If you ask me, everyone needs a foodie friend. You know, the person you call when you want to chat over a really great meal. That one friend who is always down to try the new restaurant in town, or grub on something indulgent without feeling guilty. Obviously I’m a little biased, but my friend Gabby is the best foodie friend around. Gabby and I go way back. We met in 8th grade in New Jersey, and our adventures continued through college at UCLA together… and after (Gabs was a bridesmaid in our wedding!). So it’s safe to say that over the years we have shared some really great meals together. On top of being a fun partner in crime when it comes to discovering restaurants and yummy food spots, she’s also an incredible cook herself. It’s in her Italian blood after all! 😉 So I figured it’s about time for Cheers from the Roses to get a taste (see what I did there?!) of my foodie friend Gabby…
Welcome to the first installment of Foodie Friday with Gabs!
(You can also follow Gabby’s foodie adventures on instagram @lapetite.italienne. Warning: her pics will make your mouth water.)
Hi there! Gabby here. A little about me…
My cooking style can be defined by the Italian culinary ideal, “la materia prima”, meaning the first and most important step in cooking anything (Italian or otherwise) is using the most fresh and quality ingredients available, and simplifying the dish to enhance and illuminate those flavors. Basically, simple ingredients, locally sourced, cooked well. Nothing I cook will include ingredients you will need to scour grocery stores for days to find or will need a weeks worth of preparation. I don’t have that kind of time, and I respect that neither do you! My primary job is working as a full time clinical psychology doctoral student and teacher’s assistant in the psychology department at Stony Brook University in New York. Cooking, although one of my greatest passions in life, is not my work, should never feel like work, and is my place to slow down, clear my head from the day’s stress, and enjoy the simplest pleasure in life, a great meal.
I pretty much started cooking as soon as I could hold a wooden spoon. My grandmothers, parents, aunts, etc. (all Italian immigrants) have shown me everything over the years from how to maintain a garden to butchering meats to making pasta by hand. To this day, the smell of fresh basil reminds me exclusively of jarring homemade tomato sauce with my grandmother in Brooklyn. Cooking helps me to connect with my family, to our tradition and culture, and reminds me of the love that is really so important to cooking. It doesn’t matter so much if the meatballs are ovals or the pie crust is ugly, so much as the people you are cooking with or for, even if it is just yourself! Because there’s no better way to end a hard day than with a homemade pizza that you don’t have to share 🙂
And on that note, my first dish that I bring to you is grilled pizza! Which is very appropriate too considering Ryan and I met on the east coast where pizza is basically considered a major food group (rightfully so!). Here is what you need to tackle this yourself…
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
grill, pizza stone, pizza cutter, & bowls for ingredients
*Disclaimer: When I cook, I hardly ever measure anything. So it will be up to you to judge how much or how little of something you want to use. I will offer a general guideline of each ingredient so you know generally how much of what to buy when food shopping, but beyond that, it’s all eyeballing. Kind of adventurous huh?! 🙂
pizza dough ( you can make your own, but we grab dough from a local pizzeria. Saves time and they do the hard part of getting the consistency right!) | flour for dusting | olive oil | basil (a small bunch, approx. 10 leaves) | garlic (1/2 clove-1 clove per pizza) | grape tomatoes (1 pint) | whole milk mozzarella, grated (1 lb.) | ricotta (4-5 ounces) | grated parmesan (1/4 cup) | white or baby portobello mushrooms (8-10 medium sized) | dried oregano (1-2 tsp) | zucchini flowers (optional- we grow them in our garden so I had them on hand. You can leave them out, sub any other vegetable, or throw in a thinly sliced sopressata or salami 😉
❶ Turn on your grill, place your stone on the grill to preheat both. Make sure the lid is closed. You need a stable heat of 400 degrees. ❷ Slice tomatoes in thirds and place into a bowl. ❸ Chop your basil and add half to the tomatoes. Save the other half for topping the pizza later. ❹ Sprinkle a pinch of salt and a tsp of olive oil over the tomatoes. Mix and set aside. ❺ Slice mushrooms and microwave them for 1-2 minutes. Let them cool. Drain out the excess water. ❻ Precook any other vegetables you are using. ❼ Finely chop garlic.
PREPARE THE DOUGH:
❶ Place your dough on a lightly floured flat surface. Use your fingers to flatten and spread the dough towards the edges. You want to try and draw the air pockets out of the dough while maintaining the circular shape. ❷ Flip the dough over and do this on the other side as well. ❸ Take your fingers and indent the dough about an inch from the edge all around to form the crust. ❹ Then gently lay the dough over your fists (dough should be more or less hanging vertically off your hands) and continue to turn the dough around your fists so it stretches out evenly. This is how you get your dough to be thin. ❺ Once the dough is less than a half inch thick and evenly distributed throughout, lay the dough out on your stone (take the stone off the grill first). Make sure it is not so thin that the dough rips, or too thick that would prevent the dough from cooking through. Be careful, the stone is HOT!
❶ Distribute a few spoonfuls of your tomato mixture evenly around the dough. ❷ Drizzle a little olive oil in a circular motion from the center to the edges. ❸ Evenly distribute a pinch or two of garlic, a pinch of oregano, and a teaspoon or two of grated parmesan. ❹ Once the temperature reaches 400 degrees, set the stone back on the grill (close the lid). Let the dough cook until it is about halfway done, approx. 5-10 minutes OR once the dough begins to look light golden and the tomatoes are halfway cooked. ❺ Then, add your grated mozzarella and desired toppings. ❻ Rotate the stone so the dough cooks evenly. ❼ Let it continue to cook for approx. another 5 minutes or so OR until the crusts underneath and along the rim are a rich golden.
Repeat steps for additional pizzas and enjoy! 🙂