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Summer Veggie Pizza

Summer Veggie Pizza

There are so many reasons I love summer, including the delicious sweet corn that grows prolifically here in New Jersey. We’ve been eating it at least once a week, just boiled in water for three or four minutes.
With one of the leftover ears, I was inspired to make a summer pizza using more terrific Jersey produce – (we are the “Garden State” after all!) after seeing something similar on my friend Stacey’s blog. 
The first time I tried it, I also added some zucchini and a bit of anchovy – just enough to give it a zing.
I can just hear those of you who are anchovy averse turning off at this point. But wait – the second time I made it, I added small cherry tomatoes and pancetta in addition to the corn and zucchini. In both cases, I used fresh oregano and basil (and mozzarella cheese of course).
For all you vegetarians, you can skip the anchovies or the pancetta and it will still be delicious, provided you have sweet corn in season.

Although I used a perforated pizza pan to bake the pizzas at a high temperature, the bottom crust just wasn’t getting browned enough. So after about 12 minutes at 475 degrees, I slipped the pizza off the pan and slid it directly onto the lowest of the oven’s wire racks for a few more minutes. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

It worked beautifully and created a crispy, crunchy bottom crust, without burning the toppings.

So take your pick and choose either surf (anchovies):

or turf (pancetta). In either case, you’ll want to try this corn pizza while fresh corn is at its peak.
Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.
Summer Veggie Pizza
pizza dough (your own recipe or store-bought)
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (or several balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced)
1 ear of corn, kernels scraped (either raw or leftover boiled)
1 small zucchini (or half of a large zucchini), sliced thinly and salted
either – 2 anchovies in oil or 6 thin slices of pancetta, fried until crispy
8-10 red or yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
fresh basil
fresh oregano
black pepper
olive oil
Whether using your own homemade dough, or store-purchased dough, put it in a bowl smeared with oil and let it come to room temperature and rest for about an hour. Punch it down and spread it out over a large perforated pizza pan.
Scatter the mozzarella over the dough, then place the zucchini and corn kernels and/or cherry tomatoes on top .
If using anchovies, lay them in a few places across the pizza. Do the same if using the pancetta.
Sprinkle with the fresh herbs and black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Bake at 475 degrees for 10-12 minutes. If the dough is not browning on the bottom, slide the pizza from the pan directly onto the lowest rack of the oven. Let it bake for another 3-5 minutes, checking to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Roman Pizza Party In New York

Roman Pizza Party in New York

When the opportunity arises to enjoy a meal prepared by Rome’s pizza patriarch and one of New York’s most talented chefs, it’s a no-brainer. You make sure you get a spot at the table. So I did – at The Chef’s Table, a New York City restaurant run by Food and Wine Magazine that invites different chefs to take over its kitchen about six times a year.
Last weekend, it was Nick Anderer, chef/partner of New York City’s Maialino and the more recent Marta, restaurants that both feature Roman food, with an emphasis on wood-fired cooking at Marta.
Gabriele Bonci is practically a household name in Italy and hopefully Americans will soon know more about him too. His hole-in-the-wall pizza shop called “Pizzarium” churns out some of the best pizza Rome has to offer, and I frequently catch him on “La Prova Del Cuoco,” an Italian cooking show that’s available to subscribers in the U.S.
The menu and beverage pairing chosen and prepared by Gabriele and Nick was a real treat, starting with these supplí prepared by Gabriele.
First came classic supplí, with melted mozzarella tucked inside the crunchy exterior of the rice croquettes. Another supplí shared the plate, with bits of sausage and a pungent gorgonzola kicking up the taste. A dollop of creamy broccoletti provided a textural and flavor contrast.
Nick’s lemony mustard greens, anchovies and a luscious stracciatella cheese joined forces with bits of sweet potatoes to make for a perfectly balanced salad.
And though a picture is worth 1,000 words, this photo can’t convey the crispness and acidic flavor in this giardiniera made by Nick. I’ve never craved pickled vegetables more.
Accompanying the above was a wonderful Italian craft beer called Enkir, an ale made with ancient grains. You can buy it in the states at a few places listed here.
The pizza course came next, including the one in the first photo – a pizza patate alla carbonara. It’s featured on the menu at Marta, and Nick explains how he came up with the idea for it here.
Meanwhile, Gabriele created a pizza Amatriciana, like the eponymous pasta dish, made with tomato, guanciale and pecorino cheese.
 A last minute sprinkling of cheese.
 The pizzas were served with a sparkling dry rosé wine from the champagne region of France – a combination I would never have thought of of, but which was terrific. Click here to find out where to buy it.
 The main course, made by Gabriele, was a showstopper: a heritage pork shoulder baked in a pizza dough. Legend has it that during world war II, when food was scarce, Romans would steal a pig and bake it inside bread dough to conceal the aroma from neighbors.
At the restaurant on Friday night, once the outer shell of the dough was removed, the aroma wafted throughout the restaurant. After cooking for six hours inside the dough, it was fork tender.
If you felt a little more seasoning was necessary, no problem. Each table had its own tiny bowl of Himalayan sea salt, shaved from the 1,500 pound behemoth hanging from the ceiling.
The remaining courses were prepared by Nick, and included wood-fired Nebrodini mushrooms with wilted spinach:
 And grilled broccoli and broccoli romanesco resting atop spiced chick pea hummus.
 The main course was paired with a red wine from Lazio, Italy called “Ferro e Seta” (Iron and Silk) from Villa Simone vineyards. I didn’t get a photo of the bottle, since it arrived decanted at the table. But we loved it, and I found out it’s available at a couple of stores, including one not far from me, in Trenton, N.J. Click here for info.
There was still a little room for dessert and thankfully after filling up on all the previous courses, dessert wasn’t too heavy. Nick prepared a intensely delicious concord grape sorbet that helped cleanse the palate, accompanied by an almond and chewy chocolate cookie.
It was accompanied by a sweet dessert wine from the Piedmont region of Italy – Fosso della Rossa. It’s available only at a few outlets here in the states. Click here for more information.
Passion For Pizza

