Have you contemplated making pizza at home, from scratch, in your own oven but find it easier to call for delivery or run out for a copule slices? Does the fear factor run high when it comes to homemade pizza? Fear not, as Ruth Gresser and her new book Kitchen Workshop: Pizza are here to help. As the subtitle explains, Gresser's book provides Hands-On Cooking Lessons for Making Amazing Pizza at Home.
This "matriarch of pizza" has brought all her experience from her Washington, D.C. Pizzeria Paradiso restaurants and delivered it in a way that assists home pizza cooks from the apprehensive to the aficionado. Gresser answered a few questions about pizza toppings, shares a recipe for a vegetarian broccoli rabe pizza AND pizza dough, and even has a classic red wine pick for a pesto, potato and Parmesan pie that you can purchase below. (Also see my three picks for the broccoli rabe pizza, a trio of Italian whites.)
What's the best tip you can give home cooks who are intimidated about making pizza from scratch?
Don't be afraid! There are lots of tips in my book that will help home cooks along the way to making the best pizza possible. Overall though, I'd say pizza dough is very forgiving. So don't be afraid, I'll walk you through it.
Broccoli rabe sounds fantastic on a pizza. What are some of the more unusual vegetables you like to put on a pizza that may surprise people, or help them break out of their pizza topping rut?
Cauliflower, pumpkin, bok choy, beets, brussels sprouts. I could go on but you get the picture. You can put anything on pizza. You just have to treat the vegetable correctly pre-cooking it, or not, and pairing it with complementary ingredients.
What's a favorite pizza and wine pairing?
We have had Zenato Valpolicella on the Pizzeria Paradiso wine list consistently over the years and it pairs perfectly with our Pizza Genovese (basil pesto, red potatoes, and Parmesan cheese). The spice and fruit in the wine merge with the spiciness of the basil and garlic, and the saltiness of the parmesan. The result is deeper, rounder and fuller than either on its own.
BROCCOLI RABE PIZZA
Pizza and Dough Recipes from Kitchen Workshop: Pizza: Hands-On Cooking Lessons for Making Amazing Pizza at Home by Ruth Gresser
(Courtesy Quarry Books)
This pie offers a fresh, simple combination of vegetables spiked with garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Use this recipe as the base to develop seasonal pizzas to suit your tastes, substituting the freshest vegetables for the time of year in place of the broccoli rabe and cremini mushrooms. Complete the transformation by trying different cheeses as well.
Makes one 12-inch (30 cm) pizza
4 ounces (115 g) cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 small onion, thickly sliced
2 tablespoons (28 ml) olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 bunch broccoli rabe
4 ounces (115 g) Pecorino Toscano cheese
1 ball Paradiso Pizza Dough (see below)
Cornmeal, for sprinkling
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1) Place a pizza stone on the top rack of a cool oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C, or gas mark 8).
2) Place the mushrooms and onions in a medium bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons (28 ml) olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Toss the onions and mushrooms until they are evenly coated with the oil, salt, and pepper.
3) Turn the mushrooms and onions into a large roasting pan lined with aluminum foil or a silicone baking liner. Scatter the vegetables in a single layer in the pan. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and some pieces show significant browning. Remove the pizza from the oven and cool. You should have about 3⁄4 cup (170 g) of roasted vegetables.
4) Set the oven to broil and preheat the pizza stone for 30 minutes.
5) Fill a medium pot two-thirds full with water and bring to a boil. Add salt until it tastes like salted water. Return to a boil.
6) Cut the end off each stem of broccoli rabe. Add the broccoli rabe to the boiling salted water and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain, and plunge the broccoli rabe into an ice water bath. When cool, drain again and lay on clean kitchen towels to dry.
7) Cut the broccoli rabe into 2-inch (5 cm) lengths.
8) Cut the cheese into 1⁄3-inch (about 1 cm) dice. You should have about 3⁄4 cup (115 g).
9) On a floured work surface, flatten the dough ball with your fingertips and stretch it into a 12-inch (30 cm) round. (See page 13.)
10) Sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal and lay the pizza dough round on it. Scatter the mushrooms and onions onto the pizza dough, leaving 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 inch (1.3 to 2 cm) of dough uncovered around the outside edge. Arrange 1 1⁄2 cups (60 g) of the broccoli rabe pieces evenly on top of the mushrooms and onions (A). Sprinkle with the garlic and red pepper flakes. Scatter the cheese over the pizza. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil.
11) Give the peel a quick shake to be sure the pizza is not sticking to the peel. Slide the pizza off the peel onto the stone in the oven. Broil for 1 minute. Turn the oven temperature to the highest bake setting and cook for 5 minutes. Quickly open the oven door, pull out the rack, and with a pair of tongs, rotate the pizza (not the stone) a half turn. Cook for 5 minutes more.
12) Using the peel, remove the pizza from the oven. Cut into slices and serve.
Paradiso Pizza Dough
Pizzeria Paradiso’s bready and robust pizzas rise from this dough. Both crispy and chewy, it can star in a pizza of few toppings or perform the supporting role for your elaborately topped pie. While you can make this dough in an electric mixer, food processor, or bread machine, I have chosen to teach you the simple method of hand mixing using only your fingers and a dough scraper as your tools.
Makes dough for two 12-inch (30 cm) pizzas
1 pound (455 g) white bread flour, plus more as needed
1 1⁄4 cups (285 ml) warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon (15 g) kosher salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1) Mound the flour on a clean countertop and make a large well (about as wide as your outstretched hand) in the center of the flour. Add the water and yeast to the well and let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve the yeast.
2) Using the index and middle fingers of one hand, mix the salt and oil into the water. Again using the index and middle fingers, gradually begin to draw the flour from the inside wall of the well into the water, being careful not to break the flour walls. Continue mixing the flour into the water until a loose dough is formed. Using a dough scraper, continue gradually mixing in the remaining flour until the dough forms a ball.
3) Using even pressure, begin kneading the ball of dough by pushing down and away with the heel of your hand. Next, take the far edge of the dough and fold it in half onto itself. Turn the dough a quarter turn. Push down and away again with the heel of your hand. Again fold the dough in half and turn. Continue kneading (pushing, folding, and turning), adding flour as necessary. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.) Allow refrigerated dough to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.