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Jul 31, 2014
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Posts Tagged ‘pizza’

By the Book: Gabriele Bonci’s Pizzas

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

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I first learned of chef Gabriele Bonci on an episode of Travel Channel’s “The Layover,” when host Anthony Bourdain traveled to Rome and went to a tiny restaurant near Vatican City called Pizzarium. There were no seats, just a counter, and under a sheet of glass, Roman-style pizzas were on display. These long, thick rectangles are definitely not the traditional Neapolitan-style pizzas commonly associated with Italy.

Bonci used scissors to cut up dozens of pies for Bourdain, from a more traditional Margherita and a potato pizza to the show-stopping foie gras with berries and a Hawaiian pizza. His toppings were inventive, but Bonci is best known for his dough, and that’s what spurred me to try Pizzarium last month during a trip to Italy – and to try my hand at his new cookbook, Pizza: Seasonal Recipes from Rome’s Legendary Pizzarium.

 

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{Our selfie with Bonci at Pizzarium}

 

He’s been called “The Michelangelo of dough,” and while it’s a pretty lofty title, I can’t really argue after trying his pizzas. The crust isn’t pillowy and airy like Neapolitan-style pizza; instead it has a more artisan bread feel. It’s denser with more chew. It’s also complicated; he spends nearly 14 pages of the book detailing exactly how to make it.

Cooks more ambitious than I will attempt to make the dough, but for my impromptu pizza party, I used my go-to pizza dough and experimented with his fun topping combinations instead. Several recipes require baking pizzas with only some toppings, then finishing them with fresh or raw ingredients after they are removed from the oven – a revelation!

 

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I started with Bonci’s Margherita, which requires that you only bake the dough with the sauce, the remove it from the oven at top it with mozzarella and basil. This worked well; it kept the crust crisp, the herbs had more flavor and the cheese started to melt when it was served but wasn’t a watery mess.

 

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Next, I tried his zucchini pizza (Uncle Pietro’s Uncle Pizza), which saw the sliced summer squash baked onto the crust, then removed from the oven and finished with ricotta, raw zucchini and olive oil. The flavor was bright, redolent of springtime, and instantly took me back to my visit at Pizzarium, where I had this exact pie. Finally, I made the shrimp pizza. Like the Margherita, only the sauce was baked onto the dough, and was then topped with sauteed shrimp and a nice remoulade-type sauce – think shrimp cocktail via Italy.

I loved cooking out of this book for its inventive toppings, but most of all, I loved reliving my Roman holiday through my kitchen and sharing it with family and friends.

Classic Pizza with Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, and Basil
3 to 4 servings

1 12-oz. ball pizza dough
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
2 cups canned peeled tomatoes
Fine sea salt to taste
1 lb. buffalo mozzarella
3 cups loosely packed basil leaves

• Preheat the oven to 450 to 475 degrees.
• Stretch the dough and place it in a well-oiled pan. Place the tomatoes in a small bowl. Drizzle the tomatoes with a little oil, season with salt and toss to combine. Squeeze the tomatoes through your fingers to break them up and drop them onto the dough.
• Bake the pizza until golden brown and well-risen, about 25 minutes.
• Remove the pizza from the oven. Immediately tear the cheese into pieces by hand and scatter it over the pizza. Scatter on the basil leaves, then drizzle with some oil and season with salt.

Uncle Pietro Uncle’s Pizza
3 to 4 servings

1 12-oz. ball pizza dough
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
1 lb. zucchini
10 oz. sheep’s milk ricotta
Fine sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Grated nutmeg to taste

• Preheat the oven to 450 to 475 degrees.
• Stretch out the dough and place it in a well-oiled pan. Slice the zucchini very thinly (a mandoline works well) and arrange about two-thirds of the zucchini slices in a single layer on the dough, reserving the rest.
• Bake the pizza until golden brown and well-risen, about 25 minutes.
• Remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool for at least 5 minutes. Distribute the ricotta on top of the cooked zucchini, then place the raw zucchini slices on top of the cheese. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Shrimp Cocktail Pizza
3 to 4 servings

1 yellow onion, minced
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
1 apple, peeled, cored and minced
2 cups tomato puree
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 whole cloves
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 12-oz. ball pizza dough
2 cups canned peeled tomatoes
10 large shrimp
1 head frisee (I used arugula.)

