Reading so many other fellow food bloggers out there I think clouds my perspective when it comes to stand-mixer usage. A casual conversation at work will reveal that while many of my coworkers own a Kitchen Aid (or similar) mixer, it seems that other than holiday baking time, it tends to sit dormant for most of the year. I was this way for a while (worse, really, as I’m not usually inclined to bake sweets), but ever since I found Jim Lahey’s pizza dough recipe and Michael a pasta dough method that didn’t require him to make a well, our little guy gets a workout a few times a month at the very least. This time around, our craving was for some homemade pizza.
Somewhere between Ninth Avenue and 43rd street on Saturday I was chatting with my godmother about my dinner plans that night, indicating that I had to be home by twoish in order to have pizza dough ready in time. She told me that she only made pizza once and that the results were disastrous at best, but I’m hoping I can convince her to give it another try if she pulls out her own mixer and gives my favorite method a try–and perhaps using these combinations.
Our plan for the evening was mostly straightforward: the first course would be a simple red sauce pizza made using a can of San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and some balsamic vinegar and topped it with fresh basil and anchovy. Michael wanted one of the pizzas to be cheese-free, you see, but wasn’t in the mood for one of our pizza bianci–this was a bit unorthodox, but it goes a long way in justifying the expense of using these more expensive tomatoes.
The second pizza was where we ran into some issues in inspiration. I figured I would let the cheese department at Westside be my guide here, but none of the cheeses were speaking to me in the way that I thought they would, signifying that there is no real future for me as a cheese whisperer (if such a position exists). I lingered there for a good ten minutes poring through the various options and even asking for a sample of an aged asiago…but I had nothing. Finally settling on an extra-aged asiago with prosciutto and shallots, I left Michael to purchase our foodstuffs there and went to Milano to place my order for some ham.
Both pizzas really blew us away, to put it mildly. The red pizza reminded us of what you would traditionally get in a classic New Haven pizzeria (red sauce only is the standard, as cheese must always be specified), while the asiago/prosciutto pie satisfied that ever-present craving for cheese, with said cheese’s sharpness blending well with saltiness of the prosciutto.
All told, it was a good night for pizza. I may need to bust out the Kitchen Aid again sooner than later.
Tomato-Basil Pizza with Anchovy:
- One half quantity of pizza dough
- One quantity Red Pizza Sauce (below),
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves, washed and dried and kept whole
- 4-5 anchovy fillets, whole
- 1-2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly (optional)
Red Pizza Sauce:
- 1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes, including liquid
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil
Add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to a saucepan; when hot, add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, using your fingers to crush them. Add the balsamic vinegar, and let the sauce simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until at a thick consistency. If fewer tomato chunks are desired, use a potato masher to squish tomatoes further.
To assemble the pizza: Take one half quantity of pizza dough and flatten out. Place a pizza stone or an upside-down sheet pan in an oven that has been preheated to 475 degrees and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Blind bake the pizza dough alone for about 4-5 minutes, remove from oven and let cool slightly, and then spread a thin layer of sauce over most of the pizza, starting in the center. Add the other toppings as desired (here basil and anchovy) and then put back into the oven for 7-8 minutes, or until the outer crust appears golden brown and delicious. Remove from oven and let cool before serving. If there is remaining sauce leftover, use it for dipping.
Asiago, Prosciutto, Shallots and Tarragon Pizza
- 1 half quantity pizza dough
- 3/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
- 8-10 slices of prosciutto di Parma
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- Leaves from two sprigs of tarragon
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil
Prepare pizza dough as above through the blond baking phase, and to that add most of the cheese, prosciutto, shallots and tarragon. Lightly season the shallots with a little salt, and drizzle a little olive oil over the entire pizza. Bake the pizza for 7-8 minutes, again until the crust is golden brown and delicious, remove from the oven, let cool and serve.