PizzasPizza Napolitana from various cookbooks

by Food Editor Carole Kotkin . (see article)

- Collections - Recipes Cookbooks - -  Recipes A16 Food + Wine -- Pizza - Lee's Recipes -

  1. Classic Pizza Dough DOC from Pizza Napoletana! by By Pamela Sheldon Johns
  2. Pizza Maker's Sauce from Pizza Napoletana! by By Pamela Sheldon Johns
  3. Pizza Margherita Extra DOC from Pizza Napoletana! by By Pamela Sheldon Johns
  4. Pizza Pescatore della Pizzeria Brandi from Pizza Napoletana! by By Pamela Sheldon Johns
  5. Pizzette from Pizza Napoletana! by By Pamela Sheldon Johns
  6. Peperoni-Pepperoni Pizza from Pizza Any Way You Slice It by Charles & Michele Scicolone
  7. Grilled Pizza Dough from Cucina Simpatica-Robust Trattoria Cooking by Chefs Johanne Killeen & George Germon
  8. Wine Harvest-Style Grilled Pizza with Prosciutto from Cucina Simpatica-Robust Trattoria Cooking by Chefs Johanne Killeen & George Germon
  9. Pizza with Smoked Salmon and Caviar from Wolfgang Puck
  10. Wine Focaccia from Pizza Any Way You Slice It by Charles & Michele Scicolone
  11. Sausage Mushroom Pizza recipe to be added

Recipes

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Classic Pizza Dough DOC

From Pizza Napoletana! by By Pamela Sheldon Johns

Ingredients

1/2 cake compressed fresh yeast
2 cups warm water (80-90 degrees F)
1 cup pastry flour
11/2 tablespoons sea salt
51/2 to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir yeast into warm water until it dissolves. Add pastry flour and salt and mix well. Add all-purpose flour 1 cup at a time, kneading until the dough is not sticky, about 10 minutes. Continue to knead for about 20 minutes longer, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and leave in the mixer or place on a lightly floured work surface. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75 degrees F) for 4 hours.

Punch the dough down and divide into 6 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Cover with a towel and let rise for 2 to 4 hours until doubled in volume.

Makes six 10" pizza crusts.

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Pizza Maker's Sauce

From Pizza Napoletana! by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Ingredients

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can Italian tomatoes, coarsely chopped
4 fresh basil leaves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Sauté onion, carrot and celery until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, the basil and parsley. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Blend in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool until ready to use.

Makes 4 cups. /p>

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Pizza Margherita Extra DOC

From Pizza Napoletana! by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Ingredients

Classic Pizza Dough (see separate recipe)
4 ounces fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped, or 5 ounces canned tomatoes, drained and chopped
12 ounces fresh cherry tomatoes, cut into 1/4" thick slices
16 ounces mozzarella di bufala, cut into 1/4" thick slices
30 fresh basil leaves
Sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to maximum temperature.

Pat and then stretch each ball of dough to a thickness of 1/4", leaving outer edge slightly thicker. Each round will be about 10" in diameter. Place rounds on a flour-dusted pizza paddle. Place some chopped tomatoes in the center of the dough disk and, with a circular motion, spread it uniformly over the round, leaving 1/2" rim.

Distribute mozzarella evenly over the surface of the tomatoes. Layer sliced cherry tomatoes on top of mozzarella. Sprinkle each pizza evenly with sea salt and top with 2 or 3 leaves of basil. Drizzle olive oil in a spiral motion from the center to outer edge. Slide each pizza onto pizza stone and bake for 1 to 11/2 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven, garnish with remaining basil leaves, and serve at once.

Makes six 10" pizzas

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Pizza Pescatore della Pizzeria Brandi

From Pizza Napoletana! by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Ingredients

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 pound fresh mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
Classic Pizza Dough (see separate recipe)
1 cup Pizza-Maker's Sauce (see separate recipe)
8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 ounces squid, cleaned and cut into 1/4" thick rings
8 ounces fresh white-fleshed fish, cut into 1" chunks
1/4 cup salt-cured capers, rinsed and drained

In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened but not browned. Add wine, parsley and mussels. Cover and cook over high heat, until all of the mussels have opened, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove mussels and set aside to cool. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Strain and reserve cooked onion mixture.

