Tag Archives: pizza

Party Flatbreads

My friends C___ and D___ had a party this weekend to celebrate C___’s birthday, their wedding anniversary and the anniversary of moving to their condo. What a fun trio of occasions!

I had splurged on a purchase of the best mozzarella on the planet, from Angelo and Franco, a whole BBQed chicken and racks of ribs from Sneaky’s Underground BBQ and with the haul from some recent grocery forays I realized I had some great ingredients in the pantry to make flatbreads for the party.

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Using a dough recipe from Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads, I mixed up a batch of dough and had enough for three flatbreads for the party plus enough for home dinners for the next two weeks.

I made three flatbreads:

  • Marinated grapes in herbs and olive oil, goat cheese and pecans
  • Brown tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and olive oil
  • BBQ chicken mixed with BBQ sauce, red onions, Gruyere



  • Each flatbread baked in about 15 minutes and were topped with a sprinkle of Maldon crunchy sea salt when they came out of the oven. They were perfect with the variety of white and red Rhone style wines my friends poured. Warm or at room temperature, we scarfed them down.

    If you think outside the box any leftover or ingredient can be made into a flatbread or a pizza. To me, the difference between a flatbread and a pizza has to do with tomato sauce; dough with tomato sauce is a pizza, anything else is a flatbread. They’re both equally delicious! A local Indian place is making flatbreads with curry sauce and tandoori chicken, it’s fantastic and I am bitter they don’t deliver to my neighborhood.

    Tonight I am making myself a BBQ chicken flatbread just for me for dinner, the oven is preheating now and I can’t wait.

    For other pizza toppings ideas, check out my Sharknado pizza party! What would you make?

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    Sharknado Pizza Party

    Luna sent me a note on Facebook that said, “There’s this crazy movie coming up on the SciFi Channel called Sharknado, we have to do this.”

    sharknado-poster

    A bit of backstory, we had an absolutely hilarious time watching Snakes On A Plane together, screaming every single time a snake shot out of someplace unexpected, which was about every 3 minutes once the movie got started, so of course I invited Luna over to have a Sharknado party! Then more friends joined in and next thing you know my apartment is full of hungry ladies, sipping on some great wine and ready to be vastly entertained by what could be one of the best-worst scifi movies ever.

    There were sharks eating people as they flew by, seemingly unfazed by the lack of water, sharks whapping people across the face and removing most of said face, and sharks eating through cars and bar stools. There was fabulously deadpan acting by Tara Reid and dialogue that was probably written by kindergartners (with apologies to the kids).

    And there was pizza. Being flat broke and yet needing to be a good hostess I made up a giant bowl full of pizza dough which rose and rose and rose as we nibbled on treats from the freezer. Yes, we had foie! There was a rather sizeable foie gras mousse from a splurgy purchase in the recent past, and sparkling wine and wonderful red wine from a recent shipment I received that day and Anna brought an amazing assortment of crackers. Everyone brought various treats to top the pizza so we were set.

    Making pizza

    To have a successful pizza party you need lots of toppings. We had a great assortment but really the toppings can be anything you like on a pizza. You need a sauce or two, many cheeses, vegetables and lots of other savory things:

    • fresh tomato sauce canned by Anna
    • pesto sauce
    • buffalo mozzerella cheese
    • feta cheese
    • Parmesan cheese
    • ricotta cheese
    • basil
    • arugula
    • slivered asparagus
    • Sweety Drop peppers
    • crispy freeze-dried onion slices
    • assorted olives
    • Bacon Hot Sauce
    • capocollo salami

    We would have had sauteed leeks and bacon but the movie was about to start and we felt like we had enough options at this point. The oven was roaring at 500 F, all the windows were open and the wine was flowing freely. I tore off an orange-sized ball of pizza dough from the massive bowl heaped with dough and helped each guest quickly form it into a round which was draped on my makeshift pizza peel – a flat-edged cookie sheet well sprinkled with cornmeal – and then they were free to top it with their choice of sauces, cheeses and tidbits.

    Anastasia's pizza

    (Anastasia’s pizza – pesto, olives, cappocolo, ricotta, basil, crispy onion)

    The prepared pizza was slid carefully onto the super hot pizza stone and baked 10-15 minutes, then we cut it into wedges and everyone got to try a slice. Multiply this by five, we made a lot of pizza that night!

    Pizza making hands

    (post-pizza making hands)

    Each pie was really fantastic, the crust was chewy and blistered black from the stone and crisp on the edges, the cheeses were browned and gooey and buttery and salty and the toppings made it all really interesting and unique.

    First pie in the oven

    (first pie baking away, despite the crappy apartment rental electric oven they bake up really nicely)

    My pizza

    (my pizza: tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, asparagus, Sweety Drops)
    Luna's pizza

    (Luna’s pizza: pesto, cappocolo, mozzerella, Sweety Drops, arugula)

    Anjali's pizza

    (Anjali’s pizza: feta, pesto, cappocolo, asparagus, tomato sauce, Sweety Drops, crispy onion)

    Near the end of the movie as we were mostly sated, a bit tipsy and reeling from laughter, the final pizza of the night was put in to bake, a dessert pizza!

    Strawberry balsamic glaze ricotta basil dessert pizza #pizzaparty #Sharkado

    Don’t knock a dessert pizza until you try it! Anna’s creation of roasted strawberries, the sweet, creamy ricotta, the tang of the basil and the rich, chocolate jimmies from Copenhagen made this the best pizza of the night.

    The movie was over and the apartment was dusted in flour and wine corks. We quickly tidied up the kitchen and inflated the aerobed and those who stayed over fell asleep almost immediately. What a great night and what a tasty dinner! I can’t wait for the next cheesy scifi movie, Koalacane?