• Make the ketchup: In a medium saucepan, saute the onion in a small amount of oil over medium eat until softened. Add the apple, tomato puree, bell pepper, sugar, vinegar and cloves. Bring to a simmer and simmer until thickened, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the cloves, then puree the entire mixture in a blender and set aside to cool. (This is more ketchup than you will need for this recipe, but if you place the remaining ketchup in a clean jar and refrigerate it, it will last for up to 1 week.)
• Make the mayonnaise: Emulsify the eggs with the ¾ cup oil. An immersion blender is the best tool for the job.
• Make the cocktail sauce: Combine about 1 ½ cups of the mayonnaise with 3 tablespoons of the ketchup.
• When you are ready to bake the pizza, preheat the oven to 450 to 475 degrees.
• Stretch the dough and place it in a well-oiled pan. Crush the canned peeled tomatoes and scatter them onto the dough.
• Bake the pizza until golden brown and well-risen, about 25 minutes.
• While the pizza is baking, in a saute pan over medium heat, cook the shrimp in a small amount of oil until just pink, about 5 minutes. Shell and devein the cooked shrimp, but leave them whole.
• Remove the pizza from the oven and tear the frisee leaves over it, letting them fall on top of the tomatoes. Top with the cocktail sauce and the warm shrimp.

Reprinted with permission from Rizzoli International Publications

What recipe takes you back to a favorite vacation? Tell us about it in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Pizza.

Meatless Monday: Joanie’s Pizzeria’s Favorite Veggie

Monday, June 30th, 2014

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A veggie pizza might sound like a humdrum solution for a Meatless Monday, but not when it’s Joanie’s Pizzeria’s Favorite Veggie. This specialty pie from the Soulard pizza joint bursts with the bright flavors of colorful, fresh produce. Summer squash, spinach, mushrooms, yellow onions and roasted garlic all claim space on this pie, and a light tomato sauce walks a balanced line between acid and sugar. Watery vegetables like spinach can easily turn a thin crust into goo, but not here. Ours was toothsome from edge to center, and it took four Sauce staffers less than five minutes to devour all 16 inches of it. Next time, we’re ordering two.

 

 

The Scoop: Plank Road Pizza adds to growing Cottleville restaurant scene

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

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Credit Carl and Nancy McConnell of Stone Soup Cottage for putting the town of Cottleville on the fine dining radar. VB Chocolate Bar upped the ante with its artisanal chocolates and hand-brewed coffee. And Exit 6 Brewery got us excited about our beer options way west. Need more reasons to head to burgeoning Cottleville? Try Plank Road Pizza.

Plank Road, slated to open mid-June, is a pizzeria located in the former Crumb Bakery & Cafe space, at 5212 Highway N. The restaurant will specialize in thin-crust, hand-tossed pizza. “It’s a mix between New York and Neapolitan,” said owner Andrew Brewer.

 

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{Plank Road Pizza owner Andrew Brewer}

The menu will be fairly small, limited to pizzas and salads. Look for classic pies like a Margherita made with tomatoes and herbs grown at the restaurant, a meat lover’s pie, and unusual toppings like pulled pork. Plank Road will also offer a dessert pizza. On the beverage side, bottled craft beer will be available.

According to Brewer, Plank Road makes it’s home in the oldest standing building in Cottleville, built in 1841. The restaurant’s name references the road that once led into town, and the names of Plank Road signature pizzas will also pay homage to the city.

When Plank Road opens, former Crumbs patrons will notice interior changes to the 33-seat, two-room dining area, including a new vaulted ceiling with wood beams and accent pieces of barn wood sourced from Brewer’s grandfather’s farm. The pizzeria will also offer outdoor seating on its brick-lined patio with a shade-giving pergola and a newly constructed side patio. Brewer hopes to convert an old smokehouse on the patio into an outdoor bar outfitted with beer tap handles.

The Scoop: Pie Five to open up to 20 locations in St. Louis

Monday, April 28th, 2014

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It’s no secret. St. Louisans love their pizza, from locals who swear by cracker-thin crust with Provel to the deep-dish diehards. Come fall, there will be another pizza option in the area – up to 20 of them. Texas-based, fast-casual pizza chain Pie Five has its sights set on St. Louis, as reported by the St. Louis Business Journal.

Franchisee Jamey Tasker said he and his partners hope to open the first Pie Five in October. They are currently looking for the prime location. Pie Five stakes its claim to fame on serving made-to-order pizzas with plenty of crusts, sauces and toppings to choose from, all in five minutes or less. Pizzas are individually sized at 9 inches. “It’s kind of like the Chipotle of pizza,” Tasker said. “We love St. Louis, and we think that St. Louis is always on the cusp of new and inventive things. We think this is a pizza revolution, so to speak.”

-photo courtesy of Pie Five

Wheatless Wednesday: Sweet and Savory Gluten-free Flatbreads

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

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A recent trip to Beverly Hills, Calif., teased my longing for spring vegetables. Strawberries, asparagus, sunflower sprouts, baby cucumbers, spring greens and garlic took me to a place of food ecstasy. As the veggies begin to peak in sunny California, I have hope for what I know is right around the corner at our Midwest farmers markets.

