Phew. There now, that's a lot better. A relatively cool 71 degrees brushing against my skin this morning, marking a 27-point drop in temperature from yesterday afternoon. Why, it's enough to make you drag out the pizza stone and heat up the oven, isn't it?
On a day so hot that you could fry an egg on the sidewalk or at least on the roof of a black car parked in the sun, it felt pretty silly to be posting about pizza. In heat like that, I like to eat cool slices of kohlrabi, fresh from the fridge, or chilled cherries, the dark, juicy orbs cooling me down from the inside out. A salad will do, and maybe a puddle of cold plain yogurt, but pizza? That requires an oven? And preheating? And then eating the food while it's still piping hot? Good lord, my brow requires a delicate mop just thinking about it.
But that was yesterday. And today's a whole new day. The kind of day that can stand a little bit of action in the kitchen. And after four days of cold meals, maybe you're ready for something warm for dinner again. I know I am. Last Friday, the day before the heat descended, I dragged out the pizza stone from its closet and heaved it into the oven. We were having our upstairs friends over for dinner and I'd been gripped with the urge to make pizza. You can't turn your back on that kind of urge, can you?
I had Amy Scattergood's recipe for pizza dough at the ready, a
recipe that has you make the dough and then let it proof overnight in
the fridge, ensuring flavor and structure. Being lazy and last-minute
and happy to cut corners, I made the dough the same day as dinner, so
my dough's fridge time was just a few hours. And still the
pizza was quite delicious! Well, you know, as delicious as pizza made
in a regular gas oven as opposed to a wood-burning oven that gets all
the way up to 900 degrees is going to be.
Though I adore a good pizza made in a wood-burning oven, I am
definitely not the kind of person who tries to replicate that quality
at home. I'm fine with the fact that some things must be eaten in a
restaurant to be really, really good. Like pizza with blistered crusts
and airy holes. Or perfectly crisp French fries. You know? Pizza at
home has different charms. You have complete control over what goes on
it and it's quite a lot cheaper. Two good reasons right there to make
this a regular occurrence in our kitchen.
Amy's pizza toppings are unorthodox for someone who only eats pizza
topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and a few judicious basil leaves
(I make an exception for the occasional scattering of mushrooms because
Ben is so cute), but one in particular is totally delectable. Roasted
radicchio and browned sausage are evenly distributed over the dough,
while fennel seeds add a pop of flavor and milky mozzarella (or if
you're lucky enough to get your hands on burrata) tops it all off.
What's best about it this pizza is that it's not groaning with
toppings. Everything's distributed perfectly and the crust-to-topping
ratio is just right.
The second pizza, arugula - from our first CSA haul of the year - with walnuts and goat cheese was less to my liking. Too timid, or perhaps I just don't like goat cheese on pizza. I also admit I entirely forgot the vinegar. Maybe that's what it needed to shine. No matter, I'm so smitten with the sausage and radicchio that I'll be making it again and again.
Tell me, readers, what's your favorite homemade pizza like? What are the toppings that you love so much you'll even make pizza in the dog days of summer?
Basic Pizza Dough
Makes 2 pizzas, about 10 inches in diameter
1 cup warm water
1 packet (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
Generous pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon best-quality olive oil
About 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1. In a large bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar, and set aside for 5
minutes, until it begins to foam. (If it doesn't, discard and start
over with new yeast.) Stir in the olive oil and 1 cup of flour and mix
until incorporated. Then add the salt and the second cup of flour,
stirring with a spoon or spatula.
2. Turn out the dough onto a floured board or, if your bowl is large
and shallow enough, just knead it in the bowl. Knead the dough,
incorporating the rest of the flour as needed, until it's smooth and
elastic, about 10 minutes.
3. Put the dough into a clean, well-oiled bowl, turning to lightly coat
the top of the dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the
4. The next day, about 1 1/2 hours before you want your pizza, take the
dough out of the refrigerator, punch it down and divide it into two
balls. Lightly coat the dough with olive oil, cover with plastic and
let it rest on the counter for an hour.
5. After an hour, using your fingers, spread each ball of dough into a
10-inch disc on a piece of parchment paper. The edges should be 1/2
inch thick, and the centers should be about 1/4 inch thick. Assemble
Sausage, Radicchio and Mozzarella Pizza
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/3 pound mild Italian sausage, removed from casing
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 head radicchio
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 recipe pizza dough
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces fresh burrata or fresh mozzarella, sliced
1. Place a cast-iron pizza pan or pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and heat to 350 degrees.
2. In a sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté
sausage and fennel seeds, breaking apart the sausage as it cooks. Cook
until browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
3. Trim the radicchio and cut it into 3/4-inch slices. Toss in a bowl
with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Mound the
radicchio on the pizza pan in the oven and roast, stirring and turning
with a spatula, until it just begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
Take the pan out, remove the radicchio and set it aside and return the
pan to the oven. Turn the oven up to 450 degrees.
4. Brush the prepared pizza dough with the remaining olive oil. Spread
the sausage, then the radicchio, evenly over the pizza. Grind a little
black pepper over the top.
5. Slide the parchment paper with the pizza onto an inverted cookie
sheet, then transfer both parchment and pizza to the hot pizza
pan or stone. Cook until golden and crispy, about 12 to 16 minutes, rotating
once halfway through (use the parchment to do so). One minute before
the pizza is done, add the burrata to the pizza in the oven, so
that it gets just melted. If using mozzarella, add about 5 minutes before the pizza is done.
6. Remove the pizza from the oven either by pulling out the parchment
paper and sliding the pizza back onto the cookie sheet or by taking out
the hot pizza pan and placing it on a trivet. Slice and serve hot.
Arugula, Goat Cheese and Walnut Pizza
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
1/2 recipe pizza dough
1 tablespoon roasted walnut oil, divided
2 cups arugula
4 ounces goat cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Balsamic vinegar for finishing
1. Place a cast-iron pizza pan on the middle rack of the oven and heat
to 450 degrees. Scatter the walnuts over the hot pan and toast until
browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure
they don't burn. Carefully take the hot pan from the oven, remove the
toasted nuts and return the pan to the oven. Break apart the walnuts if
2. Brush the prepared pizza dough with 1 teaspoon walnut oil. Spread
the arugula over the dough, then crumble the goat cheese over the top.
Sprinkle the walnuts over the pizza, drizzle with the remaining walnut
oil and grind black pepper over the top.
3. Slide the parchment paper with the pizza onto an inverted cookie
sheet or peel, then transfer both parchment and pizza onto the hot pan
in the oven. Cook until golden and crisp, 12 to 16 minutes, rotating
once during baking. Remove the pizza from the oven by pulling out the
parchment paper and sliding it back onto the cookie sheet, or remove
the hot pizza pan and place on a trivet. Drizzle with a little balsamic
vinegar, slice and serve immediately.