Grilled Pizza: KitchenAid Honeymoon Part 1

This Friday, my “little kitchen” got infinitely more awesome.  Why?  Oh, I don’t know, maybe because my mother (whose awesomeness has already been articulated) is absurdly generous and provided me with the most wonderful gift in the whole world: a KitchenAid stand mixer.

It's like Hanukkah, in May!

Several of the Artisan KitchenAid stand mixers were half-off for Mothers’ Day at Williams-Sonoma, and I really, really have been wanting one for years.  A good deal is a good deal, and I was sad because by the time I could afford to buy myself one, I’d have to pay the full price for it… and that’s yucky.  Once something has been devalued, it’s really difficult for me to pay the standard but inflated suggested retail price for that product.  It just seems wrong.  Still, I’m a college graduate with a degree in English and the job market is as cruel and unforgiving as a pair of jeggings.  I’m trying to save, not spend, and when I do spend, I try to spend on things I really, really need, like cherries and frozen yogurt and anything on sale at J. Crew.  So, I had resigned myself to waiting until I was married to get one, which is pretty much what every other girl in America has to do.  But the thing is, I have this mom who is so wonderfully supportive of my dreams and passions and domestic proclivities that she ordered me my very own*!!  It was waiting for me at the Santa Monica Williams-Sonoma store all beautiful and ready to knead and whip and paddle!  And I love it.  There was a picture of me, smiling ear-to-ear, opening up the KitchenAid box, but my camera broke this weekend and I lost it!  (Don’t worry, I’m using Ryan’s camera now, which actually takes better pictures than my camera did.)  Anyway, as inserted above, a fuzzy-from-the-cell-phone-picture of my little chrome newborn in the trunk of my car…

* So, I think this would be a good time to clarify a few things, lest I appear to be a spoiled brat.  I am really blessed with parents who support my creativity and really encourage me to follow my dreams.  They really want me to be happy, and they know very well how grateful I am for their support.  My dad thinks what I am doing is really cool and on the pulse and encouraged me to “give speeches”, which is adorable, but a little fuzzy, so I’m blogging instead.  Also, my mom worked for a billion years, and apparently, when you work, you get paid.  This allows her to, every once in a while, purchase something without having to eat grilled cheese for three weeks.  I guess my mom decided that helping me out with something like this was a really good use of her money, because it would bring me so much joy, for years to come.  By the way, mom, don’t be surprised if some random internet people start trying to befriend you and then email you in the middle of the night casually mentioning a new markdown on a random-but-lovely kitchen appliance.

Obviously, the weekend was devoted to my new mixer.  We honored it by trashing the kitchen with lots of all-purpose flour and yeast and, well, carbohydrates in general.  This post is the first installment of a new mini-series entitled the “KitchenAid Honeymoon”, which started on Friday, May 7, 2010, and could technically last forever… Or at least a year under full warranty.  Most likely, it will result in a handful of posts over the next few weeks, the duration of, you know, a honeymoon.  Whatever.  Anyway, this first post is devoted to the goodness that was…

Saturday Night: Grilled Pizza

Ryan's Grilled Pepperoni Pizza

Ryan and I have been making pizza for a long time.  Two years ago, it was on top of matzoh, which probably shouldn’t count.  Then, it was on prepared whole-wheat crusts from Whole Foods.  Then, we started making our own dough on Valentine’s Day of 2009, and stuck with that for a while.  But I was never 100% satisfied with the results.  I like my pizza crispy but soft and chewy and charred and special.  A regular oven isn’t good enough.  I want a brick oven, or a coal oven, or even wood!  (We love Patsy’s in New York.)  I just don’t want plain old flour-tasting pizza dough.  I want my food to have character and spunk and depth.  Here’s the story:

My Grilled Veggie Pizza

One of Ryan’s best friends, Jeremy, bought us a barbecue as a California housewarming/Ryan’s birthday gift last summer.  After all the chicken and steak we painstakingly grilled on a sandwich press in Manhattan, the barbecue was a welcomed and much-needed addition to our culinary arsenal.  Then, for Christmas, Ryan’s parents bought us Mario Batali’s Italian Grill, which is obviously a cookbook about grilling Italian food.  We’ve eaten at Otto in New York City before, which is one of Batali’s restaurants.  Well, the pizza there is grilled.  And guess what, the pizza here, it’s grilled too.  And it’s perfectly spunky!!

New mixer! Ryan supervises the kneading process.

We make our pizzas in a really unfussy fashion.  The ingredients used are so top-notch that they really can stand alone, and in small amounts, too.  This is a link to the pizza dough recipe, which is found in Mario Batali’s aforementioned cookbook.  The recipe is pretty standard for pizza dough, although a little heavier on olive oil.  Thanks to the white wine Batali recommends using in place of some of the water, the pizza boasts a chewy, almost sourdough-like crust.  And that extra olive oil, don’t be scared of it, health nuts, because it’s super good for you and also, it’s pizza night, so give yourself a break.  The savory, earthy fat actually has a purpose in this recipe: as far as I can tell, it’s the olive oil that allows for a gooey, pliable flatbread-like crust that really comes through with the help of a hot grill.  Now, Batali makes his pizza dough by hand, because he is kind of a big deal.  Ryan and I met in a colloquium on Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  In other words, we’re not Italian-American Gods of food.