Remove mussels from shells, reserving deeper shell halves. Trim away valves and return mussels to half shells. Spoon 1 teaspoon of reserved onion mixture on top of each and set aside.

Preheat an oven to 500 degrees F for at least 30 minutes with pizza stone inside. Pat, then stretch each ball of dough to a thickness of 1/4", leaving outer edge slightly thicker. Each round will be about 10" in diameter. Place each round on a flour-dusted pizza paddle. Place some sauce in the center of each pizza, spreading to cover the surface but leaving a 1/2" rim. Arrange the shrimp, squid and sea bass in quadrants, leaving one quadrant empty for the latter addition of cooked mussels. Drizzle seafood with olive oil. Slide pizzas onto stone and bake for 4 to 5 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven, place mussels in their shells on the empty quadrant and sprinkle capers on top. Serve at once.

Makes six 10" pizzas.

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Pizzette

From Pizza Napoletana! by Pamela Sheldon Johns

Ingredients

Classic Pizza Dough (see separate recipe)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
12 ounces fresh tuna, cut into 1" chunks
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup salt-cured capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Knead lemon zest into dough. Divide dough into 12 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Place on a lightly floured work surface, cover with a damp towel, and let rise for 2 to 4 hours or until doubled in volume.

Preheat an oven with pizza stone inside to 500 degrees F for at least 30 minutes. Pat, then stretch each ball of dough to a thickness of 1/4", leaving the outer edge slightly thicker. Each round will be about 4" in diameter. Place each round on flour-dusted pizza paddle. Lightly brush rounds with olive oil. Divide tuna and onion among rounds.

Drizzle with olive oil. Slide pizzas onto pizza stone and bake for 4 to 5 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle with capers and fresh herbs, and serve at once.

Makes twelve 5" pizzette.

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Peperoni-Pepperoni Pizza

From Pizza Any Way You Slice It
By Charles & Michele Scicolone

Ingredients

4 large bell peppers (about 2 pounds), julienne
2 medium onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of crushed red pepper
2 cups canned tomatoes with their juice, chopped
Salt
Prepared dough for two 12" pizzas (see separate recipe)
4 ounces thin-sliced pepperoni
2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino, Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to maximum temperature (500-550 degrees F).

In a large skillet, combine peppers, onions, oil, oregano, red pepper and 1/2 cup water. Cover, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and peppers and onions are tender. Add salt to taste. Let cool.

With your hands, flatten 1 ball of the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Handling it gently and turning frequently, pat it into a 12" circle. Dust a pizza peel or baking sheet with more flour. Arrange dough on the peel, reshaping dough as needed. Shake the peel once or twice to be sure dough is not sticking. If it is, lift it carefully and dust the bottom with more flour.

Working quickly, spoon half the pepper mixture over dough. Arrange half the pepperoni on top and sprinkle with half the cheese.

Place the front edge of the peel on the edge of the baking stone farthest from you, jerk it gently to get the pizza moving, then slide the pizza onto the stone.

Bake 6 to 7 minutes, or until pizza crust is golden brown and crisp. Slide peel under the pizza and transfer it to a cutting board. Cut pizza into slices. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Makes two 12" pizzas.

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Grilled Pizza Dough

From Cucina Simpatica-Robust Trattoria Cooking
By Chefs Johanne Killeen & George Germon

Ingredients

1 envelope (21/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
Pinch of sugar
21/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup johnnycake meal or fine-ground white cornmeal
3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
21/2 to 31/2 cups unbleached white flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water with sugar. After 5 minutes, stir in salt, johnnycake meal, whole-wheat flour and oil. Gradually add white flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until a stiff dough has formed.

