Anyone serious about pizza seriously needs The Mozza Cookbook by veteran chef and cookbook author Nancy Silverton. But beyond the abundant information on how to make the best pizza ever, there is plenty more to whet your appetite. The book is filled with a well-rounded assortment of other stellar recipes from Los Angeles' favorite Italian restaurant and pizzeria.
Stepping back only a few years, seldom had the opening of a pizzeria been so highly anticipated. This wasn't going to be your average canned-sauce-and-delivery kind of joint; Mozza was the collaboration of Southern California's beloved chef/entrepreneur Nancy Silverton, and New York superstar restaurateurs Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. And from the moment it opened, no one was disappointed. In fact, the simple concept of Pizzeria Mozza soon morphed into Mozza2Go and Osteria Mozza, with locations in Singapore as well as Los Angeles.
Although trained extensively in all facets of cooking, Silverton spent many years as a pastry chef and baker’ultimately starting the renowned La Brea Bakery. It is the heart of a baker, paired with meticulous attention to quality, that set her on the path to create the perfect pizza.
Most people recognize Silverton as a "Top Chef"--both literally and figuratively. But within the food community she is also known for her generous spirit. This is evident throughout the book, where she not only shares endless bits of knowledge she has learned along the way, but also heaps heartfelt praise upon those who have inspired her recipes; those who cook them daily in her restaurants; and those who tirelessly tested the home-style versions for this book. You gotta love that in a chef.
But man cannot live on pizza alone. (Or so some say.) As you try your hand at making the many ingenious "pies" in this book, don't overlook the other savories and sweets that put this restaurant on the culinary map. (The author even provides some sample menus, in case you're looking for inspiration; and charming personal notes regarding how she incorporates certain dishes when entertaining at home.) Count me in for Burrata with Bacon, Marinated Escarole, and Caramelized Shallots; Little Gem Lettuce with Dates, Red Onion, and Gorgonzola Dolce; Linguine with Clams, Pancetta, and Spicy Fresno Chiles; Pan-Roasted Pork Chops with Olives and Sambuca-Braised Fennel; Brussels Sprouts with Sherry Vinaigrette and Prosciutto Bread Crumbs; and Mozza's legendary Butterscotch Budino with Caramel Sauce and Maldon Sea Salt.
Cooking from The Mozza Cookbook is second only to eating there. With a copy on your bookshelf, you may never need reservations again.
Fennel sausage, panna, and scallions pizzaExcerpted from THE MOZZA COOKBOOK by Nancy Silverton with Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreno. Copyright © 2011 by Nancy Silverton. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
This is my number-one favorite Pizzeria Mozza pizza, and it's a direct rip-off of the Norcia pizza they serve at Pellicano. Sausage and panna, or cream, is a classic combination in Umbria. The summer I discovered this pizza I ordered it every time I went to Pellicano, in an effort to figure out what was in the white sauce that was smeared on the crust. When I asked, they told me "panna." I knew panna was cream, but I couldn't understand how they could put cream on pizza. Finally, I went back to the kitchen to see for myself, and what I saw was that the cream had been whipped, making it spreadable. Whipping cream for a pizza was such a foreign idea to me that when I started playing with pizzas for the restaurant, I tried to avoid it. I made this pizza with crème fraîche and later with mascarpone- anything not to put whipped cream on a pizza- but the whipped cream was definitely the best.
MAKES 1 PIZZA (SERVES 1)
- 1 round of Nancy's Pizza Dough, see below
- 4 ounces Fennel Sausage, uncooked
- 1 tablespoon extra- virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
- 1 ounce low- moisture mozzarella, cut or torn into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced on an extreme bias starting at the green ends and moving toward the root ends (white and green parts) or 1/2 cup very thinly sliced red onion
- 1 tablespoon fennel pollen
Prepare and stretch the dough and preheat the oven to 500ºF
Roll the fennel sausage meat into two 2-ounce balls and place them on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in an oven preheated to 500ºF for 6 minutes, to partially cook the sausage and render the fat. Remove the sausage from the oven and set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the pizza.
