My son came by a few weeks ago to make dinner for the family. It was an honor (and a pleasure) to watch him work. He has a keen, creative mind and a clever palate. The young man is a crafty chef in sheep’s clothing and he’s not afraid to attempt challenging culinary feats in front of an audience.
When I came home from work he had already made the dough for the ramen noodles. Yes, he was making ramen noodles from scratch. The dough had been set aside and he was in the process of prepping the vegetables. I watched how he worked the kitchen knife. Stern, decisive chops and slices. He worked quickly and with intensity and purpose.
He soft boiled the eggs and removed them to cool while he prepared the rest of the dish.
Several minutes passed and then he stared long and hard at the eggs, still in their shells. I had to bite my tongue when I realized what he was about to do. He put the eggs back on to boil a little longer. I remembered thinking that re-boiling the eggs was probably a mistake but when he pulled the eggs out and sliced them in half they were absolutely, perfectly soft-boiled! That was either a stroke of luck or a stroke of genius, either way, it was a win!
I didn’t ask for the recipe but it was easy to see what he was throwing into the pot. And, since I wasn’t there when he made the dough for the noodles, I can’t elaborate on that either except to say it was a simple mixture of flour, baking soda and water.
“Great pizza and bad pizza have one thing in common…they are both unforgettable.”
Suffice it to say that I am a big fan of pizza. Any pizza can be a great pizza if it is made with
passion and bravado. New York, Chicago,
Des Moines…it doesn’t matter which particular city or which style you prefer,
pizza has become our Great Unifier. Even
when we argue about which type of pizza is the best, we are really acknowledging
the existence of all forms of pizza. The
love of pizza embraces every culture, every race, every nation. Pizza knows no boundaries. Pizza brings us all together and we owe pizza
a debt of gratitude. Make pizza, not
Being a humble, home cook, I don’t have a wood-fire brick oven,
I don’t make my dough with semolina flour and I don’t use buffalo mozzarella. But, that doesn’t prevent me from producing
some satisfying pizza pies. I try to include
at least one ingredient that elevates a common pizza to the next level and I
put my heart and soul into each and every one.
Today’s pizza experience is somewhat typical for me. By that, I mean that I used some ingredients that I have not used before and I employed some techniques that I did not see coming, until inspiration struck me. Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely make a recipe the same way twice and pizza fits my philosophy perfectly.
We’re making two pizzas.
I usually use tomato sauce from a jar, and I’m not ashamed
to admit it. There are some really good
sauces available and I use an inexpensive brand, flavored with basil and
garlic. But, now that I have fresh
tomatoes from the garden, I am making my own sauce.
Ingredients for the pizza sauce:
2 cups diced ripe tomatoes
4 smashed garlic cloves
¼ tsp red chili flakes
Directions for sauce:
Cook the tomatoes, garlic and chili flakes in a large skillet until tomatoes are completely softened. Strain the solids and reserve the sauce. Reduce the sauce by half. Set aside.
Prepare pizza dough. See
my recent post on pizza dough here:
Spread tomato sauce on cooked pizza dough. Lay tomato slices around the outer edge of the pizza. Sprinkle olives across the pizza. Drape the speck capriciously across the pizza, gently. Allow the cured meat to rise and fall…resist the urge to press it down. Distribute the mushrooms and scatter strips of mozzarella across the pizza and finish with the julienne onion and Parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Use a blowtorch to blister the mozzarella. Toss fresh arugula on top. Cut and serve.
Ingredients for the toppings:
1 cup tomato sauce
3 oz pepperoni slices
6 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
Directions for making
Spread tomato sauce on cooked pizza dough. Scatter strips of mozzarella across the pizza. Top with pepperoni. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven. Use a blowtorch to char the pepperoni. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cut and serve.
The homemade tomato sauce makes both pizzas special. It is a straightforward sauce…sweet and simple.
The speck and arugula was my favorite of the two pizzas but both
pizzas benefited by the blowtorch.
Since speck is a dry, cured meat I layered the mozzarella on top, to keep the speck from becoming too dry. Blistering the mozzarella with the blowtorch made the mozzarella sizzle and gave it a special saltiness.
For the pepperoni pizza, I laid the pepperoni on top of the mozzarella,
giving me an opportunity to put a char on the pepperoni with the blowtorch,
which made it as crispy as a brick-oven could produce.
Now, go make some pizza but, for goodness sake, make it good!