Sunday, March 26, 2006

Jer: Pizza

Peter and I had a favored meal when we lived in New York. Two doors from my apartment building there was a pizzeria called Giorgio’s. On nights when we’d actually get out before 10pm, we would take a car directly to Giorgio’s at the corner of 70th Street and 2nd Avenue and order our favorite slices of pizza and share a bottle of vanilla-spiced root beer. Maybe it was the joy of getting out of the office at a time when we could enjoy a meal together while watching the cars go by on 2nd Avenue, or maybe the pizza was actually that good but, whatever the reason, in search of perfect pizza as far as Italy and Argentina, we have yet to find the perfection of those pies.

What a treat to try making pizza for the first time at home. Pepperoni pizza is one of Peter’s favorite foods and I am always keen to layer something into the repertoire that he can get excited about (food is not a major factor in his life). Giorgio’s pies have a unique sweetness that we always thought differentiated them from others. Ina Garten has a pizza dough recipe in her book Parties that includes a tablespoon of honey. Bingo. This might be just enough to add a touch of sweetness to our crust.

A pizza stone costs something in the order of $40. However, I am a fan of value and so the allure of an $0.89 “pizza stone” lured me to our local Home Depot where I picked up two Mexican saltillo tiles. I put one directly on the floor of our oven and turned the oven up to 500 degrees. I let it heat up for almost two hours and … the tile ended up cracking in half! I think tomorrow night I will place the tile on a rack that is positioned on the lowest level since my ad hoc pizza stone clearly does not have the ability to withstand so much heat directly.

In the spirit of simplicity I made two classic pizzas. The first was a simple margherita with home-made tomato sauce (made with some crushed tomatoes, red pepper, olive oil and fresh oregano from our garden that is really flourishing in lovely spring weather), fresh mozzarella that I grated and let sit over a sieve in the icebox to sap some of the moisture, and fresh basil. The second pizza was a pepperoni especially for Pete.

I unintentionally burned the first pizza by leaving it in just a few minutes too long. Given the subtlety of the flavors of a margherita, the burnt crust really overpowered the flavor and, after a few bites, we pushed this pizza aside. The pepperoni pizza, however, was lovely. Fresh, crisp dough with the classic flavors of pepperoni and mozzarella. This one will definitely find a home in our meal rotation. I look forward to trying some interesting combinations at some point, but I think the next few rounds will focus on variations of this classic, perhaps making some dough without the honey and placing the tile on a different level. My next foray will be tomorrow night when I recreate the pepperoni and make a pizza with fresh pesto topped with some goat cheese or fontina. Thank you Ms. Brussels for the impetus for making this American favorite!


Blogger Kate said...

The honey in the base sounds like it would be perfect with the pepperoni. That pizza looks so good Jer.

26 March, 2006 06:05  
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