Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Pizza

November 13, 2012 - Boozy Pizza




This passed weekend has been one long, celebration for my best friend, Michelle's birthday. It was also a great opportunity to see our mutual friend, Elvis, whom neither of us had seen in months. It has been such a fantastic long weekend. Today is officially day four of four consecutive days I've had off work. Wish me luck tomorrow. lol! 


Michelle has a pizza stone. A pizza stone is a flat, porous stone used to evenly distribute oven heat and more or less mimic the effects of a masonry oven. The stone must be heated for about an hour before use or the dough will stick. We also had to sprinkle a bit of cornmeal on the surface where we placed our flattened pizza dough to help to keep the dough from sticking to the stone. The three of us used to make rustic pizza in this way quite a bit a few years ago. It had been so long we decided to do it again for old times sake. Also, none of us had to be at work today so we had a few drinks throughout the process. Hence the "boozy" part of the title.

To be honest, I wasn't planning on making a blog entry about this, but decided to at the last minute. So nothing was made from scratch and there's not a whole lot of technique in this entry. This is basically just to share the experience (which was a lot of fun!) and inspire you to try some new flavour profiles or making your own pizza with friends.

We bought some scaloppine cut chicken breasts and marinated them in a little olive oil and some dry spices (paprika, cayenne, sundried tomato & herb blend, ground cardamom and salt). The chicken had to be panfried in advance as it would not have enough time to cook completely in the oven with the other ingredients. Salmonella would not make a good pizza. 




 We also got some fresh rapini. Rapini is a vegetable from the brassica family which is composed of both edible leaves and florets. The flavour is earthy, slightly bitter and aromatic. The florets are very similar to broccoli and the leaves remind me a bit of a pungent spinach. We sautéed the rapini with some minced garlic and set that aside.


We also bought jarred artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and  sun dried tomatoes. We roasted a head of garlic and thinly sliced some red onion as well. We made a few small pizzas. One with a generic, red pizza sauce, one with a basil pesto and one with the pizza sauce and some spicy Sriracha mixed in. For the cheeses we used mozzarella, havarti and some fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano. The Parm we added after it came out of the oven. 

As I mentioned, we bought everything rather than making it, including the pizza dough. Basically, you want to roll your dough out onto a floured surface so it's nice and flat. Lift the dough and sprinkle some corn meal on the surface and place the pizza over it. Spoon on a modest amount of your sauce and add your desired toppings. 

Both the oven and the stone need to be very hot so it only takes a few minutes to cook. We like our pizzas a little more on the thin crust side. We bought a commercial pizza dough which said it was for one large pizza but instead we just split it into four and made smaller, thinner versions. 

I included a lot of pictures so you get a clear idea of the process. The pictures speak for themselves. Please forgive the appearance of this entry if there's too little text and then a list of photos. I figure you all get the idea of how it works. I must admit, I took all of these photos so the skilled hands you see are of our friend Elvis. Credit is due where it belongs.




When I was in Italy in 2008 I noticed that pizzas were typically thin crust and had very little toppings. To an authentic Italian cook, I'm sure this is a disgrace. Bringing home dough from the store and loading it with several different ingredients. One risk you run with thin crust pizza is that if you put too many toppings you will increase the weight and the moisture and your pizza will be soggy instead of crisp. A hot pizza stone will aid a bit in the crisp department but otherwise it could be a little messy.

Frankly, my dear, we didn't give a damn. 

This was a low maintenance, delicious meal among good friends and nothing more. Again, to my Italian readers, I hope I've not offended any of you too deeply. I am in no way claiming that this is authentic pizza. It was just a lot of fun.















Be happy and stay fed!

B

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