Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Lahey Project: Pizzas Potato and Zucchini.

Friday evening was a good occasion to knock out two more Lahey pizzas: Pizza Patate and Pizza Zucchine. I made two Lahey pizzas in one pan, a half and half pizza, since I have to carefully schedule the Lahey recipes I know won't be immediate hit with my Husband around the times when I have friends or family visiting. It works out splendidly, since I can be generous with the servings and not too gluttonous in my own consumption. Fortunately for me, Lahey pizzas are well designed to be both a bit unorthodox and extremely delicious - both happy mediums for casual dinner parties. And, I know that had he felt adventurous enough to try it, both sides of the pizza would have been a hit with my Husband, too.

(It is also a benefit that since the pizzas are all vegetable, lazy salad makers such as myself do not even feel guilty for only serving pizza and nothing else - well, except for the Mostly Foodstuffs Rhubarb Liqueur and Rhubarb Custard Tart! I have to get my rhubarb servings in when I have company as well...)

This week's CSA box had a pound of new Yukon Gold potatoes and zucchini, last week's box had a yellow squash and a sweet onion, so proudly all the ingredients (save the flour) are native to Wisconsin!

The potato side begins with a salt water soak. I have never soaked potatoes in salt water before, but it actually draws out some of the moisture, making the potatoes both crisp and creamy when they bake. Since the pizza bakes at a blistering 500 degrees, wafer thin slices of potato (tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper) turn golden and parched on top and stay creamy underneath - a combination that is satisfyingly hearty. A carnivorous eater would gladly add bacon, pancetta or prosciutto and never again order out for pizza. I'll save that trick for another day.

I soaked my mandolined potatoes for about 90 minutes, and meanwhile shredded 20 ounces of zucchini/squash, tossed it with salt and let it drain over a colander. I have a number of clean muslin bags in my kitchen drawer that I made from unbleached cotton muslin. I find that I use them for everything: from straining grapes for jelly to this tried and true technique of pressing the excess moisture out of the zucchini. I actually am able to get incredibly dry zucchini by loading it into the bag, then twisting and pressing it until it is virtually dehydrated. Coincidentally, I think the first time I employed this technique was to make the Mostly Foodstuffs Chocolate Zucchini Cake, which is also a winner!

I recently read this post by Otehlia at World of Flavors, where she explains how most recipes that contain zucchini make a large amount, since to make a dent in a zucchini supply, you have to be able to use a lot in one recipe. It is true (and her bread recipe at the link above does look like it will have to be tried sometime soon), and I found myself noticing that many of the zucchini recipes I have do contain rather large amounts of this prolific vegetable. A pound and a quarter on half of the pizza may seem like a lot, but it was not too much, and it was probably the best slice of pizza I've had in a long time. If it is one thing I can't recommend highly enough, it is the proportions in this book. They are spot on - and I am not someone who goes about measuring everything when I'm in the kitchen. I do swear firmly upon weight measurements in My Bread. They have not failed me yet!

The zucchini is supposed to be tossed with Gruyere cheese, but I had some Wisconsin Parmesan on hand from Country Connection, and I used an equal amount of it: 75 grams for the half amount. The pure genius moment of this half of the pizza is that it is sprinkled with bread crumbs over the top before baking. At the high oven temperature, this created gorgeous blackened crunchy bits. This little addition alone endears Pizza Zucchine to me forever, but indeed the flavors of the entire concoction are really inspired. They are simple, but perfectly balanced.

I added just a bit of grated nutmeg... I couldn't resist!

The only thing I could be more excited about than Lahey Pizza lately is rhubarb. I recently crowned Deena my Rhubarby Guru, and it is the truth. She posted a recipe back in May for a liqueur that I finally made, bottled and am trying patiently to let it mellow, but it is so delicious that I keep sampling it. She says it needs time to mellow, but it is already so good, that I can't imagine it getting much better. It is smooth, and tart, and sweet. It is Rhubarb Liqueur, and you need to make some now, if you can still get some fresh rhubarb.

My own rhubarb masterpiece, the family recipe that I almost can not make for fears of devouring all of it's buttery greatness, took a back seat to another of Deena's recipes that I had wanted to try: Rhubarb Custard Tart. I had to use frozen rhubarb here, and I decided to bake it frozen instead of letting it drain - just a little bit of a mistake. It looks fine and tasted delicious, but got just a tad watery as it sat. Overnight in the refrigerator took care of most of the problem, but I would imagine that it would be stellar with fresh, unfrozen rhubarb. The tart crust was particularly nice, and since I had only an 8 inch tart pan, I made a dozen little tarts out of the remains. We ate some, and I gave some away, but still have some left and let me tell you it is hard not to keep swiping spoonfuls on my way past. Rhubarb is like that: A love it or hate it thing, but once it gets in your blood you are hard pressed to not crave it.

So, I'm moving right along, Mr. Lahey! Looking forward to my next My Bread adventure, whatever it may be... the greatness of these pizzas makes me think it just may be the Pizza Cavolifiore: Cauliflower Pizza.


  1. I'm getting closer to buying the Lahey book with each amazing recipe you post. I interned a few blocks away from Lahey's old Grandaisy Bakery in SoHo, and still dream about their pizzas. And the rhubarb tart is beautiful.

  2. OH, YUM.
    And it's true -- soaking potatoes is a great secret. But, I've always wondered how much of the nutritional value leeches out into the water. I know the vitamin C is water soluble, so I'm sure you lose quite a bit of that... but I've always wondered about other elements.

    let me know if you find out!


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