    P.S. Sharknado II is coming in 2014!

    It Really Was Easy Homemade Pizza

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    I know it is silly but I was a little nervous to try out my new pizza stone.

    Maybe it’s because I have not cooked a lot during the past year due to my shoulder, which still hurts a lot, and maybe my cooking mojo has left me after this hiatus?

    I am now just strong enough to lift the beautiful fire-engine red glazed stone onto the oven rack, and because space in my tiny kitchen is at a premium, that’s where it needs to live unless I’m cooking something else.

    So the stone is already in the oven, making the dough was extremely easy and it was ready and waiting for me in a snug tub in the fridge, exhaling in its Demi Moore yeasty voice, “Bake me, now!”.

    I already had sauce, basil and cheese, so I just ignored my baseless trepidations and gave it a go. I turned on the oven to 500 F and tried not to worry so much.

    I rolled out the dough, let it relax for 5 minutes before its final shaping, and swirled on the sauce with a back of a spoon. The mozzarella was the good, bobbing in a tub of water kind of cheese from Bellweather Farms, so I let the slices drain on some paper towels while the oven heated up.

    I had procrastinated for quite a while and my sprightly bunch of basil was getting rather limp and tired (like me on a Friday night) but I managed to salvage enough to snip over the top of my little pizza.

    Lacking a peel I used the back of a cookie sheet and, surprisingly, I had no problem sliding the pie onto the stone.

    I slammed the oven door, set the timer and said a few words of encouragement, maybe to me or maybe to the oven, I’m not really sure which, but mumbling to myself I sloshed out a glass of water from my filter jug and relaxed for 15 minutes.

    I peeked at the halfway point and gave the pizza a little shove with a spatula. Hey, what do you know, it looked pretty good! And, it smelled like pizza.

    Voila!

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    Funny how the color of the stone’s glaze deepened to a dark maroon, isn’t that interesting?

    After 15 minutes the crust was browned and blackened in spots and the cheese had melted and browned too.

    It smelled amazing.

    Using my big spatula the pizza slid right off the hot stone on to my waiting tray, like a skier coming off a run, whoosh, a perfect landing!

    I had to admit I was impressed.

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    The new pizza cutter worked like a hot knife through butter, cutting through the crisp bottom crust while not disturbing the toppings.

    I showered on some grated Parmesan and added a few spurts of sriracha sauce, and proceeded to eat the entire thing.

    Pizza at home, as good as your sweetest fancy pants pie from a hipster pizza restaurant in the Mission, in 15 minutes with no dishes to wash and the only person I had to tip was me.

    Now I need to buy more flour, and more cheese!

    My next pizza should have some different toppings though, please share with me your favorite combinations..

    Pizza Night Prep

    This year I was given a wonderful holiday gift of a pizza making kit, including an Emile Henry pizza stone in fire engine red and all the necessary equipment and goodies – a serving platter, a rolling cutter, rolling pin, et. What fun, I love pizza, who doesn’t?

    I decided to bite the bullet and buy the book Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in 5 Minutes A Day because I saw Zoe Francois and Mark Luinenberg’s video on the Emile Henry pizza stone webpage (see link above, it is a cute video). I am glad I did because they go into great detail about types of flour and salt etc. and tips and techniques that I did not get from the brief recipe included on the Emile Henry handout.

    Funnily enough my friend Stephanie reviewed their book on her site recently and posted about in on Facebook and I was able to chat with the authors. This is why I love social media and the synchronicity of life.  Talk about timing!

    So I get out my ingredients last night and look in my flour jar and it’s almost empty! Ack! Fortunately I had enough, or so I thought, for a half recipe so I started with mixing the hot water and the yeast and salt using my largest bowl which happens to be my beloved celery green Wovo salad bowl.  I began the “scoop and sweep” method they recommend in the book for measuring all purpose flour. A half recipe calls for 3 3/4 cups of flour and after scooping out 2 cups of flour I was done. Out of flour.  There was maybe a half a cup in the canister if I shook it out of the corners really well. Erk.

    This deficiency  is completely understandable because since I injured my shoulder, over a *year* ago, I really have not done any proper grocery shopping and many of my essential staples are depleted. I went shopping on New Year’s Eve and purchased a couple of hundred dollars worth of groceries but of course none of those kinds of staples were among them –  I need to hire a sherpa or find a friend with a car to help me shop for the heavy stuff – flour, sugar, polenta, sherry, wine…..  The pantry situation is getting desperate.

    Happily my holiday gift included a 3 pound bag of King Arthur flour specifically formulated for making pizza but per the book its protein count was too high for their generic recipe and more suited for pizzas that were formed by tossing. My ability to toss things is really not back up to speed yet – can you imagine?!!.  I decided to just go ahead and use this flour to complete my pizza dough and hope for the best.

    The recipe calls for mixing the water with the yeast and salt, and then dumping in the flour and stirring with a spoon or dough whisk, of which I lack, until everything is moistened. I used a perforated spatula (see Ruhlman, there is a use for these kind of spatulas!), covered the mixing bowl loosely and let it rise for 2 hours.

    Sure enough at 2 hours the dough had risen sufficiently in the bowl and the top of the dough had begun to flatten out. I gently scooped the dough into a plastic tub that I found at Daiso, closed the lid but did not seal it and popped the mess into the fridge. And went to bed.

    Tonight is the big night, hope it all works out! I mean what could go wrong? My oven takes forever to preheat and who knows what temperature it really is – I think it runs low, the dough is made with the wrong flour and might be too sticky, I bought the wrong kind of mozzarella and I do not have a pizza peel. Heh heh.   Wish me luck!