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Monday, March 19, 2007

Pizza! Pizza!

Making your own pizza is fun, easy, and a delicious way to use up those leftovers in your fridge. I made pissalediere, a French style pizza a popular street snack in Nice.

And also our version of the "Unsafe and Unsound" pizza inspired by Veggie Planet in Harvard Square. Incidentally, I used to work under Chef Didi Emmons, who once owned Veggie Planet, and is the author of the vegetarian cookbook bible, Vegetarian Planet.

To make pizza first you must consider the dough. Instead of making my own, I choose to buy dough from the grocery store. You can find it usually in the frozen section of Whole Foods, or refrigerated at Trader Joe's for around $1.50 each. Stock up, and leave it in your freezer until that night when you are suddenly compelled to make pizza.

While your dough is defrosting, get your ingredients together:


  • 1 jar of good anchovies in olive oil ( I like Spanish anchovies)
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • sweet grape tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • nicoise olives, pitted and sliced in half, the long way
  • grate parmesan, or fontina cheese
  • chopped fresh thyme
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil

Carmelized Onions:
Heat pan on stove top on med-high. Add 2 tbs olive oil. When pan is sizzling add sliced onions. Let them sit until they become browned about 4 minutes. Brown the other side. When brown on both sides add a tsp of sugar, and a 1/4 cup of water. When the water is cooked off take off the heat and let it sit. Voila, Carmelized onions!

Garlic Tomatoes:
Slice grape tomatoes in half and place in a bowl. Add 1 pressed garlic clove, stir in a dash of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Using a rolling pin with a bit of flour to prevent sticking, roll your pizza dough out. Thin out your dough a Let the dough in a gravitational pull for a few seconds before placing on the well oiled cookie sheet. It's okay if it doesn't look perfect--these pizza's are meant to look rustic and homemade.

Using a pastry brush, or your fingers, coat the dough with olive oil. Evenly spread ingredients on the crust in this order:
Cheese, caramelized onions, olives, and fresh thyme, anchovies, and tomatoes.

Bake in oven for 25 minutes, or until crispy.

For Unsafe Unsound Pizza:

  • Fresh chopped Thai basil
  • Garlicky Spinach (Saute spinach in olive oil and fresh chopped garlic for a few minutes until wilted)
  • Chopped Garlic
  • Fresh Asiago or Fontina Cheese, grated
  • Garlicky tomatoes
  • Sriracha hot Sauce

Rub the dough with chopped garlic. Then add: cheese, garlicky spinach, Thai Basil, and garlicky tomatoes. After the pizza is done baking, add sriracha hot sauce in decorative pattern on pizza.

Defrosting Dough:
More likely than not your pizza dough will be in some state of frozenness. The best thing to do is to leave it out on the counter until it defrosts. For me usually, life doesn't leave enough time between the hunger pangs in my stomach and the time it takes to defrost the dough, so I very carefully microwave the dough in a dish for 2-3 minutes on the defrost setting and then let if sit for 5 minutes. It's not scientific at all. Just go slow on the heat and don't cook your dough in the microwave.

Pizza Stones:
If you have a bulky pizza stone that was gifted to you five years ago then stick it in the oven at 350 degrees while your dough is defrosting. I had a pizza stone, but recently got rid of it because there was not place to store it in my tiny apartment. Fortunately I discovered that a well oiled cookie sheet worked just as well, and allowed me to create a rectangular shaped pizza that was more reminiscent to me of French street food than of your local Italian pie.

Whole Wheat Crusts:
Veggie Planet uses a special organic whole wheat crust, which is more filling than regular white crust. Other neighborhood pizza places like, Beauty's Pizza, also offers whole wheat crust.

Cutting the Pizza: You don't need a pizza cutter to clutter your gadget drawer. Just use a pair of clean scissors to get those perfect pizza slices.


Alexander said...

definelty agree on using Anchovies in spansh olive oil (they seem to taste way less fishy that way).

these pizzas eaten together are an extreme flavor rush. i give props to you!

Alexander said...

definelty agree on using Anchovies in spansh olive oil (they seem to taste way less fishy that way).

these pizzas eaten together are an extreme flavor rush. i give props to you!