The old man awoke with a smile.
Oh, there were other things. There were aches in places (some of them new) and a crack in his back. There was a twitch in his neck where there was not one yesterday. When he swung out from under the shelter of his quilts, he felt the wheeze in his chest, one he had for so long that he considered naming it Harold. If it insisted on keeping him company, it was the least he could do in return.
He plucked at the drapes and took a deep breath as dawn emerged from the ground and spread its touch over the earth. He turned around and smiled. “Happy Anniversary,” he said to her; his counterpart, who remained in the bed.
She was not so eager to wake. She lifted her head and peered at him with ageless eyes and then, let out a snore and drifted back to sleep, the sweetness of the moment lost on her. He shook his head, still smiling.
First the bathroom and then into the kitchen he went, as he did every morning. He shuffled over to the counters, did a few stretches of his arms and what was left of his back. He dusted the insides of the pot with coffee and set the kettle on the burner. He fussed with the flowers on the table and picked up the stray leaves. He moved the curtains over the kitchen sink so he could wash his hands without the soft fabric tickling his wrists.
He went to the fridge, seeking out the larder of bacon and the eggs, but his graying eyes settled on the box instead. His son had “come for dinner” the night before. He’d “cooked” and this was all that remained. The old man removed the box from the shelf and placed it on the counter. He warmed his hands on the soft cotton folds of his pajama pants.
He was going to be civilized about it all, plates and the like, but when he opened the box, the smell of cold tomatoes hit him first. He picked at a stray piece of crust as he stood and then another. It would be hard on his stomach, he knew, but for the moment, the sweetness and the cheese melded together on his tongue. The herbs sang. He would risk his stomach.
She came into the kitchen then, as she always did when the smell of coffee bloomed in the air, and the slap of the refrigerator door beckoned. The old man smiled at her and picked up a slice, toasted her with it. “Anniversary breakfast,” he said and he took another bite. In his haste, a piece of crust fell.
She got to it first and ate it before it could really meet the floor. He chuckled and bent down and scratched the dog behind the ears. She was graying too, poor thing, poor old Magpie with her failing eyes and her wobbling paws. She sniffed his hand, more interested in pizza than in the fourteen years, today, that they had spent entirely in each other’s warm company.
Magazine lovers- when that March 2012 issue of Bon Appetit came sauntering into your mailboxes last month, I know you gasped at the cover. I know this because I am you. We are one. And I gasped.
When Nicole said that she wanted to make pizza and then sent me the recipe she used, I laughed to myself. But of course, I said to myself (because I talk to myself in such a way that would evoke Shakespeare and/or a crazy person), it would be this. Where else could she have gotten a pizza that was so delightfully chewy and crispy and perfect and drool inducing?
And then I looked at the blog where she’d seen the recipe (adapted from that Bon Appetit cover, naturally) and I laughed again. Because I had been wondering just how to tell you that I had moved (!) to a new city (!) and this gives me the perfect vehicle; the answer can be found with Jillian and Malcolm at From Away.
Back to the pizza. Oh, pizza.
I had three sources for this recipe, lovingly re-created for you below. First, there was From Away and their gorgeous photographs. Then, the recipe in Bon Appetit and finally, the “prep school” section in the back of the same magazine for shaping the dough properly. I am exhausted. But here it is, all combined and ready for you; it may seem daunting but it’s not, I promise. In wanting to be as thorough as possible, I may have frightened you away. Do not be afraid! We can do this! We can eat pizza together!
And after we eat pizza, scroll down and WIN FREE STUFF.
That Famous No-Knead Pizza
7 and 1/2 Cups of all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting, shaping dough)
4 Teaspoons of fine sea salt
1/2 Teaspoon of active dry yeast
3 Cups of water
Can of crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. First, we make the dough. Start the day before and give yourself 18-20 hours.
2. In a big mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and yeast.
3. Using a wooden spoon, gradually incorporate water.
4. Mix gently by hand and form dough into a rough ball. Don’t overwork it here. (This is the no-knead part of the magic.) Transfer to a large, clean bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
5. Let dough rise at room temperature (about 72 degrees) in a draft-free area for about 18 hours. (I like using the oven, though it needs to be turned off, obviously.) Dough should more than double in size.
6. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Cut dough into six equal portions. (Here, you can take balls of dough and wrap in plastic to store in fridge for up to three days.)
7. Take each ball of dough and work with it a bit to form it into a ball, molding gently. Dust balls with flour. Let them rest, covered with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap, until soft and pliable, about one hour.
8. Now, preheat your oven to its hottest setting (500 to 550 degrees). Place pizza stone in upper third of oven. For baking sheet, you do not need to preheat it in the oven but arrange rack in the middle of the oven.
9. While the dough is resting and the oven is preheating, prepare your topping. We improvised a quick pizza sauce in a sauté pan with crushed San Marzano tomatoes, a bit of tomato paste, a bit of olive oil, a crushed clove of garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Slice your fresh mozzarella. Chop some fresh basil. Ready? Ready.
10. Take your rested dough of delight. Dust with flour and dust your hands too, while you’re at it. Start stretching the dough, starting at the edges, and move in a circular motion, resisting the urge to flatten the dough too much as this will release those precious air bubbles that give the dough its chewy center. Gently rotate and stretch the dough across the work surface until dough is roughly 8 inches in diameter. Go rustic with it- it doesn’t need to look perfect to taste perfect.
11. Transfer the dough to your knuckles now (like you have seen every pizza flipper do since the dawn of time) and slowly rotate the dough while gently stretching the edges. Gravity and this circular motion will give you a 10 to 12 inch disc.
12. Here’s where time/methods diverge based on pizza stone or baking sheet.
Pizza stone: Take pizza peel or rimless baking sheet and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Place dough on top of it. Top with sauce, cheese and basil immediately. Set oven to broil. Slide pizza from peel/rimless sheet onto hot pizza stone which is in oven. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes until bottom is crisp and top is blistered. Use peel/rimless sheet to retrieve pizza.
Baking sheet: Arrange dough on baking sheet. Top with sauce, cheese and basil. Bake pizza until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, about 10 minutes.
13. And now, we eat pizza.
And now, WE GIVE AWAY THINGS.
Tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day, is our 1 Year Anniversary! We did it! We’re still here!
Hilariously, our recipe one year ago was for Blueberry Bars. Because nothing says St. Patrick’s Day like… blueberry bars. (Clearly, we had some things to learn. Although we just posted a pizza recipe so maybe the learning is still going to continue here.) To commemorate the event, we’ve refreshed the site a bit (and be we, I mean Nicole.)
We want you to celebrate with us so we’re giving away, to one lucky reader, the New England Gift Basket from Eat Boutique! If you haven’t heard of Eat Boutique, you are in for a treat:
Eat Boutique celebrates pure, local and comforting handmade foods. We craft seasonal and regional gift boxes, as well as monthly gift subscriptions of small batch food. We create food guides, plan tasting trips, and host soirees & local markets with our favorite food makers.
The New England box (aptly chosen, don’t you think?) features:
- Slightly sweet, totally crunchy granola from Cow & Crumb (Cambridge, Mass.)
- A caramel sauce made from goat’s milk from Fat Toad Farm (Brookfield, Vermont)
- Lark (Essex, Mass.) whole wheat oat cookies with cranberries and bittersweet chocolate
- A cherrywood smoked sea salt for finishing soups, roasts and veggies from Salt Traders (Ipswich, Mass.)
- One of the best maple syrups from Sweet Brook Farm (Williamstown, Mass.)
It’s pure foodie heaven, delivered straight to your door from a seriously cool company.
To enter, please comment and tell us your favorite recipe find of the year- a recipe you absolutely love. It could be from a magazine, blogger, television show, or a restaurant, wherever. If you also tweet about Some Kitchen Stories or share it on Facebook or on Pinterest, you get extra points and extra chances to win (and we’ll throw in an extra surprise too). You have all week so have at it!
Use the handy widget below to enter!
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