Friday, April 2, 2010

Pizza night


So tonight was pizza night.  We bought the dough (I usually get mine from Whole Foods, but you can also go to a lot of pizza parlors and ask to just buy a ball of dough), and then we had all sorts of ideas for topping ingredients.  I couldn't decide which pizza to make so I tried to convince Alex to make four pizzas in one, but he didn't like that idea.  Then when our pizza dough ended up in the shape of an oval Alex agreed that we could use three different sets of toppings, one set on each third of the pizza.  And it just so happened that I had three different pizzas that I was deciding between.  I love pizza night!

So our pizza was one-third pizza bianca a la Jim Lahey at Co., where the dough is simply sprinkled with rosemary, evoo and sea salt.  And then served with fresh ricotta cheese, mixed with crushed red pepper flakes, evoo and salt.  We added a touch of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a ton of garlic for fun, but overall tried to stay somewhat true to Co.'s pizza bianca.  Granted, I had the pizza at Co. roughly two months ago so I'm not sure how true to the original I actually was, but that's ok.  I tried.  Another one-third was your basic margherita pizza with large slices of beefsteak tomato, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and dried oregano.  The last one-third of our pizza was smoked mozzarella, asparagus, and serrano ham.  All of the pizzas started with a base of dough brushed with evoo, sprinkled with garlic and sea salt.  Our favorite?  Hands down the pizza bianca.  The other two pizzas were good, but the pizza bianca was fantastic.  Since Alex has never been to Co. before he had nothing to judge it against, but I think we totally knocked it out of the ballpark.  So delicious!

In an effort to at least pretend to be healthy, we served the pizza with our version of Anne Burrell's Asparagus, Pecorino and Red Onion Salad recipe.  I love vinegar as much as the next person, but her recipe as written is scary on the vinegar.  We mellowed it out by cutting back on the amount of red wine vinegar and adding some balsamic to sweeten it up and cut out some of the acidity of the red wine vinegar.  This is a great salad when asparagus is in season in the spring and is sweet and amazing.  We jumped the gun a little here since asparagus isn't quite in season yet, but I couldn't resist.

Recipes after the jump!

Three-way Pizza

1 lb. ball of pre-made pizza dough
2 tbsp evoo, separated
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
2 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, separated
4-5 slices of fresh mozzarella, slices about 1/8-inch thick
2-3 slices beefsteak tomato
1/2 tsp dried oregano
4-5 slices of smoked mozzarella, slices about 1/8-inch thick
8 stalks of thin asparagus, woody ends removed, and thinly sliced
1 slice serrano ham, cut width-wise into 1-inch ribbons
5-6 leaves fresh basil
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven with pizza stone on lowest rack at 500 degrees F.  

Roll pizza dough out with a rolling pin on lightly floured surface until it is roughly 1/4-inch thick. Dust a pizza peel or upside down cookie sheet with cornmeal or flour.  Transfer dough to a pizza peel if you have one, or to the upside down cookie sheet.  Drizzle dough with 1 tbsp evoo and use a pastry brush to evenly distribute oil.  Sprinkle dough with minced garlic and sea salt.  Divide pizza into three sections.  In the first section, sprinkle dough liberally with rosemary and 1 tbsp parm-reg.  In the second section, layer dough with fresh mozzarella and then slices of beefsteak tomato.  Sprinkle with dried oregano.  In the third section, layer dough with smoked mozzarella and top with thinly sliced asparagus.

Line up far edge of peel or cookie sheet with far edge of pizza stone and tilt peel or cookie sheet, jerking it gently to start pizza moving.  Once edge of pizza touches stone or tiles, carefully pull back peel or baking sheet, completely transferring pizza to the pizza stone (do not move pizza).  If you're really skilled you can do this with your pizza stone in the oven.  We had to take the pizza stone out and do it on the stove top.
Bake pizza 7-10 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.  Transfer pizza from pizza stone to a cutting board.  

Slice and serve immediately.

Asparagus, Pecorino and Red Onion Salad
By Anne Burrell

1 bunch pencil asparagus, tough bottom stems removed, and very thinly sliced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 cup coarsely grated aged pecorino
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp good quality evoo
Kosher salt

Place asparagus, red onion and pecorino in a large mixing bowl.  Toss to combine.  Dress salad with the vinegar, olive oil and salt.  Toss ingredients again to thoroughly combine.  Season with salt to taste.  

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