There is a silence where hath been no sound.
-Thomas Hood (“Silence”)
I know I’ve written about pizza before, but, frankly, when all is said and done, it’s something worth revisiting again and again. Pizza is just one of those irresistible comfort foods: you put whatever you’re in the mood for on top of a base of what will eventually turn into gooey, delicious cheese and crunchy bread. You eat it warm, but half the fun lies in the fact that, the next morning, you know that you can just grab a piece out of the fridge, eat it cold and relive the magic.
Trust me when I say that it is indeed magical. This was the first time that I made my own pizza dough (you know, I’m still working my way towards making my own bread….slowly, but surely) and it was just really, really cool. I know that may sound a bit silly, but I really couldn’t help but experience a tiny jolt of childish delight when I saw that, after adding the yeast and letting it sit for a few hours, it really did rise (for me, seeing really is believing; without it, I’m basically a horrible non-believer)! I was so fascinated by the process and eager to try again that, in one simple weekend–President’s Day weekend, so Monday was also mine–I made two batches of pizza dough: one with white cornmeal for additional texture and one with whole wheat flour…you know, for the all-important fiber. One of the balls of dough is still sitting in my freezer, just waiting until I get the pizza-eating itch yet again. The good news, however, is that Mark Bittman’s pizza dough recipe is so easy to make that I now understand that pizza is within my reach for dinner whenever I want it…which is incredibly dangerous knowledge.
Besides my own gluttony, just what had inspired this pizza-making craze? Quite simply, I was having some people over for dinner and a movie. Pizza is not only an eternal crowd-pleaser, but also convenient finger-food for movie-watching. I settled on two different kinds: the first, sausage, mushroom and tomato and, the second, potato, pesto and roasted garlic. I liked them both, but the latter really stood out–both in terms of flavor and crunch. The trick to making the potatoes have their own special crunch is to parboil them and also to make sure to brush them with olive oil before putting the pizza in the oven. For the pesto, I went to the trusted Epicurious and followed their Classic Pesto recipe (this yielded enough for two pizzas made on cookie sheets). And, for the garlic, I simply peeled off their skins, put them on tin foil, drizzled olive oil on them and added some spices (in this case, Greek seasoning, which entails a mix of oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, spearmint, chili and sweet basil). Then, I wrapped it up, put them in the oven for 30-40 minutes on 400 or until slightly browned and softened. I may or may not have popped one of the pieces in my mouth to test it. I do love me some garlic!
Granted, it was a slightly time-consuming process for the work of one day: pizza dough, pesto and all the additional chopping, parboiling, grating, etc. And I also made ice cream, again Spiced Honey, which just may be the bestest ice cream flavor in the world. Was it worth it? Look at the pictures below and decide for yourselves. Also, keep in mind that I repeated the whole process two days later. But maybe that just makes me slightly crazy and a glutton for punishment?
While you ponder the above question, I will say that there was one addition to the meal that I wasn’t responsible for and that was really, really exciting: a Pistachio Coquito! What, pray tell, is a coquito? Basically, it’s a kind of egg-nog or a holiday punch served in Puerto Rico with all kinds of delicious ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, rum, coconut milk, coconut cream….Needless to say, it’s like drinking candy. I was first told about this drink at Thanksgiving by S, who, when I invited him over for pizza, kindly offered to make this drink and (finally) satisfy my curiosity. He had asked me in advance what flavor I would prefer and, since I love the addition of pistachios to everything, I requested the nutty, green (thanks to a dash of food coloring) version. Surprisingly, pizza and coquitos make a wonderful combination. It’s all even better when you’ve got good company, a movie on in the background and an apartment that’s cozy and toasty thanks to cranking the oven heat up to bake the pizzas.
Pistachio Coquito (Coquito de pistachio)
1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can coconut milk
1 can coconut cream
1 tsp. pistachio extract (optional)
1 cup pistachio ice cream
dash of green food coloring
a handful of pistachios, ground into tiny pieces
white rum to taste
Disclaimer: As I was running around making pizzas while this drink was being prepared, my exact knowledge of its preparation is a bit spotty. However, because I don’t have a blender and a blender makes these kinds of things infinitely simpler, I can say that this was prepared in a mixing bowl with a whisk.
-Pour all of the canned ingredients into a large bowl and mix together with a whisk.
-Then, add the ice cream, painstakingly mixing it until it too becomes liquidy.
-At this stage, mix in the rum and dash of green food coloring.
-Top with the ground pistachios, stirring them in.
-Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until sufficiently cool.
-Mix before serving.
-Pour into cups and prepare to be wowed.
Can be stored up to a week…that is, if it lasts that long!