June 21, 2024
Books for Cooks: “The Fire and Slice” cookbook is all about home pizza ovens and the delicious things they produce, from a Pancetta and Fiery Red Pesto Pizza to a Spinach, Artichoke and Goat Cheese number.

If you’re like us, you’ve been eyeing those slick home pizza ovens — some free-standing, some grill kits — that seem to be everywhere these days. The idea of going from dough to blistered-crust pizza in 60 or 90 seconds is so mouthwatering, we’re not even asking ourselves the obvious questions: How many pizzas would we make if we had a specialty oven? And is the answer — “a million pizzas!” — a good idea?

If you need inspiration for all those pies, page through “Fire & Slice: Deliciously Simple Recipes for Your Home Pizza Oven,” which was published by Ryland Peters & Small last year.

“Fire & Slice: Deliciously Simple Recipes for Your Home Pizza Oven,” published by Ryland Peters & Small. 

The cookbook offers up recipes for pizza dough and focaccia, specialty toppings and all sorts of sauces, in case you get tired of the classic red stuff. Roasted red bell pepper, sundried tomatoes, garlic and basil yield a Fiery Red Pesto, for example, that elevates a simple Pancetta Pizza. A Neapolitan-style Pizzaiola Sauce, with its concentrated, almost caramelized flavor, complements a Spinach, Artichoke and Goat Cheese Pizza. And more. So much more.

These recipes use a home pizza oven, but you can bake pizzas in a conventional oven, of course, or on the grill. Use a pizza stone, preheat the oven or grill thoroughly and adjust your temperature and cooking time.

One thing to know: Cookbooks from this London and New York-based publisher are aimed at home cooks on either side of the pond, so there’s Brit-speak sprinkled throughout, substitution suggestions for ingredients we don’t have, and a few recipes that made us wonder about cultural and language differences. Is fresh mozzarella grate-able in London? Or did they mean, “not the fresh stuff in milky water; the other one we use for pizza”? Is tomato paste called tomato puree in the UK?

You’ll find streamlined, adapted versions of the recipes they were kind enough to share below. (Psst, we went with “not the fresh stuff in milky water.”)

Pancetta Pizza

Topped with crispy pancetta and a fiery red pesto, this pizza easily can be made at home.Photograph by Richard Jung © Ryland Peters Small 

INGREDIENTS

Basic pizza dough, homemade or purchased

Fiery Red Pesto (see recipe below)

Thin slices pancetta or thin streaky bacon

Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Heat your pizza oven to 500 degrees. Liberally dust your pizza peel with flour. Roll or pull the pizza dough into a rectangle about 8 inches wide and as long as your peel will take. Transfer to the pizza peel.

Spread a few tablespoons of red pesto over the pizza base, leaving a ½-inch rim around the edge. Lay the strips of pancetta across the pizza – they should be almost the same width as the dough. Season and drizzle with oil.

Working quickly, slide the pizza peel into your pizza oven. Bake for 60 seconds, rotating the pizza halfway through so that it bakes evenly and does not burn. The crust will be golden and the pancetta crisp. Remove from the oven and drizzle with olive oil. Cut into fingers and eat immediately.

Fiery Red Pesto

Makes about 1½ cups

INGREDIENTS

Tapenade, Basil Pesto and a Fiery Red Pesto make fantastic pizza “sauces,” according to “Fire & Slice.” Photograph by Richard Jung © Ryland Peters Small 

1 large red bell pepper

2 handfuls fresh basil leaves

1 garlic clove

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

2 ripe tomatoes, skinned

3 tablespoons tomato paste

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 cup olive oil, plus extra to preserve

DIRECTIONS

Preheat a grill or broiler to high.

Place the pepper on the grill rack and grill/broil, turning occasionally, until charred all over. Put the pepper in a covered bowl until cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin. Halve and remove the core and seeds.

Place the pepper and the remaining ingredients, except the oil, in a food processor. Process until smooth, then, with the machine running, slowly add the oil.

Spoon the pesto into a sterilized screw-top jar with a layer of olive oil on top to exclude the air. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks, until needed.

— Adapted from a recipe by Maxine Clark, “Fire & Slice” (Ryland Peters & Small, $17) 

This spinach, artichoke and goat cheese pizza hails from Ryland Peters & Small’s “Fire & Slice” cookbook.Photograph by Toby Scott © Ryland Peters & Small 

Spinach, Artichoke & Goat Cheese Pizza

INGREDIENTS

Basic pizza dough, homemade or purchased

Pizzaiola Sauce (see below)

Mozzarella, grated

Baby spinach leaves

Quartered artichoke hearts, drained and halved

1 large ripe tomato, cut into large chunks

Small balls or sliced rounds of soft white goat cheese

Fresh basil leaves

Dried red pepper flakes, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat your pizza oven to 400 degrees. Liberally dust your pizza peel with flour. Roll or pull the pizza dough into a thin 12-inch round, transfer to the pizza peel.

Spread the pizzaiola sauce on the crust. Sprinkle half the mozzarella on top. Scatter spinach leaves evenly over the crust then top with the artichokes and tomato. Sprinkle with more mozzarella. Arrange goat cheese over the top

Working quickly, slide the pizza into your pizza oven. Bake for 90 seconds, rotating the pizza every 30 seconds so it bakes evenly and does not burn. Sprinkle with torn fresh basil and red pepper flakes and serve immediately.

Pizzaiola Sauce

Makes about 1¾ cups

INGREDIENTS

½ cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Two 14-ounce cans chopped tomatoes (drained and juice reserved)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a large, shallow pan, heat the oil almost to smoking point. Standing back to avoid the spluttering, add the garlic, oregano and drained tomatoes, adding a little reserved canned tomato juice to loosen the mixture, if the tomatoes start to stick. Cook over fierce heat for 5 to 8 minutes or until the sauce is thick and glossy. Season to taste.

Pass the sauce through a food mill, set over a bowl, to remove seeds and skin. You can put the smooth sauce back in the pan to reduce further, if you like.

— Adapted from a recipe by Carol Hilker, “Fire & Slice” (Ryland Peters & Small, $17) 

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