Passion for Pizza

Not long ago, I received a book to review – “Passion for Pizza.” Bloggers frequently receive these types of offers, and I turn down most of them. But when the subject is pizza, it’s hard to resist. I mean, who doesn’t love pizza? The book more than lived up to my expectations. It’s divided into two sections – Italy and the USA, with various chapters on pizzerias in those two countries, and recipes at the end (including one at the bottom of this post.) It covers different types of pizzas, from crispy -crusted Roman style, to deep-dish Chicago style and many others, including my favorite, Neapolitan style.
I’ve visited a few of the places mentioned in the book, both here and in Italy, but it’s clear that I’ve got a long road ahead of me if I’m going to make a real dent in the list. With this book as my guide, hopefully I’ll get to some of the others in the future.
There are so many great pizza places around the world that it’s hard, if not impossible, to include all of them. For instance, a real standout that’s not included is La Renella in Rome. They make outstanding bread as well as many varieties of pizza, and like most Roman pizzerias, you order by indicating to the person behind the counter how much of a slice you want them to cut.
Among the places listed in the book is another spot where I’ve eaten great Roman-style pizza, –  Gabriele Bonci’s tribute to pizza, Pizzarium (which recently expanded from its little hole in the wall).
Thankfully, there’s a chapter on Naples, the city where pizza Margherita was created more than 100 years ago for Queen Margherita of Savoy and where I’ve been lucky enough to indulge in pizza on a couple of trips to that great city, including one a few weeks ago.
The ownership of Brandi has changed over the years, but it’s still turning out fabulous pizzas from these wood-fired ovens.
Including the famous pizza Margherita, made with simple but high quality ingredients – tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil. It’s hard not to dig right in, but if you wait a minute or two, the center won’t be as runny as it cools down a bit.
Despite the criticism New York City Mayor DeBlasio received from Americans when he ate pizza in Naples with a knife and fork, go ahead and follow his example. It’s the way Italians do it and Neapolitan pizza can be very floppy and difficult to handle when it’s hot from the oven.
Pizza Margherita is only one of the many types of pizza on Brandi’s menu. Another winner I had to try was this one with prosciutto, arugula, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. I’m still dreaming about them both.
 Fortunately, I have some great Neapolitan pizza places not far from where I live in New Jersey, including Nomad Pizza in Hopewell (soon to open another place in Princeton by the end of the year!); Porta in Asbury Park, N.J., and Brigantessa in Philadelphia.
If you want to try your hand at making pizza at home though, “Passion for Pizza” has a plethora of recipes from many of the pizzerias listed in the book.
 It’s nearly impossible to get the same kind of dark mottled crust from a typical home kitchen, since the temperatures can’t reach the heights of a professional pizza oven.
But it’s still fun to try, and the results, if not the same as your favorite pizzeria, can be delicious anyway.
I recently tried three different pizza recipes from the book, using two different doughs — the “Neapolitan dough” recipe and the “our favorite dough” recipe. We scarfed down the pizza Margherita:
And we loved the pistacchio e salsiccia pizza recipe from Kesté’s in New York (although it could have used a bit of olive oil on top):
 And although mine didn’t look as wonderful as this photo from the book, we all loved the pizza with brussels sprouts, mozzarella and ricotta cheese, inspired by Motorino Pizza in New York City. The recipe is below.

