Category Archives: my pizzeria

a feel-good pizza party

a surprise invitation to a swank foodie event yielded a fun day out in the big city. the bonus was a crisp cool autumn day–just right for pounding the pavement to get to the destination, a function room at the Boston Children’s Museum:
but first i must confess i am not a zealot when it comes to my food, i have not sworn off ALL fast food yet(though it has been years since i’ve been to That One with the Golden Arches). i guess i am picky when it comes to my fast food :fryingpan ! but ever since my kids (my oldest is now 21), let’s just say i became more attentive about the food pyramid and nutrition labels and regular press releases from the medical journals and such. (like you can avoid them huh?)
add to this the loud and alarming consciousness-raising over carbon imprints and environmental impacts and labor practices, conscience-gnawing agonizing over what to purchase, where? is it good? is it safe? where did it come from?

pizza has become one of our go-to’s for a quick hot meal, a surefire meal that all my kids will eat, in varying intervals: #1son constantly (he’s in college after all); daughter, sporadically (she has a lower threshold); and #2son, daily, if it were at all possible :dash-d-knight: :pizzapay:

once in a while the control-freak-monster-mom in me wakes up, roars and makes the entire pizza from scratch. i do this pretty much for the same reason i turn my nose up at supermarket pastries and cakes: i want to know what’s in the pizza.

but life being what it is, sometimes there’s just no time to make the dough and the sauce. it was therefore almost thrilling to find out about Rustic Pizza and American Flatbread. we got to meet the CEO of the company who proudly presented his products in the most delightful way: a good-for-you pizza party.

passionate CEO
(professional) pizza toppings buffet
good for you indeed–read all about the all-natural ingredients in the crusts, sauces, frozen products, and flatbread pizzas, and the production methods (they have perfected the way to wood-fired-oven baking on a large scale).
three of us shared a Traditional old world pizza crust: FinanceFoodie, my dear neighbor, and i created a superduper pizza.

it was sliced up by Brad, the CEO, himself! (i kept my eye on that superpizza cutter, i’ve got to have one of those!)
my favorite way to pizza: veggies all over (too bad there were no anchovies, i should have brought some from home!).

and i won a beautiful goblet from one of the event sponsors:
my prize: a very special wine glass

Huephoria’s dishwasher safe wine goblet, in my favorite shade of pink with a cute cake

so what to do with the loaded goodie bag we snagged after the party? why, a pizza party at home, of course.
pizza toppings buffet, homestyle
i had most of the toppings already: buffalo mozzarella, grated romano cheese, basil, mushrooms, pepperoni, onions, olives. oh, and those anchovies.
husband picked up Italian sausages and green peppers before coming home from work.
and two twelve-inch crusts were put to good use, shall we say.
father and son pizza
the father-and-(#2)son pizza
brother and sister pizza
the brother-and-sister pizza

the whole family dug in and savored their “almost homemade” pizzas and i relaxed, smug in the knowledge that i had served them something healthy in the form of a favorite treat. and that was dinner.

i have no wish to pontificate however, but i firmly believe in these three little words i first heard from my grandmas, and my now-constant nagging refrain: eat your vegetables!

we like it deep-dish, odd-shaped, white-sauced, and with Julia too.

Yorkshire puddings, with rib roast dinner

it might have something to do with my latest obsession, watching old episodes of The Vicar of Dibley. i just always snubbed this show, being that it dealt with a Vicar. how funny can it be, i thought, dealing with the Church and the bible.
but i saw the Christmas special finale, the one where Geraldine finally found her someone, and it was so irreverently hilariously outrageously funny that i thought i’d track down all the old episodes (it was put down after 10 years on air, circa 1994.)

it might also have something to do with my Anglophilia, according to husband.
he brought home a rib roast for our dinner tonight. i had almost two hours to roast it so i had a moment of Domestic Goddessness and dug out her “Feast” cookbook to make these lovely little gems.
Yorkshire puddings, the traditional accompaniment to the Christmas roast beast, always look so enticing with their puffed up gloriousness that i’ve always been wanting to try.
how much should Yorkshire puds rise?
now, i’ve had quite a bit of a struggle with her recipes, and this one is no exception: i thought it lacking in instruction but since i’d seen an episode with another self-proclaimed Diva (Tita Martha) with A Real Diva, Anne Willan, i was able to make some passable enough for my family to enjoy.
i think it’s got a lot to do with the pan used (i used a jumbo-muffin pan, but it’s said that a twelve-cup one will work, just as well as an 8-inch round cake pan), and will be on the lookout for a popover pan, the kind where the cups are deeper and divided by thin wires. or maybe the oven temperature wasn’t quite hot enough… my kids said it tasted like rich thick crepes. which they like.

substitute melted butter if you haven’t had the time to get drippings from the rib roast.
roast beef drippings to line the muffin pan

4 eggs
1 & 1/3 cups 2% milk (i used half 1 % milk and half heavy cream, because that’s all i had)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 & 2/3 cups flour

preheat oven to 425ºF.
whisk together eggs, milk and salt until combined then let stand at least 15 minutes. whisk in flour then let stand until ready to bake.

