Friday, June 26, 2009

Grilled Pizza

Yesterday it didn't rain. The sun was actually out. I heard on the news that it has rained something like 19 days of the last 23 in NYC. And on the days it hasn't rained, it's been gray and dreary and cool. I really haven't minded the weather at all. I'm at home most of the time so going out in the rain isn't an issue for me. What I have missed thanks to all this rain is the grilling.

We had a get together at the beginning on the month and that was also the start of the establishment of NYC as the east coast Seattle. During our grilling get together, it rained. It wasn't a bad rain and we were able to get the cooking done before it started. We and our guests squeezed together under our massive outdoor umbrella and kept eating and talking while the gentle rain came down. It was actually really quite nice. One of our guests said, "I bet everyone who can see us is jealous." (There is a high rise condo building across the street and almost all those tenants could see us on our roof.) Despite the rain and slight chill in the air, we really did have a nice time. It felt so relaxed.

But yesterday, when the rain stopped and the sun was actually shining throwing sunbeams into the apartment (the cats were confused by it's sudden reappearance. I think they had forgotten it even existed), I knew we were going to grill for dinner.

I've been wanting to try pizza on the grill and it sounded like the perfect thing to do. I made the dough late in the afternoon as it needs some time to rise. A couple days ago I started prepping for the possibility of pizza for dinner cooked either on the grill or in the oven, so I went over to the butcher on Court Street to pick up some Italian sausage. What a great butcher! We have two butcher shops close to us. One on Smith Street, which I've been to several times, and one on Court, which I hadn't been to yet. The Court St. shop is more upscale and carries only prime cuts of meat. There is an homage to the old-time butcher shops with a sprinkling of sawdust on the floor just inside the front door. I don't think any of the beef cuts they have are under $10 a pound, and apparently, they were having a sale yesterday. Beautiful meat. There is also a small selection of cheeses, olives, and pantry items. But it was what was in the back corner of the shop that caught my eye. A beautiful Himalayan cat sat tucked into a corned silently and patiently watching the shop. I kiss-kissed to her and she came trotting right over to me. All cats respond to the kiss-kiss. I gave her some rubs and she gave some back and then decided it was enough that she greeted me and I acknowledged her, and she went right back to her corner. Then I bought my $3.98 worth of house-made (I assume) Italian sausage and continued on my errands.

The next shop on my list was the Smith & Vine wine stop for some Prosecco. Picked up that and another bottle of a summer white, and went across the street to the cheese shop, Stinky Bklyn. I was on the hunt for some fresh buffalo mozz for the pizza. Eight dollars later, I was in possession of a beautiful, grapefruit-sized ball of house-made buffalo mozzarella. Yum.

So after I got my dough rising, I went to work on prepping the toppings. I removed the sausages from their casings, crumbled and browned them. Sausage was excellent - very little fat and extremely flavorful. Sliced the cheese and sampled a bit as I went. Delicious. Made garlic oil and plucked leaves from our basil growing in a glass of water on the windowsill.

Then started work on the drink. Bon Appetit had a recipe for a "Strawberry Muddle" that I wanted to try. I hulled and chopped the strawberries, sliced the lemon, muddled all of it with simple syrup, and put the glasses in the fridge to complete when we were ready.

Steve came home and julienned a green pepper and I got our salad ready. He left to get the grill going and I rolled out the dough. A while ago, I bought a special pan with a long handle that is for grilling pizza. I know it's cheating to use a pan rather than putting the dough directly on the grill, but I wanted to give this a try. The pan worked beautifully! We cooked the dough in two steps. First, we grilled one side until it got color on it but before it burned. It cooks pretty fast over the high heat fire. Then we carefully flipped the dough and added the sauce and toppings. Then we put it back on the fire and grilled until the crust was colored on the bottom and the toppings were hot. We covered the grill while it was cooking but checked on it frequently to avoid burning. The fire Steve had going last night was very hot - which is good for pizza - and I was worried about it burning the crust before the toppings were done. As a first attempt goes, everything worked out pretty darn well. The crust was crispy but certainly not burned, and it was cooked all the way through. Our toppings were hot and the cheese got oozy. I would have liked to add a little bit of onion or some olives, but there is always next time. Here is the pizza cooking on the grill. It's not quite done yet. The dots along the crust are the pattern the bottom of the pan makes.

Before we put the pizza on the grill to cook, I also finished the drinks by adding the ice and Prosecco. At first, we really didn't taste much of the strawberry or lemon. I think I used glasses that were too big and diluted the fruit flavor. But by the time we got to the bottom of the glass, the flavors were great - sweet, lemon-y, and the strawberries were fizzy. We didn't finish the Prosecco last night so Steve said when he gets home today (half-day Fridays!) he's having another one.

It's raining again today.

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