This memoir reads like a nice long chat with an old friend. Growing up in a first generation Italian --hyphen-- American family I can relate with Patricia on so many levels. At times I was laughing out loud and at others I found myself wiping away a tear but mostly I found myself just plain hungry! As soon as I finished reading this book I passed it on to my Mother and told all of my Greek and Italian girl friends about it and then I made Patricia's Salsa Puttanecsa which is now one of my family's favorites.
I figured that the obvious choice for this book would be something Greek but being Italian myself and knowing Patrica's love for both cuisines I decided to do something Italian.
In the back of the book under “Explanations and Apologies” Patricia writes, “if you recognize yourself here and it appears I’m making fun, I ask you to please look again, because the one I mocked mostly was myself.”and no chapter shows this better than "Not That Papa Elias" After finding a free day Patrica decides to take a walk on the Isle of Crete.....all by herself.
"You'll get lost," Gregori laughed.
"I will not," I said crossly.
How dare he say I get lost? I wouldn't.
I saw myself (also a strong headed Italian woman) in this and couldn't help but remember my own "Walk of Shame" I took in Pompeii, Italy without the assistance of my Father and Zio. And even though I did get lost, break a shoe, and end up hooking up with a Japanese tourist who didn't speak a word of English or Italian, it did all end well in a nice little Pizza place sipping local wine and munching on one of the best pizzas I have ever had. I would say that was well worth the horror of not knowing where I was and hobbling around with a broken flip flop on thousand year old polygonal block roads. You may ask yourself who wears flip flops to Old Pompeii anyway ? An Italian hypen American does that's who : ) And since both Patrica's and my story end with lunch I decided to make a Pizza in honor of Patrica and her book. So I present you with my Pizza Alla Puttanesca!
2 one pound pizza doughs homemade or store bought
7 tablespoons good olive oil
1 large onion chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup white wine
8 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced (You can also used canned whole Italian tomatoes)
10 Italian or Greek oil-cured olives, pits removed and sliced (These are hard to find in SC so I used regular Kalamata olives)
fresh chopped oregano and basil
red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
8 ounces fresh mozzarella torn into small chunks or grated
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Tools: Parchment Paper, Pizza Paddle or flat cookie sheet (you can also use an upside down cookie sheet), pizza stone ~OR~ simply use 2 pizza pans with no parchment paper I like the perforated pans
Preheat oven to 550 and turn on the fan if you have a convection oven.
Saute the onions, garlic, and anchovies in the oil, not for very long or else the anchovies will have a strong fishy taste.
Add tomatoes and and saute some more.
Add the wine and turn up the heat allowing it to cook for several minutes and to reduce some.
Add olives and the other ingredients you've chosen.
Reduce the heat, stir occasionally as it cooks, you want it to reduce to a thick sauce which takes about 15-20 minutes.
Sprinkle with the fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper, to taste.
Spread out your doughs onto parchment by using your well olive oiled hands dimpling the middle section and leaving a sightly thicker edge all around as you do. If it starts to pull back walk away and let it rest a few minutes to resettle the gluten.
Spread the sauce all over evenly between the two pizza doughs leaving the edges un-sauced. There may be some left over sauce , you can us it for lunch with pasta the next day!
Divide the cheeses between the two doughs starting with the Parmesan and ending with the mozzarella then drizzle some olive oil all over the top.
Slide the pizza onto the stone with the parchment still intact and bake for 4 minutes or until it hardens enough to remove the parchment.
Slip the parchment out from underneath and allow it to cook until the cheese is golden and the crust is starting to brown on the edges and underneath. Each oven is different mine takes about 5-6 more minutes but some may only take 3-4 while others may take 8-10. It also depends on how crispy a pizza you want.
Remove the pizza with the paddle or cookie sheet by slipping it underneath and pulling forward. Allow it to set for about 1-2 minutes and then cut into slices. You can also add some more fresh basil at this point.
Note: if using the pizza pans simple spread oil on the bottom and spread the dough out onto the pan.Bake until cheese melts and is golden, I also check the bottom of the crust for done-ness.