Easy breezy Pizza Afternoons!
Last weekend I took a dough out of the freezer in the morning, aiming to have an afternoon snack available later that day. I had put it into a plastic bag (you can coat it in olive oil first, or you don’t have to), and compressed all of the excess air out of the bag. Take the bag of frozen dough out of the freezer and let the dough defrost; it’ll take between 5 to 8 hours. De-frosted dough rises up higher than fresh dough, so if you want a thin crust pie you’ll want to cut it in thirds and press it out into nice flat rounds to fit onto the stone. If you want a thicker pie, use a flat pizza pan and place the pan directly onto the stone. This pie was made from by layering olive oil, minced garlic, and shaved cheese down first, then mozzarella, then sliced tomatoes and cut-up asparagus from our garden. Add salt/pepper, rosemary and tarragon, and a few more sprinkles of parmesan cheese. 15 minutes at 500 degrees; it baked up more of a focaccia than a pizza, inverted as it was with the cheese on the bottom….. yummy!
BBQ Pizza for Dinner
We made scrumptious BBQ Pizza this weekend and I hope you take advantage of your summer BBQ moments to make this recipe. It’s fast, fun, yummy and everyone loves the taste of pizza with a slight crisp on the bottom! When the coals are cooled to “marshmallow temperature”, take a piece of relaxed dough and stretch it to shape, then toss it on the grill. In less than 2 minutes it will be ready to flip and top. (Don’t let it go longer, it will burn!) As soon as you flip the dough, start adding your olive oil, sauce, cheeses, whatever toppings you like best but don’t over-load! Quickly use your paddle with a pair of tongs and remove your ‘instant grilled pizza’; bring it to the table and watch it disappear!
Top of the Evening Gourmet Pizza at Home! A lot of people tell us they already have a stone….. and so did we! Our large, square ceramic stone (a wedding present!), worked well for 20 years… or so we thought.
Once we switched to the Cordierite baking stone in the Gourmet Pizza Made Easy boxed kit, we understood why rolling out a thin dough can work so well for pizza crust. This new stone makes a crispy-crunchy bottom that supports all the toppings you desire. We park our Cordierite stone in the oven and when we’re not making pizza the cast iron skillet, our stainless steel roasting dish or a large cookie sheet go right into the oven on top of the stone, and everything cooks up better, ‘browns’ nicely and benefits from the stone on the rack.
We like the individual-sized pizzas so we can serve 3 to 6 pizzas of a variety of flavors at one meal instead of just one with cheese and one that is vegan…. Each large store-bought or dough-recipe dough can be parceled out into 3 smaller pizzas. Cover the dough with olive oil and using the rolling cutter, cut three equal pieces (at 20 and 40 minutes on “the clock”). Take your favorite flavor sensations out of your fridge for toppings and start rolling out your first dough. The other two dough pieces will continue to rise on the plate until you are ready to roll them out and top them off too.
Holiday Fairs Give Back! Hourglass Press had tables at holiday craft fairs this past weekend and we want to give a hearty thank you to everyone at the Hollyberry Fair in Park Slope, Bklyn, and the same to the Riverdale Mhtn, fair, we had tons of fun! Your comments and thoughts about making pizza at home really matter and were enlightening!
We talked with the ‘Cheese Man’ about parmesan cheeses; a teacher taught us the most common tool of ‘cutting a pizza’ equations in the math classroom!; and we met lots of really cool people who love pizza and want to cook and make pizza in their own kitchens, or pass it on to their best friends, and that was refreshing. Home-cooked meals can be a joy and nourish so much of the body and soul.
One of the highlights of the fairs was showing people how to make pizza, how to let the dough rest and rise, and then adding different combinations of ingredients to match personal favorites, or how about when 4 fourteen-year-old girls came over and asked for a quick cooking lesson—- that was totally un-anticipated and a big highlight too!
In the belly of the Great Pumpkin!
