Monday, May 18, 2009

Pizza Party

It was a fairly quiet weekend... mainly just relaxation, laundry, and WoW... but we did do the homemade pizza thing on Saturday to liven things up a bit. There were only two of us, so perhaps "party" is a bit much, but at nearly 33 years of age that's probably all the excitement my aging body can stand.

I'm a big fan of homemade pizza as a dining/cooking event... and while it was just me and Anna this time, we've had people over on a couple of occasions and I think the process works incredibly well as long as it's a casual event... and you don't mind embracing the idea that "every party ends up in the kitchen" and just running with it. The idea is that you can get the dough and all the ingredients ready well before any guests arrive, so that they can either help assemble pizzas or just drink wine and watch the shenanigans... but it only takes 10-15 minutes per pizza, and if you stick to 10" pizzas you can do a bunch, which gives a lot of variety for experimentation with more "arty" combos. Pizza baking on the dinner party scale is not particularly labor intensive, nor does it require fabulous cooking skillz (shaping the dough and working with a pizza peel are probably the trickiest), so you have plenty of time to chat as you work... and eat. Anyway, I think it's pretty fun and highly recommend it.

We use the pizza dough recipe from New Best Recipe... which is food processor made with a 2 hour rise, unusual mainly in that it calls for bread flour instead of all-purpose, but we've had pretty good results with it. It divides up into three pizzas of the roughly 10" variety, which we find convenient. It's too much food for two people, but it provides great leftovers obviously. If you're going to try such a thing, I highly recommend a baking stone and a real pizza peel. Yeah, they're pretty specialized pieces of equipment, but they're not supper expensive and make a real difference.

The Caramelized Onion, Blue Cheese, and Walnut pizza recipe came out of A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen... as did the Potato Leek pizza, while the Spinach and Ricotta recipe was out of NBR. Though we were consciously picking vegetarian pizza recipes, it was pure chance we ended up with three "white pizzas" (i.e. no tomato sauce). I think we might have been trying a little too hard to come up with unusual and exciting things to make, since it's been a long time since we made pizza. We also obviously had allium on the brain since we ended up with both leek and onion based recipes.

As far as the individual pizzas... the blue cheese one was my favorite, but the flavors were so strong and rich that eating two pieces is pushing it. The spinach/ricotta pizza was solid and quite delicious, but nothing out of the ordinary. I found the leeks of potato-leek fame to call for a little too much tarragon for my personal tastes... as I'm not a huge fan of the anise flavor, but potatoes on pizza strike me as a fabulous idea that needs more research... research done in my belly.