October 01, 2002
Three Pizzas
posted by Nadia

I came home after a long day of interviews to find Carl's famous peppery pizza/calzone dough rising in a bowl on the counter. I bashfully reported that I had made some impulse buys at the vegetable store -- basil, shiitake mushrooms, strawberries, and plums. It turns out I wasn't the only one ... Carl had picked up some cherry tomatoes, prosciutto, rocket, and corn.

We settled on making three pizzas. The first was Carl's version of a pizza he had at a restaurant in San Francisco -- a crisp crust layered with pesto, smoked mozzarella cheese (scamorza, in this case), roasted corn kernels, and slightly wilted rocket leaves. Though I don't remember very well what the original tasted like, Carl's interpretation was absolutely delicious. The cheese and corn gave a smoky flavor to the whole dish, and the rocket gave it a peppery bite. The only problem with this pizza is the technical issue of where and when to add the rocket. Putting too many leaves underneath the cheese and corn might leave the crust soggy, and would dampen the bright, clean flavor of fresh leaves. Carl ended up tossing the rocket on top of the pizza just as it came out of the oven, but it didn't wilt sufficiently until we pressed the top of the pizza with a hot baking pan. Perhaps next time we'll try tossing the leaves onto the pizza while it's still in the oven, but only two or three minutes before it's ready to come out.

Pizza #2 was a simple basil and cherry tomato pizza. Unfortunately, we didn't have any basic mozzarella, so I used a pre-shredded (horror of horrors!) four cheese blend, as well as some freshly grated parmigiano. I was frankly surprised at how inoffensive the cheese was on the finished pizza. A minor success.

The final pizza was topped with some shitake mushroom, shallots, and garlic sautéed and finished off with some white wine. I sprinkled a hefty dose of parsley directly onto the pizza dough, added the mushroom mixture, and sprinkled the whole thing with fresh parmigiano. The finished product was very simple, and very delicious.