Full disclosure here – I’m a big fan of Jennifer Perillo. I have been for a few years now, since the very beginnings of my blog. I’ve always admired Jennie’s “simple scratch” cooking philosophy and the way she maintains this, even with two little girls to keep her on her toes. One of the things I have admired for a while now is Jennie’s Pizza Fridays involving her simple pizza dough. But secretly, I’ve been very jealous of Jennie and her “simple” pizza dough because I have not been able to master pizza dough in the past. I’ve made a few that I kinda sorta like but none that I would consider “go to” recipes.
Last summer, when Jennie and I were both in Paris, I had the great fortune to watch Jennie casually prepare a quiche pastry from scratch. We chatted in the kitchen of her rental apartment over cups of tea as she went about her preparation, methodically, yet super casually at the same time. Watching Jennie that day, I realised that maybe my issue with dough wasn’t a recipe, rather, it might have been my approach. I needed to slow down and relax. I mean, it’s only a handful of ingredients – I could surely master them… Of course, a decent recipe might help too I left that apartment that day with a tummy full of good food and a determination to make friends with pizza dough!
When Jennie posted this video of “5 minute pizza dough” back in January, I felt encouraged. She makes it look so easy. When I saw this was going to be a recipe in Jennie’s now-published cookbook, Homemade with Love, I knew that for that one recipe alone, I had to get the cookbook. I mean, pizza dough that works every single Friday, even working into a hectic schedule? Who wouldn’t want that recipe?
I couldn’t have been prouder to watch Jennie demonstrate orange-chocolate scones from Homemade with Love at The Cookbook Store last month at an event to celebrate her book launch. I mean, no pressure, right – a room full of strangers watching as you bake using flour you have never worked with in an oven you are not familiar with… Jennie handled the cooking demo, the questions and the event with her usual style and grace and her scones were delicious.
With my hands finally on a copy of Jennie’s book, I had great plans to make a lot of recipes. Life has had other plans in the past few weeks (though I do have a giant list of her recipes I want to make and have devoured the book from cover to cover like a novel!) but finally I got a chance to cook from the book a couple of weeks ago and I knew I had to try to pizza dough. We were visiting friends and there was a meal to be made for six adults and four children, aged 6-11 so pizza seemed like a good idea. It was supposed to be hot that weekend, so I decided we’d grill them on the barbecue. Why not right? Making pizza dough AND grilling it (something I have never tried before!) – sounded grand!
I started making the dough around 10am with four kids busily playing around me and adults catching up over coffee and lingering over breakfast. I cleared a space on one of the tables and set about making my dough. Jennie’s book calls for bread flour but I used all-purpose since that’s what we had on hand. Strangely, for whatever reason, I had a good feeling about the dough from the start. I love that I can actually hear Jennie’s voice in my head as I read her words – it’s kind of like if I close my eyes, I can imagine her standing next to me. So with all my might, I was channeling my inner Jennie!
A few people are surprised when they hear that breads and yeasted doughs are difficult for me. I mean, they tell me I make macarons which have the reputation for being finicky, right? So why is something so simple so hard for me? Well it’s not at all the same as making macarons and I can’t really explain it. Bread and dough, like anything with just a few ingredients, requires some understanding of the process – of what will change things up (heat, cold, humidity, old yeast etc…) and for a long while I simply didn’t have that knowledge. Now I’m much more confident about bread which I definitely think helps me understand this oh-so-simple for some people but not quite me (yet!) process!
With very little fuss, the dough came together beautifully and soon it was stretched out and on the grill for a few minutes before we topped it…
Yup – it puffed up like naan!
And it developed a lovely charred flavour from the grill.
(yes, I need to work on my pizza-shaping skills!)
We topped one with some olive oil, then a simple tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil…
And another with olive oil, basil and mozzarella…
The person to whom the little hand you see above belongs loved this pizza, minus the “green bits”. But hey – we all considered that a win. She’s 6 years old.
Thank you Jennie, for helping me make friends with pizza dough. You can find a version of Jennie’s pizza dough recipe here.
I’m super excited to have
a copy TWO COPIES of Jennie’s book to offer my readers all over the world thanks to Publishers Group Canada and Running Press. (Update: And a big thanks to Jennie for offering the international copy!)
Homemade with Love: A Canadian/US Giveaway
1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what your favourite pizza topping is.
2. Tweet the following message: “Win a copy of @JenniferPerillo ‘s Homemade with Love from @PGCanada @RP_Cooks + @eatlivtravwrite (worldwide!) http://bit.ly/17MUiIf”
then come back to let me know you did in the comments.
Contest closes Tuesday June 11th 2013 at 6pm EST. Winner will be chosen using Random.org and will be notified by email.
Disclosure: I purchased my own copy of Jennie’s book and was not asked to write a post about it, nor am I being compensated for doing so. Running Press Cooks and Publishers Group Canada have offered one (1) copy of the book for a US/ Canadian resident and Jennie generously offered to ship one copy directly to an international winner.
EDITED TO ADD: Congratulations Laura and Paula who won the books! Thanks for all your wonderful pizza topping suggestions!