pour about a tablespoon or so of roast beef drippings or melted butter into each muffin/popover pan cup. heat in the oven before pouring in the batter.
pudding batter
bake for 15 – 20 minutes until puffed up and browned.
Yorkshire puddings
Yorkshire puddings with peas and gravy
it was certainly a welcome and delicious change from just mashed potatoes and gravy. the puddings when smothered in peas and gravy went very well with the juicy rib roast.

and no, there was no special occasion, unless you count making it to Friday, a special occasion. :drunk:

thin crust pizza

blame this entirely on the Travel Channel! viewing the episode on Pizza Paradise between two duelling pizzerias in Connecticut, baking crispy, flatbread like pizzas with sliver-sliced toppings made me go restlessly bonkers, and catapulted me out the door to get all the necessary ingredients.

now if only i could build a brick oven!

thin crust pizza
the works thin crust pizza
the works: Italian sausage, pepperoni, sweet green peppers, red onions, mushrooms and extra cheese for the kids
thin crust anchovy pizza
anchovies, olives, jalapenyo, red onions(my favorite!), tomatoes…for me. okay one slice for husband :drunk:

i took out my California Pizza Kitchen family cookbook from Wiley’s, and followed their particulars: use only cooled, thickened marinara (store-bought or homemade), and use a light touch(very thinly sliced, and do not pile them on too thick) on the toppings.

this is now mama’s preferred pizza as of this moment (mama’s the cook AND the queen of this pizzeria after all), it’s just thatthe deep dish pizza seems to be too much and too heavy now, EVEN for mama. or until the next Pizza Paradise episode :comedy: .

recipe for the crust follows…for a change! i’m in the mood to practise my typing! Continue reading

white pizza

CPK family cookbook
i want you to buy this cookbook.
because 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book will go to children’s charities.
so i will make you want to buy it! when i opened up the cookbook this was the first thing i wanted to make: delectable white pizza with bacon. hold the tomatoes! these slices are loaded with wilted spinach (sauteed with garlic), bacon (i used prosciutto and chicken sausage), mozzarella, parmesan, fontina, and ricotta cheeses. my kids loved it! (though i had to make a second pizza of pepperoni and leftover spaghetti sauce laden with mozzarella. one member of the family has to have pepperoni :dash-d-knight: .)
i made the pizza dough in the bread machine which was a time saver….just used the manual setting, and shaped the pizza by hand.
white pizza, before
with “dollops” of ricotta, and shreds of fresh basil.

white pizza, fresh out of the oven

white pizza, slice
although i’ve only ever been to a CPK once, i must boast that i went to one actually in California, many years ago, with my brother, when we only had two kids each.

they’re famous for revolutionizing esoteric pizzas (bbq chicken! thai!) , and they also sell them in the freezer section of the supermarket.

the cookbook starts you out with three kinds of pizza dough, then ideas for toppings like jamaican jerk chicken, japanese eggplant, and Thanksgiving sweet potato pizza. it also features more than just pizzas (appetizers, salads, dessert pizzas) and tips on how to have a children’s make your own pizza party.
that’s just right up my alley!

the week that was

this new year is supposed to be husband’s lucky year…so we accompanied him to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, the nearest of his “playgrounds,” for some playtime. we stayed in a little generic suite hotel, with an ample free breakfast!, and had us some of that bad buffet. bad as in big, grand, sinful, gluttonous! we stood in line for a good half hour, building up an appetite. thankfully there was a little sitting area for the kids to wait it out, and by the time we reached the cashier we were able to give the buffet due justice.
nothing too exciting except for a scuffle on the buffet “veranda”, we followed the line of boys in teal uniforms who separated the women…too bad we didn’t find out what the fight was about. a huge crowd gathered around to watch the drama. i think it’s human nature: crowd curiosity, morbid fascination and neck craning, you just have to look back on a bad scene.

a wall of security boys in teal
sigh, luck wasn’t raining down on us for this foray though…rain was raining down on us when we drove back home.

another cold day= kakanin day! #2son had a bad cold and was very sad to stay home and miss all his playdates on this vacation week (winter break).
had to make a vat of pancit sotanghon (glass noodles) and a huge pan of bibingkang kamoteng kahoy (cassava bibingka) for husband’s work party (“multiethnic” day or some such holiday made up by his co-workers) so i finagled a little portion for the kiddies, and then made a pan of what i really wanted to eat…bibingkang malagkit (glutinous rice cake) with coconut custard topping.
i think it was the memory of eating something cooked in a roasted fragrant banana leaf that triggered all this bibingka making.

i tried to cheer him up by having him assemble a large deep dish pizza with his favorite topping–pepperoni. i think that it coaxed a big smile out of him.

then what do you know, a snowstorm blew into town and dumped 8 new inches of the fresh and fluffy kind…time to make a snowman?

how about a fry-up for breakfast, the morning after?

