While cooking, listen to this: They Can’t Take That Away From Me - Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
One of my sisters just moved to New York, and I’m ecstatic. Like, cow-jumped-over-the-moon level happy. I haven’t lived in the same city as one of my immediate family members since I moved away for college, and now she and I can wave at each other from across the East River.
My mama came into town a week or so ago to help her move in, which meant lots of Bed Bath & Beyond and Target runs, and lots of eating. We had weird amount of misses this trip; weird because after being in New York for a while I’ve found my spots that I can rely on for a solid lunch or dinner, and we just missed the mark a bit.
One of the places we went to was this Italian place I’ve been to a few times and have loved. We settled in, got some Prosecco (we were feeling fancy and also wanted to maybe get our mom a little tipsy…) and ORDERED UP. Cheese plate, sides, mains, the works. Well, the cheese plate ended up being three tiny slabs of cheese on a plain plate. Like, I’m not a super fancy bitch, but I don’t think a cracker is so much to ask for, right? The manager came around and said, “Oh! You need cheese condiments!” Phew! we thought, ever so naively. Of course there’s more to this FIFTEEN DOLLAR CHEESE PLATE than a few bits that even the mouse who used to live in my house rent-free would scoff at.
Nope! 7 sour cherries and one small plate of what looked like olive oil later, my mom sent it back. Look, I’ve been here long enough to be jaded by the prices of things and have managed my expectations pretty well, but this cheese plate was a whole other level of chutzpah. Our waitress was very confused and told us that this is how it’s always served if we’d never been there before (I had) but that she could take it back. I think she thought we were persnickety tourists. I also think she spat in our food.
The rest of the food my sister and mom ordered was fine, and the item I ordered was delicious because it’s my standby, but I felt bad that they weren’t getting the experience I had hoped for. Maybe if we had all just gotten my usual, the cacio e pepe pizza, we would have been better off? Who knows. We had a good, drunken chuckle about it nonetheless.
I think the solution is maybe to just make this pizza in the comfort of my own, now-mouse-free home. I thought it would be complicated for some reason, maybe because I always think food I haven’t made before is this mysterious impossible thing until I make it, but it is STUPID easy. Almost as stupid as that cheese plate. And since one of Alyssa’s favorite meals is cacio e pepe in its original pasta form, it made sense to post it here. It’s literally just a quick dough covered in three kinds of cheese (HI) and as much black pepper as you can handle. It’s simple, salty, super cheesy and has the perfect amount of kick. In 30 minutes you’ll have your own cacio e pepe pizza and you don’t even have to put pants on to eat it!
My mom is back in Michigan and my sister is settling into her new home and I have leftover cacio e pepe pizza in my fridge. All is well.
I also got engaged this weekend.
Love and meows,
CACIO E PEPE PIZZA
Yield: 1 pizza (sliced to your liking)
Active Cook Time: 10m | Inactive Cook Time: 20m | Total Cook Time: 30m
Category: Main, Pizza, Italian
Source: dough from Cookie + Kate
Special Equipment: liquid measuring cup, pizza pan, pastry brush, grater
Note: the pizza dough recipes makes enough for 2 pizzas - the dough refrigerates and freezes wonderfully if you don’t want to make them both at once.
1 cup warm water*
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 ¼ teaspoons (or 1 packet) active dry yeast
2 ¾ cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour (we used all-purpose)
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
Hefty dash of freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¾-1 cup grated Pecorino
¾-1 cup grated Parmesan
4-6 ounces mozzarella
As much black pepper as you can handle
Red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
Prepare the oven: preheat to 450 F, and place a rack in the upper third of the oven.
Proof the yeast: in a large liquid measuring cup*, whisk together the warm water, sugar, olive oil and yeast. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
*using a cup with a spout makes it MUCH easier to pour this into your blender during the next step.
Prepare the pizza dough: in a high-speed food processor, pulse the flour, Parmesan, salt and pepper until combined. Then, while it's running, slowly add in the yeast mixture and process until it forms a shaggy mass, about 1 minute.
Knead the dough: turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times until it comes together. Split in half. Take one half and, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each half into two rounds about 11 inches in diameter. Remember, I cannot do geometry for the life of me, so what's most important here is that the dough fills your pan or stone evenly, without any tearing or extra thick or thin spots. Do the same with the second half or wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer for future use.
Top the pizza: my method here is a layer of Pecorino, a layer of Parmesan, the black pepper and lastly the mozzarella. You can go rogue and scatter them on however you’d like!
Bake the pizza: place the pizza in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, turning halfway through, until the cheese and crust are lightly golden. Bake for 2 more minutes if it needs a bit more color.
To serve: pizza fresh out of the oven is best, so slice up, sprinkle some red pepper flakes on top if the limit of pepper does not exist for you, and serve immediately.
To keep: that being said, leftover pizza is also miraculous. Wrap any leftover pizza in foil or plastic wrap and stick in the fridge, where it will keep for a few days. Again, leftover dough can be refrigerated or frozen for future use.