Posts Tagged ‘mozzarella’



making dough - serious business

making dough - serious business

My Aunt Valerie has a little crush on Jamie Oliver.

  I sent her his latest cook book for Christmas and when my cousin received the package, something in my message caused him to think that Jamie himself sent Valerie the cookbook as a gift.  For one moment, just one moment, he had her convinced.   

Jamie Oliver makes my favorite pizza, and I had it at Valerie’s house for the first time (I also had it again today for lunch!).  It is tremendously delicious – so simply but literally a flavor explosion!  Despite ineptitude with dough, we had a fabulous time cooking and singing and spilling.  Dough and crust – they both intimidate me.  Don’t over mix… don’t let it get too warm… to sift or not to sift?  Eh…  Anyway, I made a well in the flour, poured the water too fast and spilled flour all over the kitchen.  We just giggled a lot and started over.  My extraordinary (not to mention fastidious) husband was right behind us cleaning it up; he is a dream indeed. 

Sometimes I think that I savor the meals at Valerie’s so intensely because there is a lot of love and laughter cooking alongside the food, but this pizza is special.  This pizza is magical.  There is something so fresh about the ingredients and flavors, even without the homegrown basil and tomatoes that we had that evening.  After the dough fiasco we commenced the compilation of this beautiful pizza; bright and simple tomato sauce, loads of freshly torn basil, globs of airy mozzarella (the real stuff), a little salt and pepper…  into the oven it goes.  All of this seems very ordinary until Valerie announces a secret ingredient and makes a very dramatic trip to the refrigerator, turning to present a gloriously green bunch of  – ARUGULA. Tangy and peppery, this secret ingredient adds a fabulous dimension to this pizza.  

We did a little dancing in the kitchen while our pizza baked, and when it came out of the oven we topped it with that beautiful arugula (tossed with lemon and olive oil) and tangy bites of soppresata.  Have mercy.  Sopressata, basil, cheese, arugula, lemon – these flavors are at once explosive and harmonious.  So, so good.

We carried our little pizza to the patio and thanked God for the abundant blessing of delicious food and the company of people we love.  The scent of lemon blossoms and mint were the only thing competing with the fragrance of our supper.  I enjoyed every single drippy, messy bite of that lovely pizza, eating en plein air on a clear night surrounded by the twinkly lights in the mountains of Southern California.  

valerie dancing in the kitchen

valerie dancing in the kitchen


jamie’s pizza (slightly adapted, perhaps)


  • pizza crust (your favorite style; whole wheat, grilled, flat bread – choose your favorite)
  • fresh mozzarella (select the kind in water, if possible)
  • a good bunch of fresh basil
  • tomato sauce (I like to simmer plain tomato sauce with a little garlic and a splash of wine, but purists may love the bright flavor of tomatoes alone – try fresh in the summer!)
  • 6 to 8 slices of good quality soppresata
  • a bunch of fresh baby arugula (or rocket, as Jamie says)
  • lemon (meyer if you have it)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  1. prepare your dough and cover with a generous ladle of tomato sauce, torn globs of mozzarella, tons of fresh basil (don’t hold back!), and freshly ground salt and pepper
  2. bake according to the dough that you have prepared, careful not to burn the basil. if cooking time is longer, consider adding basil later in the baking process
  3. right before pizza comes out of the oven, toss the arugula with some lemon and olive oil (whisked to combine) and roughly cut the sopressatta
  4. top the pizza with the sopressata and arugula


Thank you, Jamie.


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