Once again, the great pumpkin visited, this time without much fanfare or trouble, last Thursday night. On my way home I picked up two large doughs and once in the kitchen, I wrapped and placed one in the freezer and after coating it completely with olive oil, I left the second dough on a cookie sheet and left it to rise on the counter. Then I wondered, what was going on this home-made pizza for dinner?
Opening the fridge, I found and took out: one half of an onion, a container of mixed olives, some left-over tomato sauce, fresh mushrooms, then some mozzarella cheese to slice and some farm-stand cheese to grate. I found the sautéed broccoli-pumpkin medley from the prior nights’ dinner, and knew that with a bit of chopped garlic, we had everything we needed to assemble our pizzas.
The dough was meant for a 16″-18″ round (which is much larger than I like to make), so I cut it into three even pieces, and then rolled each out onto the corn-meal sprinkled parchment paper. Usually I work with a small-sized dough, but Strombolli’s only had large ready right then. With a large-sized dough you could roll-cut off the 2-3″ outer ring and make garlic knots with it, but we all wanted a lot of pizza so instead we made three 10-11″ odd-triangles and they were de-li-cious!
My kind of Pumpkin Pie
With all the great squash coming in from the green markets across the country, there’s no end to the “pumpkin pies” you can savor this autumn. Balance the squash with supporting harvest vegetables, such as zucchini with red onion, garlic ramps and Kalamata olives; sliced & cinnimon-spiced pumpkin with caramelized onions and capers; or try a combination of acorn squash, corn, turkey bacon (or non-meat field roast links) with dabs of marinara sauce and sprinkles of mixed cheeses. In other words, which ever squash you select, balance it with a companion flavor which will enhance the squashes’ freshness.
Check the cookbook for details but here’s a Quick Prep for any of the suggestions above:
Slice zucchini along the length in 1/2″ widths making rounds. The pumpkin and acorn squash get sliced open in half, the seeds get scooped out and then par boil the squash; when cool, use a peeler to remove the outer skin/thickness, then slice into bite size pieces to use on your pizza.
Drizzle your flattened, relaxed and prepared dough with olive oil, then spread a thin layer of shredded cheese so the bread surface gets chewy and scoop one-of-the-above-toppings around onto your pie. After adding another (not too heavy) layer of shredded parmesan cheese and another drizzle of olive oil, don’t forget to crush your oregano, rosemary, (and other zesty herbs), as well as your pepper and salt all around the top of the pie.
Rainy Day Pizza….
For lunch we made rainy day pizza today, it warmed us up and was quite yummy.
After pulling part the mozzarella cheese, we browned up some turkey bacon, then thinly sliced a Vidalia onion and some garlic cloves. The relaxed dough was a bit dry to the touch so we covered both sides with olive oil before kneading it into shape, and then let it relax some more. We then layered the pie in this order: cheese, onions & garlic, tomato sauce, bacon, olive oil drizzle, then salt/pepper & herbs/spices. We used tarragon for a sweet flavor, hoping to offset the salty tang of the bacon; it did!
We don’t usually layer in this order, but the cheese on the dough provided an excellent base-flavor for the savory summer vegetables in the sauce to stand out. Made from yellow squash and fresh vine tomatoes, it infused into the dough-bed beneath, creating a sumptuous experience and made us forget the rain clouds threatening over head.
Friends came to share fireworks and a bonfire during Independence weekend so we thought: what’s better than a casual dinner of Pizza at home before the festivities?… Let’s make some “fresca Pizzas”, fresh pizzas! We got two large doughs (should have gotten 3!) at our favorite place, Pepino’s of Callicoon, NY, and tried something new: We cut the doughs into thirds. We usually never cut dough (because of the circular path of the gluten strands), but we let these relax and got 6 gorgeous, triangular-shaped gourmet pizzas, each rolled out flat with customized toppings to match the specific tastes of a group of 6 hungry adults and 5 hungrier teenagers! And what a feast we had! Mushroom and tomato with Mozzarella; chicken sausage simmered in tomato-garlic sauce with zucchini; (par boiled) cauliflower with Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and Kalamata olives, and of course margarita pizza (tomato sauce, Mozzarella and Basic) for the last, and…. each one, drizzled with E.V. olive oil and sprinkled with salt/fresh pepper, rosemary and/or tarragon, oregano and basil. Add the fresh basil when you remove the pie from the oven.
