Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, is out with a new cookbook: “Cooking for Jeffrey” (A barefoot contessa cookbook, Clarkson Potter 2016). It is her tenth cookbook and it’s about as personal as any one she has ever written. After all, the “Jeffrey” in the title is Ina’s husband of 48 years and counting. They married when she was 20 and he was 22. This book is as much a story of their relationship as anything else. And of course, it’s a repository of Ina’s distinct style of cooking: simple, straightforward and easy for the most amateur among us to pull off. There’s an expanded number of cocktails and accompaniments in this volume and an entire 28 pages devoted to bread and cheese and 47 pages of desserts. And just in case, you think the couple does nothing but nosh, there’s a list of 12 of Jeffrey’s ‘all-time’ favorite dinners that cross-references recipes from all nine previous volumes. Since I like to start at the beginning, the first recipe I tried was nestled into the Cocktail section. It was for a Smoked Salmon Pizza and Ina didn’t actually invent the recipe herself.
|Joan Collins in her Dynasty Days|
One of the hallmarks of Ina’s recipes is that she, unlike many, many famous cookbook authors, Ina is all about giving credit where credit is due. In the case of the Smoked Salmon Pizza, she was ‘inspired’ by none other than Wolfgang Puck, owner, founder, chef of Spago in Los Angeles and now the Emperor of no less than 47 restaurants in 24 cities. You could make a strong case for Chef Puck’s being responsible for the rise of Gourmet Pizza in this country. Pizza was what put both Spago and the Chef himself on the culinary map. Here it is in all its glory: Crisp pizza crust topped with luscious Marscapone cheese, flavored with chives, and silky smoked salmon and finished off with a salmon roe garnish. Ina recounts how the dish was created for Joan Collins, she of “Dynasty” TV fame. Apparently the actress never anything else at Spago. I think we can all thank her for that because this is one incredibly easy dish to put together, even though I cheated.
|Damascus Bakery, Home of Brooklyn Bred|
Ina, of course, makes her own pizza crust. The recipe for the dough is included here so fire away if you wish. I, on the other hand, was time pressured the first time I decided to make this. And although I had every intention of, if not making the dough myself, buying pizza dough which is readily available in both my local supermarkets. But even more tempting was a pre-made Pizza Crust I’d had really good results with in an earlier pizza making session. Brooklyn Bred has been in operation since 1930. It was called Damascus Bakery in honor of its founder’s Syrian homeland. It’s still owned by the same family whose grandfather started it, they simply altered the name in honor of the borough they call home. Now in case you do not know it, Brooklyn is famous for its pizza. And not just any pizza but pizza with a crust
that’s thin, light, crisp. Brooklyn Bred’s Pizza Crust is made with OO Italian flour. This flour is the most refined, powder-soft flour you can buy. And if you take a Pizza Making course in Italy, like I did, you’re pretty well told that if you don’t use 00 flour, you’re not making an authentic pizza crust. All this is to say I felt completely justified in using one of the beautiful rectangles of perfectly cooked pizza dough.
As the pizza crust warms in the oven, there’s very little that’s simpler to do than to stir fresh chives into the creamy marscapone. Out of the oven, the crust is allowed to cool for a just a minute. Then the marscapone is spread over the top, a layer of salmon tops the cheese, sprinkled with chives. And if you’re feeling flush, you can top the salmon with Salmon Roe. Here’s the recipe:
2 (1/2 oz) packages of active dry yeast
Good Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. minced fresh chives, plus extra for garnish