potato + pizza = the jam

potato pizza lead

It’s been a long time since I lived in New York, but if I close my eyes and concentrate, I can still transport myself to my favorite spots, still hear my favorite sounds (guy on the stoop rockin’ on the accordion, I’m talkin’ at you), and taste my favorite foods.

Two New York foods I keep at the ready for my daydreameatings are chocolate ice and potato pizza. I had not eaten either of these since moving to the West Coast, and I miss them terribly. I’ve got a recipe for chocolate granita somewhere that I keep meaning to try, but I just know I won’t get it right. And I’d have to find those little paper cups to serve it in…anyway, too much of a hassle for what would likely be a huge disappointment.

So that leaves potato pizza. This was the treat I would get after my lunchtime optometrist appointments. I worked downtown and my optometrist was in Chinatown, upstairs from a furniture shop. (It didn’t have its own door—you had to walk through the furniture shop and find the secret staircase up to the office!) Anyhoo, after the appointment I would walk back up Broadway and stop in Dean & Deluca to grab an Orangina and a piece of potato pizza. Ritual.

I don’t even know what bakery they got it from, but I can only assume it’s super famous in some circles and it wins tons of fancy awards, because this onion-potato-rosemary-olive-oily flatbread is indeed the jam. Served as a room-temp, palm-size rectangle of starch and oil and herb, it really is a treat.

Oh, and it turns out, super easy to make. Let’s.

What you need:

dough for one thin pizza (half of your favorite 3 cups flour, 1 cup water…recipe), room temperature
one yellow/sweet onion, for somewhere reaching 1 cup, sliced thin and cut in half
one giant russet potato (or a pair of medium potatoes), peeled and sliced suuuuper thin
as much fresh rosemary as you can handle, just the leaves, no stems
olive oil, salt, and pepper

What you do with it:

Get your oven preheating to 475°F.

I’m not kidding here about the suuuuper thin potatoes. Like potato-chip thin. You want to see light through them. I have a mandoline slicer that sits in a drawer 364 days a year. This is where it earns its keep. If your potatoes are not thin enough, they will not cook through and you’ll end up with potatoes on bread. So slice those potatoes, and if you’re afraid they’ll go brown while you’re working and stick them in cold water, make sure you dry them out on a tea towel before go-time. Slice the onions as thin as possible as well, while you’ve got that mandoline out.

Toss the potatoes and onions in just a touch of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Throw in some of your rosemary leaves, but make sure to set some aside—as you lay out the potatoes you’re going to want plenty of rosemary on top, for the pretty.

Room-temp dough is key, especially when you want a thin crust. If you’re pulling your dough from the fridge or freezer, give it ample time to come to temp or it’ll fight you as you try to stretch it and you’ll end up with a thicker, denser crust—not what we’re looking for here. Coat a 9×13-inch baking pan with olive oil and push the dough all the way to the edges and corners. Give it time and patience so you’ve got an even, thin layer. If it’s not going to the edges or is otherwise being fussy, walk away and let it rest a few minutes, then try again. Brush the top with olive oil and bake for about 5 minutes and pull it out to top it.

On your par-baked crust, lay out your potatoes, scallop style. The sliced onion will come along for the ride. You’re going to want two full layers but not much more or it won’t cook through (see earlier “potatoes on bread” note). Wound up with extra potato and onion? Wrap it in clingyfilm and cook it up with breakfast!

After topping with remaining rosemary, pop it back in the oven (top-rack this bad boy) for 10-ish minutes. The crust will be crispy and brown and the potatoes on top will start to curl up and brown. If your crust bottom is brown but your potatoes up top don’t look done, try the broiler for a little bit. Then get it on to a cooling rack until you can handle it enough to cut into rectangles.

Then let it cool some more. Yes, it’s going to smell so good that you’re going to want to dig in. And who’s looking? Go ahead and try a little piece! But as it comes to room temperature, the flavors come together, the starches bind and set, and then it’s really ready enough to make you not freak out about new glasses costing you four freaking hundred dollars.

Seriously, this is great for next-day lunches, picnics, camping/hiking, marathoning Game of Thrones—anytime you can’t be bothered with refrigeration or reheating. And while it may not make you think of New York, it’s still pretty damn good.

potato pizza end


trader joe’s mozzarella…maybe just not for pizzas

trader joes mozzarella

I so wanted to love you. I saw you on Instagram and Facebook, and I was all, “Oooh, new stuff to put on pizza. I wonder if it’s a cheaper, slightly inferior Daiya.” You know how Trader Joe’s knock-offs work. Of course I bought it the first chance I got. (Oh, and if you’re looking for it, I found it hanging from a peg alongside the other shredded cheeses.)

