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We Tried Your Pizza Recipes, And The Best Was...

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We Tried Your Pizza Recipes, And The Best Was...

Food

We Tried Your Pizza Recipes, And The Best Was...

We Tried Your Pizza Recipes, And The Best Was...

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/111886870/111917127" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

We got some interesting entries when we asked you for your best pizza recipes. Some pizzas had blueberries. Some had mussels. Our staff scoured through all your submissions and picked three tasty-looking creations.

Those three recipes were then delivered to Keste Pizzeria in Manhattan — a restaurant New York Magazine recently ranked the No. 1 pizza spot in the city. Roberto Caporuscio, owner and head piazzolo of Keste, prepared all three recipes; then he and David Greene started the taste test.

The Last Judge

We thought we had a winning pizza recipe, but we wanted the ultimate expert's opinion.

And the winner? Jeannie McDermott's Shrimp Artichoke Pizza.

Shrimp Artichoke Pizza With Cilantro Pesto

Dough Ingredients

  • 1 package of quick-rise yeast (1/4 ounce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (100-115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Topping Ingredients

  • 2 large bunches cilantro, rinsed and drained well
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 13.75-ounce can artichokes, cut in quarters and drained well
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 8 ounces low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated

Author's Note: Shrimp, artichokes and cilantro make a delectable combination on this beautiful pizza. To make flavors vibrant, make sure the cilantro, artichoke hearts and shrimp are dry before adding.

Drying The Toppings

Remove leaves and tender stems from cilantro. If cilantro leaves are wet, place in a single layer between cloth dishtowels as you work. Towels can be layered to accommodate all the cilantro. Roll up the towels and place them in a large plastic bag to dry well.

Place the quartered artichokes in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels. Cover with another double layer of towels. Roll up and gently press out moisture. Set aside the cilantro and artichokes, still wrapped in towels.

Place the shrimp between double layers of paper towels and pat out excess moisture. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Making The Dough

Stir together yeast, sugar and water in a large mixing bowl. Let stand 10 minutes or until bubbly and foamy. Mix in whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, salt and olive oil. Stir in as much of the remaining 1/2 cup flour as you can, a tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding some of the remaining flour to your hands and kneading the surface as you work. You will probably have to scrape the dough up from the kneading surface from time to time. Add only as much of the flour as needed to make a somewhat loose, sticky dough. The wetter the dough, the more tender your crust will be.

Transfer the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Roll the dough in the bowl to coat lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm area with no drafts. If your kitchen is chilly, put the dough in a cold oven with 1 cup of boiling water on the rack below it. Let rise until doubled, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Preparing The Toppings

With the food processor running, drop the garlic cloves through the feed tube and process until the garlic is minced. Add one-half of the cilantro and pulse until volume is reduced. Add the remaining cilantro and pulse until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides. Drizzle oil over the cilantro. Process until well-mixed, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Place the shrimp in a medium bowl. Add 1 packed tablespoon of the cilantro-garlic mixture from the processor bowl and toss until the shrimp are evenly coated. Return the shrimp to the refrigerator.

Add the artichokes to the processor bowl and pulse 12 times. Scrape down the sides and pulse 8 to 10 more times, or until the artichokes are coarsely chopped and mixed well with the cilantro.

Making The Pizza

Set the top oven rack in the top third of the oven and the bottom rack in the lowest position. Preheat to 500 degrees. Punch down the dough and let it rest for 5 minutes. Grease two baking sheets. Cut the dough in half. Spread out each half on a baking sheet, making rectangles measuring approximately 9 by 14 inches with a small lip around the edge. Divide the artichoke mixture between the two crusts and spread it evenly to the lip of the crust. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese on each crust. Place the two pizzas into the oven, one on the top rack, one on the bottom. Bake 5 minutes.

Remove the pizzas from the oven and divide the shrimp between the two pizzas. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Return the pizzas to the oven, reversing the placement of the two pans on the racks. Bake until the edges start to turn lightly golden, 6 to 7 minutes more. Remove the pizzas from the oven and serve.

Jen's 'Pie-R-Square' Vegetable Pizza

Dough Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 envelope dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl and baking pan

Topping Ingredients

  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes with basil
  • A little grated parmesan (the good stuff)
  • Dried oregano, salt, granulated garlic and black pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 red onion, slivered thin
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced thin (pre-sliced are often too thick)
  • 1 red bell pepper, slivered thin
  • 1/2 pound fontal cheese or mozzarella (whole milk if you can find it), grated

Author's Note: Even though it's easier (and possibly cheaper) to call for delivery, this stuff is so good you'll want to make it often. Plus, the rising dough makes your house smell like beer! You need a heavy duty aluminum baking pan, what's known as a "half sheet" pan, 13 by 18 inches with a 1-inch rim, available at restaurant supply houses.

