Monday, January 2, 2012

Spinach and Mozzarella Pizza

Because going out on New Year’s Eve in New York—or really anywhere—is such a nightmare, my boyfriend and I decided to stay in. I stumbled upon a recipe on Serious Eats for a Sicilian pizza made especially for New Years. This got my food-obsessed brain cranking, and I decided that this must be our New Year’s dinner. Best laid plans and all that. One of the things I struggle with in my corner of Brooklyn is a lack of comprehensive grocery options. The C-Town by me is by far the worst stocked one I have ever been to—the produce section is literally two metal carts in front of the freezer cases. On the other end of the spectrum I am fortunate enough to have three neighborhood butchers a block from my house as well as Brooklyn Kitchen two blocks away.

 I tell you all this to illustrate the problem I have trying to track down something that’s more complicated than ketchup but less artisanal than rendered duck fat. The recipe called for rapid-rise yeast—now since the better-stocked C-Town in my old neighborhood kept the yeast up by the cash registers with the tabloids and Snickers bars, I figured that the probability of this one having it at all was close to nil. So, I headed to Brooklyn Kitchen…where of course they had yeast, but fresh cake yeast, not the usual packets of dried yeast the recipe called for. Assured that the yeast company’s website had handy instructions for swapping out fresh for dried yeast, I bought it.
Well, the most helpful website in all of the internet cannot help you if your yeast is dead, as I unhappily discovered when I checked on my dough the following morning. The dough still looked exactly as it had when I put it in the fridge at 4:30 the previous afternoon. Since the dough needed a rise time of 12 hours, I didn’t have time to make another, and I had to change gears. Goodbye carefully considered recipe. For the crust I used the pizza dough from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, always my go-to source when I am in unfamiliar territory or the recipe I am using takes an unfortunate turn. The pasta sauce is a very basic one since the toppings are really the stars here. For toppings, I used spinach and mozzarella.

However, pizza is a really great way to use up whatever you have going on in your fridge, so feel free to get creative. When I was throwing this together I was searching all over the internet for a guide on how to make pizza in the oven since the dough recipe then went on to describe how to grill your pizza as did many of the others I found. Yes, of course I have a grill in my tiny apartment! Don’t you? I hope this can be for you the step-by-step guide for inside pizza I couldn’t find. Happy pizzaing!
1. Make the dough and let rise
2. Turn out dough for second rise
3. Make sauce and prepare toppings
4. Preheat oven to 500º F, inserting pizza stone, if using, onto cold oven floor
5. Roll out dough to desired size and dress
6. Using pizza peel slide pizza onto pizza stone. Otherwise, carefully place dressed dough onto pizza     stone or oiled baking sheet and return to floor of oven
7. Bake for about 12 minutes until toppings are bubbly and serve immediately

From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything
Makes one large or two small pies

1tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 c. all-purpose or bread flour
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 to 1 ¼ cups water (I had to use 1 ¼ cups)
2 TB. olive oil

Combine the yeast, flour and salt in the container of a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup of water and olive oil. Process for 30 seconds, slowly adding more water if necessary, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. Turn the dough onto a floured workspace and knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth dough ball. Grease a bowl with some olive oil and put in the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until it doubles in size—about 1 to 2 hours. Once the dough rises, if you are making two small pizzas now is the time to divide it. Then put the dough back onto the floured surface and knead lightly. Cover with a towel and let it puff back up for about 20 minutes. Stretch by hand or with rolling pin to desired size and add toppings.

Makes more than enough, leftovers can be used over pasta, etc.
3 TB olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28oz. can pureed tomatoes
¼ cup red wine
pinches of oregano, rosemary and red pepper flakes 

Heat olive oil in medium saucepan and add garlic. Stir until fragrant and add tomatoes, wine and seasoning. Simmer until flavors combine and alcohol burns off, about 12 minutes.

About 7 c. fresh spinach 5 oz. mozzarella in ½ inch slices