truly madly pizzaNo matter what the first day of a new week throws at you, no matter how looming the rest of the days before the weekend seem, a truly, madly delicious pizza promises something familiar, something reliable, something known. It’s confirmation that all the heaviness of the world will be held at bay – if only for a little while – by a combination of bubbling mozzarella, sweet fennel sausage, and balsamic-glazed radicchio. Suzanne Lenzer’s Truly Madly Pizza shows you how.

Beginning with the “Mother Crust” recipe, Lenzer argues that pizza dough is a tabula rasa for whatever healthy fresh ingredients you have on hand. To make pizza a nightly affair, she suggests preparing the dough on Sunday – in less than 30 minutes – freezing it, and simply transferring it to the fridge to thaw on the morning you plan to cook. Lenzer gives the timestrapped home cook countless combinations for a healthy, delicious (and quick!) weeknight meal. Balancing lighter healthy alternatives like Summer Squash with Lemon Zest and Ricotta with indulgent options such as Spicy Shredded Pork with Sweet Onion Jam and Burrata, in addition to bonus recipes including “Salad thoughts,” “Small bites,” and even a few ideas about wine, this book covers all the bases. Lenzer’s comforting voice adds a homey touch to her artisanal recipes and immaculately styled photos. (description from publisher)

revolutionary pizzaWhy bore everyone at the dinner table with the same old cheese and sauce combination when you can have pizzas like The BBQ Porkabella, Steak ‘n’ Eggs, Spinach and Bean Quesadilla or Chicken ‘n’ Waffles?

With Revolutionary Pizza by Dimitri Syrkin-Nikolau you’ll be making tasty, one-of-a-kind pizzas that your friends and family will always remember. Dimo’s Pizza developed a cult following due to its delicious pizzas, specialty toppings and crazy selection of ‘zas, and this book takes all of that to the next level. With pies inspired by Chinese food, street vendors, dead celebrities, tasty salads, comic book characters, Southern desserts, late night food joints, Chicago staples and everything in-between, there’s truly a pizza for every mood and every craving.

If you want to make an over-the-top and unforgettable creation for your family and friends, Dimo has got you covered. You’ll never look at another cheese slice the same again. (description from publisher)

a highly unlikely scenerioIn the not-too-distant future, competing giant fast food factions rule the world. Leonard works for Neetsa Pizza, the Pythagorean pizza chain, in a lonely but highly surveilled home office, answering calls on his complaints hotline. It’s a boring job, but he likes it—there’s a set answer for every scenario, and he never has to leave the house. Except then he starts getting calls from Marco, who claims to be a thirteenth-century explorer just returned from Cathay. And what do you say to a caller like that? Plus, Neetsa Pizza doesn’t like it when you go off script.

Meanwhile, Leonard’s sister keeps disappearing on secret missions with her “book club,” leaving him to take care of his nephew, which means Leonard has to go outside. And outside is where the trouble starts.

A Highly Unlikely Scenario is a dazzling debut novel wherein medieval Kabbalists, rare book librarians, and Latter-Day Baconians skirmish for control over secret mystical knowledge, and one Neetsa Pizza employee discovers that you can’t save the world with pizza coupons. (description from publisher)

Did you know pizza was a patriotic treat invented to display the colors of the Italian flag under Queen Margherita? Hence, Pizza Margherita. In fact, over there in the roots of original pizza, there are only a couple ingredients, and there are now very protective regulations about its creation and service. What, no Taco or Supreme? I must eat it all the the restaurant…no leftovers? They’re not playing around!

Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day  by Jeff Hertzberg — what is that about? Though I haven’t given it full lab work, I suppose it is feasible after the author’s caveats.

You’ve premixed a big batch of dough (eight 12” pies) ahead of time and stored it in your fridge, where it will keep well as a living, breathing, yeasty organism for up to a couple weeks.  You’ve preheated the oven to 500 degrees. You’ve rolled the dough out by hand super thin.

When ready to rock, claw out a wad of that goo, sprinkle with a few yum-yums and slip it off your pizza peel onto the white-hot stone.

The simple genius of it is, even with your most unsatisfactory efforts you’ve STILL got a pizza for pretty much no money. Five pounds of flour is a little over a dollar.

The author mentions in the forward there is a remarkable dearth of recipe books focusing exclusively on pizza. While it could use more photos, there are a lot of great ideas in here, even if you’re not going to pursue the five minute-approach.

Try a topcoat of tomato slices when people are foisting them on you. How about corn or rye flour in the mix when you want a hint of a Reuben sandwich or tortilla taste?

I saved someone else’s bread maker from the landfill and run it on half a cycle. It isn’t five minutes, but I’m not exactly being gouged 24 dollars either.  It’s funny how the barometer for culinary forgiveness gets fudged when it was your hands kneading the dough.

frugallibrarianSo after a “mandatory” $27 expenditure because it was insisted I MUST eat the Giordano’s stuffed pizza pie, I’m convinced a reasonable knockoff could be fabricated for less money.

Step 1 – Go to the Salvation Army thrift store and get a breadmaker for a couple bucks.  I’m embarassed of this one.  I went there in search of a popcorn popper for my last blog entry, “Magic Beans” Turns out there is a lot of usable stuff there for about zero money.  Lots of ice cream makers too.  Let other people pay full price on newfangled appliances to experiment and you march in there as a lark and snatch them up for two bits.  The dough making alternative is a kitchen mixer with dough hook attachment whose purchase or space usage I cannot justify.  Also, there are people just giving them away as yesterday’s fad.

WARNING: You have to make a conscientious effort to NOT buy anything else at the thrift store, lest you become some kind of disgusting packrat.

Step 2- The doughball. After running your few shillings’ worth of flour, yeast, etc through the “dough cycle” on the bread maker, punch it down in a cake pan.   A quick google search yielded found me this crust recipe.  Cake pan can also be purchased for a few cents at the thrift store.

Step 3-Layer in whatever ingredients you wish and bake for 30 minutes at 375.  The classic recipes tend to suggest mozzerella, sauce, and spinach.  I’m sure pepperoni slices, mushrooms and browned sausage will work.
Hint:  a tube of Bob Evans is less greasy than the ground stuff at your grocery store’s butcher counter

Step 4- Eat this monster every meal for the next few days.

pizza-grill-it-bake-it-love-itWho doesn’t love pizza? An Italian staple that has been embraced by America and made our own, we consume, on average, more than 46 slices of pizza a year. From deep-dish to exotic toppings, loaded with meat or vegetables only, the pizza can be adapted to any taste, any whim and still be delicious. Now Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough take it up another notch in Pizza : Grill It, Bake It, Love It when they show you just how easy – and scrumptious – homemade pizza can be.

The authors first cover the basics – including in-depth descriptions of different cheeses, recipes for eight crusts and three basic sauces – and then launch into ideas for putting together your masterpiece. Pizzas range from the classic Pepperoni to international Tandoori Chicken to modern Prosciutto and Arugula as well as ten variations of Deep Dish pizza. Weinstein and Scarbrough also provide inspiration for “appetizer” pizzas (including Artichoke, Olive and Feta) and “salad” pizzas (such as Chicken Ceasar Salad)

Our own Frugal Librarian will soon be posting his own tips for making this dinnertime favorite that is both economical and fun – watch this space!