When you call the Homebase Abroad office, you will have the pleasure of speaking with Elyse, one of our colleagues here the U.S. In addition to being a dedicated Italiophile and enthusiastic traveler (St. Barts anyone?), Elyse was a client herself before joining our staff. She brings a unique and invaluable insider’s perspective to ensure the travel planning process is as seamless an experience as the trips she crafts collaboratively with our clients. Elyse is also a trained chef, restaurateur and caterer. In fact, she catered my own wedding, I have known Elyse for more than 20 years. And I am delighted for the enthusiasm and exceptional depth she brings to all things food, wine and spirits related.

Making an Italian pizzaElyse’s Pizza Suggestions

 When planning trips with Homebase Abroad guests, the topic invariably turns to food. Meal planning at the Villa, planning pizza nights using the wood fired fornos and which restaurants throughout Italy have the best pizza are popular topics of conversation. When in Rome, I am a fan of thin crust pizza at Pizzeria Ai Marmi, named after the long marble counters. Watching the cooks pull dozens of pizza out of the wood-fired oven is a dance in itself.

For me the magic of Italian pizza is the taste and texture created by the wood-burning fornos located at Italian pizzerias and our villas. While most of us don’t have a forno at our disposal, grilling outdoors is a wonderful option. And many of us don’t realize, making your own pizza is not nearly as complex as it might seem.

Recipe for Pizza Dough

 This particular dough stands up well to grilling process. It also works well on a pizza stone in your oven be sure to pre- heat the stone at the highest oven temperature for at least an hour.

One note, be sure to bank the coals/wood to one side … you want to be grilling the pizza skins on the hot grate without the fire underneath.

1 package dry active yeast

1 Teaspoon honey

1 cup of warm water (105-115 F)

3 cups European “00” flour (know as “doppio zero”, very finely ground & a lower gluten content, I prefer Caputo brand)

1 Teaspoon kosher salt

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Toppings of your choice at room temperature

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4 cup of the warm water. Allow the yeast mixture to ferment for 5 to 10 minutes. In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. Add the oil, yeast mixture and remaining 3/4 cup of water. Mix on low speed until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook (about 5 minutes).

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand (2 or 3 minutes longer). The dough should be smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot for about 30 to 60 minutes. The dough will double in bulk.

To prepare each pizza, dip the ball of dough into flour, shake off the excess flour, place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface and start to stretch the dough using your hands or a rolling pin. Stack the disks with parchment in between each one.

When ready to grill, place one disc on grill (away from the direct heat) and grill it until it starts to firm up. Move it around a little to get a good char over the surface.

Flip it, quickly add your toppings and lower the lid of the grill to melt the cheese and heat the toppings.

Slide the pizza onto a sheet pan and repeat until all discs are cooked.

When I owned my catering company, we would grill both sides of the “skins,” allow them to cool and wrap in film until we were ready to use them. When ready to serve, we would put on the toppings and finish them in the oven. Gustare!

Pizza at Dario's in Panzano Italy

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