Place dough on a floured board and knead for several minutes, adding only enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking.

When dough is smooth and shiny, transfer to a bowl that has been brushed with olive oil. To prevent a skin from forming, brush the top of dough with additional olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place, away from drafts, until double in bulk, 11/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down dough and knead once more. Let dough rise again for about 40 minutes. Punch down dough. If it is sticky, knead in a bit more flour.

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Wine Harvest-Style Grilled Pizza with Prosciutto

From Cucina Simpatica-Robust Trattoria Cooking
Chefs Johanne Killeen & George Germon

Ingredients

3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
3 large onions (about 12 ounces, total) peeled, and sliced into thin vertical slivers
1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
3/4 cup pitted prunes
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
12 ounces Grilled Pizza Dough (see separate recipe), divided into 2 balls
5 to 6 tablespoons virgin olive oil
8 slices prosciutto

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add vinegar, raise heat and reduce by half.

Add prunes, raisins, cinnamon and fennel seed along with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook for 15 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until prunes fall apart and mixture reduces to the consistency of loose jam. Discard cinnamon stick. Use the jam right away for pizzas or cool to room temperature and refrigerate, covered, for up to a week. Bring jam to room temperature before topping pizzas, so it will heat through.

Prepare a hot charcoal fire, setting grill rack 3" to 4" above the coals.

On a large, oiled, inverted baking sheet, spread and flatten pizza dough with your hands into a 10" to 12" free-form circle, 1/8" thick. Do not make a lip. You may end up with a rectangle rather than a circle; the shape is unimportant, but do maintain an even thickness.

When fire is hot, use your fingertips to lift dough gently by the two corners closest to you and drape it onto grill. Catch the loose edge on grill first and guide remaining dough into place over the fire. Within a minute, dough will puff slightly, the underside will stiffen and grill marks will appear.

Flip dough, brush evenly with 1 tablespoon olive oil, spread with half the jam, and top with 4 slices of prosciutto. Drizzle with olive oil and slide pizza back toward the hot coals, but not directly over them. Using tongs, rotate pizza frequently so that different sections receive high heat; check the underside often to see that it is not burning. The pizza is done when the top bubbles and the cheese melted, about 6 to 8 minutes. Serve at once, topped with basil leaves and additional olive oil if desired. As jam heats through, prosciutto on top will become warm and transparent. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Makes two 10"-12" pizzas.

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Pizza with Smoked Salmon and Caviar

By Chef Wolfgang Puck

Ingredients

6 ounces Pizza Dough (see separate recipe)
1 tablespoon Chili and Garlic Oil (see separate recipe)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons Dill Cream (see see separate recipe)
21/2 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon Sevruga caviar, optional

Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, stretch the dough into an 8-inch circle, keeping the outer edge a little thicker. Brush the dough with the oil and arrange the onions over the pizza. Using a pizza paddle or rimless baking sheet, slide the pizza onto the stone. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

With the pizza paddle or a large spatula, carefully remove the pizza from the oven and set it on a cutting board. Use a knife, an icing spatula, or the back of a spoon to spread the Dill Cream over the inner circle. Arrange the slices of salmon so that they cover the entire pizza, slightly overlapping the raised rim. Sprinkle the chopped chives over the salmon. Using a pizza cutter or a large sharp knife, cut the pizza into 4 or 6 slices. If you like, spoon a little caviar in the center of each slice. Serve immediately.

Makes one 8-inch pizza

For the Pizza Dough:

Ingredients

1 package active dry or fresh yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup warm water (105º F to 115º F)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Topping of your choice (see Pizza recipes)

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4 cup of the warm water. In a food processor, combine the flour and salt i and pulse once or twice. Add the remaining ingredients and process until the dough begins to form a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes longer until smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. (When ready, the dough will stretch as it is lightly pulled.)

