Posts tagged pizza

Nutella and Banana Whole-Wheat Pizza

Nutella and Banana Whole-Wheat Pizza for World Nutella Day

Now here’s a holiday I can really get into: World Nutella Day. Organized by bloggers Ms. Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso, this annual event celebrates its 2nd Anniversary on February 5th. All you need in order to participate is a love for Nutella, the creamy Italian hazelnut spread. That’s a requirement I can handle.

When I found out about this event a few days ago, I knew I wanted to celebrate the chocolaty spread with a recipe. We’ve known each other for a long time. While I was growing up, Nutella often visited my Italian-born mother’s pantry. It accompanied me home from my Italian study abroad trip in college and, more recently, from various business trips to Italy. But what kind of recipe could I create that would be worthy of this beloved snack food? After discussing the possibilities during a homemade pizza dinner with Jim, I realized I had the answer right in my hands: Nutella pizza!

As a child I devoured Nutella on white bread, enjoying it as a decadent alternative to peanut butter and jelly. But since I’m much older and wiser now, I wanted to incorporate a healthy aspect into my soon-to-be-devised dessert. I decided that a whole-wheat pizza crust would pair well with the nutty chocolate spread.

For my first attempt, I started with Cooking Light’s recipe for whole-wheat pizza dough. After I assembled the dough, I rolled it out, placed it on my pizza stone, and baked it for 12 minutes at 500 degrees. I let the crust cool and then joyously coated it with Nutella, adding a few bananas as well. That was the end of my Nutella-inspired fun, as unfortunately the crust was brittle and inedible. Something in my approach needed to change.

My biggest obstacle was the crust. Baking it without toppings had led to an inflexible and harsh crust, something more akin to a crisp cracker. During my second try a few days later, I melted some butter and brushed it onto the rolled-out dough before baking. Then I baked the crust at a lower temperature of 400 degrees for 12 minutes. I could see the difference as soon as I opened the oven door: The crust was brown and tender, the melted butter inviting and glistening. Instead of letting the crust cool, I slathered the Nutella on immediately, hoping that some of the moisture would be absorbed by the hot crust. More bananas, some powdered sugar, and my pizza was ready.

I took a bite and noticed that while the crust was still crispy, it was definitely softer than my first attempt. The nutty flavor of the whole-wheat crust was a complimentary base to the creamy Nutella spread and bananas. So while it took a few tries to get it right, my Nutella pizza arrived right in time for Nutella Day. I’m relieved. Grab a spoon and dig into your Nutella jar; it’s time to celebrate!

Recipe for Nutella and Banana Whole-Wheat Pizza
Prepare Cooking Light’s recipe for Whole-Wheat Dough (I substitute olive oil for cooking spray, but I doubt it makes a big difference. I also make the whole recipe and freeze half of it for another time. For this recipe, I use 1/4 of the dough in order to create a smaller pie, but feel free to create a bigger pie.)World Nutella Day

  • Cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
  • Nutella
  • Powdered sugar
  • 1/2 banana, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place pizza stone inside. While the stone is heating, roll out the dough into a thin circle on a floured surface. When stone is ready (it should pre-heat for at least 15 minutes), remove from oven and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place dough on the stone and brush with melted butter. Bake crust for 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Crust will be brown and slightly bubbly when ready.

Remove pizza stone from the oven and shift crust to a plate. Brush generously with Nutella. Add sliced bananas (or experiment with whatever fruit you prefer). Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Serves 4 as dessert. Enjoy! 

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Lunch at Pizzeria Mozza

Squash blossom, burrata, and tomato pizza at Pizzaria Mozza in Los Angeles, California

 

Even as the end of 2007 approached with the typical abundance of holiday food and wine, I still wondered what treats I’d encounter in 2008. Luckily I received a tasty hint during New Year’s Eve lunch at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles with our friends Joanne, Jon, and Justin.

Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery partnered with New York restaurant kings Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich to open Pizzeria Mozza in November 2006, and her airy, crispy pizza crust, cooked in a wood-burning oven, has been lauded from coast to coast. And while it certainly lives up to the hype, the toppings–particularly the amazing array of fresh cheeses–also blew me away. From a look around the restaurant, I wasn’t alone.

But then again, it’s impossible to be alone at Mozza. As soon as we walked into the rather small, maroon-hued space, we noticed that the room was packed. Everyone in LA had the same idea about how they wanted to start the new year, and for once it included carbs.

After we sat down at a large, circular table, we perused the lengthy Italian wine list and experimented with a few quartinos (.25 liters of wine served in small carafes, equaling about a glass and a half) while we waited for our antipasti. We devoured the arancine alla bolognese, small, fried balls of gooey rice and cheese topped with a light meat sauce, as soon as they arrived, while Justin declared his serving of bufala mozzarella the best he had ever tried. As he passed the plate around the table and allowed the rest of us to taste slivers of the gleaming, milky orb, we all agreed, and subsequently stole a second bite.

And then the personal-size pizzas started to arrive. The boys went with a variety of meat-lover’s pies, with ingredients including (but not limited to) bacon, salami, and house-cured fennel sausage, as well as chiles, pineapple, and jalapenos. Leaving the men to their meat-induced ecstasy, Joanne and I did a slice-swap, allowing me to taste her pie of speck, bufala mozzarella, olive tapenade, and oregano ($18).

I had ordered the squash blossom, burrata, and tomato pizza ($18). As I took my first bite it was clear the cross-country praise was justified. The crust was indeed incredible–flaky, crispy, airy, chewy, you name it–but I was also enthralled with the burrata cheese, a creamy, milky mass of freshness adding to the rustic effect of the charred greens and hand-pulled pizza crust.

Steven Jenkins’s Cheese Primer describes burrata as a Southern Italian cheese made from remnants of mozzarella and cream enclosed in a “bag” of pulled curds, creating a smooth, cool cloud of creamy delight. Get ready New Yorkers: Burrata dominated California’s menus from Sonoma to Los Angeles. I have only seen burrata advertised at my Italian gourmet market, but I’m hoping to welcome it to my favorite local restaurants as soon as possible.

We ended our pizza feast with a variety of house-made gelato and then poured into our cars for the next destination. (I felt so very LA.) I hoped that our Pizzeria Mozza experience indicated positive things for the rest of 2008. With amazing pizza, a new favorite cheese, and great friends, how could the year go wrong?

Pizzeria Mozza, 641 North Highland, Los Angeles, California  T: 323-297-0101. Osteria Mozza is located next door with a more formal menu and a mozzarella bar. Reservations are recommended.

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