 Pizza with Brussels Sprouts
From “Passion for Pizza”
printable recipe here

1 t. sea salt
2 ounces Brussels sprouts
pizza dough (use your favorite or get the recipe from the book for “our favorite dough”)
2 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded
1 ounce fresh ricotta
1 ounce Pecorino Romano, crumbled
1 ounce smoked pancetta, thinly sliced (alternatives:bacon or unsmoked pancetta)
1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating
coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

 

  1. Place a baking stone in the oven, and preheat to 500 degrees F. or higher for one hour.
  2. Bring 1 quart water with sea salt to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan.
  3. While the water is heating, rinse the Brussels sprouts in cold water, and remove any wilted leaves. Place the Brussels sprouts in the boiling water, and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the Brussels sprouts with a slotted spoon, and place them in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes to cool.  Pour off the water.
  5. Stretch the pizza dough to a diameter of 12 inches.
  6. Distribute the mozzarella, ricotta and Pecorino Romano over the pizza.  Distribute the pancetta and garlic over the pizza.
  7. Peel the leaves from the Brussels sprouts, and place them on the pizza.
  8. Bake the pizza on the baking stone until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling.
  9. Remove the pizza from the oven, and place it on a plate. Top with coarsely ground black pepper and a bit of olive oil, and serve
Grilled Pizza With Figs And Other Delights

Grilled Pizza with Figs and Other Delights

Whoever thought of making pizza on the grill deserves a medal from the culinary medal committee. The grill can get much hotter than my inside oven, delivering that crunchy, nearly burnt crust that’s so loved and so authentic. I’ve made it several times in the past, always placing the pizza dough directly on the grates. This time, I wanted to heat up my pizza stone on the grill and toss the dough onto the stone. It really does produce a more even browning, and it’s much easier to handle when it comes time to flip it over. The only problem is that until you recognize just how hot the pizza stone can get, you’re likely to burn your first attempt. That’s what happened to the first round of dough I placed on the stone. It burned in only one minute. That didn’t keep my neighbor’s daughters, Janie and Annie, from munching on the burnt offering while we were putting together round two of the pizzas.
Get all the toppings ready ahead of time because the cooking goes really fast. In this case, we were making a couple of pizzas – first the pizza with figs, prosciutto and other goodies. I posted about this pizza in my early blogging days when I had no readers other than my family, and it’s so delicious I thought it was worth a repeat here.
Stretch out your pizza dough (purchased or home-made – this one is from a local pizza shop). Toss it on the grill or pizza stone and keep a close watch on it. It will take only a couple of minutes to brown.
Flip it over and cover with the cheeses, chopped walnuts and the sliced figs.
Remove it from the grill and add the sliced prosciutto and arugula. Last time I posted about this pizza, I added all the toppings and cooked them together, but now I much prefer to layer the prosciutto and arugula after the pizza is cooked. They taste much fresher that way. Drizzle with a little extra balsamic “essenza” or glaze if you’ve got it. If not, don’t fret. It’s delicious even without it.
Figs and gorgonzola not your favorite? Just go with a classic topping of tomatoes – in this case grape tomatoes from the garden – mozzarella cheese and basil. A grinding of salt also enhances.
Grilled Pizza
Buy pizza dough or make your own.
Heat up the grill to highest setting. As it turns out, the highest setting on my grill was too hot and burned the first batch of dough. Experiment to see what temperature works for you.
Cook the first side of the dough directly on the grates or on a pizza stone that you’ve heated on the grill.
Flip it over and add any toppings you like.
In these two cases:
Pizza with Figs, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola
Cook the first side of the dough as described above. Flip it over onto the grill or pizza stone. I placed figs, chopped walnuts, about two ounces of gorgonzola and four ounces of mozzarella on top and let the cheese melt. It took another two to three minutes and the other side of the dough gets cooked and browned.
Remove to a platter and top with slices of prosciutto and arugula that’s been tossed in some oil and vinegar.
Pizza with Grape Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Cook one side of the dough on the grill or pizza stone. Flip it over and top with grape tomatoes, about four ounces of mozzarella, fresh basil and a sprinkling of salt. If I had thought about it ahead of time, I might have cooked the tomatoes whole to caramelize a bit before placing on the top. Either way, it’s pretty irresistible.
Fennel Pizza

