Neither of us can remember exactly how it happened, but it was through the magic of the internet that we reconnected. And, the coolest part? We were not searching for other, but just found ourselves in the same group of people on twitter one day. It was all very cool and possibly cosmic.
Life can really surprise and delight sometimes.
Lisa and I grew up together just one house apart in the Sunset District of San Francisco. We are the same age. We played together as children and went to the same high school. But we lost contact, which so often happens when you are thrust into adulthood at 18 years of age. We landed in different colleges in different states. And, apart from the occasional conversations of our polite parents who remain neighbors, I didn’t hear much about Lisa over the years. Now, here were are many many years later with our little kids and our growing families. We both love clothes and pretty things. We both love our mid century homes, our husbands, and our wee ones. And, most delightfully, we both love to eat.
Did I mention pizza? Yes, we love it. Sure, that might not be entirely uncommon, but it’s enough for me. Lisa introduced me to a brilliant cookbook and a revelatory pizza recipe. I’m simply not letting go of this girl again.
Last month during our stay in San Francisco, Lisa and her husband had us over for dinner one night. It turned out to be a perfect night with the sky clearing just in time for a lovely sunset and a fun meal. The kids played well. The boys chatted. And we all ate a lot. I mean that. I probably ate more pizza that night than I did during all my middle school slumber parties combined. Yes, it was gluttonous. Yes, it was worth it.
This pizza I speak of is bright. It’s lemony and fresh. The cilantro marries so perfectly with the tart tomatoes, lemon juice, and zest. It’s a combination, which would never occur to me. I’m not that creative. However, I am so thankful that there are people in this universe who are pizza geniuses. I’m also thankful that those very geniuses created a wonderful cookbook, which I bought within hours of this dinner party.
Thank you, Lisa, for everything. Next time, we will feast in Seattle. I can’t promise it will blow your mind like this pizza. I can, however, promise to cook with tons of love for you guys.
Yeasted Pizza Dough (Makes three 10 inch pizzas)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 and 1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 and 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, whisk the yeast into the warm water until dissolved. Let stand for 5 minutes.
If using stand mixer, add all the olive oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour to the bowl. Using the paddle attachment on low speed, mix for 5 minutes to form a wet dough. Add 1 and 1/2 cups more flour, and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour by the tablespoonful as needed to form a soft dough with a nice sheen; it should be a little sticky, but not too wet.
If making by hand, add the olive oil, salt and 2 cups of flour to the bowl. Using a wooden spoon, mix for at least 5 minutes to form a wet dough. Pour 1 and 1/2 cups flour onto a work surface, place the dough on top of it, and knead it for about 8 minutes to form a soft dough with a nice sheen; it should be sticky but not too wet. If the dough sticks to the work surface, rub a little olive oil on it. if the dough is impossibly sticky, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour by the tablespoon as needed.
Form the dough into a ball and place in a large well oiled bowl. Turn the dough over to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Or, put the dough in the fridge and let rise overnight. The next day let it stand at room temperature for 2 hours before proceeding with recipe.
Tomato, Feta, and Lemon Zest Pizza
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 recipe (above) yeasted pizza dough
Fine yellow cornmeal or flour for sprinkling
4 cups (1 pound) shredded Mozerella cheese
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 ounces sheep’s milk Feta, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If using a baking stone, place it on the floor of the oven and preheat the oven for 45 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the garlic and olive oil. Set aside.
To shape the pizzas, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide it into 3 pieces. Gently form each piece into a loose round and cover with a floured kitchen towel. Let rest for 20 minutes. Scatter cornmeal over 3 inverted baking sheets. Shape each round into a 10 inch disk.
Divide the Mozzarella into 2 piles, one about two thirds the total amount and the other one-third. Line up the 3 pizzas for assembly. Scatter the larger amount of cheese of the 3 pizzas, leaving a 1/2 inch rim. Layer the onion on top of the cheese and place the sliced tomatoes over the onion leaving a bit of space between each slice. Distribute the remaining Mozzarella on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the Feta.
Place a baking sheet with a pizza on the lower rack and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pizza to the upper rack, place the second pizza in the oven on the lower rack, and continue baking for 10 minutes. Then, finish baking the first pizza by sliding it off the pan directly onto the lower oven rack. Rotate the second pizza to the upper rack. Bake the pizza on the lower rack for 4-8 minutes to crisp the bottom until well browned. Finish baking the second and third pizzas in the same manner. Immediately after removing each pizza from the oven, brush the garlic oil onto the rim. Garnish with lemon zest and cilantro. Sprinkle lemon juice sparingly over the top.
Source: The Cheeseboard Collective Works