Pizza Quattro Stagiono is Italian for Four Seasons Pizza. It's a perfect dish to make in celebration of a very good year, and anticipatory of an even better one coming. It is also a "show off" dish that lets family and friends know that the kitchen that can produce this is something to reckon with. Imagine if you will 100 years ago when this dish was first served...
Pre-prepackaged convenience foods.
But a pantry that can serve mushrooms out of season, or artichoke hearts with frost on the ground, or olives tasting fresh as the day they were picked 6 months earlier... That's a cook that plans ahead. Top the fourth "season" of the pizza with slices of cured prosciutto ham just seems like showing off.
And that is the purpose of a Quattro Stagioni... Celebrate the bounty of the last year. Plan for the success of the next and ... shhh, don't tell your family and friends, the purpose is to show off.
Which brings me to one my New Year's resolutions. I spent a bit of time recently examining my blog. while I have many individual posts that I am very proud of, on the whole, I see a great deal of room for improvement. Somehow, I evolved into a "what I had for lunch" blog. My goal was originally to be educational. to use my blog as a place for information to be exchanged. Granted, more often than not, I was on the receiving end of the knowledge and then I passed what I gleaned from others in my posts. But bit by bit, I think I have a few things to contribute to the food blogging community. So, Resolution #1 is to be more informative.
So, let's start the new year with a tip on pizza making.
Pizza Tip #1...
Grate your own cheese, DO NOT EVER use the pre-bagged pre-shredded cheese.It only takes a few minutes, and it increases the flavor of the cheese. Here's how cheese works, all the flavors are on the inside. The surface.outer layer, the rind of the cheese has a different taste than the center. Oxygen robs the cheese of it's flavor, so the more surface area (pre-grated), the less flavor. Grate your own right before you use it and you have a more flavorful cheese. Anyone concerned about their weight, I would use half the amount of freshly grated cheese and still have more flavor than the pre-grated bagged cheese.
And the second reason to grate fresh is the way bagged cheese works... They need to put a coating of wax (very thin, but it is there) in order to keep the cheese from re forming into a ball. Didn't you ever ponder why pre-grated cheese does not stick together like freshly grated cheese? It's the coating.
OK, just a bit of education. Not painful at all, but if you ponder the tip, your pizza (and anything you make with cheese) will taste better!
OK... Here's how to make a
Pizza Quattro Stagioni A Celebration Pizza for the New Year...
Crust of choice, premade or homemade
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Pizza sauce of choice
Mozzarella Cheese (freshly grated of course)
Porchini Mushrooms, sliced thin
Artichoke Hearts, sliced thin
Kalamata Olives, thinly sliced
porchetta Ham, sliced into strips
- Preheat oven and pizza stone (or heavy baking sheet) to 450 degrees for at least 30 minutes.
- Roll your crust out on parchment paper to your likeness... Thin, Chewy or thick like a bread.
- Brush Olive oil around the edges to get a beautiful Golden Brown and Delicious looking crust.
- Salt and pepper the crust at this time
- Layer the pizza sauce to within 1/2 inch of the edge
- Top with Mozzarella..
- I took wooden skewers and divided the pizza into 4ths. Then just pick a quarter and put only one ingredient in each quarter
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble and get that baked color.
- And either serve a slice of each type to your guests or let them pick their favorite ingredient.
OK, Here's two more resolutions... I want to make my blog more focused. Instead of just what I had for lunch posts, I want to start doing a better job of specializing. So, today marks the first of my weekly posts on pizzas. I love pizzas in all forms. This year I plan to do a study of pizzeria quality pizzas made at home; as well as pass on a few tips and a few recipes (like crusts and sauces in addition to toppings). So, stay tuned, at the end of 2011 we should all know a great deal more about making pizzas at home!
And resolution number two is to show off. By that, I mean work hard on my photography. One of the tips I have read is to take many angles and compositions of your dishes to see what works best. So, the shot on top of the post is the one I like best, but here a few of the rejects...
Any critiques would be welcome...