Fennel Pizza

I get my hair cut by student stylists at a salon in New York City ‘s Soho. Mostly because it’s a bargain – but my other excuse to go there is because it’s just around the corner from Sullivan Street and the Grandaisy Bakery. It’s the previous home of the Sullivan Street Bakery, but the former bakery moved to W. 47th Street and kept the name – even though it is a little counter intuitive to name a place Sullivan Street Bakery if it’s not located on Sullivan Street. But their bread is so renowned that the name has cachet for New Yorkers – or for anyone who’s eaten it.
Enter Grandaisy Bakery, which makes breads, cakes and pizzas that taste like they’re made with the same recipes that the Sullivan Street Bakery uses. Among the offerings are artisanal breads and pizzas topped with seasonal ingredients. In the fall that means atypical toppings you won’t find elsewhere, such as cauliflower or fennel.
I adore fennel in all variations so I just had to try to duplicate what I ate there several weeks ago. You’ll need to pull out your mandoline to slice the fennel thinly enough. Or you can try using the slicing attachment on your food processor. Either way, it’s easy to prepare and the recipe makes enough to fit into a large cookie sheet. It’s perfect for a party when you want to serve finger food for lots of people. You can make it ahead of time and reheat later — that is if you can resist the aroma when it comes out of the oven.

Fennel Pizza

For the dough:

If you don’t want to make it from scratch, buy some fresh dough from your local pizzeria

3 cups flour
1 package dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water
1 T sugar
2 t. salt
3 T. olive oil
cornmeal
freshly ground salt
more olive oil for the top

Bring the water temperature to about 105 to 110 degrees. Use a kitchen thermometer to test. This is very important. Otherwise, if the temperature is too hot, you risk killing the active ingredient in the yeast. If the temperature is too low, it will take too long to rise. Add the yeast and sugar to the water. Wait for about 10 minutes to make sure it “blooms,” or puffs up. That will ensure the yeast is working and the dough will rise.
Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the water, yeast and sugar mixture and the olive oil. Start mixing it together with a wooden spoon or your hands. You may have to add more water, depending on the humidity that day. It should come together in a ball. If it doesn’t, add more water if it seems too dry, or more flour, if it seems too sticky. Knead on a flat surface for about five minutes or longer until it starts to feel and look smooth. Let it rest in a greased and covered bowl until it doubles in size. This may take as little as two hours or longer, depending on where you put the bowl. Leave it in a warm spot to make it rise faster, or you can even put it in the refrigerator overnight if you want to make it the next day.
When the dough is ready, grease a large cookie sheet with some olive oil, then sprinkle with cornmeal. Take the dough and stretch it out on a floured board or counter using a rolling pin. When it is nearly the same size as the cookie sheet, transfer it with your hands to the prepared sheet and shape the dough into the cookie sheet. It is a very resistant dough, so you have to keep working it to get it to all the corners. Take a fork and puncture the dough all over. Then grind some salt and sprinkle more olive oil all over the surface. Let the dough rise a second time in the pan for at least one hour.

Top it with the following:

1/2 large fennel bulb, or 1 small fennel bulb, sliced thinly
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T. freshly chopped thyme
1 T. freshly chopped rosemary

Bake in a preheated 475 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until bottom crust looks browned and crispy and top is golden.

Pizza With Figs And Prosciutto

Pizza with Figs and Prosciutto

If you’re a pizza purist and think it isn’t pizza if it’s not topped with tomato sauce, then you can skip this one. But I warn you, you’ll be missing out on one of the best pizzas you’ll ever taste.
We recently shared a similar pizza as an appetizer with our friends Al and Ellen Stark at Orso, a New York City restaurant that’s a favorite of theirs.
The list of ingredients blend together to create a perfect harmonic symphony of tastes: the sweetness of fresh figs, combined with the saltiness of prosciutto, the sharp tang of gorgonzola cheese, the mild goodness of mozzarella, the bitterness of arugula and the crunch of walnuts, all fused together on top of a crusty dough. It was a pizza that none of us could stop eating.
I knew I had to try duplicating it at home and guess what? The homemade version was every bit as good as the restaurant’s. And it was easy to boot. I’ve made it twice in the last week and a half, and the first time I absent-mindedly forgot the prosciutto (well, it’s got a LOT of different toppings to remember after all). For all you vegetarians out there, it was delicious even without the prosciutto. But I promise you – with the prosciutto it’s sublime.

Pizza with figs and prosciutto

You can make your own pizza dough if you like, but I went the easy route and bought some already made at a local pizzeria. I just stretched it out on a 12-inch round metal pizza pan, pierced it all around with a fork, and let it rise for about 15 minutes. Douse with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Bake it in a preheated 500 degree oven for about 10 minutes on one side, until browned. If the bottom is not substantially browned, flip over the pizza shell and bake it with the bottom side facing up for another 10 minutes. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.
Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Scatter the following ingredients over the pizza crust:

2 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
4 -6 very thin slices prosciutto
about 10 small fresh figs, quartered*
a small handful of arugula, chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until cheeses are melted.

*I haven’t tried this recipe using dried figs, but if you do, drop me a comment and let me know how it works out.