About a month ago, I wrote this on my Project Food Blog Profile:
“My favorite dish to make is: Pizza. I like it topped with any and every ingredient, from mozzarella di bufala and cured meats to seafood and Asian condiments, crust plump and soft or thin and cracking, made in a traditional way or completely reinvented. I would eat it every day, at every meal.”
At the time, I couldn’t predict how far I would make it in the competition (so glad I’m still in it!). When the dish to remix for challenge #5 was announced, I was amazed at how perfect it was for me: reinventing pizza? Not a chore; rather, the perfect excuse to put my statement to the test and actually eat pizza at every meal, for one day. I circled Pizza Day on my calendar and started planning.
When creating my pizzas, I made sure they were different enough that E would get through the day (he quickly crosses the too-much-dough point), and I reminded myself not to overdo it: a few carefully chosen ingredients go a long way.
Official Pizza Day Menu
- Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs, Asparagus and Pancetta Pizza
- Lunch: Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margherita
- Dinner: Indian Tandoori Chicken, Roasted Cauliflower and Cashew Pizza
- Dessert: Chocolate, Walnut and Banana Mini-Pizzas
A couple of notes:
Dough: I prepared my dough bases the lazy way, using my bread machine. It goes through the kneading/rising process for you (love it!). Dough can also be breezily made with a stand mixer. More adventurous cooks also make it with their own two hands! Any way you make it, homemade dough is key to a successful homemade pizza.
Cooking: A pizza stone is what ensures a crunchy crust. You can buy one for under $40 or use a large unglazed terracotta tile (probably cheaper to buy). The stone must be made of natural clay: its porous texture absorbs excess moisture from the dough and keeps the crust crisp. The stone is put in the oven before being heated at a very high temperature (450°F). The high temperature and evenly heated pizza stone gets your home oven as close to a wood-fired stone oven as it can possibly be.
UPDATE: I published the complete detailed recipes to make the following delicious pizzas. Click here to get cooking!
Scrambled Eggs, Asparagus and Pancetta Pizza
- Crust: Whole wheat
- Sauce: Classic Mornay
- Toppings: Scrambled eggs, steamed asparagus, crunchy pancetta, Gruyère cheese
Assembling the Scrambled Eggs, Asparagus and Pancetta Breakfast Pizza
Tasting notes: I always eat whole wheat toast in the morning, so this choice of a nutty-flavored crust made my pizza feel more breakfasty. The classic Mornay sauce, a Béchamel with added Gruyère and Parmesan cheese, had a very creamy texture and kept the eggs moist. Since we like our eggs scrambled, I barely cooked them in pancetta fat and poured them on the pizza while they were still very runny, and they finished cooking in the oven. The pancetta brought a welcome crunchy and salty bite to an otherwise mild-tasting pizza. The Gruyère’s lightly salty and nutty character brought it all together.
Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margherita
Just last week, I was having an authentic pizza Margherita in Naples, where pizza is thought to have been invented. It is very simple but ultimately satisfying, and Neapolitans take the making of this pizza very seriously: its process has been registered by an association dedicated to making sure pizzerias claiming to serve authentic Neapolitan Pizza follow the rules.
The pizzeria where we had our Neapolitan pizza had the certified recipe printed on its placemats, so I brought it back home to be able to make it again.
The Neapolitan pizzeria where we had an authentic Pizza Margherita last week.
The placemat providing the recipe to make an authentic “Pizza Napoletana Margherita”.
Tasting notes: This dough was made from high-protein semolina flour (the same kind that’s used to make pasta), which added a lot of chewiness – I found that this crust is the one that most closely resembles the ones we had in Italy. This is pure pizza perfection: crunchy, chewy, tangy, salty, creamy and peppery.
My very own Neapolitan Pizza Margherita.
Indian Tandoori Chicken, Roasted Cauliflower and Cashew Pizza
- Crust: Naan
- Sauce: Organic curry cashew store-bought sauce
- Toppings: Chicken Tandoori, roasted curried cauliflower, diced tomato, crushed cashews, aged cheddar cheese and fresh coriander
A selection of toppings to make an Indian pizza: diced tomatoes, fresh coriander, roasted cauliflower, grated aged cheddar cheese, clarified butter, tandoori chicken, chopped cashew nuts and curry sauce.
Tasting notes: This was the one to bring E to my pizza-loving side. He loves Indian cuisine and I love to cook it. I opted for two classic Indian dishes, Tandoori chicken and roasted curried cauliflower. My Naan bread recipe contained yogurt which brought a zesty flavor that was echoed by the tandoori marinade. The chicken thighs were juicy and the tender and slightly spicy cauliflower was the star of the dish. Tomatoes added a juicy bite, cashews, a mellow nutty flavor and coriander, a zesty and bright ending. I took a shortcut by choosing a favorite store-bought sauce that linked it all together.
Chocolate, Walnut and Banana Mini-Pizzas
- Crust: Walnut fougasse
- Sauce: Melted dark chocolate, Nutella
- Toppings: Chopped walnuts, cocoa nibs and bananas
A selection of toppings for sweet mini-pizzas: Nutella, dark chocolate, butter, sugar, cocoa nibs, chopped walnuts and banana.
Tasting notes: Toasted walnut bread with Nutella spread over it was the inspiration for my dessert pizza. The unsweetened walnut fougasse was the ideal tender base. I brushed the mini-pizzas with butter and sprinkled them with sugar before baking. Once puffed and slightly golden, I slathered them with chocolate and topped them with more walnuts, cocoa nibs and bananas. I also tried one simply drizzled with honey and loved it. Needless to say, it was the perfect sweet ending to our pizza day.
Front: Nutella and banana; back: dark chocolate, cocoa nibs and chopped walnuts; right: honey-drizzled.
So, would I really eat pizza “every day, at every meal”? Well, maybe not literally, but it seems as though I will never get bored with it. Our day didn’t feel repetitive at all: we enjoyed completely different flavors, at every meal. We’ve even enjoyed eating leftovers: Naan bread for lunch with soup; chocolate, walnut and banana mini-pizzas for breakfast. The experiment proved pizza to be the perfect blank canvas: different crusts and toppings provide endless variations.
This is my entry to Project Food Blog 2010 Challenge #5. If you liked this post, click here to vote for me. Voting is open from Oct. 18th through Oct. 21st. A big thank you to all who voted for me in the first four challenges!