It had to be done. I made pizza today. I have not made pizza from scratch in my own home in ages, and I needed a fix. The joy that comes from wrapping my mouth around homemade pizza -- the crust crispy on the outside but soft and chewy inside, ripe tomatoes and bubbly melted fresh mozzarella sprinkled with salt, and the green flavor of basil -- is incomparable. And the memory of one special pizza notte in Italy is a mini-vacation in itself.
This morning I mixed up some pizza dough using a family-revered recipe that comes from the kitchen of Spannocchia, an agriturismo and organic farm in Tuscany (and my idea of heaven). Five years ago, my family spent a short week at the fattoria there, and one night we joined with other guests and workers for a night of feasting on pizzas straight from the woodburning oven and drinking wine from the Spannocchia vineyards. Every time I make pizza, I remember that evening.
So I sliced some juicy red tomatoes, picked basil and rosemary from my garden, cut slices of soft, fresh mozzarella, and roasted a head of garlic.
I got my hands on the dough and kneaded it on a floury board. I let it rise, watching the yeasty goodness, and then portioned it out. Oh so good. Sipping prosecco, I assembled the pizzas. First I made a very simple flatbread spread with mashed roasted garlic and sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese and plenty of sea salt. After baking (500 F oven, about 10 minutes on a pre-heated pizza stone), I sprinkled it with some finely chopped fresh rosemary. It was divine with the prosecco.
The pizza margherita was made with a dab of marinara sauce with tomato and mozzarella slices, sprinkled with salt, baked, and then topped with torn basil leaves. To get the best of homemade pizza, you have to eat it freshly baked, everyone nibbling little tastes as each pizza comes out of the oven.
The kitchen for me was a flurry of flour, whisking pizzas in and out of the oven, sips of prosecco, and bites of some of the best pizza I've had in a long time. Ah, la bella cucina italiana....