Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Prosciutto & Arugula Personal Pizzas + a Few Tips

I have always loved a good pizza.  My grandad can still tell stories of how many slices I could eat in one sitting as a child.  There's something so comforting about a slice & it's always delicious.  Even bad pizza is good pizza.  Well, with the exception of the food court in the O'Hare Airport.  It was probably because it was closing time, but that's one of the worst things I have ever had.  Ever.

One of my favorite pizzas now days can be found at Mandola's Market  here in Austin.  It's called the Parma & it's is so simple, but so flavorful.  It's a pie topped with mozzarella, provolone, prosciutto, arugula, lemon vinaigrette & shaved parmesan.  Oh man, it's just about the only thing I order when we eat there.  Besides their lemon ricotta cookies, which are also amazing.

Since it is so simple, but so so good, I decided to try a homemade version.  It turned out really well!  The tastes are all there: creamy, melty mounds of cheese, hearty but thin prosciutto, refreshing arugula & crispy on the outside but tender in the middle crust.   We made personal pizzas & calzones last Saturday for game night & this pie was a big hit.  It was so yummy, that we even made a bigger version last night for a quick supper.  And with the leftover dough & prosciutto we still have in the fridge, it may just be my dinner again tonight.

The recipe is below, but be sure to check out my favorite pizza tips & tools after that, they're keepers no matter what kind of pie you're making!   

Prosciutto & Arugula Personal Pizzas

Your favorite pizza dough (Our go-to is the basic pizza dough recipe in The Joy of Cooking book.)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Dried Spices (Basil, Oregano, Rosemary)
Mozzarella or 'Italian Blend' Shredded Cheese I used at least 1/2 cup for each pizza
Shredded Parmesan Cheese A tablespoon or two for each pizza
1 package Prosciutto Couple of slices per pizza
Juice of a Lemon

 Start by making your pizza dough & letting it fully rise.  Once you've completed this, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.

While your oven is warming, make your pizzas.  Start by taking an 1/8th or so of the total dough & on a floured surface, roll out to a circle shape.  Remember, it's not perfect, it's homemade.  With a fork, poke a few holes over the entire pizza.  Brush with olive oil & sprinkle with dried spices.  Top with both cheeses.  Don't be shy with the cheese, it's a main ingredient!  Tear the prosciutto with your hands & arrange on the pie.  Bake for 5-7 minutes.

While the pizza is baking dress arugula with a little bit of lemon juice & a drizzle of olive oil.  Once the pizza has finished baking, top with arugula salad & enjoy!

Flippin' Good Pizza Tricks

In the past couple of years, we've acquired a few tips & tools that really make things easier & help your pizza taste like you're out at a fancy Italian Bistro.

Makin' that Dough
Whenever Andrew makes pizza dough, we often use about half of it into a pie that night & have the other half in the form of pizza, cinnamon 'rolls' or garlic knots over the next few days.  It's a great time saver to know you have the dough waiting on you, since that is by far the longest part of the process.  When using 'day-old' dough though, we've figured out that the best results come if you are patient & let the pizza dough come to at least room temperature before you try to handle it.  We've been too quick to start kneading before & ended up with dough that just wouldn't stretch.  It's not a bad idea to set the dough by the oven while it's heating up.

A Fork is your Best Friend
Before putting down sauce, cheese or any other toppings, we always take a fork & make a few air vents over the entire pizza, like you would if you were baking a pie crust.  This ensures that you don't get any huge pockets or bubbles while your pizza is in the over.

Give it a little EVOO Glisten
After you've topped your pizza, before placing it on the stone, be sure to brush the exposed edges with some extra virgin olive oil.  It helps your dough bake up beautifully, gives it a some color & adds a little extra flavor.

Get Stoned
 About a year ago, we found a 'still in the box' pizza stone from Pampered Chef when going through my Mom's things.  We decided to give it a try, since we had began making our own pizzas, just using cookie sheets.  Since this little bad boy, our lives have never been the same.  Even with frozen pizzas, it makes a gigantic difference.  The crust stays crisp, the pizza cooks evenly, everything just works better.  We're never making pizza without a stone again.  And they're not nearly as expensive as you'd think.  The stone we have is no longer on the Pampered Chef website, but for $30.50, you can get a similar Rectangular Pizza Stone here.

Be Corny
Cornmeal is another must-have.  Sprinkling a bit of cornmeal down on your stone just before putting on the pizza helps your crust stay nice & crispy during baking & makes it easier to scoop up once it comes out of the oven.  And it smells like popcorn once you sprinkle it on the hot stone!

Move It, Move It
Recently, Andrew's Mom gave us a pizza peel & it has been a huge help with getting the raw pizza onto the stone in one try.  It's a real game-changer.  Before we'd have to struggle with both of us using the largest spatulas we had to try & ease the pizza on the stone...usually taking at least a few times before it would shift.  It was a hassle & often resulted in half the ingredients falling off the pie.  The pizza peel has changed all of that.  We've used it a few times now & without fail, sliding our pizzas into the oven has been a breeze.  I'm pretty sure the peel we have is the same Aluminum Pizza Peel here

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