In Search of the Perfect Pizza

I haven’t been experimenting in the kitchen as much as normal since I’ve been pregnant. In the first trimester I had an aversion to vegetables. Thus, the only thing I felt like making were desserts, not the best plan for my weight. To the distress of my doctor, even avoiding excessive kitchen time, I gained ten pounds in my first trimester. Now that I’m in the second trimester, my aversion to vegetables has diminished somewhat. I’m not back up to my normal vegetable eating habits but it’s been better.

This morning I woke up with the urge to make pumpkin scones. After discovering that none of my cookbooks suggested a suitable recipe, I turned to the internet. I stumbled on a pumpkin scone recipe from a blog called Morning Coffee and Afternoon Tea. After some fairly minor modifications, I came up with my own version (as Jaeger will tell you, I am incapable of following a recipe exactly). Jaeger and I agreed that they turned out quite well. I also suspect that this would be fairly easy to make vegan by using margarine instead of butter and soy yogurt instead of regular yogurt.

Buoyed by my success with the scones, I decided to try making pizza once again. Pizza is one of those items that I find incredibly hard to make at home. I’ve tried time and again to make decent pizza only to have Jaeger stare reproachfully at me*.

I finally have perfected the pizza dough to my satisfaction. Rose Levy Beranbaum provides a very good chapter on the theory of pizza dough in her The Bread Bible. However, I prefer a variation of McNair’s pizza dough recipe. You can see my variation of it here.

Today, I tried making a potato leek pizza inspired by a recipe in McNair’s Vegetarian Pizza book. I haven’t refined it to my satisfaction so I’m not putting it on my recipe website but here’s a synopsis of the topping:

I took 1 lb of fingerling potatoes (red or yukon would work fine) and thinly sliced them. Next, I finely sliced 1 cup of leeks (onions would work but leeks have such a nice flavor). I mixed the leeks and potatoes together and added 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 4 minced cloves of garlic, 2 tsp salt (way too much, next time I’ll try 1 tsp), freshly ground black pepper, and 3 tbs finely chopped fresh rosemary. The oven was already preheating for the pizza so I mixed the potato topping ingredients together and then spread out on a baking sheet to roast in the oven for approximately 10 minutes.

Next, I rolled out the pizza dough and brush it with extra-virgin olive oil and then thinly spread yogurt on the dough (about 3 tbs). Once the potatoes had cooled, I sprinkled them on top of the pizza. In another bowl, I combined 2 oz swiss cheese, 1 oz Parmesan, and 5 oz mozzarella cheese. I sprinkled the cheese over the pizza and then popped it into the oven for around 10 minutes.

Conclusions: As noted above, the potatoes were way too salty. In general, the flavor combination was good but as Jaeger mentioned, it was missing something. I think next time I might try substituting 2 oz of the mozzarella for feta which might give the pizza more of a bite. In an attempt to liven it up a bit, Jaeger tried adding ketchup to the finished product :-) Out of morbid curiosity, I did the same for a couple of bites. It actually wasn’t a horrible combination but neither was it very compelling.

I froze half of the pizza dough recipe. Later this week I’ll probably defrost it and make yet another attempt at an American pizza. Based on my experiments today, I think 8 oz of cheese is about right and the mozzarella/swiss/Parmesan mixture seemed good.

* I should note that about 3/4 of the baleful staring is usually a result of my trying to make a more “exotic” pizza such as the ones we had in Rome a couple of years back (though most of his family and I liked my Spinach and Artichoke Pizza I tried a while back). In spite of this, he’s never been impressed with my normal American pizza attempts either.

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