It just so happens that a new gluten-free flatbread I received was created in a similar ZIP code to 90210, and so an adventure to the Sunday market to gather toppings seemed like destiny. Going in without a plan, letting creativity have the upper hand, talking heirlooms with backyard farmers… oh, man!

 

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Venice Bakery has created an A+ pizza and flatbread crust. I’ve never baked a gluten-free ’za (until now) with a prepared crust that combines perfect inner fluffiness with a crispy outer layer. The product is extremely thin but at all cracker-like. There are a variety of crust shapes; I experimented with the flatbread, which came two single-serve ovals per package. One crust was the perfect size for lunch with a nice big salad and wine cocktails with fresh strawberry puree.

I hope these ingredients will entice you to get to you local farmers market soon. Keep your eyes open; they start to appear in April. In the meantime, be creative with your toppings. The herbs already baked into the crusts are delicate and just the right amount to add a splash of flavor to any pizza. Our lunch was a combo of savory and sweet, and the crust was the perfect host for a delightful array of light, fresh, local ingredients. Ciao bella!

Spring Asparagus and Herbed Goat Cheese Flatbread
Makes 1 flatbread

1 Venice Bakery gluten-free vegan flatbread*
5 to 7 spears of asparagus, ends trimmed
1 spring garlic bulb or small leek, sliced in thin strips
3 to 5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Kosher salt to taste
½ cup herbed goat cheese balls packed in olive oil, cut into 1/3-inch thick slices
2 Tbsp. chopped sorrel
2 Tbsp. chopped chives for garnish
1/3 cup sunflower sprouts for garnish
2 Tbsp. dried Buddha’s hand zest or lemon zest for garnish

• Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
• Toss together the asparagus, garlic or leek, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Roast 12 minutes, tossing occasionally, until slightly brown and caramelized. Set aside.
• Raise the oven temperature to 475 degrees. Bake the flatbread directly on middle rack for 3 to 4 minutes until light brown.
• Remove the flatbread from oven and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over the crust. Sprinkle the crust evenly with the sorrel, then top with the goat cheese. Add the roasted asparagus and press it gently into the cheese over cheese and lightly press spears into cheese.
• Bake 9 to 10 minutes until slightly brown and set. Remove from oven and garnish with chives, sunflower sprouts and dried Buddha’s hand or lemon zest.

Strawberry and Blood Orange Flatbread
Makes 1 flatbread

1 Venice Bakery gluten-free vegan flatbread
4½ cups strawberries, halved and stems removed, divided
6 oz. apricot honey goat cheese (or another sweet or plain chevre)
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
6 to 8 slices fresh or dried blood orange

• Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Bake the flatbread directly on the middle oven rack and bake 3 to 4 minutes until light brown. Place the flatbread on a baking sheet and set aside
• Puree 4 cups of strawberries in a blender. Place the goat cheese and ¼ cup strawberry puree** in a small mixing bowl and mix together until a paste forms.
• Spread the cheese mixture on the flatbread crust to the edges. Reserve the remaining cheese mixture.
• Press dried blood orange slices into the paste to cover the flatbread. Lightly drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil on each slice and rub the oil into them.
• Bake 9 minutes, until the oranges begin to brown.
• Garnish the pizza with the remaining ½ cup strawberries. Serve with remaining strawberry cheese mixture on the side.

*Venice Bakery gluten-free flatbreads are available online.
**Reserve the strawberry puree for a cocktail or other use.

The Scoop: Master Pieza to open carryout spot on Cherokee Street

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

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William Porter has served his Master Pieza pizzas at popular Cherokee Street event spots like Foam, 2720 Cherokee and The Livery for two years, but soon, he will have a permanent place to call home. Porter hopes to open a carryout space at 2846 Cherokee St., by March 20.

Each Master Pieza pizza is made from scratch, beginning with an egg-less vegan dough and house-made sauce. True to his St. Louis roots, Porter tops his thin-crust pizzas with Provel, though mozzarella is available upon request. Porter’s personal favorite and best-seller is the “K Special,” which is topped with fresh broccoli, green peppers, spinach and onions. Vegan options and other classic toppings, such as pepperoni and Italian sausage, are also available.

Porter says his first restaurant venture will also offer delivery and will be open daily for lunch and dinner service to cater to Cherokee’s late-night crowd. The menu will offer pizza by the slice for $3 or whole pies for $13 to $15. Hot wings, French fries and a children’s menu will also be available along with sodas from Excel Bottling Co. in Breese, Ill.