Divide the dough into 4 balls, about 6 ounces each. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 or 5 times. Then on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, the balls can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

To prepare each pizza, dip the ball of dough into flour and shake off the excess flour. Place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface stretch into an 8-inch circle.

Makes four 8-inch pizza crusts

For the Chili Oil:

Ingredients

1 cup peanut, light sesame, or olive oil
1/4 cup dried red chili flakes

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the chili pepper flakes and remove from the heat.

When the oil has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight glass container. Store at cool room temperature and use as needed.

Makes 1 cup For the Dill Cream:

Ingredients

11/2 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves
11/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

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Wine Focaccia

From Pizza Any Way You Slice It
By Charles & Michele Scicolone

Ingredients

1 package dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt
1/2 cup sage leaves, torn into small pieces (or use a mixture of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano and basil)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine

For the Topping:

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand 1 minute, or until creamy. Stir until the yeast is dissolved. Stir in 1 cup of the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for about 1 hour or up to 24 hours. The mixture will be thick and bubbly. In a large mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, or in a food processor fitted with the plastic blade, combine the flour and the salt. Add the yeast mixture, sage, oil and wine. Mix until a soft dough forms. If using an electric mixer, replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, but it should remain soft and sticky

Oil a large bowl. Add the dough, turning several times to oil the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Oil a 15 x 10 x 1" jelly-roll pan. Flatten the dough with your fist. Place the dough in the pan. Pat and stretch it out with your hands to fit the pan evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F Press the dough firmly with your fingertips to make dimples about 1 inch apart all over the surface. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt. Bake 25 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Slide the focaccia onto a rack to cool slightly. To serve, cut into rectangles.

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About Pizza Napolitana from various cookbooks [Recipes]

by Carole Kotkin

Americans of practically every stripe can relate to the sensory experience of biting into a crusty, piping-hot pizza, oozing with melted mozzarella, swimming in juicy tomato sauce and lavished with a mouthwatering splash of olive oil. Those of us with the advantage of august gastronomic memories can also recall our wonder when Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck reinvented the familiar dish for the gourmet market, adding ingredients ranging from goat cheese to sun-dried tomatoes, which the younger generations now see everywhere from California Pizza Kitchen to the supermarket. And all of us with a bent for wine are likely to wash either version down with a palate-cleansing tumbler of zesty Chianti or Zinfandel.

Like most, I grew up loving the ubiquitous "pies" that are the undisputed ancestor to the more exotic type, but eating them is a lot easier than making them. Although I've tried my hand at baking pizza at home - on a pan, on a stone and even outside on the grill - with good results, my creations were never as delicious as those I had devoured at the source in Italy. So when Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust, a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to preserve the art of traditional cooking, invited me to attend a seminar in Salerno, Italy, that included a class led by Neapolitan pizzaiolo Carmelo Guzzo from Il Ripiglio, I jumped at the chance like a cork popping from a bottle of Asti.

Salerno, a place where the connections between farm and table are still very strong, made the perfect setting for Oldways to spread its message of healthy eating, sustainable food choices and classical food production. K. Dun Gifford, president of Oldways, set the tone at the start of the symposium: "Legendary Salerno offers a wonderful place for learning about the 'real' and 'good' Mediterranean diet, and the lifestyle and culture that supports it. The cuisines of Salerno possess wonderful and powerful mixtures of seacoast and mountains. Sardines, grains and vegetables, olive oil, fish, lemons and capers, crisp white and lusty red wines and crusty-loafed breads - these are all indelible elements of Salerno's cuisine, and they add their luster to the legends of Salerno."

The trilogy of sea, sand and hillside was in clear evidence the day of our lesson. Indeed, our classroom, an open-air kitchen situated on a vine-covered terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, certainly heightened the experience. But the food, not to mention the drama that goes inherently with a comestible that is procured almost magically from just a few modest ingredients, held center stage.

