Z Kitchen

Rethinking food as a way of life...Here we discuss developments and ideas from Z Kitchen and other culinary musings.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The case for homemade: Pizza

Sometimes the bastardized version of a noble cuisine just seems to fit the bill. For example, Americanized Chinese food. While traditional Chinese cuisine is undoubtedly one of the world's most notable, the rare craving for a sesame chicken combo plate with a cold beer is sometimes too strong to turn down. The same can be said for greasy Tex-Mex, or a "Greek" gyro, or any other popular ethnic staple.

Pizza, however, is a different story. There are simply no merits to a pie from Dominos, Papa John's, or Pizza Hut. None. This is made even more upsetting when good pizza is so easy to make at home. With but five ingredients and maybe 20 minutes, a far superior product can be enjoyed.

The applications for pizza are almost endless. Besides the allure of a freshly baked crust, real cheese, and an unlimited variety of top-quality toppings, the pizza concept is a vehicle for a great number of creative culinary applications. Served at room temperature, could mini pizzas be a cheese course, an amuse, part of the bread service, a dessert? With a good dough anything is possible.

Tonight we turn to four pizza variations, two traditional, two less so, but none beyond the reach of even a novice home cook.

Toward the rear, your basic cheese pizza, just better. A lightly cooked sauce of local tomatoes, fresh herbs, and extra virgin olive oil. Topped with mozzarella cheese and parmigianno regianno. That's all. Crispy, fresh, with the proper balance between crust, sauce and cheese.

In the foreground is a margarita pizza with fresh mozzarella, basil, a dab of tomato sauce, and yellow heirloom tomatoes, and some salt, too. Again, a classic.

These smaller pies could easily work as a cheese course, as they focus on the strong flavors of the respective cheese that top them. In the background, the same basic tomato sauce with Fourme D'Ambert, a creamy, earthy blue cheese. In the foreground, tomato sauce, goat cheese and cauliflower. The cauliflower brings a light textural crunch and a distinctive vegetal quality that works well with the sharp chevre.

So, pizza. Not dripping with sauce or oozing cheese. Miles ahead of the chain garbage or even your local pizzeria. The future of pizzas at Z Kitchen will likely include additions of truffle oil or duck fat, somewhat uncommon toppings with distinctive and luxurious flavors. Perhaps "caviars" made from traditional pizza toppings are not far behind. Flavored olive oil beads, vegetable puree orbs?


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