During the cold winter months, we make homemade pizza almost every Sunday evening. This time of year, however, the heat of summer generally keeps us from cranking up the oven to the necessary 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, there’s an exception to every rule, and the surplus of ripe, miniature tomatoes at the farmers market these days triggers the exception to our No-Homemade-Pizza-in-Summer rule. Fresh mozzarella, sharp garlic, sweet onion, and minty basil are almost mystical compliments to the sweet and savory little tomatoes. But, please, hold the sauce. With tomatoes like these, sauce would only interfere with the magic.
*Okay, that’s not entirely true. The pizza was brought to me by all of those wonderful farms with all of those wonderful farmers. You didn’t actually get any. Sorry. But now you have the shopping list, so you can make it yourself. Just add yeast.
Now that the weather is cooling and I no longer mind turning the oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to think about making pizza dough again. Or rather, it’s time for me to think about Kay making the pizza dough. That’s her job. She generally follows the recipe in The Silver Spoon cookbook, which calls for fresh cake yeast rather than the more standard instant dried. She typically makes several at once and puts them in the freezer for me to grab when needed. On many a Sunday evening, once the sun starts setting earlier than we’d like, we turn our attention away from the cold, darkening skies and into the kitchen where the yeasty smell of the rising dough fills us with anticipation for the fresh pizza that will warm our stomachs within a few hours.
When you’re a chef who lives two blocks from the Union Square Greenmarket, there’s little need to eat out very often. This summer, however, we decided to spend our vacation in our own city, supporting some of the businesses that were so badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy last October. One of those places was Coney Island, Brooklyn, where our first stop was Totonno’s Pizza, a family-owned business that opened in 1924 and was closed for nearly 5 months because of flooding caused by Sandy. The pizza was well worth the trip. In fact, it was perfect: crisp, gooey, and wonderfully seasoned. We will definitely go back again, and next time — we hope — it will be to celebrate a hurricane-free hurricane season.
New York City, where I live, is famous for its pizza. Hardly a week passes when someone doesn’t ask me about my favorite pizza joint. The truth is that my favorite pizza joint is our own apartment, where the flour is local, the yeast is fresh, and the toppings include tomato sauce, cheese, and wild mushrooms, all from our farmers market. The lingering smell of the yeasty pizza dough rising for hours makes the final product taste that much better. And just looking at this photo is motivation enough for me to make some this weekend.