Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pizza Reminiscences

So I'm sitting in the airport about to catch my flight to Sydney - via LA - via Salt Lake City. The past six weeks or so in Ohio have been a blast, hanging with ma and pa, reading books about food, writing about food, cooking food, eating good food, and watching American Idol (oops, did I just admit that).

I must say that I already miss three things (in no particular order): mom, dad, and pizza. The pizza here is OUTRAGEOUS. I've eaten lots of pizzas in my day, but the the pizzerias in Ohio are still number one in my book.


Here's me attacking an eggplant pie in Rome.Every time I come home to Ohio, my first (but certainly not my last) demand is that Mom & Dad to take a trip to Lisbon and pick me up a pizza pie at Mary's Pizza Shop. The pizza there is unlike any other I've eaten, and you can see by the photographs that some of its attributes are cheesy freshly-grated provolone goodness, heavenly sweet meat sauce, and a thick, substantial crusty crust. Mary's Pizza Shop on Urbanspoon

A close-up for your viewing pleasure. Mmmmm, that's right.

Here's me attacking the cheese pie in Ohio.
A very close second on my list of the perfect pizza is The Elmton in Struthers.
Elmton on Urbanspoon
This place is a local institution, having opened in 1945. My dad ate here when he was a kid, and my grandparents live just down the block. But I promise that my taste buds have not been clouded by nostalgia - the pizza at this place is truly legit! Even if you don't ask for extra cheese, they give it to you anyway. My kind of place. See for yourself:

I've heard rumors that the secret to the oozy delicious greasiness is Swiss cheese mixed in with the mozzarella. And, the piemakers often allow the cheese to creep off the edge of the crust a form a crunchy border - my favorite part.

Now I can brag about personally knowing a pizza expert. My Aunt Deanna has transformed her home oven into a pizza-making machine by lining it with bricks. She likes to experiment with different crusts and sauces and toppings and I was lucky enough to be able to try one of her favorites, her zucchini bread pizza. The crust was thick and sweet and a bit chewy, and the addition of fennel to the sauce added a certain je ne sais pas...

Aunt D’s Zucchini Bread Pizza

Sauce:

28 oz can crushed tomatoes
6 oz can tomato paste
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp dried basil
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground fennel
Sugar, to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 1 ½ hours. Remove heat and simmer over low heat until thickened.

Crust:

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 medium zucchinis, grated
Generous pinch of salt
2 Tbsp good quality olive oil
2 ½ cups (approx.) Primo Gusto flour or King Arthur red flour
Brown rice flour (for dusting dough before baking)

Dissolve yeast in one cup of warm water. Mix grated zucchini with a liberal amount of salt and let stand in a colander for at least 15 minutes. Rinse and squeeze zucchini dry with a clean kitchen towel. Mix the dry zucchini with the olive oil, yeast mixture, and 2 cups of flour. Turn the dough out on a floured work surface and begin kneading. Continue adding more flour a little at a time until the dough is no longer sticky.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size. If possible, allow dough to rise all day or overnight (8 – 10 hours). Punch dough down and allow to rise for another 1 ½ hours while preparing topping ingredients.

Place pizza stone in oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.

Turn dough onto board dusted with brown rice flour, and gently expand dough to desired size (halve the dough if making two 12 inch pizzas) by placing over fists and allowing to be pulled by gravity. Continue dusting with brown rice flour if dough is too sticky to work with.

Oil a 16 inch pizza screen (for crustier, thicker crust) or two 12 inch screens (for thinner, crispier crust). Place crust on pizza screen and fold edges up and over to create a thicker crust. Bake crust 5 minutes (for 16 inch) or 3 minutes (for 12 inch) on screen. Remove from oven and add pizza sauce, toppings, and cheeses, then bake another 5 to 8 minutes, until crust is lightly brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing pizza from screen and cutting.

Toppings:

¼ cup roasted garlic, chopped
½ pound mild Italian sausage, removed from casings and browned in skillet
1 red bell pepper, roasted and chopped
¼ cup kalamata olives, chopped
Pickled pepperoncini, to taste
1 lb mozzarella, grated
Pecorino romano, grated
Parmesan, grated
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 comments:

Michael said...

One word: Awesome.

Anonymous said...

Cari, thanks for sharing your passion for pizza! My family shares the same passion. My family is from Lisbon so I grew up eating Mary's decadent pizza. When I went away to college we would have it every time I came home. Then I married a Navy man and we moved to Hawaii for 2.5 glorious years minus the Mary's Pizza. My family actually brought it frozen to me when they came to visit. I've tried many fabulous pizza's in many places courtesy of the Navy: San Franciso North Beach Pizza with clams, Conche Pizza in the Carribean, Deep Dish in Chicago, and many little mom and pop italian restaurants that were a close second but I agree Mary's is still the best. I'm even kind of a health consious eater most of the time. But I will never give up Mary's. The guys who run it now are actually the granchildren of the original Mary and they still make it her way. I'm so thankful. We have a tradition in our family that you may pick your birthday dinner. I'm 42 years old and I still pick Mary's

Bon Appetite, Safe travels until you get home to Ohio to enjoy Mary's again.

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Corey Pauley said...

I found your blog due to a search for Elmton Pizza # and your post came up.. I just moved back to the area 2 weeks ago... I'm dying to have a slice! Thanks for including such a great historical landmark and great place to get a pie for the world to know about!