Sunday, October 25, 2015

Friday Night In - Pizza Party With Friends

Strips of prosciutto folded atop a cube of cantaloupe and
skewered with a bamboo pick, Photo: NK 
These days, having our good friends over for a festive night in is one of our favorite things. We've even started a bit of a tradition - making several different types of pizza on our favorite pizza stone.
Throw in some nice wine and a little music, and it's a party. When you're in good company, there's nothing better than a relaxed dinner at home. 

For the menu, I reverted to several Neurotic Kitchen favorites that were a hit last time my friends were over, and added one new kind of pizza that will inevitably join the rotation. As always, I put out some pre-dinner nibbles that I tried to keep easy and elegant.

Pro-tip for pizza happiness: spend some time finding the very best ingredients because pizza truly is the sum of its parts -the best building blocks make all the difference. And please, if you'd really like to make this easy, don't be a hero by making your own dough - that's crazy talk! Just head into your favorite bread bakery or pizza shop and buy theirs. 

The better the dough, the easier time you will have. For sauce, I use very simple jarred pureed tomatoes - as long as you season your pizza appropriately, there's no need to use a real sauce.

Pizza Night With Friends

A simple hors d'oeuvre spread, Photo: NK 


Prosciutto & Melon Skewers (pretty bamboo picks make all the difference)

Brie Plate with Brillat Savarin (a triple creme that could make you die of happiness) + Fig Preserve

Smoked Salmon on Crackers with Onion, Creme Fraiche and Dill (a classic that never gets old)


Lemon Pizza Sorrentina (the classic NK recipe is HERE)

Classic Margherita Pizza - (read about it HERE)

Pizza Piccante
with Hot Cherry Peppers & Soppressata (recipe HERE)

And finally, the experiment of the night - Pizza with White Truffle Cream, Asiago & Arugula 
(the recipe is below).


We can't forget dessert, which was none other than our favorite Deep Dark Chocolate Brownies. Easy, fast and seriously decadent!! 

Deep Dark Chocolate Brownies, Photo: NK 

Before we get to our Truffle Pizza recipe, let's first admire the famous Lemon Pie:

Believe me, you'll like it! Lemon Pizza Sorrentina, Photo: NK 

Too wild? Well I like to believe that there isn't anyone out there who wouldn't love the flavor of truffles, so check our latest successful kitchen experiment, this truffle pizza that I have been imagining in my head ever since my sister-in-law gave me a can of this very delicious White Truffle Cream from Urbani Truffles. 

Pizza With White Truffle Cream, Asiago & Arugula, Photo: NK 

Pizza with White Truffle Cream, Asiago & Arugula
8 small slices 

1 pound ball of pre-made Pizza Dough, at room temp for 1 hour 
Can of Urbani Truffle Thrills, White Truffles and Cream
Wild Arugula Leaves 
Very Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Syrup or Balsamic Reduction (recipe below)
Pizza Stone or well heated Pizza Pan (stone highly recommended)
Parchment Paper, cut large enough for one pizza with extra room at edges 

Pizza Stone Method: 
Place pizza stone in the oven. If not using a stone, prepare pizza as normal in a pizza pan. 

Turn oven on to 525 with the rack placed in the middle, or to highest temp your over can handle. Preheat the stone for 30 minutes. 

Flour a clean counter top and your hands. Place extra flour nearby.
Form Pizza Dough into a ball. Press it down onto the counter and continue pressing until you have a flat round. 

Form dough into your desired pizza shape, making it as thin as possible - ideally an eighth of an inch thick. Pinch the edges of the dough all the way around to form a crust. 
Check out this great video I found on the web for dough-handling pointers HERE.

Once Pizza Crust is formed, carefully transfer it onto parchment paper that is cut to a size just slightly bigger than the dough shape (enough to grab it on each side). If you are using a pan and no pizza stone, you needn't do either of the preceding steps. 

Now you are ready for toppings:
Drizzle a Tablespoon or two of Oil onto the dough. 
Using a paper towel, spread the Oil around the entire surface of the dough.
Using a Tablespoon, slowly spoon on a thin layer of White Truffle Cream and spread it all around. The dough should only be thinly covered. 

Grate some fresh shavings of Asiago generously all over the pizza.

Transfer the parchment paper with the Pizza on it to the pizza stone and allow to bake for 10-13 minutes until crust is golden brown and crispy. 

Remove Pizza and stone from the oven, and allow to cook a few minutes until Asiago Cheese looks stretchable rather than liquified. 

Pile on Wild Arugula Leaves and drizzle very lightly with Olive Oil, then again with Balsamic Syrup. Slice and serve right away!

Balsamic Reduction
Balsamic Reduction, NK 
Yield: about 4 Tablespoons
One cup good quality Balsamic Vinegar 

Bring Vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid is reduced and somewhat syrupy. This should take about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it. I once ended up with completely solidified vinegar! 

Storage – the reduction can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few weeks. It should be brought to room temperature before using.

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