Tangled Branches: Satiated
riveting tales of how we sustain ourselves
Thursday, November 15, 2007
More Pizza: American Flatbread
Last night we visited American Flatbread in Ashburn/Broadlands for the 3rd time. We've been impressed on every visit. The menu is salad, pizza, pizza, pizza and dessert. The tasty, crispy-chewy crust pizza is baked in their wood-burning clay oven in full view of the entire attractively-furnished dining room. The toppings are fresh, local, and organic (as far as possible). So why isn't this place mobbed? It's been practically empty every time we've been there.
For the record, the pizzas we've tried so far are: New Virginia Sausage, Sun-Dried Tomato & Mushroom, and Pepperoni & Peppers. They also have nightly specials - haven't tried any of these although they sounded good. If you don't like their combinations, you can design your own.
The only drawback for us, and maybe a lot of the demographic who would be their enthusiastic customers, is that the place isn't all that conveniently located. We'd be there a lot more often if it was easier to get to. It's in a new shopping center off the Dulles Greenway, and that's a $3 toll one-way for us :-(
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007
We have a winner here!
I got so excited when I saw last week's NY Times Minimalist column. Fried pizza is something we've been missing ever since Cafe Petito on Connecticut Ave. in DC closed (years ago now). I realize fried pizza sounds like a greasy disaster, but it isn't. The crust at Cafe Petito was light and puffy, and they offered the usual array of toppings plus some things that were upscale for the mid-1980s (roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes).
Well, it just never occurred to me that I could make this at home, and I was eager to try it. Saturday was the earliest opportunity. The recipe claims to serve at least 4. Ha! We two ate 3/4 of it in one sitting.
I followed the printed recipe for the crust, except that I didn't have a food processor so I mixed and kneaded it by hand. I'd use more water for a slightly softer dough next time, but otherwise the recipe worked out fine. In the online video presentation, Mr. Bittman tops his pizza with sliced tomatoes, prosciutto, mozzarella, and fresh basil. I used a tomato sauce made from some tomato puree that I put in the freezer during the height of the tomato harvest. I chopped coarsely 2 garlic cloves and simmered them with the tomato sauce until it was pizza-sauce consistency. While that was cooking, I carmelized some onions, sliced some mozzarella, and finely minced some 'Zaatar' marjoram, parsley and Chinese chives.
When the dough was ready, so were we. After frying the first side, I layered on the tomato sauce, carmelized onions, salt and black pepper, mozzarella, and a sprinkling of minced herbs. I spent too much time fiddling with the toppings on the first one, and got the crust a little too browned on the bottom. I think a pizza should have bubbly cheese - just starting to brown - so I put it under the broiler to get that effect. Mr. Bittman ensured that his toppings heated through by putting the lid on the pan while it stayed on top of the stove. That's my only caution about the technique - you may need to experiment a bit to get it right with your ingredients, pans, heat source, etc., and I'm sure I'll be refining my version as time goes on, but this has earned a permanent place in my kitchen repertoire after just one try.