Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday Local Round-up

Dara Moskowitz reports in the City Pages that Steve Brown has a new kitchen. She hasn't even eaten at Harry's, Minneapolis' newest gastropub, but feels pretty confident that it can be nothing short of outstanding. Quite frankly, I'll eat at Harry's knowing only that Steve Brown, former chef at now-defunct Levain, is at the stove.

Both of the local newspapers highlight single ingredients from Minnesota's summer bounty. The Star Tribune offers green bean recipes and the Pioneer Press showcases melons.

Also, this Strib article about noteworthy restaurants in small southeastern Minnesota towns is worth filing in your travel folder. I see some road trips in my near future.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Welcome Home Pizza

Last night Hambone and Spice celebrated Alpha's homecoming after spending twelve days with his grandparents, part of which included driving to Montana from South Dakota. During his three days at 7,000 feet in Big Sky, Alpha tried his hand at fly fishing, did some hiking, and took a daytrip to Yellowstone—lucky, lucky boy.

Astonishingly, he didn't eat any pizza while on his trip. So upon his return, and at his request, we made homemade pizza together—homemade in so far as it was assembled and baked at home. I am not at all ashamed to say that I purchased our raw ingredients from Cossetta's, our favorite Italian deli—all authentic and high quality and utterly delicious. I picked up disks of dough, tubs of rich red sauce, creamy balls of fresh mozzarella, a hank of bulk Italian sausage, and countless other goodies that went directly into my handbag's zippered compartment.

Now, Hambone and Spice have tried our collective hand at pizza from scratch many times, and we have yet to hit upon a dough recipe we like well enough to use regularly. I thought we'd found a serviceable tomato sauce in Lidia's Italian American Kitchen—basically blitzing a can of San Marzanos in a food processor with garlic, olive oil, and salt. But, too often the sauce turns out thin and salty, almost to the point of being briny.

Recalling that Cossetta's had ready-made pizza dough (which, by the way, comes in a plastic bag with enough flour to toss down on your counter), I decided to test it out. The result: two of the best pizzas we've eaten in a very long time.

The boys' pizza was a traditional cheese number, while Hambone and I doctored our crust (pictured above) with Italian sausage, red onion from the farmers market, roasted red peppers, and fresh mozz. Cooked on a pizza stone at 475 degrees for 15 minutes, the crust was crispy outside and tender with air pockets inside, which is an affect we strive for but have never been able to achieve. The sauce was tomatoey and perfectly seasoned.

Swinging by the shop on my way home from work was easy and the results were very satisfying and the price so right—each disk of dough, for example, was $1.59—that I may never again bother making my own dough.