Apr 21, 2009

stone oven pizza

There is something special about pizza baked in a stone oven. The flavors seem to meld, and the smokiness enhances the taste in a way that is hard to match in traditional oven. Last weekend Matt and I piled into a friends car and joined many others at my "soon-to-be-former" bosses house in Napa for a pizza party.

Her house, set on three acres up in the hills to the west of Napa is a small slice of heaven. The stone pizza oven, with interior parts replicating old Italian ovens, and the exterior stone built by hand is a presence in itself. I learned this weekend that the temperature (measured with a cool infrared laser device) must be at 800 degrees F to be hot enough. Wow!

Dough was pre-made and after word began to spread that the oven beast was at the desired temperature, we got to work. All the party goers had fun mixing and matching with the the range of ingredients brought. I made only two pizzas, the first with greens from our garden and local pre-cooked fennel sausage, and the second with tomatoes and squash blossoms from farmer's markets in the bay area visited in the morning. However I probably tried at least 10 little slices as the pizza's came steaming out of the oven.
It was fun to see what everyone brought, and also to get to try so many different kinds. If I had to guess at least 50 little pizzas were made in just a few hours. Talking to another "chef" about similar party ideas he had been to a ravioli making party, dough provided, filling up to the attendees. The possibilities seem endless.

(photography by: alison clayshulte)

Apr 18, 2009

molasses-gingerbread cake with cream

I recently made this yummy cake from Food & Wine Magazine, April 2009. Each month when I receive my subscription I immediately turn to the back page to see what delectable treats are featured. I couldn't resist trying this one. The recipe calls for whipped cream made from mascarpone cream and confit orange peel, however I just used regular whipping cream and a bit of cinnamon for mine. Enjoy! My mouth is watering just looking at this picture again...too bad mine is all gone.

(photography by: alison clayshulte)