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Pizza, Professional Enough for a Business Meeting
September 10th, 2010 by

Man can not live by news alone. So I fed them pizza.

Man can not live by news alone. So I fed them pizza.

So I held another editorial meeting in my backyard this week.

The 10 editors were served three different types of pizza and a salad.

The pizza I make is a combination of a Julia Child recipe and a recipe I watched my grandmother make a thousand times. And for one of the versions I made this week, I had some help from Todd English.

The fig and prosciutto pizza (top right) was a sweet favorite.

The fig and prosciutto pizza (top right) was a sweet favorite.

Pizza Dough a la Julia

(From “Way to Cook” by Julia Child)

(Makes two 16-inch disks or two cookie-sheet-sized pizzas with a thin crust)

Note: Special equipment needed: A food processor, fitted with a plastic dough blade.

Ingredients

  • Dry active yeast (1 package)
  • Tepid water (not over 110F), (1/2 cup)
  • Sugar (1/8 tsp.)
  • Cold milk (3/4 cup, plus more if needed)
  • Olive oil (2 tbsp.)
  • All-purpose flour (3 cups)
  • Salt (1 1/2 tsp.)

What I did:

Whisk the yeast into a measuring cup with the tepid water and let it bubble up (about 5 minutes to proof).

Measure the flour and salt into a food processor.

Blend the cold milk into the yeast mixture.

Turn on the machine and slowly pour in the yeast/milk mixture. Quickly add the olive oil. And stop the food processor as soon as the dough collects on the blade.

Let it rest five minutes and then process it for two seconds more.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it 50 strokes by hand.

Give it a two minute rest and then knead it 20 more strokes by hand.

Place the dough in a bowl, covered with a cloth towel, and let it rise until double in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). (Note: If you are not going to use it after this, you can punch the dough down and put it in a plastic bag and store it in a refrigerator. However, you’ll have to restore it to room temperature and let it rise again before using.)

You can now cut the dough in half and roll it out on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin. Alternately pick up the doughy disk and place it over your two fists. This stretches the dough, allowing you to put it back on the floured surface and roll it out to the size you want. Keep alternating between rolling it out and letting it hang from your fists until it’s the size you want.

You can now put the dough on lightly greased and floured cookie sheet or onto a pizza peel sprinkled with corn meal (the corn meal acts like ball bearings so the pizza can roll off the peel and onto a hot pizza stone in the oven).

Pizza Sauce a la Nonnie

Here’s a recipe based on my grandmother’s pizza sauce:

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of a sauce pan.
  • Onion (a sweet Vidalia is best), 1 chopped fine.
  • Can of whole tomatoes (San Marzano tomatoes are best), 1 can.
  • Dried oregano and basil (about a tsp. each or to taste).
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sugar (just a pinch, less than 1/4 teaspoon.)
  • Nutmeg (just a pinch. Be careful as nutmeg is very strong.)
  • Butter, (about 2 tbsp.)

What I did:

Heat olive oil over medium/low heat.

Add onion and cook until translucent.

Add the tomatoes and stir well.

Add oregano and basil, salt and pepper.

Cook for about 30 minutes or longer, until it’s no longer watery and the flavors of the herbs get a little more intense. Make sure to keep an eye on the pot, stirring as needed, and scraping the bottom of the pan.

When it’s nearly done add the sugar and stir. Cook a little longer.

Then add the nutmeg and the butter, stirring until the butter is melted. And then shut off the heat.

Assembling the Pizzas

Ingredients:

  • Extra-virgin Olive oil, about 1/2 cup or more.
  • Parmesan Cheese (Grated, enough to sprinkle over the pizza twice)
  • Mozzarella Cheese (About 1 cup grated per pizza, plus a few slivers)
  • Cheddar Cheese (About 1 cup grated per pizza)
  • Dried oregano and basil, to taste.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For Plain Cheese:

What I did:

Brush the dough (whether on a cookie sheet or on the pizza peel) with a thin coating of good olive oil.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese to cover.

Spoon on tomato sauce evenly.

Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, and also strategically place slivers.

Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Sprinkle with dried herbs, salt and pepper.

Drizzle olive oil over it.

Bake in a 500-degree preheated oven until done (About 15 minutes)

Add a Few Toppings:

Make the same as for cheese pizza but add whatever toppings you like. I used artichoke hearts, roasted pepper and capers on one. Another good combination is carmelized onions, vinegar peppers, and mushrooms.

A special cake from a Chinese bakery in Malden Square said it all.

A special cake from a Chinese bakery in Malden Square said it all.

For Todd English’s Fig and Procuitto Pizza, from “The Fig’s Table Cookbook”

Ingredients (for two pizzas)

  • Pizza dough (see recipe above)
  • Cornmeal for sprinkling
  • Olive oil (2 tsp.)
  • Minced garlic (1/2 tsp.)
  • Kosher salt (2 pinches)
  • Black pepper (2 pinches)
  • Fresh rosemary leaves, chopped fine (About 1 tsp.)
  • Fig jam (1/2 cup)
  • Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (About 4 ounces)
  • Prosciutto, sliced thin (3 ounces)

What I did:

One hour prior to cooking, heat a pizza or baking stone in a 500-degree oven.

Roll out dough and place on a pizza peel, sprinkled with cornmeal.

Cover the surface with olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary. But leave an outer lip of 1-inch all the way around.

Evenly dot with fig jam and gorgonzola cheese. Strategically place thin strips of prosciutto on top.

Sprinkle a little cornmeal onto the hot baking stone in the oven. Carefully shake and slide the pizza off the peel and onto the hot stone.

Bake until done (about 10 minutes).

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