Pizza and a Movie #1: Greek Pizza with Pancetta and Hitchcock’s Stage Fright (1950)

If you don’t start dramatically prancing around your living room before recklessly tossing your body onto the nearest piece of open furniture while crooning in the lustiest, huskiest voice you can muster after watching Marlene Dietrich perform “The Laziest Gal in Town,” smack dab in the middle of Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright (video below), then switch the movie off immediately.

Stage Fright clearly has nothing to offer you.  Stick with Psycho.

For months now, MG and I have regularly observed a Friday night tradition of homemade pizza and movie-watching at Chez Tv Food and Drink.  It’s become such a ritual that I generally start mentally nominating film contenders and potential pizza toppings as early as the Wednesday before.  All the necessary ingredients are in-house by Thursday night, and if the selected film can’t be found via DVR search or on the living room shelves, an expedition to local DVD retailers is commissioned until the required title is smoked out and bagged.

And all of that happens before I even get to the cleaning of the house.  The living room must be in perfect order. Throw pillows appropriately placed.  Stray books, sneakers, and electronic gear stowed away.  Aquarium cleaned and filled.  Glass tabletops free of all smudges and rings.  Curtains opened so the lights from the balcony candles are able to reflect their charm into the window panes.  Ipod turned on to the “Cocktail Hour” playlist featuring over 500 of my favorite lounge tunes, exotica, and Bond soundtracks.

And my OCD goes double for the kitchen.  Countertops must be scrubbed down and free of any unnecessary appliances. Dirty dishes are washed, dried and put away. Cutting boards set out along with all appropriate knives and the rolling pin for the pizza dough.  By the time MG arrives from work, I have the entirety of that night’s pizza built and ready to hit the oven.  Then together we count three, hoist up the pie via the slice of parchment paper underneath, and transport it onto the pizza stone, which has been heating in the oven at 500°F for no less than thirty minutes.  Once the oven door is kicked closed, I make our drinks and we head to the living room to discuss the day for the next 12-18 minutes until it’s time to slice up our dinner, kill the lights, and start our movie.

Pizza and a Movie night – hardly a new concept, though I don’t know if anyone in the history of Pizza and Movie Nights has taken it as seriously as I do.

Click here for the Recipe!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

For the first time in over three years, I’m a non-working television producer.  As of today, I have been without a job for eight whole days.  Breaking it down, that’s 192 hours, which isn’t so bad.  Heck, I’ve slept more than 192 hours straight on several different occasions.

You can also think of it as 11,520 minutes, which starts to sound a little frightening… though not as frightening as 991,200 seconds.  Holy smokes!  I’ve been a non-working producer for 991,200 seconds?  It’s true what they say about life… it really passes you by before you know it.

You may have noticed that I’m using the term “non-working,” which I think is much nicer than “unemployed,” don’t you?  In fact, if we put our minds to it, we can put a much nicer spin on any unfortunate situation just by tinkering a bit with word choices.  Examples:  My show wasn’t “canceled.”  It just “concluded its run.”  My financial situation hasn’t “stagnated.”  It’s merely “awaiting an upcoming monetary installment.”  You’re not “old.”  You’re simply “well seasoned!”

I’m doing my best to stay in the moment, which is what everyone is telling me I need to do.  Actually, before they tell me to stay in the moment, they ask that question all “non-working” producers just love to hear: “So… now what?”

It’s like they think I keep thirty or forty fully developed careers on stand-by for just such an occasion.  “Well, let me take a look at my handy list here… oh!  Next up is ice cream man.  Perfect!  Summer is just around the corner.  Kids are out of school.  All I need is a little paper hat and a van that plays “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” and I’m right back in the game!

People also do their best to get you very excited about having potentially endless free time on your hands.  “Think of all the things you can do now!” they encourage brightly, “Re-decorate!  Write a novel! Run a marathon!”  Why in god’s name would I want to do any of those things?  Those sound worse than having to go to work every day.  Even if I was independently wealthy, I don’t think any of those things would interest me.

I appreciate all the words of encouragement, instructions on what to do when life gives me lemons, and the reminders that I’m only about thirty work years away from having to scoop up french fries and assemble Happy Meal boxes if I don’t play my cards right.

But for the next 991,200 seconds, I think I will focus on making pizza.

Have you listened to a steaming hot pizza pie just out of the oven recently? The way it sizzles and hisses as the cheese bubbles pop hyperactively from one end of the crust to the other? That aroma of tangy sweet and spicy sauce snaking its way through your kitchen? Even those charred little pockets of mozzarella left behind on the walls of your oven take on a fragrant reminder the next morning… man, I love pizza!

And that’s… what’s now.

