Foolproof pizza dough recipe

Foolproof pizza dough recipe

Honestly, there’s no such thing as “foolproof” pizza dough. As in any sort of baking, the temperature and humidity affect the texture and stickiness of the dough as well as the time to rise. But I’ve made this several hundred times over the past couple of years, so this tried-and-true method is as close as it comes to perfect homemade pizza dough every time.

Pear, arugula, and gorgonzola pizza

Pear, arugula, and gorgonzola pizza

My friend Bridget suggested this pizza combo to me after a meal she had at Santa Cruz’s Tramonti in Seabright. It was an all-white pizza featuring pears and blue cheese; she thought some arugula would add some zing and make it sing. She was right. The base of this is a thin layer of Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio blend (asiago, fontina, provolone, and parmesan), topped with thin slices of ripe Asian pear, a handful or arugula, and finally a drizzle of gorgonzola. The sweetness of the pear substitutes nicely for tomato; the asiago and fontina give it a zing, arugula adds texture and contrast, and the gorgonzola makes it elegant. A...
Barbecued chicken and gouda pizza

Barbecued chicken and gouda pizza

Tangy barbecue sauce, rich gouda, crunchy tart red onion, and savory chicken . . . one of my favorite combos for Friday pizza night. For any pizza night, really. Here is the lightly topped thin crust in the pizza oven: And the finished pie ready to slice: Delicious! Ingredients: Best Barbecue Sauce Pizza crust Cooked chicken (I toss the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with lemon pepper before grilling it) Thinly sliced red onion Shredded gouda cheese...
Friday night pizza night

Friday night pizza night

I’ve gotten into the habit of saving pizza nights for guests, because once I cure the pizza oven, make the dough, make the sauce, mince the vegetables, and precook whatever chicken or sausage I may feel like, it just seems like a lot of work when there aren’t many people to enjoy it. But that’s just wrong. Why wait for guests or holidays to make a meal an occasion? I had the time and a hankering for pizza so went to the trouble for just LL and Kid Two and I on Friday night. Turns out it was not any more trouble than anything else I do. Kid Two practiced making the same face as the dog: Then we cooked our pizzas and watched Touch of Evil (Kid Two enjoys classic film noir) and I sat there thinking, as I often do, it just doesn’t get any better than this. The pizzas don’t get any better than this, either. LL’s favorite is salami, black olive, and mushrooms with tangy tomato sauce: I like prosciutto, fontina, and thinly sliced tomatos with arugula, but I don’t see the arugula here on this one! Look at this great thin crust, though:   I been thinking about the bacon and jalapeño pizza I used to love from Imo’s; it was my go-to pizza in high school. I made this one for Kid Two in honor of his starting high school. It has a base of homemade provel cheese sprinkled with sriracha, thinly sliced garden tomatoes in lieu of sauce, a sprinkling of crispy bacon, cooked fast, then topped with garden greens. It may be my new favorite. Here’s...
Homemade provel cheese

Homemade provel cheese

  True story: St. Louis-born in a decidedly un-foodie time, I did not know that provel and provolone were two different cheeses until after I had moved to California and was married with a baby. Really. I had a sudden taste for one of those delicious house salads we used to get from Talayna’s back when there was only one enormous and dirty location in DeBaliviere, before it got all prettied up and moved. The salad was an enormous mound of iceberg lettuce with a few Greek olives, cherry tomatoes, croutons, and delicious gooey tubes of provel cheese, all tossed together with the house dressing, a garlicky creamy Italian that my BFF assured me her mother said was very close to Marie’s. I can’t find a picture of it, but here’s a similar salad from Leo’s Pizza in Kansas City that will give you the idea: I made the salad that night with provolone and was disappointed. Where was that soft, gooey cheese I craved? I confessed to LL being confused that the provolone in California was so – different from my midwestern cheese. “But we called it provel,” I reasoned. “Maybe there’s some difference.” And that’s when I learned they’re two completely different cheeses. “Provel is like Velveeta,” he informed me. It’s processed. It’s not even cheese. I’ve never seen it around here.” To this day, I have no idea how my native California-husband knew about provel 22 years ago when just 2 years ago even Anthony Bourdain hadn’t. He just knows things, it’s his superpower. So I moved on and found other cheeses, and for all these years provel was just...
Carrot and radish leaf pesto

Carrot and radish leaf pesto

When our week 3 CSA box arrived I was determined to use every bit of the animal – um, I meant vegetable – to the fullest. That meant getting creative with root vegetable greens, the fresh leafy tops from the radishes and carrots in the box. How cool would it be, I thought, to make pesto? I looked around online and found Chocolate & Zucchini had already pioneered that territory with radish greens alone. I followed the basic proportions of her recipe, improvising mostly by mixing up the greens and doubling up on the garlic. Here’s my version of the recipe; by the way, it’s not only deeply green but gluten free and vegetarian, too: Carrot and Radish Leaf Pesto   Save Print Prep time 15 mins Total time 15 mins   Radish leaf and carrot top pesto, adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini's Radish Leaf Pesto recipe. This recipe makes approximately 8 ounces. Author: Life in a Skillet Recipe type: sauce, condiment Ingredients - 2 large handfuls fresh radish leaves, thick main stems removed - 1 small handful carrot tops, thick main stems removed - 1 ounce grated pecorino cheese - 1 ounce toasted pine nuts - 2 cloves garlic, germ removed, cut in four - 3 tablespoons olive oil - salt and freshly ground lemon pepper to taste Instructions Toss all the ingredients in a blender and pulse in short bursts. Scrape the sides of the bowl and repeat until you have a finely textured paste. Spoon out into a glass jar and keep refrigerated. Wordpress Recipe Plugin by EasyRecipe 3.1.09   Don’t wait for pizza night; this...
From the Heavens to Hell’s (Kitchen)

