Go-to holiday cookies, a winterized salad pizza, and what I'm watching
Greetings eaters and readers! Hope you had a great weekend and checked off a few boxes on the holiday gift list. Big news: Our pork ragu made its winter 2023 debut on Friday night — atop polenta instead of pappardelle, but a debut nonetheless! We made it for our friends Adam and Craig along with a fruit-studded kale salad and Negronis and I must say, the meal delivered on coziness even more than usual. (P.S. Subscribers might recognize this menu as The Winter Classic from last year’s Dinner Party Series.) In other news, on Sunday morning Andy decided it was important to try the homemade jelly doughnuts up the street at Orwashers — where they pipe the filling into the doughnut right in front of you — and I’ll bet you’ll be shocked to hear that they were out of this world. Speaking of sufganiyot: chag sameach, to those lighting the candles on Thursday. Here are my go-to latkes and here are your Three Things…
1. A Winterized Salad Pizza
Phoebe requested an ole reliable dinner the other night: Salad Pizza. It’s a favorite in our house, but typically only makes appearances on our summer table, when I can find sweet tomatoes and basil to toss in with the vinegary mess of greens. But would I ever say no to my daughter, living with us for a limited time only? No chance. So I set about giving salad pizza a winter makeover, tossing in marinated artichokes, sweet peppadew peppers, and bocconcini (all from the grocery salad bar) so it was more like an antipasto salad pizza. It was excellent — substantive and vegetable-forward, and a nice break from all the holiday hams and braised meat goodness happening on the weekends. The best part — I didn’t even make my own dressing. I just scooped a few extra spoonfuls of marinade into the deli containers when I was shopping, then tossed everything with that. Here’s the how-to:
Sheet Pan Winter Pizza
Don’t worry, it will be bigger than the one you see in the photo. (I still haven’t found a place in my new neighborhood to pick up 16-ounce pizza doughs.) If you want a protein, toss in some marinated white beans. Serves 2-3 as a main or 4 as a side.
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 garlic clove, pressed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 16-ounce ball pizza dough, at room temperature
1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce, shredded or chopped
1 cup peppadew peppers, chopped
1 cup marinated artichokes, chopped
1 dozen bocconcini, halved (or a generous handful of cubed fresh mozzarella)
2 tablespoons finely minced red onion
1⁄2 cup freshly shaved Parmesan cheese
Italian vinaigrette (1/3 cup of marinade from the artichokes/peppers OR 1/3 cup red wine vinegar + a few shakes of dried oregano + 1/3 cup olive oil)
Preheat the oven to 500°F.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Let sit as long as you can.
Using your fingers or a pastry brush, grease a 17 x 12-inch rimmed baking sheet with then remaining 1/4 cup oil. Drop your pizza dough into the center of the baking sheet, and using your fingers, press out and flatten the dough so it spreads as close as possible to all four corners. This might seem difficult, but persist—the thin crispy crust will be worth it.
Bake the crust for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, spoon the tomato sauce on top (leaving a 1-inch perimeter) and, using a pastry brush or your fingers, brush the exposed perimeter with olive oil. Bake for another 5 minutes, until the crust is golden and sauce is warm.
While the crust is baking, make your salad. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, artichokes, peppedew peppers, boncoccini, onion, and Parmesan cheese, and vinaigrette.
When the pizza crust is finished baking, let cool slightly. When it’s no longer smoking, top with the salad. (To prevent a soggy crust and oily fingers, make sure excess salad dressing does not spill onto pizza.) Slice and serve with a lot of napkins.
Or you could just do a few Personal Pan Pizzas.
2. Let the cookie baking begin!
As I type this, Susan Spungen’s Triple Ginger Chocolate Chunk cookies are baking away in the oven, and the dog has been sniffing the air from her perch on the couch like some sort of sophisticate because she knows something special is happening. I’m bringing three dozen to a dessert and drinks party tonight, and later in the week I plan to make a batch of Ali Stafford’s Rum Balls (above) for a cookie swap. They are Ali’s go-to holiday treat, and if you are headed to a party or a swap or plan to assemble a cookie tin this year, you can find eight other excellent cookie ideas over on Cup of Jo.
3. What We’re Watching
At the top of the list: I can’t stop thinking about American Symphony, an intimate documentary that follows Jon Batiste and Suleika Jaouad as the couple navigates a life of extremes — it was filmed the year he won five Grammys, and the year her long-dormant cancer returned. At its heart, the documentary is about how they use art to process pain, and you’ll find it impossible not to fall in love with Jon Batiste who seems to exist on a higher plane than most. (I had already fallen in love with Jaouod from her memoir, Between Two Kingdoms.) Next: Killers of the Flower Moon because: 1) You just can’t believe it is a true story 2) Lily Gladstone’s performance as Mollie was amazing to watch, and 3) Scorsese. (I did wish it was about 20% shorter.) Anatomy of a Fall won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year and WOWOWOW was it intense. It’s not exactly the movie you want to see when you’re trying to escape the darkness of the headlines, but it was a real nuanced thriller, and even though I have a million things to say about the ending, I can’t recommend it enough. (I saw it at Lincoln Center’s cozy film center, but it’s now streaming on Max.) Finally, in the Last One to Know Category: Over Thanksgiving, my kids got me addicted to John Wilson’s “How To With John Wilson,” produced by Nathan Fielder — the series has been around for a while, so this is not breaking news, but it’s about Wilson trying “to answer some of life’s biggest questions” by wandering around New York with a shaky handheld camera making poetic observations. It’s unslick, absurd, and completely original. Watch the trailer here.
P.S. A Great Deal on Japanese Knives
Here is your final reminder that you have until December 10 to take advantage of Nakano’s exclusive offer for Dinner: A Love Story readers. It’s their biggest sale of the year — everything is 30% off, EVERYTHING, for you only! Just type in code DINNER at checkout. Enjoy!
Have a great week,