Always always remember to use Parchment Paper under your dough so it slides in and out of the oven on the paddle easily.
Al bon Gusto! and to all, I celebrate our blessed country, ever day, not only in early July!
We’ve talked about Parchment paper, right? Enough so that you know you’ve got to have it, and it will make your pizza-baking-at-home life that much more foolproof….. I was looking for another word but that’s really it: fool-proof. I just ordered a set of pre-cut sheets on-line and I think they’ll be really handy to have around. We can’t make pizza without parchment any more; it helps the whole works slide right onto the stone, and lets the heat and moisture seep through the paper so that you still get that crunchy crispy yummy flatbread of a crust!
Returning from a coast-to-coast visit to my Mom’s, I found our kitchen filled with the wonderful smell of fresh pizza tonight! Not only was I thrilled that dinner was ready for me(!), it was great to see the new combinations that my family made. I have collected Tapenade in many varieties, and the Kalamata version that was used gave the surface a lovely, deep ‘zing’. Tapenade’s basic ingredient is Olive, most commonly the black olive, but consisting of any and all kinds. Olives, capers and other ingredients (garlic, herbs, anchovies, lemon juice or brandy), are finely chopped or crushed together into a spread or paste. With fresh mozzarella, sliced vine-ripened tomatoes, Tapenade and an accompanying salad, we feasted and celebrated more snow to come!
New York Int. Gift Fair
Well, we’ve been working ’round the clock. Early in January we decided to sign up to attend the New York International Gift Fair, which is happening this weekend at the Pier 92 and 94, and at the Javits Center in New York City! That meant a lot of last-minute hustling to plan meetings, pump out a press kit and promo materials, and get stock in shape to present to buyers.
What this event also means is that GOURMET PIZZA MADE EASY is making its public debut (outside of B&N that is)! The boxed set will be the star of the show and Hourglass Press founder and creator of GOURMET PIZZA MADE EASY, Karen Greenberg, will be speaking with buyers and showing the gourmet pizza set from Sat. Jan 29 through Wed Feb 2.
We really love this set, we are eager to share it with a wider audience, and we’re hoping that our passion coupled with the quality of our product will open some exceptional doors for GOURMET PIZZA MADE EASY. We’ll keep you posted!
Welcome 2011! Still Hoping for Change!
I do not make New Year resolutions, instead I tend to make them all year round.
For 2011, today I wish us all the motivations needed to take on some of the things that didn’t get action last year; ever onward!
We have dough at-the-ready in the fridge and on New Years Eve good friends came over after early dinner with their brother in the neighborhood. We all sat to relax with the dough and toast the year to come! Our friends spent Christmas with their folks in Maine and had made pizza down-east. Their toppings included Christmas Ham, Cranberries, Kalamata olives, Artichoke Hearts, and small bits of Mashed Potatoes that were left from Christmas dinner. This was all supported with a crusty bottomed flatbread and topped with shredded cheeses from local farmers and hand-crushed oregano and rosemary that were growing on the window sill. All I can say is Wow and Yuummeeee and I can’t wait to recreate this warmth in my own kitchen.
Tonight we’re warming our home and hearth with Hacienda-style Pizza using fajita-flavored shredded chicken, sliced onions and green bell peppers, big green olives, a tomato based sauce with a hint of hotness all topped with shredded jack and mozzarella cheeses. We’ll serve it up small cups of winter white beer to cool the mouth without taking up too much room…. save it for the pizza. Hearty appetite!
December Nights = Pizza making Nights!
There is no better way to warm your kitchen than by turning the oven to 500 degrees with the pizza stone positioned on the middle rack. The stone concentrates the heat and makes the over a super-heat-generator, which is why pizza takes only 15 minutes to cook!