So if you’re in the Hollywood area, you should definitely stop by and snag yourself a slice. And don’t worry about gaining weight. At Tv Food and Drink, your butt never looks “fat.” It merely looks “super existent.”

Continue reading “BBQ Chicken Pizza” »

Alfredo Bacon Mushroom Pizza

My friend Travis, better known as superior mix master DJ T-Rock brought me a gift last week in the form of a bacon recipe cookbook.  He swears he’s not in love with me.  I check with him nearly every day – sometimes five or six times before lunch – but he always pleads platonic affections only. And yet he brings me a bacon recipe cookbook.

Mixed signals?  You tell me.

Continue reading “Alfredo Bacon Mushroom Pizza” »

Pizza Crust and Tenacity

Pizza absolutely tops the list of foods I love eating.  Tragically, in the year or so since I’ve been teaching myself how to cook, making pizza crust from scratch is the one thing I have tried and totally bombed out at… over and over and over again.

I’m not being too hard on myself either.   We are talking outright failures.  Not even an inch of a rise out of the dough… over and over again.

In my lifetime, I have not nurtured the patience and sensitivity necessary to deal with the delicate nature of yeast.  I’d estimate my number of attempts that ended in less than acceptable dough was about seven or eight.  All the time spent forming it, kneading it, then waiting to see if anything was going to happen, only to realize a couple hours later that I’d better check to see what else I might have on hand for dinner was horribly disappointing and just a little ego-bruising.

And so, one Monday night after work, I loaded myself up with about three times the amount of ingredients necessary and made a pledge to myself that I would not go to bed that night without having successfully made a pizza dough rise.

Continue reading “Pizza Crust and Tenacity” »

Puff Pastry Pizza with Prosciutto

This recipe comes from a new friend named Katie and has travelled all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to meet you. Katie’s blog, Thyme for Cooking has been entertaining foodies since 2006, and is not only full of stories about Katie’s life and cooking overseas, but also boasts a sister site with an extensive section of kitchen tips I go to regularly, sometimes out of necessity, sometimes just to learn a new kitchen factoid and tuck away for future use.

If you ever need guidance on soup bases, how to pit an avocado, freeze an egg, or store a pumpkin, you couldn’t do better than starting with Katie!

And then there’s her puff pastry pizza with prosciutto.

Click here for the recipe for Puff Pastry Pizza with Prosciutto

Ultimate Sausage Pizza

Me to MG: “You and I… we were pigs last night!”

MG (confused) to Me: “We were? We only ate one pizza.”

If I had made a second one of these, there still would not have been any left over. If we had had to share this single pizza with a third party, MG and I would have gone to bed with little pouty frowns on our faces. MG and I are pure-blooded pizza pigs.

I will admit right here and now that aside from being a pure-blooded pizza pig, I am also a closet Boboli pre-made pizza crust purchaser. For the amount of homemade pizza we consume, it’s just the way it has to be. I have made pizza dough from scratch to moderately successful results, and even experimented with the pre-made dough from Trader Joes. I don’t bother anymore. The crust is just the delivery device for everything on top of it as far as I’m concerned. Protest me if you want. Or, better yet, send me some kick-ass pizza crust recipe that you think is divine enough to change my mind by clicking right here. I always welcome suggestions.

The fun of pizza-making is striking that perfect balance between vegetables, sauce, cheeses and meat, and I’m happy to say that I’ve run this recipe through the oven two weeks in a row and it’s pretty damn solid.  It will certainly put any local delivery spot you may have pinned up on your refrigerator to shame.  Please click on the pics below for big-screen full-res images.

Any tips or hints on my never-ending quest to perfect the pizza pie? E-mail me or leave a comment below. Have a great weekend!

Ultimate Sausage Pizza

  • pizza dough or store-bought crust of your choice
  • 1 can (15 oz) canned tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 white onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper. chopped
  • 1 small Roma tomato
  • 1 – 1 1/2 mild Italian sausages, uncooked
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Havarti cheese with dill
  • 1/2 cup shredded Reggianito cheese
  • 1-2 large basil leaves
  • oregano
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • cornmeal (optional)

Spread cornmeal over your pizza pan to keep your crust from sticking.  This also helps to keep the crust from getting overly-crunchy.  Lay out your dough or pre-bought crust and coat lightly with the olive oil.  Add the diced tomatoes and spread evenly, then the vegetables and 75% of your cheeses.  Break apart your uncooked sausage into pieces and spread across the top.  Slice your Roma tomato and then halve each slice and place. Tear basil leaves into small pieces and spread across the top.  Add oregano and pepper to taste, and spread the remaining cheese over the top. Cook for 13-17 minutes.