On the day the world was supposed to end (May 21, 2011), we decided to hop the subway and head to Queens. I really wanted to check out 5Pointz-- a graffiti project on the facade of a 200,000 square foot factory building in Long Island City. It had long been on my list of places to visit, so I was glad we finally got to see it.
At 5Pointz artists get permits to "tag" and paint- and it's all completely legal. Most of the work is ephemeral and only lasts a few weeks before it is painted over, but the really good stuff stays around for a bit longer...
My husband, Otis and a pregnant yours truly set out with our dear friend Andrew- who came along so he could spend time with us and take a few pictures of our growing family. (Andrew is a very talented modern classical composer and he's working on a piece called Otis! How cool is that?!) Since we were going to be in Queens, we decided that a pilgrimage to Jackson Heights' Delhi Palace was in order. After Indian buffet and the graffiti exhibit we stopped by McCarren Park playground before heading back home. But back to 5Pointz, this is what we saw...
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It was a nice weekend and nothing could cap it off better than some homemade pizza. I was craving a DiFara style pie but, not wanting to wait 2 plus hours in Midwood, I decided to make the pizza myself by adapting a recipe I saw in Saveur.
Tip: Use high-quality, fresh mozzarella and slice the cheese into 1/4 inch rounds. Place the cheese in between 2 paper towels. Put a plate on top of the covered cheese and weigh it down for 20 minutes. You can use a large can of tomatoes or some other canned product for the weight. This will get the moisture out of the cheese so you don't have puddles on your pizza!
Pizza Margherita (Adapted from Saveur Magazine's adaptation of Tony Germignani's recipe for Tony's Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco)
Yields 2 11-inch personal pies
1 ball of dough (I purchased a ball of pizza dough from Union Market and it was excellent. Another good option-- your local pizza shop. Many will sell you a ball of dough for a buck or two.)
Extra-virgin olive oil
San Marzano tomato sauce (recipe follows)
One large ball of mozzarella di buffala (it's expensive but worth it)
Salt and pepper
Remove dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Put a pizza stone on the lowest rack in the oven and heat oven to 500 degrees; heat for at least 40 minutes. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time (I divided my ball into two), dust with flour; using your hands, stretch and shape dough into a 11-13 inch circle. Transfer dough to a sheet of parchment paper or an oiled pizza mesh(I use the mesh). Drizzle oil around rim of the dough. Spoon about 1/2 cup tomato sauce onto dough leaving 1/2 - 3/4 inch border. (Original recipe had 1/4 cup of sauce on the dough. I used more.) Season with salt.
Arrange mozzarella di buffala evenly over pizza. Drizzle pizza with more oil.
Using a pizza paddle or grasping the edges of the parchment paper, transfer pizza to pizza stone. (I used a pizza paddle.)
Bake until golden brown, about 13 minutes. Keep you eye on the pizza. One Saveur commenter noted that his pizza was ready in 8 minutes. Our oven took 12-13 minutes and it was perfect.
Slide pizza back onto the paddle and transfer to a work surface. Top with basil, drizzle with more olive oil, if you like (and I do!), and put the pizza back on the stone for 1 minute. Remove pizza from oven. Slice.
Repeat with remaining dough and toppings. Reserve remaining sauce for another use, such as pasta.
Basic Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 clove garlic, chopped
A couple glugs red wine
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
1 15-ounce can pureed tomatoes
A handful of julienned basil (optional)
Zest of one lemon (optional)
Melt butter in saucepan over medium-high heat until foam subsides. Add shallots, red pepper flakes, salt, and garlic sauteing them together for a few minutes until the shallots are translucent and beginning to color. Add the red wine, letting it sizzle and cook down slightly, then the whole and pureed tomatoes. Breaking the whole tomatoes up with a wooden spoon, let the sauce simmer for a few minutes. Season to taste. I used an immersion blender to puree the sauce, but if you like a thicker texture, leave it as is.