Guzzo's profession is based on an organic process. "Basically, pizza-making is simple, based on the freshest and best quality ingredients available," he explains to the 57 attendees at the King's Residence Hotel in Palinuro. Kneading a mixture of flour, water and yeast, he continues, "Pizza was la cucina povera (cuisine of the poor), based on necessity and what was available at the time. And so it remains today, notwithstanding that a liter of good extra-virgin olive oil can now cost as much or more as the finest wines."

Our tutor is as much performer as he is pizza-maker. After the dough rises, Guzzo forms it into a long roll from which he cuts a piece and forms it into a six-ounce ball. Moving quickly and proficiently, he uses his fingers and the balls of his hands to flatten and widen the disk to about three inches in diameter. He then stretches the dough by holding it down with one hand and giving a quick yank with the other. With what seems like sleight-of-hand, he suddenly has a disk nearly twelve inches in diameter and less than 1/16-inch thick in the center. "Press, don't roll," he instructs. "The dough contains millions of air bubbles and a rolling pin would squash them."

As with any artisan, the pizzaiola makes his job look easy, but the skills needed to produce such marvels are considerable. And as a steward of his craft, he feels a sense of obligation to its history. "It is important that rural traditions are kept alive," he maintains, "especially in cities today. We are all eating the same foods, with the same uniform flavorings and seasonings. We must look to the past in order to create something worthwhile for today."

Guzzo's father was a pizzaiola, and as a boy, Carmelo decided to follow in his footsteps. "Studying to be a doctor is easy compared with learning how to make pizza," he jests. Now 42, he estimates that he has since turned out more than a million pies. His guess may even be on the low side, as a pizzaiola typically creates 300 pies a night.

The key to great pizza, Guzzo says, is the crust. Both the dough and the temperature of the oven play key roles in this crucial component. "For the dough," Guzzo instructs, "use the best ingredients and do not exceed in the use of automatic mixers. If the mixer is set too fast, the dough gets warm and the consistency will be very poor." As far as the oven goes, he emphasizes balance. "If [the heat] is too strong, the pizza gets burned. If not [strong enough], there is no vaporization of water and the pizza doesn't get soft." To test the temperature before entrusting his pizza to the bricks and wood, Guzzo often throws some flour onto the floor of the oven and observes how quickly the powder changes color from white to brown to black.

Once the crust is perfected, this humble food is raised up by its toppings. In Italy, however, this is a case of less is more - a smaller amount of cheese and sauce and fewer extras than one encounters here. While lacking in theatrics, the ingredients are of exceptional quality. Guzzo scatters fresh tomato sauce and a sprinkling of mozzarella di bufala lightly over the dough's surface, drizzles on a thin stream of olive oil and slides the disk onto the floor of an outdoor brick oven, twirling around the pies that are already baking to ensure even browning. "One slip of the wrist and the topping can spill onto the bricks," Guzzo warns.

The 900-degree, wood-fired oven bakes the pizzas in just under two minutes. In fact, the whole procedure, from forming the crust to finished pizza, takes less than five minutes, and the results are sensational: Crisp and vibrant with savory, smoky notes that pair ideally with a glass of Chianti, notable for its similarly earthy textures and abundant acidity.

The inferno of logs, chips and sticks that give a properly made pizza its signature flavor. Only wood like oak, olive or apple, all of which burn evenly, giving off little smoke and intense heat, are used in a pizza oven, which itself is usually made of brick.

No one knows for certain where the very first pizza was made, but the process of cooking by fire is one of the few clues to its origins. Because the Greeks, who founded Naples about 2,500 years ago, baked flat breads on hot stones, some say the credit goes to them. Others cite the Etruscans, who baked flatbread beneath red-hot stones in a fire, as the progenitors.

The origin of the word "pizza" itself, in use as early as the 10th century, has been attributed to any number of languages, including Medieval Latin in which picea meant "flat-bread," or the Greek placenta, meaning "flat" or "plate." Regardless of its provenance, there is indisputable proof that the citizens of Pompeii enjoyed pizza, for it was found by archaeologists in that city's unearthed ovens - minus the tomatoes, of course.