Mario Batali's Italian Grill

To make our lives easier, and because we can, we used the new KitchenAid to knead the dough.  Ryan observed while I cut up vegetables.  Once the dough has rested and risen and your boyfriend has worked it out and rolled it out (see recipe), it’s time to get grilling!  Now, we purchased a piastra to help us out with this whole grilling pizza thing.  A piastra is essentially a really hot tile that goes on the grill and holds heat like a champion, so it can, well, sear, the bread.  You could also use a piece of tile from a hardware store, I think, but then you wouldn’t own an expensive black thing that has the Mario Batali logo on it, and that would be a shame.  So the dough is placed onto the preheated piastra and it begins to cook immediately: a couple of minutes (or less) until the bottom is kinda beginning to brown and one flip and thirty seconds later and the dough is done.  Do not let it burn!  The whole process kind of looks like a giant pita coming to life.  It is super cool.  Check this out:

Dough upon the scorching piastra → amazing flavor!!

See those hot, charred marks? And puffs! Oooh! Yum!

Now it gets even more fun!  Bring your baked, plain pizza crusts back inside and take a deep breath.  It’s my favorite part: decorating!  I always feel like a kid at an overpriced-make-your-own-pizza-party when I do this, and I love it.  Anyway, toppings!  Ryan always does pepperoni, and I normally choose Margherita to keep it simple and cheap and good, but I love, love, love a good veggie pizza, and that’s exactly what I made.  For our pizzas, we stuck with the usual suspects: olive oil, creamy California-made fresh mozzarella cheese, crushed San Marzano tomatoes, natural and freshly-sliced pepperoni, and an array of grilled vegetables: button mushrooms, red peppers, yellow onion, and local summer squash from Saturday’s market.  We also like to sprinkle a little bit of crushed red pepper and oregano on top of our pizzas, too.  These pictures should demonstrate the assembly process well:

Mise en Place

We are really fond of tomatoes, but you already knew that!

Now, tell your boyfriend to put the assembled pizzas directly on the grill, in a cooler spot.  Cook them until golden and wonderful and the cheese looks gooey, but again, don’t burn them, because you will be horribly upset and things will be uncomfortable for you and your hungry friends and lovers.

Back on the grill again, for the "bake". Lower heat.

Meanwhile, as your boyfriend is outside supervising the pizzas, you should set the table and chop up some fresh basil for the pizzas.  Setting the table should be easy because you don’t need anything but a plate and your hands.  And napkins.  As for the basil: if you don’t have fresh basil, that’s really sad and you should just buy a cheap basil plant and never have this problem again.  When the pizzas are done, add the basil, and cut the pies into little pieces.  As you cut, you will hear this satisfying little “crunch” and it is a very, very good sign.

Finishing touch of basil, then slice!

Then, take a bite.  Between pieces, sip water and talk about how awesome you are for making pizza on the grill.  Also, be excited, because your apartment is not unbearably hot, as everything you cooked tonight was cooked outside on the grill, and not inside, in a 500 degree oven that you felt the need to preheat four hours before you were ready to eat, because you forgot to buy cheese or something and then took a phone call and remembered you had French quiz… (Oh, New York, I almost miss you.)

We don't mess around.

I hope you enjoyed reading this one-tenth as much as we enjoyed eating our pizza.  Look for the second installment of the “KitchenAid Honeymoon” very soon.  Also, if you live in Los Angeles, and you like really good cookies, I want to give you some.  I can’t tell you more about them because I want to write about them.  So just inquire privately.

I really need to get outside.  Bye!

8 Responses to “Grilled Pizza: KitchenAid Honeymoon Part 1”
  1. jenna says:

    i have a basil plant that is so cute… a few tomato plants too.

    you made me really want pizza.

    and i still cant find those freaking canned tomatoes at whole foods, they had a can at norman brothers for like 5 bucks and it was all alone and somewhat dusty, i didnt trust it and i dont have that kind of money.

  2. Jessie says:

    I got one. Just thought you should know.

  3. Jessie says:

    Oh my gosh… I’ve wanted a standing mixer for SO long and you’ve just made me insanely jealous/inspired. I’m literally dragging my boyfriend to the mall right now to look for a sale of my own. Don’t be surprised if you get a shout out on my next post– haha, love it!

  4. Debbie says:

    Oh man your pizza looks great! I wish I had a grill now 🙂

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] loves her own child.  Anyway, she goes above and beyond the call of mommy-duty; for example, in spoiling me with my very own KitchenAid Stand Mixer, or managing to find gifts for my boyfriend on sale at Anthropologie, or sending me pound after […]

  2. […] I needed Ryan’s help.  You do remember that we make amazing pizza, right?  Anyway, Ryan is the best at this stuff: he actually made the dough, kneaded it, grilled […]

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