Friday, December 26, 2008

Pizza stoned

Last weekend, while my parents were staying with Chris and I (they're still in town, but house-sitting for some friends) my Dad noted the presence of my pizza stone sitting lonely atop the kitchen cabinets. He suggested, during a discussion of grocery buying, that we make homemade pizza for dinner one night. Despite my past struggles with yeast, I thought it a great idea - I like to take him up on meal suggestions, as he makes them rarely - and so I bravely put together a batch of pizza dough on Saturday afternoon. I used this recipe, from Smitten Kitchen, and though it didn't rise as much as I would have liked (I blame the crappy instant yeast that one can buy at local grocery stores) it actually turned out pretty OK.

The pizza stone can take much of the credit for that. Heated to blistering in a 500-degree oven, it turns out a crisp and light crust every time. I put some pomodoro sauce (crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, olive oil and a splash of red wine)together and we bought some lovely ingredients, and made two roughly 12-inch pizzas to feed four of us, and that was perfect. Our first effort was this one, a sort of riff on Margherita but with oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes taking the place of sliced fresh ones. Along with some fresh mozzarella and a sprinkle of basil harvested from my kitchen plants, it made for a perfect opener - rich and light all at the same time. The cheese melted into near-oblivion and the tomatoes went slightly charred, adding a nifty note to their tart sweetness.

The second pie was equally good, but much more hearty, and sadly we forgot to photograph it. You'll have to trust me that it was both delicious and pretty: I pan-roasted a chicken breast with some olive oil and lemon juice, then I chopped the meat and my mom scattered it over the sauce along with strips of a freshly roasted red pepper and chunks of soft goat cheese. YUM.

We had a lovely red wine from Sonoma County with the pizzas and an apple-frangipane tart from the French baker on Murray St. for dessert. Divine and congenial for a Saturday night supper. Then we decorated our Christmas tree!

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