In fact, the luscious red fruit didn't come onto the scene until much later. Indigenous to South America, tomatoes arrived in Italy via trade routes established by the Spaniards in the 16th century. At that time, the plant, a member of the nightshade family, bore fruit that was small and yellow (therefore the name pomodoro, golden apple, or pummarola in Neapolitan dialect), and because of its lineage was believed to be poisonous. Despite the suspected danger, the Neapolitan people seem to be the first to wholeheartedly adapt it, and today the plum tomato is the most identifiable element of their cuisine. Still, it wasn't until 200 years ago, when Neapolitan bakers started making these modest pies as quick dinners for the poor, that pizza moved closer to its recognizable form.

Accordingly, pizza is Naples' signature dish, folded into quarters a libretto and eaten like a sandwich at noon or more decorously with a knife and fork at fine restaurants well into the wee hours.

Before the tomato's introduction, Neapolitan pizzas were called cecinielle, after the tiny white fish that adorned them. This early rendition was seasoned with herbs, grated cheese and olive oil, and often eaten in the morning. Vendors sold them on street corners from tall copper containers known as stufe, which they balanced on their heads. After enlisting the tomato, this portable workingman's snack morphed into "pizza marinara," so named for the hungry fishermen who would avidly breakfast on it. Achieving a revered place in the Italian diet, this particular pie is topped with tomatoes, dried oregano, a few thin slices of fresh garlic and a sprinkling of olive oil.

Perhaps more familiar to Americans, pizza Margherita, another classic version, celebrates the colors of the Italian flag. It is topped with ripe tomatoes or sciuè sciuè - "hurry-up" tomato sauce cooked in about eight minutes from the pulpy, perfectly sweet and acid-balanced San Marzano tomatoes (grown right outside Naples at the foot of Mount Vesuvius) and spiked with a hint of garlic or a little minced onion - then layered with mozzarella di bufala, a scattering of fresh basil leaves and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil. Prized for its richness, this sublime cheese is made with milk from the water buffalo (not the American bison) and is produced in the provinces of Salerno, south of Naples, and Caserta, north of Naples. Ironically, although water buffalo milk is lower in saturated fat than whole cow's milk, bufala contains about 50 percent more protein and twice as much fat (9 percent) as mozzarella made from cow's milk (flor di latte).

Although this particular recipe was popular in the mid-1800s, it didn't receive its famous appellation until 1889 when renowned pizzaiola Rafaele Esposito was summoned to the royal palace to prepare pizza for Queen Margherita, young bride of King Umberto. Esposito made three variations, but it was the tomato, basil and mozzarella version that most riveted Margherita's palate and sparked her praise. He soon received an official letter from the royal household proclaiming his pizzas "buonissime." (A copy of the letter, dated June 11, 1889, currently hangs on the wall of Naples' Pizzeria Brandi, owned by Esposito's descendants.) In what could be considered a savvy public relations move, Esposito named the queen's favorite pizza in her honor, and it has been called "Margherita" ever since. Some historians believe the queen wanted to win the hearts of her subjects by sharing their favorite food. In any case, she scored the pizzaiola's vote.

No doubt the queen's flattery was an enormous source of pride for Esposito, who, like nearly every citizen of Naples today, could tell you exactly what a proper pizza should look and taste like. Michele Scicolone, co-author of Pizza, Any Way You Slice It, reports that for Neapolitans, the crust is the most important part: "They say it should be neither thick nor cracker-thin with a texture that's both crisp and chewy," she says, and they "insist that a good pizza can be folded - like a wallet (portafoglio) - without the crust cracking. The outer rim, called the cornicione, should be puffy and speckled with toasty brown spots."