Experiment one: pizza. Duh.

cornmeal crust

Since it was an experiment, I threw together a no-hassle pizza using this cornmeal crust from Vicolo. They also make a spelty one, which I believe is gluten-free. [Thanks to Kittee, my eyes have been opened: Spelt is not gluten-free. From what I gather from collected sources, spelt is not “modern wheat” and is lower in gluten, so some with mild gluten insensitivity can handle spelt.]  They’re better than you’d expect from a frozen crust and are the perfect size for a light meal for two.

trader joes mozzarella shred

Right out of the gate, you can tell this isn’t Daiya. The shreds are brittle, like Parmesan. I tasted it—this won’t be sprinkled on a salad anytime soon…but then again, I never sprinkled cheese on my salads before.

trader joes mozzarella pizza

And it browned up really fast—way faster than my crust cooked. I didn’t mind that so much, but you can see how shiny it is, right? There was definitely a pooling of oil on the top, like with Tofutti slices. (Dear Tofutti, I love your cream cheese and Cuties.) It wasn’t inedible, but it was as if there was no cheese on it, just a layer of…i don’t know.

Experiment two: pizzadilla.

trader joes pizzadillas

It’s totally a quesadilla with mozzarella (and whatever your twisted little heart desires: fakey sausage, onion, spinach…), which you obviously dip into sauce. How’d it go? It melted easily, but what it melts into is just a liquidy, tasteless substance. I again noticed how oily it was—and checked the nutrition label on some Daiya and it’s the same, 6 grams of fat for ¼ cup. Weird, how the oil separates out and is so much more noticeable.

After about four bites, the rest went to the compost bin. The fun, junkfood factor was not worth it. The flavor-and-texture: bad-for-you ratio just didn’t cut it for me, and I was not at all compelled to finish it. I was just sort of grossed out.

Do note that some folks seem to like it. A friend yesterday said she used it in a panini and it worked fine, so maybe as a minor ingredient rather than the star it needs to be in a pizza. I checked, and Club Trader Joe’s doesn’t seem to have tried it yet—I’d be curious to hear from a nonvegan. This is one of those things I’d hate to have as an introduction to vegan foods, because it just doesn’t do “vegan” justice. We’ve come too far to be dragged down by the likes of inferior fake cheeses!

Have you tried it? Had any luck with it? How?!?!

beans on a pizza

Whah? A decade ago I would have punched myself in the face for making me eat this…but it’s not a decade ago. No, it’s a whole new today and it is glorious.

I’d gone to the farmers market over the weekend and made one of my “If it’s a vegetable, it’s in!” pastas, and I thought I might try it as a pizza the next day. So here’s what’s on it:

• bail pesto base
dollops of artichoke spread
spring onion
cherry bomb pepper
chard (pre-wilted for just a few minutes on the stove, in a dry pot)
…and giant white beans! (fully cooked—but not mushy—and cut in half)

It’s all on a regular ol’ pizza crust, baked at 470° instead of my usual 500°, because I was a little worried about the moisture of all the vegetables soggyin’ up the place. It worked perfectly.

I was not at all creeped out by the beans. They were just creamy enough and played nice with the other flavors and textures. I surprised even myself. And no one got hurt.

seattle eats

Over the past month or so (of course, I’ve been there before) I’ve headed up to Seattle a couple of times, once for Vegfest and once so Tom and I could hide out in a hotel room and pretend the rest of the world did not exist—we didn’t even tell our friends there we were coming. We watched crappy TV, we curled up in blankets, and we ate.

So here’s some stuff to eat (or not), should you find yourself in Seattle:

This is a NOT. Pizza Pi, however mildly cleverly named, was a sad, sad time indeed. My friend warned me against it long ago, but since then PP’s started offering Daiya so I had to check it out. I heart pizza so I feel it’s my duty to try them all. This one was barely cooked (deceptive browning and bubbling of the crust, but look at the Daiya), there was maybe as much garlic (an added topping) as I use in my sauce alone, and the sauce was almost a very one-dimensional barbecue sauce. Boo. Oh, and it was over $20.  

My favorite, a breakfast built from side dishes! This is from Wayward Cafe, just across the street from Pizza Pi and Sidecar for Pigs Peace. The hash browns were hash-browny, the herby biscuit was super with jam (who’dathunkit?), and the tempeh was simple but crispy and filling.

Also from Wayward, the French toast. I wanted to like this much more than I did. The flavor was right, but it was a bit doughy.

Sorry for the blur, but it’s an action shot, baby! This is how Mighty-O Donuts are born!

Here’s what they look like at full maturity, ready to go in my belly. I always splurge for one of their fancy offerings because they really are fancier. This time it’s the one pictured in the lower left corner, orangy and delightful.

Wouldn’t you know it, our hotel was right across the street from Araya’s Place. We just got a bunch of fantastic appetizers as take-out, since the restaurant looked like your typical stripmall Thai joint, but it was super pretty inside! Next time. I didn’t want to bombard you with bad hotel-lit photos, but here’s the tofu satay.

So when’s the next visit? How about Sunday, May 15, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm for The Great Seattle Vegan Chili Cook-off?! No, I don’t eat chili, but Vegan Iron Chef’s gonna head up there to table. This is a fundraiser for Seattle’s first Vegan Iron Chef event. (Can’t wait for Regionals!)