New York Times February 17, 1999

Pizza Any Way You Slice It!

There is nothing really to get excited about this book until you try the recipes like Piadina. If you use good-quality ingredients and follow the instructions carefully, you find that they are not just familiar; they are superb.

The Scicolones have tried to make the recipes as easy as possible without destroying their authenticity. And they have managed to strike a good balance. The wine focaccia, for example, is made in the food processor, but the dough is made with a yeasty, frothy starter and is soft and supple. Once baked, the foccacia is crisp, fragrant and just a little bit sour, sprinkled with the perfect amount of coarse salt crystals.

The pizza margherita is fresh tasting and creamy, with a pool of fresh mozzarella and a thin slick of olive oil. Rather than asking the reader to hunt down tomatoes in the winter, the authors offer a tomato sauce made with canned, peeled tomatoes, good olive oil and a little salt. It is a brave stand, and the results are surprisingly good.

Though it seems slightly off the point, there is also a chapter on antipasti. In it is a recipe for olive and fennel salad -- nothing groundbreaking. The olives and fennel make a pleasant contrast of sweetness and acidity, and a pinch of red pepper flakes gives the salad just enough kick. But just as with the other dishes in the book, after you try it, you want seconds.

Adapted from "Pizza Any Way You Slice It!" by Charles and Michele Scicolone
Flat disk of dough browned in a skillet and folded around fillings like sliced prosciutto and salami, or arugula and soft goat cheese, or sauteed greens. A cinch to throw together for a weeknight dinner.

3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup soft fresh goat cheese
8 handfuls arugula.

1. In a food processor or heavy-duty mixer, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the water and oil. Process or mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 1 minute. Remove from the machine, and knead briefly by hand on a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with a bowl, and let rest 20 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Cover all but 1 piece with a bowl. On a lightly floured surface, shape the piece into a ball. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to an 8-inch circle. Place a piece of wax paper on a large dinner plate, and put the circle of dough on it. Roll out the remaining dough, stacking the circles on the plate with wax paper in between.

3. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Test the temperature by flicking some droplets of water onto the surface; if the water sizzles and evaporates quickly, the griddle is ready. Place a circle of dough in the skillet. Cook 30 seconds, or until the dough begins to stiffen and turns golden brown. Flip the piadina, and brown the other side. Place the piadina on a piece of foil in the oven, and keep warm until serving.

4. To serve, on each piadina, spread about 2 tablespoons of cheese over half the circle. Place a handful of arugula on top, and then fold the piadina in half and serve. Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Yield: 8 appetizers or 4 main courses.