revelations: deep dish pizza and a new dim sum spot

or eureka!!! moments.
first up, the best pizza recipe we’ve tried, so far.
it’s just that i have three “pizza monsters” at home, who must. be. fed. pizza. they love it so much, that our college boy, #1son, proclaimed that when he got to college, he would eat pizza everyday. well he doesn’t, but let’s just say he eats it whenever he feels like it, and that’s pretty often.

i can’t though. not those greasy soggy ones from the take-out chains anyway.
lately we had been ordering from a local “mom and pop” kind of pizza joint, the kind that uses home made tomato marinara sauce and REAL parmesan and romano and mozzarella cheeses.
but we didn’t like their crust, which was so thin that the sauces soaked through and got soggy.
so husband suggested to the kids that we should make our own pizza. what he had in mind though, was buying pizza crusts and all the toppings.
the control freak in me dug in, and took charge. i searched for deep-dish recipes, Chicago Style, for its thick hearty bready crust, capable of standing up to the toppings and cheeses. and the one i had a hunch would work out came from a “local” boy, Emeril BAM!!! Lagasse, who hails from Fall River, Massachusetts.

i guarantee you will love this thick and hearty pizza crust, which intrigued me for its inclusion of semolina flour.
so easy, so good, and best of all, you can pick what toppings you want to put on.
for the first try i followed the recipe faithfully, except for husband stirring in a bit more sugar (about 1 & 1/2 tsps. more) for the tomato sauce, and little pizza chef #2son adding a bit of packaged shredded “Italian mix” cheeses from the dairy case.

it’s definitely a keeper! thanks Chef Emeril!
from Emeril “BAM!!!” Lagasse,

i’m almost reluctant to share this next secret. after all, it’s a tiny little joint from a bunch of “mutineers”, defiant ex-employees from the most famous Chinese Restaurant in Boston, who set up a David-versus-Goliath establishment right in front of Goliath!!!! we went in for our dimsum fix and we were smitten.

finely crafted dumplings and noodles but in a teeny weeny location. so tiny they can’t have carts, you have to order from a menu. i know it’s risky, it might be inciting an even longer queue by talking about their impeccable dim sum delights but i want them to become famous, and to stick around, but at the same time i hope any fame won’t compromise the quality of the goods and services thus far.
that’s why y’all good citizens of metropolitan Boston go down there and order the siu mai and the foon and the har gao and the crab dumplings in soup.

i only hope they can find a bigger and better place, far away from Goliath!
Winsor Dim Sum Cafe, 10 Tyler St., Boston, 617 338 1688 “order to take out, dim sum, congee, noodles, rice”

homey pizza

i have to post this most delicious pizza dough that i found from “baking with julia.”
it never fails to receive standing ovations from my favorite patrons…i think the thinner you can manage to roll it out on a nice stone peel (pizza pan thingy) –the crustier. i don’t have one of those though…i just use 2 metal nonstick pans–one is perforated with holes and it comes out really crunchy, the other one just plain solid comes out softer and thicker.

the method seems involved and arduous but it really isn’t. all it takes is timing: start the dough about 4 hours before you plan to serve. this recipe is enough for 2 10-inch pizzas. one kid friendly and one adult.

1 1/2 tsps. active dry yeast, i used Fleischmann
1 & 1/2 cups tepid water (80F–use an instant read thermometer, this is important to have the temp right
2 tbsps. olive oil
2 & 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour, such as King Arthur’s

this is the sponge or starter dough.
sprinkle water into the yeast in the bowl of your mixer. stir well until yeast starts to get creamy and let stand 5 minutes.

mix in olive oil and pour in 2 & 1/4 cups flour gradually until dough is blended well–texture will be loose and sticky. let rise in a warm place–85F–until doubled, about 1 & 1/2 hours, covered with a kitchen towel, undisturbed.

punch down dough with a spatula and in the mixer with a dough hook, add 2 cups flour and 3 tsps. salt on low speed. increase speed to medium and beat 4 to 5 minutes until dough is soft and sticks only a bit to your hands as you work it–add up to a 1/4 cup more dough by the spoonful until it is of right consistency.
set on a bowl that has been wiped with olive oil lightly and then turn around and around to coat evenly with the oil. cover with towel again and let rise until double, about an hour and a half more.

divide dough into two, and bake pizza one at a time.

preheat oven to 475F. roll out pizza on a cool surface (such as a marble slab) and roll out thinly to a round that fits the pan. allow the dough to rest every few minutes as you stretch it out.
spread your favorite pasta sauce (we like Classico Roasted Garlic), cover with grated mozzarella, parmesan, or romano, then pepperoni. my kids’ all time favorite!

(my adult pizza toppings: thinly sliced fresh tomatoes, torn up anchovies, thinly sliced basil and oregano fresh from the garden, thinly sliced fresh mozzarella ball, thinly sliced red onion slivers and freshly ground black pepper. optional: crushed red pepper flakes. ahh! it was heavenly.)

bake for 13 minutes until edges are slightly puffed and deeply golden….
well worth the extra effort for the freshly baked dough.