Cooking For Others: BFF Pizza Party, Round Two

Posted by on Monday May 9th, 2011 | Print

Check out our other pizza recipes here!

EVENT: New BFF Platonic Triple Date
VENUE: Phoebe’s Apartment, Flatiron
PARTY-SIZE: 6
TYPE: Get-to-know-you Pizza Party!
MENU: Spicy Sausage and Fennel Pizza; Spring Pizza with Artichokes, Leeks, and Shallots; Bistro Salad; Mint Ganache Tart with Blackberries

For our big blog re-launch party in February, we decided to raffle off a BFF (platonic) double date with BGSK. It was decision we immediately began to regret during the first five minutes of the party, as we started to fear that our raffle jar would be the least popular of the lot, and/or that we’d end up entertaining a creepy stranger on our couch (it should be noted that the first five guests were indeed creepy strangers who were just there for the free food, so this was not unfounded).

Luckily, both fears proved irrelevant. The jar was half full by the end of the party, and when we chose a winner, the owner of the raffle ticket was Becca Poccia.

We had no friends in common on facebook with Becca, but from what we could deduce from this minor stalking, she seemed to be a normal well-adjusted twenty-something—just the kind of gal we were hoping to come away with the prize. All proved to be true, and then some. But best of all was that we learned Becca was a genuine fan, and had read about the party on the site and decided to spend a cold February night eating heart-shaped cookies with us.

Becca showed up on a Monday evening with three of her girlfriends, who she had come to know via various walks of life. The company reminded us of a similar dinner party we had thrown last summer, where we each invited a few of our girlfriends who didn’t know each other, in hopes of making a few new connections and, well, a few new friends. We also took inspiration from this dinner’s menu, and made two different kinds of pizza—one vegetarian, one meat—for Becca and her friends.

By the end of the evening, we were more than pleased with ourselves for having offered this prize, and might have even had more fun than the winner and her friends. After we polished off every last bite of Cara’s Mint Ganache Tart with Blackberries, one of Becca’s friends said: “this is going to be one of those random New York nights that I’ll always remember.” We couldn’t agree more.

From our kitchen, where new foodie friendships are the best prize, to yours,

Phoebe and Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS

**Recipes**

Spring Pizza with Artichokes, Leeks, and Shallots
Makes 4 servings

You can use any type of artichoke hearts you want. If you buy them whole, make sure to cut them into ½-inch wedges. If you use marinated artichokes in oil, you do not need to rinse them—this will only add delicious flavor and richness to your pie! Click for our recipes for pizza dough and tomato sauce!

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter
2 leeks, white and light green parts, cut into half moons and thinly sliced
1 ball pizza dough
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, shredded or finely diced
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
9 ounces artichoke hearts (defrosted, or from a can, rinsed, and drained)
1 large shallot, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

In a medium nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, and sauté the leek until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

On a floured cutting board or work surface, roll the pizza dough out, or use your fingers to stretch it. Line a baking sheet or pizza stone with parchment paper, and lightly brush it with oil. Place the dough on the sheet or stone, and press out the edges until the surface area is covered.

Spoon sauce over the dough and spread it in one even layer. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the top, and arrange the leeks, artichokes, and shallots evenly on the surface. Season the whole pizza lightly with salt.

Bake in the oven until the crust is brown and the cheese is melted, about 8-10 minutes. Return the pie to the cutting board, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Let rest for a few  minutes, then cut into slices, and serve!

Spicy Sausage and Fennel Pizza
Makes 4 servings

Both the fennel and sausage can be prepared up to a day in advance.

Ingredients
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into ¼ inch wedges
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 ball pizza dough
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, shredded or finely diced
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the fennel together with the olive oil, salt, and sugar. Arrange the fennel in one layer on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until brown and tender. Set aside.

In the meantime, brown the sausage in a medium nonstick skillet over high heat, breaking up the pieces with your spatula to form small ½-inch chunks. Cook until fully browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Pour out some of the fat from the pan, and set the sausage aside.

Turn the heat up to 500°F.

On a floured cutting board or work surface, roll the pizza dough out, or use your fingers to stretch it. Line a baking sheet or pizza stone with parchment paper, and lightly brush it with oil. Place the dough on the sheet or stone, and press out the edges until the surface area is covered.

Spoon sauce over the dough and spread it in one even layer. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top, and arrange the sausage and fennel evenly on the surface. Sprinkle with some red pepper flakes if you want to up the heat.

Bake in the oven until the crust is brown and the cheese is melted, about 8-10 minutes. Return the pie to the cutting board, and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Let rest for a minute, then cut into slices, and serve!

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