This week we used Quattro Formaggio, a shredded blend of Parmesan, Asiago, Fontina and Provolone (found in the grocery dairy aisle). Sprinkle this right onto the dough before any other ingredients and the top surface will get chewy and flavorful while the bottom of the pizza gets crispy on the stone! Add sliced red onions, diced garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata Olives (cut in halves), and drizzle with olive oil, then add oregano, rosemary, salt/pepper, and then sprinkle some more cheese on top to melt over the veggies. Hearty appetite!
Pizza warms our heart(h) in November!
We’re making a slightly larger bird this year so we have some left-over meat for our Saturday afternoon pizza party. May the season bring you joy and warmth, and lot of reasons to make pizza! With guests dropping in, it’s helpful to keep a dough on the bottom shelf of the fridge for quick treats, or, take one out from your freezer in the morning and it’ll be ready to use that evening. Just be creative and have fun!
Pizza for Dinner!
The Gourmet Pizza Made Easy boxed set is now in stores at Barnes & Noble nationally, so get ready to take home a kit and start making all kinds of wonderful pizza. It was thrilling to see it in the Cookbook section of the store! Have fun!
October On It’s Way…
…and that means that the Gourmet Pizza Made Easy boxed set will be available to everyone in about 2 weeks, (10-13-10 in stores), hooray!!
Here’s a sneak peek:
Now that Autumn is here we’re heating up the oven to 500 degrees again and getting the pizza stone ready! Pumpkin or squash make nice toppings; it’s best to par-boil or steam in small chunks and before laying on the pizza let the excess liquid drain away. I like to pair slices of squash with shaved Parmesan cheese and Kalamata olives, the textures work well together. When friends come for dinner, I always like to see what new topping combinations they come up with, it’s great to expand our horizons.
Pizza For A Smarter Planet
When we have a dinner party or some friends over for a get-together, we always make some pizzas. Our favorite summer method is on the BBQ; it makes a really fast and crisp crust and creates more of a flatbread for dips and light toppings and melted cheeses with only a few veggies or meats. Try this before you put the BBQ away this season… use your brush to paint the grill with Olive Oil and then lay your relaxed and stretched out dough onto the grill; turn after 3 minutes, and then layer on your cheeses and a few toppings. After more 3 minutes on the 2nd side, remove to a serving plate and slice up to serve.
(sometimes I use scissors to cut the pizza instead of a rolling cutter; whatever is available!)
Have a great dinner.
Gourmet Pizza on the way for everyone!
We got samples of the Gourmet Pizza Made Easy box yesterday and I am really excited, it’s on its way to the distribution center!! I am SO happy to share it with everyone, it’s on the shelves in Barnes & Noble bookstores as of Oct. 13th!
It’s really fun making pizza, and its satisfying working with dough and creating food combinations so for me, this new little kit has a greater purpose, a “modus operandi” of its own which is, to spread the warmth and yummy-joyous feelings that envelope our kitchen at least once a week, with you.
We’re having a bunch of people over this weekend and I’m already planning our labor day dinners with the intention of having some left-over tidbits for lunch-time pizza toppings. I’ll save some BBQ chicken and roasted onions and will cut the corn off the cob, and we’ve got a garden-bed full of succulent miniature tomatoes and basil, which I’ll add at the last-minute. I can’t wait! Have a great dinner.
Pizza, A Labor Day of Love !
With guests over for labor day, we made two delicious pizzas for Mondays dinner. Pizza number 1 included carmelized onions, BBQ chicken, grape tomatoes and garlic from the garden with slices of mozzarella spread over the top; it disappeared in minutes! The second pizza made use of garden-fresh tomato sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, string beans, chopped meat, Kalamata olives, and a few slices of mozzarella to top it off, plus a shake of oregano, salt/pepper, and it was blissfully good! We sat outside and watched the sun set on a wonderfully relaxing weekend.
Tip: the chopped meat was pre-cooked (we cut apart a left-over burger from the previous nights’ dinner), and added a depth that we don’t usually have. Yummy!