Master Pieza’s family-friendly, art-centric focus will be illustrated by David Langley, who will decorate the interior of the space with designs inspired by the colorful blocks and sharp angles of artist Piet Mondrain and the logo, a stenciled artist’s palette by Peat Wollaeger.

Porter began making pizzas in 2008 and said it was an excellent blank canvas to experiment with flavors. “I believe that cooking is an art, as well,” he said. “I want to put my stamp on it, my flair.”

 

 

 

 

 

Wheatless Wednesdays: Chickpea Skillet Pizza

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

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It was getting late, but having had “linner” (that meal you eat after lunchtime but well before dinner) around 3 p.m., a big meal around 8 p.m. was not in the cards. But something savory and earthy in a one-skillet dish to heat up the kitchen did sound enticing.

I have to give credit where it’s due: My sister and mother lent a hand with this hearty, quick pizza, once I convinced them it would work. Mom got to work roasting the cauliflower and sauteing the mushrooms, while my sister took on the role of sommelier, choosing the wines for the evening. The pizza creation went off without a hitch and was perfect for a late-night snack with a couple glasses of wine … and the obligatory game of gin.

I’ll be adding this one to the memory bank as another adventure in successful cooking, drinking wine and card playing with two of my favorite sous chefs.

Chickpea Skillet Pizza
2 to 4 Servings

1 cup chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
1 tsp. sea salt, divided
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 Tbsp dried herbs of your choice (thyme, basil, parsley, oregano, etc.)
2/3 cup shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese, divided
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
½ small red onion, finely chopped
1 small red pear, thinly sliced
2 cups wild mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 cup arugula

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
• Combine chickpea flour and ¾ cup warm water in medium bowl and whisk until lumps are removed. Stir in ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper, the dried herbs and 1/3 cup cheese. Let the batter sit 30 minutes at room temperature.
• Toss the cauliflower, 2 tablespoons olive oil and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Place mixture on a baking sheet and roast, stirring frequently, until browned and softened, around 20 to 30 minutes.
• While cauliflower is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet. Saute the onions until soft and brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until soft and brown, about 10 minutes.
• Add another ¼ cup water to the chickpea batter and stir well.
• Heat a 12-inch cast iron or ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, pour the batter into skillet and lightly spread it evenly like a pancake (The batter doesn’t need to fill the whole skillet.). Cook 3 to 5 minutes, until small bubbles will appear and the batter starts to pull away from the skillet around the edges. Flip the crust like a pancake and cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until set and firm.
• Preheat the broiler. Cover the pizza with sliced pears and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
• Broil about 3 minutes to soften the pears. Remove skillet from the oven and spread the sauteed mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, pine nuts and remaining cheese on top. Return the skillet to broiler and cook until the cheese is lightly browned, around 5 minutes.
• Remove the skillet from oven, top with arugula, and serve.

High on the Hog & Hominy at Pastaria Pizza Takeover

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

In November, Pastaria held its first Pizza Takeover when guest chef Michael Paley of Garage Bar showcased the fare from his restaurant in Louisville, Ken. Last night, the Pizza Takeover series resumed with the arrival of chefs Michael Hudman and Andy Ticer from Hog & Hominy in Memphis, Tenn. The pair prepared a three-course Italian menu of antipasti, pizza and dessert that also reflected their southern roots.

We heeded the advice we gave to our Edible Weekend subscribers earlier this week and headed to the Clayton restaurant to encounter a packed house of diners eager to try the lauded fare of Hog & Hominy. Was dinner worth the wait? You bet. Here are some highlights:

 

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-photos by Greg Rannells

Meatless Mondays: Central Table Food Hall’s Margherita Pizza

Monday, December 9th, 2013

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I’ve been on something of a pizza kick lately, and the Margherita pizza at Central Table Food Hall is the perfect meal. It’s shareable and comes out of the kitchen fast, thanks to a super hot oven. It’s delicious, too; a flavorful crust gets topped with San Marzano tomatoes, molten mozzarella and plenty of fresh basil. It pairs nicely with a glass of the La Mozza I Perazzi Morellino di Scansano, a blended red that costs just 8 bucks.

 

Sauce Holiday Countdown: Sassafras SuperStone Pizza Stone

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

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Every home cook longs to create the perfectly thin crust, but sadly, that misshapen pizza pan hiding in the cabinet just cannot turn out that thin, crispy crust we St. Louisans love so much. The Sassafras SuperStone can get you one step closer. With even heating and moisture absorption, this pizza stone is just the ticket to get that famous, crisp St. Louis crust. Now the provel cheese? That’s your call. $23. Amazon.com 

 

 

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