Monday, January 02, 2006
Margy Cooks! And Bakes! Pizza!
This was the moment I'd been waiting for.
I'd eat other pizzas and wish I were eating this one right here. Margy's pizza. She really is ridiculously good at making the stuff. From scratch -- no store-bought dough for her.
You know, now that I think of it, pizza making is a male-dominated pursuit. Maybe Margy will change all that. My mom, Margy's pizza muse and mentor, would have changed all that herself had she responded to just one of my dad's thousands of entreaties over the years: "If we opened a pizzeria we'd make a fortune."
But alas, my family likes to save its best food for itself. And the occasional guest. (We are not barbarians.)
I guess if you don't like thin, crispy pizza you wouldn't like Margy's. But you'd have to be really vehement about this, because one crust-shattering bite can go a long way toward converting those of the floppy-slice ilk.
Tonight's toppings were, as usual, simple, to let the magic of the dough shine through. Sushi is about rice; pizza is about dough -- period. What is added should never distract us from these essentials, but should rather enhance. So on the red pies, which Margy assembled with a simple uncooked tomato sauce seasoned with herbs and spices, we had fresh mozzarella, pancetta, mushrooms, and fresh basil. I did the honors in putting together white pies with mozzarella, spinach and garlic, anchovies, and grated Parmesan. Just writing about this now I'm having a hard time not walking over to the fridge for a leftover slice. And I'm really full.
This may be easy for me to say since I've never actually made pizza myself, but the one indispensable item here is a baking stone for the oven. Using a stone is the only way for the home cook to achieve a temperature high enough to turn out a gorgeous pie. (Commercial pizza ovens can reach temperatures of 800 degrees or more.) You slide the stone onto the oven rack -- or just leave it there all the time, like we do -- crank up the heat to 500 or 550 or whatever your highest setting is, and in 40 minutes or so it's ready to get to work and will cook a pizza to crisp perfection in around 8 minutes.
Just be sure to disable your smoke alarm.