Inspired by my friend Fredric, I decided to revisit my old pizza-making skills, breaking out the peel and stretching the old kneading muscles. And Julia was excited to try some different pies from my home oven, so I asked her to think about what she'd like. Anything, no matter how crazy the topping.
These were all about 20cm/8 inches in diameter, and looking back, the big pools of fresh mozzarella aren't aesthetically perfect but tasted amazing. Before finding out what Julia wanted, I knew that I had to make a fresh clam pizza. My first effort in 2010 was made with canned clams, and I will say that the bag of live littlenecks I grabbed at the international market delivered a lot of great flavor. Garlic, romano cheese, fresh mozzarella, and a dash of basil that I crumbled over my slices. Just about perfect in terms of salty and savory flavors. I opened the clams just a bit in a warm skillet and then shucked them mostly raw on top of the pizza before going in the oven. Much better than the canned version.
Julia requested the following combination: fig, gorgonzola, prosciutto, and balsamic vinegar. I reconstituted the dried mission figs in a little water and balsamic, and the rest came together on top of my homemade San Marzano tomato sauce.
It's a great combination, and the figs and balsamic vinegar provide that little balancing element of sweetness to the other essential flavors. I was tempted to drizzle everything with truffle oil, but my lady does not like the fungus.
On the dough, I took Fredric's recent advice and switched from all-purpose to bread flour (sticking with King Arthur) and after much kneading, rolled out the dough with an empty wine bottle. Despite always having a half dozen empty wine bottles within easy reach of the kitchen counter, I haven't really used them as kitchen implements, and I was surprised at how well it performed for the task. I'm going to save a nice straight-sided Bordeaux bottle to keep on hand for this precise purpose.
The final pizza was built from the various leftovers, and turned out tasty in its vegetarian glory. Gorgonzola, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, and garlic. Pretty simple, but it came together well and was even great as leftovers the next day.
I know that my next task is to take my reawakened pizza skills and make a great quattro stagione pizza, or to get my hands on some crazy wild boar guanciale or other awesome cured meats to build something that you'd never get at your local chain pizza joint. Plus, I want to make some monstrous mushroom pizza for my own enjoyment--sliced trumpet stalks, oyster and shiitake mushrooms throughout, and topped with delicate blanched enoki mushrooms for texture. Mmmmm...