Pizza good anytime, even for breakfast, say authors
By Rita Papazian
Cookbook authors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough brought their own valentine to Borders Saturday afternoon in the form of pizza, a sample from their Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It! cookbook. What's not to love?
Their valentine went straight to the heart of food lovers. Who could resist a tempting slice of pizza with winter squash puree, caramelized onion and crunchy pine nuts? Their combination of ingredients was as extraordinary as partnering a former advertising creative director from Queens with a professor of 19th-century American literature from Dallas to write a series of cookbooks. In one Colebrook kitchen, success is creating and testing recipes for an 11-volume Ultimate cookbook series and more than a dozen other books. The authors discovered that together their partnership formed the basis for a very lucrative career.
Weinstein cooks and Scarbrough writes. Together, in addition to writing cookbooks, they teach cooking on Holland America cruise ships; they are contributing editors to Eating Well magazine; and have columns in Today's Health and Wellness and on weightwatchers.com. Also, they regularly write for Cooking Light, Relish, Gourmet, Wine Spectator, Cooking Pleasures and The New York Times.
For their recent book signing, the authors carried in trays of the pizza that they had baked in their Litchfield County home. They moved to the Nutmeg State two and a half years ago from Manhattan, where Weinstein had become accustomed to testing his recipes in his 4-foot-wide Chelsea apartment.
Weinstein chose the squash, onion and pine nuts pizza because it can be eaten cold and it's vegetarian combination is pleases non-meat eaters. "It's good, it's really good," said Scott Adelman, a graphic designer from Fairfield, as he sampled a slice.
Their pizza cookbook offers 90 classic, international and modern recipes. In addition, the book includes recipes for eight crusts and three sauces. In describing the process in creating the recipes, Weinstein said the authors took "flavors and combinations of foods," many well familiar to the eating public and "turned them into pizza.
"How can we take a Reuben or BuffaloWings and turn them into pizza? Or, a classic salad?"
Interesting question, one would think.
How do they?
Just turn to page 244 to find out. Here the authors note, "Like the deli sandwich on which it is modeled, this pizza is only as good as the corned beef and sauerkraut you use."
In addition to the homemade dough, for which the authors give the Classic Pizza Dough recipe, this Reuben Pizza includes deli mustard, drained sauerkraut, shredded Swiss, Emmental, Jarlsberg or Jarlsberg Light, and cooked deli corned beef. The authors note that the best sauerkraut is found in sealed plastic packs at the deli case of most supermarkets.
The authors also offer Duck Confit Pizza, which they describe as "a riff on cassoulet, the French stew of white beans, sausage and duck confit legs, which can be found in the butcher case of some supermarkets or from online suppliers.
A not-to-believed moment in pursuing the cookbook comes on page 107 with the authors recipe for Watermelon Pizza. The authors give credit to Gonzo's, a Venetian-style restaurant in Greenwich Village, where they first tasted a version of this pie. In making this pie, Weinstein spreads softened Brie evenly over the crust and bakes or grills it until the cheese has melted. He then tops the pie with diced watermelon and minced basil, lays the parmigiano-reggiano strips evenly over the watermelon slices and sprinkles the pie with black pepper before placing it under a broiler until the cheese begins to melt. Did someone say, "Hot and runny?"
Asked why the authors chose to write a pizza cookbook, Scarbrough said, "Pizza is very easy to make; it's economical." Another plus is that pizza is great for breakfast, the authors say. Pizza also can be served as an appetizer.
As contributors to the Weigh Watchers program, how do the authors respond to pizza lovers who may be concerned about managing their weight?
Scarbrough said, "We all know the secret is moderation"
Weinstein added, "The secret is that you don't eat the whole pie."
Scarbrough replied, "There are some days you have to eat the whole pie."
Looking ahead, the authors are gearing up for their next book, which will be published April 6. The title is "Cooking Know-How." They also are working on a book that focuses on feeling good, eating well. "It's an evolutionary connection of pleasure and taste," Weinstein said.
About that connection and getting back to pizza, on page 204, the authors give a recipe for Buffalo Chicken Pizza.
"No, there are no wings here; but the chicken is cooked in butter, the whole pie is topped with a chile-laced sauce, and blue cheese rounds out the whole shebang. Did someone mention a bottle of dark beer?"