18 July 2009
Pizza Italiano (Cooking with Q)
Well, it's not really Italian, this pizza—it's some crazy, ill-equipped American kitchen version—but it was just so much fun to listen to my son test out his best (and quite good) Italian accent while saying "Pizza Ital-ee-AH-no!" Not to mention the mischief of tossing the dough up in the air and catching it. His eyes grew wide: was I really going to allow throwing food? Not only allow it, but encourage it? I could see him wondering whether I'd gone crazy and also giving thanks for his good luck. We didn't at all accomplish what we should have with the dough: it was way too thick for one thing. But it was a good experiment. We used frozen whole wheat pizza dough purchased at Whole Foods, and then went to town on it. Of course there were no instructions for proper thawing or whether we were supposed to let it rise (or if that had already happened, pre-freezing). The dough never did rise, though I did try to give it time to do so. By way of excuse, I'll admit that the closest we've ever gotten to homemade pizza in the past is dressing up English muffins with sauce and cheese and baking them in the toaster oven like my parents did for me when I was little. This was not really much different. I cranked the oven to 425 degrees F, scattered some cornmeal on a baking sheet and did my best to coax the dough out into a flat circle. Tomato sauce next, plus shredded mozzarella. Then broccoli, because that's what my son likes on his pizza. (Yes, he's six and he has always eaten broccoli, I don't know what I did to deserve such an easy, varied eater!) More mozzarella, then some dollops of ricotta. In the oven for fifteen minutes, maybe twenty, I lost count. Mostly, I just looked at it by eye, pulled it when the cheese was bubbly and the crust looked sufficiently browned. The crust was a bit dense, way too thick for its texture, but it tasted good anyway. Q was happy with the taste of the pizza, and clearly with the escapade of making it. Definitely an experience worth repeating, especially if I can educate myself a bit better about how those pizza guys spin and toss the dough to some objective other than a good laugh.