 1/3 pound of prosciutto over the pizza dough, then added slices of burrata. When I took the pizza out of the oven I tossed 2 large handfuls of arugula onto the pizza right before serving.

Shaved Asparagus with Parmesan Vinaigrette

~ about 2 pounds of asparagus, trimmed and peeled
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus a piece for shaving
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Working with 1 asparagus spear at a time, use a vegetable peeler to shave spears into long, thin shavings. I found this works best when you lay the spears on a cutting board and peel away from you. If you try to hold them and peel the spears will break. The tips will snap off as spears get thinner. Transfer to a bowl.

Combine grated Parmesan and lemon juice in a small glass measuring cup and whisk in oil until well blended. Season vinaigrette generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle vinaigrette over shaved asparagus and toss to coat. Use peeler to shave more Parmesan over salad.

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The Fearless Baker Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 1/2 pints strawberries
2 large stalks rhubarb
2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
grated zest of 1 lemon

Melt the butter and let it cool to room temperature. Put it in a bowl with the flour, brown sugar and sugar and mix together.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the stems and cut into about 4 pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Cut the rhubarb into 3/4 inch pieces. Add to the strawberries. Add the sugar, cornstarch and lemon zest and toss together.

Spread evenly in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Spread the topping evenly over the fruit. Bake the crumble into the filling is thick and bubbly and the topping is golden, about 35-40 minutes. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

This was a fun and delicious meal. If you have more people and a big kitchen your guests could pitch in making the pizzas. Pinot noir is great with the lamb pizza and the prosciutto. I am looking forward to making pizza dough again and having another pizza night. Enjoy!

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