From the Heavens to Hell’s (Kitchen)

New York City is certainly one of the few places in the world where the enormity, scale, and sheer spectacle of a space shuttle parked underneath a giant rubber bubble and perched on the stern of an aircraft carrier can conceivably be concealed by the enormity, scale, and sheer spectacle of the surrounding environment.   Kid One and I serendipitously stumbled across the shuttle Enterprise, a 75-ton OG of space, on a boat ride down the Hudson River. We had two days in New York City and not much planned, so as soon as disembarking from our Lady Liberty photo-op, we scrambled to check out the monolith up close. I didn’t know that, after a lifetime of never seeing a spacecraft in person or even thinking to seek one out, this would be the first of two to cross my path in one month. Imagine the size of an aircraft carrier:   Now imagine walking onto its deck and into a giant rubble nipple:   To find this:   Wow! Underneath the tarp, the Enterprise was as dimly-lit as the Degas pastels at the Musee d’Orsay and the room as respectfully hushed as university stacks during finals. It’s hard to capture how surprisingly large the Enterprise is. Here’s another photo from the ground:   now one with Kid One for a sense of scale:   What a fabulously full day so far: breakfast in Bryant Park a three-mile walk, a river cruise, and shuttle visit. Yes, all before lunch. And now we were hungry. After such a close brush with the heavens, the only place left to go was hell. So we walked the...
Little Italy’s Davanti Enotica – nouveau Italian

Little Italy’s Davanti Enotica – nouveau Italian

davanti – in front of enoteca – wine bar –  from the glossary on Davanti Enoteca’s menu The Italian restaurants in the St. Louis of my memory are the Cicero’s, the Rossino’s, and the Talayna’s;  a vowel-laden litany of boisterous, dimly-lit, wooden-walled, linoleum table-topped rooms filled with baseball teams, cast parties, church groups, girls’ nights out, first dates, and second anniversaries mingling with clattering trays and decades-old smoke and grime, where as high schoolers we’d share plastic pitchers of soda and crunchy iceberg salads tossed with buttery tubes of provel cheese and creamy Italian vinaigrette and as college students we’d share pitchers of Busch Light and chewy pizzas topped with sliced black olives and bacon and jalapeños. That old-school vibe was overthrown in the Foodie Revolution in favor of “nouveau Italian” – handcrafted salumi perched in pepperoni’s throne and purple pickled cauliflower in waiting on tables instead of breadsticks. And across the country in San Diego’s Little Italy, Davanti Enotica reigns as Rossino’s glamorous cousin, the ultimate finishing school graduate of the foodie revolution. Davanti Enoteca is bricked-walled and plank-floored just like those Italian restaurants of my youth, but clean – oh so clean – and decorated in a nod to the past with black and white photos of wooden Italian speedboats docked in tidy harbors and yellow #10 Marzano tomato cans stacked in tidy pyramids, then dotted with single white orchids and tiny tea lights flickering in 4-oz Ball canning jars. My glass of wine was served in a miniature carafe accompanied by an oversized stem – nice to pour just a bit at a time to sip while browsing the...
Smoked salmon pizza and grilled prawns – a perfect appetizer combination

Smoked salmon pizza and grilled prawns – a perfect appetizer combination

Saturday was slow-food pizza night, with friends new and old celebrating the close of another school year. But our pizza is slow and cocktails strong, so we started out fast and delicious, seafood-style, with three dozen grilled prawns tossed in Louisiana hot sauce. They are as rich and luscious as they are quick and easy, mostly because you make the sauce by mixing together 1 part butter to 1 part Louisiana-style hot sauce. Everything’s better with butter – or bacon! – right? A quarter-cup of each is plenty for a dozen prawns, and Crystal, Original Louisiana, and Frank’s Red Hot brands are all traditional and tasty choices. Just toss your sustainably-raised, cleaned and deveined prawns in olive oil and throw them on a hot grill. Turn them over as soon as they start turning pink; it takes only a minute or two on each side for them to cook through. Pop ’em straight into that buttered up hot sauce and dive in – you’ll definitely need extra napkins. Yum. Okay – now for the second appetizer: smoked salmon pizza. We’ve been refining this recipe ever since LL’s first taste of Wolfgang Puck’s smoked salmon pizza at Spagos in Las Vegas way back in the old Comdex days. Chef Puck uses thinly sliced smoked salmon – lox – with caviar. We use dry smoked salmon, thick flaky slabs of alder-infused deliciousness. I love Dave’s brand – it’s local but easy to buy online. Start by making your dough – click here for a fool-proof recipe. Now make a spread of 1 cup whipped cream cheese, zest of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 cup finely minced red onion,...
Grilled pizza how-to

Grilled pizza how-to

Jack Prelutsky’s pizza poem made me hungry! Since I’m thinking about pizza I thought I should let you in on the secrets of one thing I do really, really well – handmade barbecued pizza.