Finally, grilled-pizza: the dough

I knew I had put off the grilled pizza write-up long enough already when I was at a rooftop party in downtown Providence Sunday evening, and a writer friend of mine started gently needling me about it. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Jan.

I’m going to do this in installments, if that’s okay. I’ll be including recipes and photos, and if I put it all in one single post, it would just be too damn long, so screw that.

Let’s start with the pizza dough. The crust is a crucial element of a great pizza; it’s the base, so you want it to be good. This dough is my current favorite; it’s easy to make, and I love how it tastes. I want to continue tinkering with it, though, trying to make it more better, but this is the latest.

You’ll need to plan in advance for this: I like to allow my dough to rise overnight. As baking guru Peter Reinhart writes in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice:

[Overnight fermentation] gives the enzymes time to go to work, pulling out subtle flavors trapped in the starch. The long rest also relaxes the gluten, allowing you to shape the dough easily, minimizing the elastic springiness that so often forces you to squeeze out all the gas.

If the thought of squeezing out the gas makes you giggle like a child, you’re not alone.

My recipe is adapted from Mario Batali’s Italian Grill, and my technique includes instructions for using a Kitchenaid stand mixer to mix and knead the dough.

3 cups all-purpose flour*
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sugar
¼ cup white wine or dry vermouth (at room temp)

*As with all bread baking, you may have to adjust this, depending on humidity level. I normally use King Arthur organic unbleached AP flour, or a roughly 50-50 blend of AP and Kenyon’s stone-ground whole wheat flour. Reinhart, however, recommends you use no more than 10% whole-wheat or rye to substitute for an equal quantity of white flour. This is exactly the kind of thing I want to play with next time around.

Dissolve yeast in warm water in the warmed bowl of a stand mixer. Add salt, sugar, olive oil, wine or vermouth, and half of the flour. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 1 minute.

Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and pulls away from sides of bowl. Knead on speed 2 for another 2 minutes.

At this point, you can divide the dough and freeze some of it for later use, or you can prepare it all for tomorrow’s pizza. I take whatever quantity I’m planning to use and put it in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap. I place that in the fridge overnight. (It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.)

On the day I’m making the pizza, I remove the dough from the fridge two hours before making the pizza. I’ll address what comes next when I get to the post on building the pizza.

Weekend Eats (and Drinks) – Deluxe Edition

My weekend got off to a less-than-auspicious start, owing to train delays and missed connections. We had planned to meet friends for Indian food and an 8:30 showing of Food, Inc. at the Avon, but by the time I finally got home, it was late and I was in no mood. Enter Mike to the rescue, chilled Martini in hand. We had takeout.

peachy keen

The rest of the weekend shaped up much better than I could have imagined, with the arrival of many things we’ve been waiting for – the first of the season peaches, squash blossoms, and probably most exciting of all:

Poulet Rouge

Yes, it’s a chicken. But this is no ordinary bird. Pat told us a while back that, in addition to his usual tasty chickens, he was raising a heritage breed called the Poulet Rouge. They were finally available at the Hope Street farmers’ market on Saturday, and we were thrilled to bring one home.

check out those gams

Kathleen Purvis has a good primer in Gourmet on what makes these birds different than your standard breeds, so if you’re curious you can read about it there; I’m here to tell you that as far as the flavor goes, we were wowed.

Dinner:  July 18, 2009

We wanted to keep the prep and cooking as simple as possible so we could really taste the difference, so Mike just salted it, cut it “leaping frog” style, and grilled it. I made one of my favorite grilled bread salads to go alongside, with peaches, basil and a balsamic vinaigrette. The chicken was the star, though – intensely flavorful, rich and juicy, noticeably moreso than regular varieties. I expect a Poulet Rouge would hold up really well in the smoker, and we’re both itching to try coq au vin or riesling with one of these birds when cooler weather rolls around. Try one – you’ll be hooked.

Sunday breakfast at home

And then there was Sunday. A big cooking day.

mmmm lunch

Behold: grilled pizza perfection. Post will be up this week.


A little muddled basil made our gin & tonics extra tasty.

squash blossoms

firmed up


It’s just not summer until I’ve made fried squash blossoms. I still make mine the way Derrick instructed, dipping the stuffed blossoms in flour, then buttermilk, then flour again, and while this is still my go-to breading method, I have my eye on Anita’s version.

Dinner:  July 19, 2009

This time, however, I served the squash blossoms with some sliced heirloom tomatoes, a chilled basil custard, and a scattering of arugula and opal basil leaves. Did I mention I like colorful plates?

the Asbury

Speaking of color, our pre-dinner cocktail was as delicious as it was bright and beautiful. Who knew tequila and Campari would marry so well?

Summer Snow

The grand finale, and grand it was. We grabbed the last piece of Summer Snow from Matt‘s table at the farmers’ market, and he recommended pairing it with gooseberries. We grabbed some from City Farm, and finished out our weekend with this cheese and fruit course. It was pretty damn brilliant.

(As always, click the photos for a little more detail.)