As it happens, pizza is taken so seriously in Naples that the same type of controlling board that regulates wine, the Denominazione di Origine Controllata or DOC, has been established for the dish: the Associazone Vera Pizza Napoletana. The Associazone produced a document called the Progetto di Norma, which defines the rules and regulations that a pizzaiola must follow in order to produce verace pizza napoletana. Every aspect, from the quality and type of raw ingredients to the production method, is covered. The Associazone even maintains the size of a true Neapolitan pizza - it can't exceed 12 inches in diameter. One element that isn't required, however, is that the verace pizza napoletana, or una vera pizza, actually be made in Naples. Therefore, in the United States, Associazone members such as Peppe Miele's Antica Pizzeria pop up in major cities like Los Angeles.

Nor are Neapolitans the only Italians to make pizza. According to Pamela Sheldon Johns, author of Pizza Napoletana!, "Even in Italy, pizza takes many forms. In Naples, the birthplace of pizza, the classic form has a soft, bread-like crust, scantily dressed with one of two traditional preparations. Outside of Naples, the crust thickens and thins and is topped with ingredients typical of the region." For example, in Piemonte, pies are topped with thin shavings of fresh porcini and velvety fontina valle d'Aosta. Romans like their pizza with a very thin, almost cracker-like crust. In Sicily and many other areas of southern Italy, pizze rustiche, or double-crust pizzas stuffed with vegetables, meat, fish or cheese, are popular. The pizza of Recco, which has put the little town outside of Genoa on the food map, is made with strudel-like dough.

Still, it was the emigration of southern Italians during the latter part of the 19th century that brought pizza to America. According to legend, Gennaro Lombardi opened Lombardi's, the first pizzeria in the United States, in 1905 in New York's Little Italy. Signore Lombardi trained many of the pizzaiolos who later launched pizzerias of their own throughout New York City and the surrounding areas. In fact, the original owners of two of the best pizzerias in New York, John's and Totonno's, trained with Lombardi.

Today Jerry (Gennaro) Lombardi, the third generation of his family, operates the restaurant on Spring Street along with partner John Brescio. Discounting improvements in take-out materials - "In the old days the take-out pizzas were secured by cardboard and wrapped in brown paper and tied with string," Lombardi reports - they run it the way it has always been. "We still use a brick oven that is fueled by coal," says Brescio. In fact, it may be the only pizzeria to run on coal in New York City, which is now illegal - Lombardi's slipped in under a grandfather clause. The restaurant also expanded. Five years ago, Jerry's son opened a Lombardi's in Philadelphia.

It wasn't until after World War II, however, that the country at large fell in love with pizza. Enterprising GIs, returning from duty in Italy, began opening pizza parlors from coast to coast.

Once familiar with pizza, Americans naturally began adapting it. Take pepperoni pizza, for example. "Pepperoni is an American invention," Scicolone says. "The word, spelled peperoni in Italy, means peppers, as in peppers. It is not the name of a dried hot sausage. Which is not to say there are not dried hot sausages in Italy, they just don't call them pepperoni. They are occasionally used on pizza in Italy, but by far the two most popular flavors there are the Pizza Margherita and the Marinara." (Sausage-garnished pizza in Italy might typically be called pizza di salsiccia.) The transliteral aberration aside, however, pepperoni is America's favorite topping - 36 percent of all pizza orders are dressed with it.

Since the 1950s, when the import was still considered an ethnic novelty food, the pizza business has blossomed into an industry that makes up one of the fastest growing segments of the American food industry, with sales expanding 10 to 15 percent each year. According to the National Association of Pizza Operators, the combined annual sales of America's 61,000 pizzerias reaches $32 billion, with nearly the same amount sold in the rest of the world.

Just as the the pizzas of Rafaele Esposito's time were embraced by royalty and fishermen, today's pies have universal appeal, thanks to an endless variety of toppings that cater to a wide array of regional tastes. Here in the United States we'll eat just about anything on our pizza, from all-purpose ground beef to chi-chi smoked salmon. Peter Reinhart, author of the forthcoming book tentatively titled My Search for the Perfect Pizza, contends, "Most of us tend to prefer what we grew up with. For me, it was the Philadelphia variation of what we now call the New York-style pizza: thin (but not too thin) crust, nice bubbling in the edges of the dough, and a proper balance of good sauce (not too much, but full of fresh tomato flavor) and tasty, stringy cheese, with some decent Parmesan or Romano mixed in with the mozzarella."

