Pizza Pizza

Seems that the Husband and I have been eating a lot of pizza lately. Yeah, yeah, I know—Chicago is so famous for deep dish. Which I don’t Too doughy and cheesy and saucy [yawn]. I’m a thin crust kinda gal, preferably wood-fired. This spring, we’ve enjoyed the following pies from places mostly in or around our neighborhood, at least we can walk to/from our indulgence:

The mushroom and spinach pizza at Crust.

The white pizza at Coalfire.

The potato rosemary at Pizza Metro.

The arugula and proscuitto-topped pizza at Enoteca Roma:


The delicious New Haven white clam pizza at Piece:

And my favorite, the mozzarella di bufala with arugula pizza at Spacca Napoli.

We make it at home, too, using a pizza stone that came with the Husband. Latest house favorite is cherry tomato, shallot (sautéd with sherry vinegar), bacon, and fresh mozz.


For the dough I’ve been using a recipe from the New York Times Magazine, substituting half of the white flour with whole wheat. Seems to work well with the bacon for some reason. Easy for a quick dinner, as you make the dough ahead of time. If you get your oven and pizza stone hot enough, you’ll bake up a great pie. Serve a salad on the side to make up for all that cheese…and bacon.

Pizza Dough

1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 1/4 t kosher salt
1 1/2 c cold water
3 T olive oil

Make the dough in the morning to count on pizza for dinner. In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, mix the flours, yeast, salt until combined. Add the water and oil and mix at low speed until the dough is rough and shaggy. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 8 minutes. The dough should be just shy of forming a ball.

Scrape dough out onto a heavily-floured surface. Let rest for 10 minutes. Separate into 2 pieces and form into a smooth ball. Place each ball in an oiled bowl, dust with flour, and cover with a towel or loosely drape with plastic wrap. Let dough rise until doubled in size, about 3 hours.

Punch down the dough and place into two freezer bags. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour and up to one day before use. I usually freeze the second ball of dough for another night’s dinner.

Makes enough for two 10- to 12-inch pizzas.

Punishment Cookies


I think these are my absolute favorite, just as delicious as a plain old cookie can be. The recipe comes from the venerable French baker, Lionel PoilÃ¥ne, via Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets cookbook. Not too sweet, nothing fancy, just simple buttery perfection. Perfect with afternoon coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. And the name? Apparently when he was a child M. PoilÃ¥ne’s grandmother would call to him in a scolding tone, only to dispense his “punishment” in the form of this cookie. Who says grannies can’t be made of both sugar and spice?

Greenspan’s recipe calls for using a food processor. But the preface describes how M. PoilÃ¥ne made the dough:  by hand on the counter. I’ve made these both ways; both methods yield perfect results. But I prefer the hands-on approach. Something about the tactile experience of feeling the dough transform from goopy mass to velvety dough has me feeling that I’m actually making something. You know what I mean?


5 oz unsalted butter, at room temp
generous 1/2 c sugar
1 large egg, at room temp
2 c flour
pinch of salt

Food Processor Method:

Process the butter in the food processor until smooth. Scrape down the sides and add the sugar. Process until smooth. Scrape down the sides and add the egg. Process until smooth. Scrape down the sides and add the flour and salt. PULSE until the dough looks like streusel crumbs.

Hands-On Method:

Pour the flour and salt onto the counter (I usually use a sheet of parchment to cut down on the scrubbing afterward). Push it into a ring so there’s a saucer-sized well in the middle. Pour the sugar into the well. Add the egg to the sugar, and using your fingertips, work the egg into the sugar til it’s a smooth, pale yellow mass. Add the butter, squeezing it into the egg and sugar. When combined, start gently working in the flour. No kneading here, you want to work the dough as little as possible. You’re finished when all of the flour is only just worked into the dough.

Shaping, Chilling, Rolling, Baking:

Shape the dough into 2 disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill until firm, 3-4 hours or up to 2 days. Or wrap really well and freeze. When you’re ready to get your bake on, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with a 2-inch round fluted biscuit cutter. Bake on parchment-lined cookie sheets until pale golden, about 8 minutes. If the scraps get soft, gather them up and pop them in the freezer to chill before re-rolling and cutting. The colder the dough, the better the cookies will hold their shape.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

For variety, the cookies can be sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar before baking. Rolled a little thinner, they can be sandwiched with melted chocolate or raspberry jam after baking.

Wisconsin’s finest


The Husband and I spent the past weekend in Viroqua, Wisconsin with his family.  Twas beautiful, rural, hilly, beery.

Saturday morning we went to the farmer’s market. Small but some good finds among the baskets and beaded what-not. And a vibrant, friendly vibe. Bored Amish kids hung in the buggy while mom and dad sold deep, dark, grade B maple syrup. Chatty, pink-cheeked farmers sold seedlings, rhubarb, and spring onions. I scooped up a couple of jars of picked veg: baby brussel sprouts and asparagus.

Dinner on Saturday night was outstanding local prime rib at the
Olde Town Inn in Westby. We felt a bit guilty upon leaving the restaurant when we noticed a herd of cows across the road. Um…thanks?

On our way home, we stopped in New Glarus, a super Swiss Miss-ed town. Seriously, even the Citgo looked like a chalet. But we were there for the beer. New Glarus Brewing Company makes delicious, small-batch craft brews that aren’t available outside of Cheesehead territory. So we stocked up. Those Old Style tall boys in the fridge had better make room.