Brush the rim of the dough with the olive oil and season the entire surface with salt. Spoon the cream into the center of the dough and use the back of the spoon in a circular motion to spread it over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1- inch rim without any cream. Break each ball of sausage into 4 pieces and scatter the pieces over the pizza. Scatter the cheese, then the scallions around the sausage. Slide the pizza into the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown and crispy, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven, sprinkle it with the fennel pollen, cut it into quarters, and serve.
Nancy's Pizza Dough
The first thing I need to tell you about this pizza dough recipe is that it is not an exact replica of the pizza dough we use at Pizzeria Mozza. What I can promise you, however, is that when you make this dough at home, your pizza will be just as delicious as the one we serve.
Dough reacts differently in different ovens, and when our restaurant dough is baked in a home oven the result is a thick and doughy crust- not at all like those that come out of our extremely hot wood- fired ovens. My challenge for this book was to come up with a recipe for a pizza dough that, when baked in a home oven, resulted in a crust that was as close to what we get out of our pizza ovens as possible. And with the invaluable help and relentless persistence of Jon Davis, a breadbaker whom I've worked with since I hired him at La Brea Bakery more than twenty years ago, we came up with this recipe.
The dough is made with a sponge, which means that half of the flour is fermented, or aged, for a period of time-in this case, for an hour and a half-before being mixed with the remaining ingredients. This is a breadbakers' trick to coax the subtle flavor characteristics from the flour in a relatively short period of time. I have also made this dough without the sponge, adding all of the flour and water at once and saving that hour and a half of fermenting time. If you are pressed for time, you can do this, and though you might lose a bit of flavor, it will still be better than most pizzas I've been served in the States. You will need a scale to make this recipe. Bread making, or in this case pizza dough making, is so specific, there is no way around it. When making the dough, it's important to time it so that it's ready when you want to make your pizzas.
MAKES ENOUGH DOUGH FOR 6 PIZZAS; EACH PIZZA SERVES ONE
- 22 ounces warm tap water (2 cups, 6 ounces)
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) compressed yeast or
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 26 ounces unbleached bread flour, plus more as needed
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) dark rye flour or medium rye flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons wheat germ
- 1 1/2 teaspoons barley malt or mild- flavored honey, such as clover or wildflower
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) kosher salt
- Olive oil, grapeseed oil, or another neutral flavored oil, such as canola oil, for greasing the bowl
To make the sponge, put 15 ounces of the water and the yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer and let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve the yeast. Add 13 ounces of the bread flour, the rye flour, and the wheat germ. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients. Wrap the bowl tightly in plastic wrap and tightly wrap the perimeter of the bowl with kitchen twine or another piece of plastic wrap to further seal the bowl. Set the dough aside at room temperature (ideally 68 to 70 degrees) for 1 1/2 hours.
Uncover the bowl and add the remaining 7 ounces of water, the remaining 13 ounces of bread flour, and the barley malt. Fit the mixer with a dough hook, place the bowl on the mixer stand, and mix the dough on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the salt and mix on medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes, until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Note that the dough will not pull so much that it completely cleans the bowl, but if the dough is too sticky and is not pulling away from the sides at all, throw a small handful of flour into the bowl to make it less sticky. While the dough is mixing, lightly grease with olive oil a bowl large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size. Turn the dough out of the mixer into the oiled bowl. Wrap the bowl as before. Set the dough aside at room temperature for 45 minutes. Dust your work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Acting as if the round has four sides, fold the edges of the dough toward the center. Turn the dough over and return it, folded side down, to the bowl. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and set it aside for 45 minutes.
Dust your work surface again lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Divide the dough into six equal segments, each weighing approximately 7 ounces. Gently tuck the edges of each round of dough under itself. Cover the dough rounds with a clean dishtowel and let them rest for 5 minutes.
Lightly flour your hands and use both hands to gather each round of dough into a taut ball. Dust a baking sheet generously with flour and place the dough rounds on the baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with the dishtowel and set them again at room temperature for 1 hour to proof the dough. (Or leave the dough on the counter to proof instead.)
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.