Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pizza. Paltrow. Discuss.

I have mixed feelings towards Gywneth Paltrow. She seems cool, but she gets on my nerves. I could go into more detail, but I won't right now. When she came out with a cookbook a few months back, I was mighty skeptical (and wildly jealous). But she has been hanging with plenty o' notable chefs, most prominently Mario Batali, who knows a thing or two about pizza. So when she posted a pizza-centered email out to her GOOP mailing list (that's right -- I subscribe to GOOP), I had to give it a whirl. So for Memorial Day, I made pizza.

Below, I have posted Ms. Paltrow's recipe, along with the amendments I made in red within...

(For reference, here is the original recipe I started with before tweaking it.)

[begin Paltrow]

To make the pizza, I adapted Gwyneth Paltrow's recipe from My Father's Daughter:
If you have a wood fire, I kind of hate you. If not, preheat a pizza stone in your oven at the highest heat the oven can go to for at least an hour before eating. (If you don't have a pizza stone, just hold your horses -- I'll have you covered too. Just preheat the oven to 500 degrees about 1/2 hour before you're ready to cook that pizza.)
First, I round up my Pizza Dough Ingredients:

(I shrunk down the recipe from Gwyn's ginormous one; it made 3 times as much dough)
  • 3/4 cups warm water (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • About 1 2/3 cups of flour plus more for kneading and dusting. I used bread flour but you can also use Italian "00" flour if you are Gwyneth Paltrow.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
For the dough, whisk together 1/4 cup of the water, the yeast, and the sugar in a large bowl and let stand until the surface has a few little bubbles and is creamy (about 10 minutes).

Add 1/2 cups water, 1 1/4 cups flour, olive oil and salt and stir until smooth. While stirring, gradually add up to another 1/4 cup of flour until the dough starts to pull itself from the edges of the bowl.

Knead the dough on a generously floured surface until it's elastic and smooth—it will take about 8 minutes of lovely fun kneading time. Dust the surface with flour as you go—you don’t want the dough to stick. Work extra flour into the dough as you go if the stuff is still kind of sticky -- I probably added another 1/4 cup a few large pinches at a time.

Form the kneaded dough into a ball, dust with flour, and gently place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a tea-towel. Let it rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. You can let it sit for up to a couple of hours or even overnight in the refrigerator.

For the sauce you'll need:

  • 2 tablespoons (or so) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1/2 large onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (Gwyn's recipe had no garlic -- WTF, girl?)
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring now and then, until softened but not mushy, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the salt. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 40 minutes; use your sauce-stirring utensil to break up the big tomato pieces a bit while the stuff cooks. Carefully puree in a blender until very smooth. Let it cool before saucing your pizzas. (Or don't, but know that if you top your dough with warm sauce, you risk making the top of the dough a tad mushy and spreading it with the back of the spoon is mildly perilous. Not that this happened to me. {Fine, it did.} But at least let it cool down from lava temps.) This can be made up to a week ahead. (Like I plan a week ahead...)

Here’s my pizza kit ready to get going

  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella (I used the pre-sliced stuff that comes in a log at Trader Joe's)
  • There are squash blossoms in season so I tore them over a few of the pizzas
  • Totally adequate olive oil
  • Herbed goat cheese
  • Giant basil leaves (from my own garden/single potted plant)
  • White truffle oil (a little goes a long way)

To assemble pizzas, stretch dough with your fingers until quite thin. You can also roll your dough out using a rolling pin. (I didn't.)

Now top your pizza. I start with pizza sauce. Be sure not to put too much sauce on (this will weigh it down) and don’t go too close to the edge as this will make it hard to slide your peel under the pizza.

(You may notice at this point that I'm assembling my pizza on the underside of a baking sheet with a lip, dusted with semolina flour. My plan was to attempt to use this as a pizza peel alternative and scoot it onto my heated pizza stone. This did not work as the pizza would not scoot and my pizza stone was acting up anyway after what I can only imagine was a lot of improper non-pizza-cooking usage -- bad Dana -- so I just cooked the pizza on the upside-down cookie sheet, which incidentally worked fine. So now you know.)

And now for the toppings... Sprinkle each pizza with the toppings of your choice and then stick them in the oven.

If your oven is nice and hot, the pizza should be perfectly cooked and crisp in two minutes. (Or if you're using a normal, non-wood-burning oven like the rest of us plebes, it'll take about 10 minutes or so.)

[end Paltrow]

In all honesty, the pizza was magnificent. The phrase "I miss the pizza" was uttered by Matt and I each about 12 times after it was gone. I'm kind of obsessed with that sauce too -- it's a great base and I'll be putting it on damn near everything.

And just so you know, I'm making another pizza tonight.


Made another pizza using 1/2 cup whole wheat flour in place of a 1/2 cup of the bread flour and topped it off with some wilted spinach. Delicious.

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