Chef Wolfgang Puck of Spago in Los Angles took wood-oven pizza to new heights in 1982 when he created what would become his signature smoked salmon, caviar and crème fraîche rendition. He says, "Quality will always endure. Obviously, there are a lot of fads in cooking today, but if you use quality ingredients, good execution, and precise cooking, pizza can be comfort food and innovative as well. So, it pleases both children and older people. I know that for me, a pizza with great fontina, goat cheese, mozzarella and black pepper, cooked perfectly, and topped with finely sliced black or white truffles, is the ultimate experience."

Thus the pizza crust became a new platform for him, on which he delighted in casting combinations such as duck sausage, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and garlic or California goat cheese, prosciutto, tomatoes, red peppers, double-blanched garlic and red onions. Corner pizzerias soon began topping pies with everything from artichokes to zucchini to pineapple, and America's pizzas were never the same. Reinhart muses, "Wolfgang certainly took it to the big stage. Back then it really was a breakthrough. The possibilities suddenly opened up for a seemingly perfect 'flavor delivery system.'"

Even before Puck's pizzas began to make an exotic impression, innovative grilled pizzas became the rage in Providence, Rhode Island. Chef-inventors Johanne Killeen and George Germon began serving them at their restaurant, Al Forno, in 1981. Killeen says they use "the less-is-more Italian philosophy of pizza making," but that the unique method of cooking resulted from a misunderstanding. George was engaged in a casual conversation with a friend, "a fellow who used the wrong technical noun to describe a traditional wood-burning pizza oven that he saw in Italy. He saw the fire within and called it a 'grill.' But George was enchanted with the idea and tossed a sheet of pizza dough on our wood-burning grill," she recalls. "After three tries, he came up with a beautifully browned pizza that soaked up the flavors of the smoke."

Today, she contends, "The only [commercial] grilled pizzas in Italy are from those pizza makers who were trained by George in Rome during another Oldways conference and in Venice when we taught for the Cipriani Hotel." But for the home cook, Germon had captured the flavors of a pizza in such a way that, says Killeen, "anyone could do it on their outdoor grill. "After 1991, when the recipe appeared in their cookbook, Cucina Simpatica, restaurants around the country offered their own versions. "In my opinion," Reinhart confirms, "Al Forno raised the pizza bar nationally when they invented the grilled pizza - perhaps one of the three best pizzas made in the U.S."

Indeed, pizza seems to be enjoyed best by Americans, who now consume about three billion pies annually. Just don't tell that to a Neapolitan, who not only harbors a fierce patriotism toward pizza's place of popular origin, but claims that his version is best for the same reason that the espresso in Naples rules the coffee world: It's in the water, which gives the city's pizza dough it's mystical, indefinable and irreproducible edge. While the intriguing "una vera pizza" of Naples is a joy to eat, however, I can now make a pizza that would put your average pizzeria to shame, and I do it with little more than my hands, a bowl, an oven and quality ingredients. Making pizza is a vivid reminder that when one works with stellar ingredients, one need do very little to make them shine.

For more information about Oldways Conferences and Tours, call (617) 421-5500 or visit www.oldwayspt.org.

Food Editor Carole Kotkin is a Miami-based cooking instructor and consultant who co-authored Mmmmiami - Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere.

Source: The Wine News Magazine Bona Fide Pizza by Carole Kotkin
posted on line at http://www.thewinenews.com/octnov02/cuisine.html accessed July 12, 2009

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Sausage Mushroom Pizza rcipe to be added later and moved to another location meanwhile here is jpg

From to be added by to be added later see http://livefireonline.com/2009/08/24/pizzacrust/

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