Since the middle of March Barry and I have been assembling posts for a very modest new site, "Hoggard/Wagner Food Blog", which we want to use to document, mostly for our own use, some of our more successful meals and make it easier to dig up information we could use in preparing others. Actually, the ArtCat calendar started out much in the same way: It was originally built for our own use as a device to simplify the listing of gallery shows we wanted to visit.
To date the Food Blog has been used only to write about dinners we've enjoyed at home, but some day it may be stretched beyond that limited assignment. Even the colorless name is probably just tentative. And, speaking of color, I hope to add some by including rotating pictures at the top at least, probably in the form of my Greenmarket images rather than pictures of the food being described, since Barry and I have both found that food photography is not easy - especially if you're hungry.
Last night I tried something I'd never done before: I made pizza at home. I had never thought it made any sense for me to try to make fresh pasta in a tiny Manhattan kitchen, especially with so many store-bought or Greenmarket choices available close by, and I felt the pretty much the same about pizza. There were a number of times however when I'd dreamed of putting some very fresh or unusual greens or vegetables on white pizza, or even tomato pizza, the kind of thing I'd never be able to arrange for delivery.
When I changed my mind it was on account of the dual blessings of finding I had fresh ramps and fresh guanciale in the larder at the same time. What I went for wasn't a pizza that most people would recognize: White pizza with ramps and guanciale doesn't show up on the menu of the corner pizzeria.
I had already decided I was never going to make my own dough from scratch, and even dealing with the frozen ball I picked up at Whole Foods almost exceeded both patience and counter space. I'm going to be looking into alternatives, although we both thought their product was delicious - and very inexpensive.
After letting the dough rise (twice) and arranging it on top of a sprinkling of semolina flour in a large stoneware pan, I brushed it with oil and covered it with shredded mozarella, a dozen or more tiny ramps from the Union Square Greenmarket which I had quickly blanched, adding a scant ounce of guanciale [wanna make your own?], chopped and slightly pan-warmed, which I had picked up at the Murray's Cheese location inside Grand Central Market, and I finished working it by adding some grated Parmignano-Reggiano before I slid the pan into a hot (450 degrees) oven for nine or ten minutes [barely enough time to clean up a messy counter area now covered with flour glue].
While I was fretting over the dough, Barry was deciding we'd accompany the pizza with a Venaccia di San Gimignano 'Rondolino' 2006 from Philippe Wine. I suppose, if we had found any in our wine rack, a bottle of a more northern Italian white (or red) would have seemed even more appropriate, but the Vernaccia, one of our favorite everyday choices, worked very well.
As I said earlier, it was the first time I'd ever attempted a pizza of any kind, so until I had actually put it into the oven on the (previously-heated) heavy pan I thought the whole thing was going to be a total disaster. Instead, I think it may have been the best pizza I've ever had, both a perfect crust and a rich, savory topping.
We're being more and more conscious of costs these days (we're now eating at home more not just because I really enjoy cooking), so I've been very happy and proud to see that some of our best meals can be reproduced for very little money. On the food blog I should really make it a habit to point out those that shine in that category. I estimate the total cost of this particular meal for two, without the wine, to be just under $10.00.
[images by Barry]