Saturday, May 21, 2011

Armenian Pizza, Greek Salad and Pergatory

My last pizza offering on last Monday's show was something completely different than the Italian varieties.

Armenian pizza has little in common with the pizza most of us are used to save for a risen crust.

To show that everyone has his redeeming value, I told the story of a man who was given to womanizing, drinking too much on the job and showing favoritism to young good looking women who would pay visits to his office. In spite of all this, he is responsible for introducing me to Armenian pizza.

It was, as the adage goes, "love at first bite."

Please don't let the long instructions discourage you from trying this. The work and time involved will soon be forgotten when you (and your delighted guests) experience what must be heaven on the tongue.

Armenian Pizza

For the dough:

1 package active dry yeast

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 cup warm (not hot) water

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup olive oil

For the topping:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 bunch parsley, chopped

1 1/2 pounds ground lamb

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon allspice

Several grindings of black pepper


Whisk yeast and sugar in one cup of the water and let set until foamy.

In a large bowl, sift four and salt and add yeast mixture, oil and remaining water.

Mix well and turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until dough is soft and pliable, about 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl and turn dough to coat, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.


Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet until hot but not smoking and saute onions until soft and golden.

Add garlic and cook, stirring, for an additional minute.

Put onion mixture into bowl of food processor and add bell pepper and parsley and process until finely chopped.

Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well blended. Put mixture in a bowl, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

To Assemble:

Put a rack in the lower third of oven and preheat to 500f. Cut eight pieces of parchment paper large enough to line a 17x13-inch baking sheet.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and lightly knead and divide into 16 equal pieces and wrap with towel to prevent a crust from forming.

Roll out one piece of dough into a 7-inch circle and place on one end of the floured parchment.

Roll out another and place it on the other side.

Place on baking sheet and bake for 2 minutes. Remove baking sheet, turn pizzas over, spread each with about 1/3 of the topping and return to the oven baking for an additional 4 or 5 minutes. Remove and cool on rack.

Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.

For me, Greek style salad is at its very best in the summer when tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are at their freshest and best. Go with something other than the usual grocery store offerings. Try some heirloom tomatoes, some Gypsy peppers and some middle eastern cukes.

Greek Salad

3 large tomatoes 2 sweet peppers of your choice 2 cucumbers, chopped. Enough to make 2 cups.

Sliced sweet red onion

Kalamata or oil-cured olives, about 1 cup 1/2 cup pickled Greek peppers such as pepperoncini

2 stalks celery, chopped

Crumbled feta (optional) Try sheep's milk if available.

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup good red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Good sprinkling of dried oregano

Mix all the vegetables gently in a large salad bowl.

Whisk oil and vinegar together until emulsified and pour over salad mixing well. Add seasonings and gently mix again. Add optional cheese and mix again.

For the Quick Fix this past week, I chose a light brunch favorite of mine, Eggs In Purgatory.

I'm sure I first saw these on an old Mario Batali show. These are a fun thing to serve on a late Sunday morning when you have weekend guests.

Eggs In Purgatory

6 eggs

1 quart marinara sauce

Fresh bread


Pour sauce into a large skillet and heat to simmering. Make 6 indentations in sauce with the back of a spoon and gently break an egg into each. Cover and simmer gently until eggs are set.

Serve each with bread and grated cheese. Would go great with the Greek salad above.

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