Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cookbook Review: American Pie by Peter Reinhart

At one time I had over 1000 cookbooks. I was reviewing cookbooks so publishers sent me review copies and I also loved to hit up used bookstores to look for cookbook treasures. DH built me some massive industrial bookshelves spanning the walls of my office and I tried in vain to keep them organized. After a few out-of-state moves I greatly pared down my collection to around 120 - HERE is my Library Thing list of my current cookbooks.

To keep my cookbook collection from getting out of control again I try to only keep cookbooks I use regularly. When I do buy a new cookbook I judge it by one criterion - does it make me want to go into the kitchen and use it? Master baker Peter Reinhart's excellent book American Pie immediately propelled me into the kitchen to start making pizza dough.

87 pages of this book are devoted to his travels in the US and Italy searching for the best pizza. There is a section on doughs including a sourdough pizza dough, a grilled dough, deep dish dough and a recipe for dough you pre-bake and freeze. Most of his doughs are made a day in advance and refrigerated for maximum flavor. The sauce and specialty topping section includes a few uncooked tomato sauces which he greatly improves by adding an acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to either crushed tomatoes or tomato puree. I definitely want to try some of his herb oils once my herb garden starts producing. Finally he has a section on pizzas including a Pizza Alla Marinara which is traditionally cheese-free (although his recipe does include some optional Parmesan).

I used his Napoletana dough (recipe here) and his sauce (recipe here) for this pizza. I added some of my homemade pesto, some sauteed shiitake and baby bella mushrooms, and vegan Parmesan. Sorry about the photo - low light strikes again.

This pizza used the same dough and sauce and I topped it with Yves Soyrizo, leeks, roasted green chiles, and some questionable soy cheese that unfortunately did not melt. I should have put it under the sauce.

A few days later I still had some of his tomato sauce left so I tried a different non-Reinhart dough. I used a last-minute pizza dough recipe (the Quick Rustic Ciabatta Pizza from The Fresh Loaf), some soy cheese, fresh tomatoes, and sun-dried tomatoes for this beauty.

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