Little Flourishes

great chops

Mike and I have been big fans of the cheese, breads and pastured meats from Bobolink farm and dairy since we first tasted them in New York, and luckily for us, they do mail order. So every so often, we treat ourselves with a shipment of not-so-local goodies, and our most recent indulgence was in the form of some of their excellent suckled veal. Our box arrived on Wednesday, and Mike immediately pulled out a package of rib chops, thawed them in a water bath, then put them in a marinade. On Thursday night, he fired up the grill and cooked them up for our dinner.

Dinner:  July 16, 2009

While these chops are fabulous on their own, I wanted to add a little bit of flare to the plate. A pan sauce was out, since we cooked the chops outdoors, and I was worried that one of the more assertive salsas or sauces I sometimes put together would overwhelm the meat. So while Mike prepped the grill, I took a look at what we had in the pantry and decided to try my hand at a quick currant pickle. The brine had lots of mustard seeds, some juniper and fennel, and a mix of sherry and champagne vinegars in addition to the usual salt, sugar and water. I brought it to a boil and poured it over half a cup of dried Zante currants, then let them sit and steep until we were ready to eat.

The pickled currants were tasty, with a nice balance of tart-to-sweet, and they complemented the grilled veal really nicely, though I think the next time I make them I’ll bump up the salt and mustard just a bit. I’d still call this batch a success, and something I’ll definitely play with again – I can see them partnering well with other grilled meats, and it’s nice to have a variety of accompaniments in my arsenal to add a little bit of pop to an otherwise simple grilled dinner.

So close you can almost taste it


We are almost there, folks.

crust + coals

I know I’ve been promising a write up of Mike’s grilled pizza for seemingly forever, but I think we can finally say that we’ve almost nailed down the perfect version. The sauce and dough recipes are now exactly where he wants them to be, but there are a few small issues of timing and technique he still wants to work on. Which means that there is going to be a lot of grilled pizza in our immediate future.

Mike's grilled pizza

Which isn’t a bad thing at all.

Cheese and Mullets


There are some things that are just plain sexy to eat – oysters, obviously, or uni, or a perfectly poached egg. And then there’s burrata, with its lush, milky curds nestled inside a tender skin of fresh mozzarella. It’s so fresh and delicate that it’s not terribly easy to come by, unless you’re willing to camp out at your favorite Italian market some morning on a day when they have it available, so when word came out that the Downcity outpost of Farmstead would be getting a small shipment in, I sent Mike out to grab some for us.

While burrata is fabulous to eat on it’s own, with a drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, I had another plan – a big salad of heirloom tomatoes, basil, torn croutons and burrata, inspired by the one that appears in Sunday Suppers at Lucques. Being me, I didn’t go through all of the steps in the recipe – I made my standard sherry vinaigrette, which I gently tossed with a variety of halved or wedged, salted cherry tomatoes and petite heirlooms, then I scattered the tomatoes around my wedges of burrata, added my homemade croutons, scattered sliced green and opal basil all around, then gave it all another drizzle of vinaigrette and a sprinkle of salt. It was a fabulous interplay of colors, textures and flavors, and the salad was substantial enough that we could have made a meal of it. But there was the issue of the mullet.


I had walked up to Mercato del Mare on my lunch break yesterday to get some fish for tonight’s meal when I spotted this guy and his brother peering at me with those big bright eyes. I just couldn’t resist bringing him home.

Dinner:  July 9, 2009 - main course

Mike stuffed the fish with sliced lemons and thyme, and put it in a simple marinade of olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice while I assembled our salad, then he grilled the fish in a grill basket while we enjoyed our first course and some fizzy rosė on the patio. When the fish was done, I placed it on a bed of red sorrel leaves and drizzled an olive and anchovy vinaigrette over the top. The mullet was delicious, with the meaty texture of an oily fish but without the strong flavor, and we picked the bones clean.

red sorrel

Summer may have taken her sweet old time coming to New England this year, but now that she’s here I’m relishing every minute. Have a great weekend, everyone.

The Change-Up


I had expected yesterday to be cool and rainy, so when I picked up a porterhouse from Spring Brook Farm at Thursday’s Boston Public Market, I figured we’d grill it for Friday dinner. But with no rain in sight and the evening a bit warm for the soup I had originally planned, we decided to put off Thursday’s dinner until tonight, and Mike grilled the steak instead.

grilled green garlic

I brought home more green garlic which we decided to grill as well. I rubbed one cut clove over a couple of slices of grilled sourdough from Olga’s, and then pureed the rest to make a dressing with lots of basil and fresh lemon juice.

Dinner:  June 4, 2009

We sliced up the grilled steak and served it on top of a big salad of red oak lettuce, crisp radishes and cucumbers, and chunks of tomato. I shaved shards of Gouda Pittig cheese over the top of our salads and served the grilled bread on the side.

I can’t tell you how nice it is this time of year to have a steak dinner in which the meat is more an accent than the main event – it’s a lighter way of eating we really look forward to after the long winter.

Providence-area readers, don’t forget that tomorrow is the first day of the Hope St. Farmers’ Market, which has relocated from Hope High to Lippitt Park. There will be a lot more room and plenty of new vendors (as well as returning favorites), and Mike and I plan to be there bright and early. Hope to see you there!