[caption id="attachment_921" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Pizza!"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_918" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Anchovies!"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_919" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Quartered artichokes. You can see the purple and fuzzy "choke" part in the picture."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_920" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The antipasti dish. The anchovy mixture is on the right, buried under onions."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_922" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Strawberry pudding and basil custard."][/caption]

I have been wanting to make pizza at home, from scratch, for a very long time. So when I happened to watch the Cooking Channel the other day and catch a pizza being made from scratch in a home oven, I figured this was my opportunity.

I decided to also make some antipasti so I’d have an excuse to cook with artichokes, and I’ve wanted to try a different spin on the lemon snow pudding I made earlier in the year, which seemed to fit here.

So, I made a pizza, a strawberry snow pudding, and three antipasti (recipe links below).

Antipasti: “Stuffed” artichokes, roasted peppers, and marinated anchovies.

  • The anchovies are marinated in vinegar, olive oil, capers and red onion, at least overnight. This turned out to be probably the highlight of the entire meal. Lots of wonderful, very strong flavors that taste delicious together.

    • Soaking the anchovies in vinegar softens their bones, so don’t bother trying to debone them. (This took me most of an hour and ended being a complete waste of time).

    • This recipe is also really quick, too; if you don’t debone the most time-consuming step is cutting up an onion!

  • The peppers roasting in the oven smell great, but I wish I had made half the result - to me, these don’t keep very well because they get unpleasantly slimy. However, they would likely be awesome on a pizza, or as part of a larger salad, rather than by themselves.

    • One thing that all roasted pepper recipes seem to call for is covering the peppers after you take them out of the oven. I wonder why this is? Is it so the water in the peppers doesn’t steam off?
  • “Stuffed” artichokes. This is really quartered artichokes with a tomato and bread sauce put over them. I will admit that I have never really eaten (or prepared) artichokes before, so this was an interesting experiment.

    • You cut off the sharp or papery bits of the artichokes, then you quarter them and remove the fuzzy “choke” from the middle.

    • Once they’ve been boiled for an hour, the insides get nice and tender, and you can remove the coating on the insides of the leaves.

    • Artichokes themselves taste pretty good, though I’m not sure I really liked this recipe, and I’m not sure if I think they’re worth the work. I can see why a lemon mayonnaise would go very well, though.

_Pizza. _

  • This came out pretty well, I thought. I made a pizza dough, covered it with some pureed tomatoes, plenty of cheese, and basil. Then it’s into the oven on a sheet pan.

  • Mechanically, this worked out great and I think I will make more pizzas like this in the future. As far as taste goes, it definitely lacked a certain pizza-ness. This is probably because, for some strange reason, I only put in basil, rather than the full complement of Italian herbs and spices.

  • However, it was pretty good and, strangely, improved dramatically when we heated the leftovers up the next day.

_Snow pudding. _

  • Normally this is made with an airy egg-white lemon pudding and a basil custard. I substituted a strawberry puree for the lemon juice in the pudding, and I’m sorry to say it didn’t work that well.

  • My guess is that because the mixture expands massively in volume (about 4x) as you make the recipe, the strawberry’s sapid molecules get “spread out”. So you can’t really taste the strawberry flavor, although the basil custard helps bring the flavor out a bit more.

  • This doesn’t happen with lemon juice since that is such a concentrated flavor, which makes me wonder if I would have more luck with either lime juice or a strawberry syrup.

  • I had a very similar problem with the blueberry marshmallows I made, although in the case of marshmallows, the strawberry worked quite well. Hm.