Jim Lahey's 'My Pizza'

'the easy no-knead way to make spectacular pizza at home'

Jim Lahey's 'My Pizza'

My Pizza (by Jim Lahey with Rick Flaste Clarkson Potter, 191 pp., $27.50) presents the “glorious peasant food” as a means for exploration of fine ingredients and world class technique, not at all the image of a hot greasy mess many legions of adoring pizza fans conjure.

Jim Lahey, founder of Sullivan Street Bakery and Co. in New York City, treats every pie as a work of art, using terms like “idiosyncratic” and “transcendent” and describing the revelations brought about through his journey to pizza-centered epiphany.

Using his signature “easy no-knead way” first explained in his book My Bread, this cookbook is marketed as a veritable Artisan Pizza for Dummies with Adventurous and Knowledgeable Palates. Detailed, occasionally high-brow, and summarily quirky, Lahey's explanations for choosing high quality ingredients and equipment are spot-on and helpful.

A local bread-maker friend, Kristin of InBread Bakery, and fellow self-appointed pizza connoisseur, joined me in testing, analyzing, and wolfing down our shockingly delicious concoctions. Lahey's famed dough results in a specific kind of pizza crust reminiscent of Euro-rustic style with crispy charred bubbles and a chewy, almost sourdough textured crust. The basic tomato sauce highlights the simple beauty of quality plum tomatoes and good olive oil, and is perfectly utilized when paired with the powerful topping choices in recipes such as Fennel and Sausage Pie (complete with Lahey's included recipe for homemade pork sausage sans casing) and Giardiniera Pie (corn on pizza?!). Lahey's classic Margherita Pie recipe is a wonderful example of the mouthwatering result when just a few excellent ingredients come together in time-honored tradition.

Lahey also uses a bechamél sauce base for some of his creations, such as the Ham and Peas Pie. Hands down, it was my favorite of our pizza party choices. The thin, salty prosciutto and the sweet green peas were paired brilliantly with the fresh mint at the end. Genius combination. We also went rogue and used his easy enough dough recipe (read: exact equipment and precise adherence to Lahey's method are imperative for success) to include a balsamic vinegar and various veggie feta pie.

After working through the beginning stages of My Pizza, I feel compelled to try the many other options he gives instead of returning to my standard favorites. Flambé Pie with Lardons and carmelized onions, Honshimeji and Guanciale Pie with quail eggs, and even his tangents into toasts, salads, soups, and desserts. Lahey covers the best of simple and extravagant, all on beloved pizza pie.

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My Pizza, Jim Lahey, InBread Bakery

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