Directions

Put the flour, rosemary and salt in a food processor bowl. Mix the water, honey and yeast in a cup. Start the processor and pour in the yeast mixture along with the olive oil. Process for a minute or so, until it forms a smooth, pliable, non-sticky dough. Add flour or water if needed to make a not-too-soft dough and continue processing another minute. It should feel as warm and smooth as a baby's butt when ready, and not stick to your hands. Pour a little olive oil in a big bowl and turn the dough in it to oil both the bowl and the dough ball. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise until doubled — ideally, 3 hours or more at cool room temperature for best flavor.

When the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Generously oil the rimmed aluminum baking pan. Without deflating the dough, lift it into the pan, top side up, and gently flatten, stretch and spread it evenly to the edges. Let it rest a minute if it feels too resistant to stretch. Spread the dough with the crushed tomatoes and sprinkle with the parmesan and seasonings to taste. Top with the whole basil leaves if you are using them.

Layer the vegetables evenly on top, and bake about 15 minutes on the bottom shelf. Sprinkle the cheese over the vegetables and continue baking another 10-15 minutes until nicely melted and browned. Do not be tempted to put everything on at once; the vegetables need to lose some of their moisture first or the pizza will be too mushy.

Let the pizza cool a little, then cut into eight wedges by quartering the pizza, then bisecting each quarter. Serve with salad and a glass or three of zinfandel!

Grilled Turkish Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 pound store-bought or homemade pizza dough
  • 6 medium-large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for preparations
  • 1/3 pound of mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced (buy pre-packed, "fresh" mozzarella — it's firmer than deli-bought and not as hard and rubbery as commercial mozzarella)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch-thick or less, with peel on
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1/2 pound ground lamb
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Sea or kosher salt to taste
  • 8 ounces container of Greek yogurt (fat-free can be used)
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
  • 4 leaves of fresh mint, chopped, or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Author's Note: This could be made using a pizza stone in the oven — but the grill is more fun!

Preparation

  • A couple hours before making the pizza, take the dough out of the refrigerator and put it in a bowl that has been coated with some olive oil. Cover and put in a warm place to let the dough soften and rise a bit.
  • Mix all but 1 heaping teaspoon of the garlic with the olive oil.
  • Mix the ground lamb with the remaining garlic, grated onion, cinnamon, allspice, coriander, ginger, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper. Let sit for at least 1 hour in fridge, then saute in a frying pan until cooked through.
  • Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and let sit in a colander for about 15 minutes. Rinse, pat dry and brush with olive oil. Grill until slightly charred and soft.
  • Char the red pepper on all sides over a hot grill. Place the charred pepper in a bowl and cover with plastic, or put it in a paper bag to cool. Remove skin and seeds, then slice into thick strips.
  • To make the tzatziki sauce, squeeze the liquid out of the grated cucumber and add to the yogurt. Mix in mint, 1 hefty teaspoon of minced garlic from the oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Put in fridge and let flavors meld.
  • Making The Pizza

    1. Just before making the pizza, light the grill. If you have a zoned gas grill, put one side on high and the other zone on low. If you don't have a zoned grill, just be careful as you add the toppings.
    2. Once the dough is pliable, place it on a well-oiled cookie sheet (the oil is important when it comes time to lift the dough off the sheet). Start pushing the dough out from the center, pushing and stretching to make a rectangle about 10 by 15 inches. If you like your dough thicker, then make a smaller rectangle. It takes a little patience. Brush with the garlic oil.
    3. Once the grill is hot, carefully lift the dough using your fingers and place directly on the grates. Cover the grill and let the dough cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Once the bottom is golden brown, flip using tongs (two sets of tongs works best) and move to the cooler side of the grill.
    4. Brush the crust with the garlic oil, adding the garlic bits, too. Add toppings, starting with the mozzarella cheese, then the eggplant and roasted pepper. Spoon on the cooked ground lamb, then sprinkle the feta cheese over the pizza.
    5. Using tongs, move the pizza back to the hotter side of grill, turning the heat down just a bit if you can.
    6. Cover the grill and let the pizza cook for 2 or 3 minutes. It's fine if the bottom chars a bit. You might need to rotate the pizza to help it cook evenly.
    7. Carefully slide the pizza onto a large cutting board. Offer the tzatziki sauce around so each person can dollop it on top of their slice.
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