Month: February 2017

Pepe’s Pizza’s History in the Pies

Photos by Tom McGovern, courtesy of Pepe’s Pizza Fresh-clam pizza defines Pepe’s for me. I can’t order anything else. Recently,  Gary Biamonte, grandson of Frank Pepe, who opened the original Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven , came to the Fairfield Pepe’s and got me to try a few others. He showed the history of Pepe’s through its pies. The story starts with the crust. That hand-formed, thin, charred crust is the foundation of the pizza and the business. Frank Pepe started as a baker. He arrived in New Haven in 1909, an illiterate boy from Maiori on the Italian Amalfi Coast . After working in a factory and returning to Italy to fight in World War I, he came back to New Haven and opened a bread bakery in what is now Frank Pepe’s The Spot, next door on Wooster Street. Distribution, the bane of many a small business, was a stumbling block. But if he started making “apizza” (pronounced “ah-beets” in his Neopolitan dialect)… the customer would come to him. The New Haven apizza legend …

Tips for Making Great Pizza at Home

Start with good dough. We use a slow fermented flaxseed-wheat-white dough. If it’s frozen, defrost over night in the fridge. Then let the dough sit covered with a towel until it is room temperature. Knead until it acquires a soft, smooth elasticity, like the picture on the right. On the left, dough before kneading. On the right, dough after kneading. Next, flatten into a disk, and press and pull the dough into a thinner round. Keep the work table lightly floured.  If the dough fights you, put a towel on it and let it rest a bit. Place the dough on a floured pizza peel before doing the toppings. The key to toppings is not to add too much. Especially the tomato sauce. Too much wetness won’t let the pizza rise up as it cooks, and can produce a soggy center crust. To transfer the uncooked pizza from peel to the stone in the oven, make sure your peel is floured enough to let the pizza slide. Put the peel to the stone, tilt, and jerk your …

Bread, Butter and Jam Breakfast

There’s something about waiting to open homemade jams and jellies until it’s starkest winter. Last weekend, with friends visiting, I opened a jar of peach jam I made in summer. The scent of peaches released from the jar. Breakfast was simple. Assorted bread from Fairfield Bread Co., Raisin Rye, Pretzel Rolls, Bridgeport Sour, Flaxette, warmed in the oven. Butter, jams and jelly. A frittata made with potatoes but no cheese since one of our guests is allergic to dairy. And homemade tomatillo salsa. (Leftover from last night’s dinner of tacos.) When I opened a jar of wine berry jelly, it turned out to be syrup. No worries, we mopped it up from our plates with warm bread.  Next time I’ll serve it with pancakes. The peach jam was the biggest hit. Our 18 year old friend loved the big pieces of peach, and ate it with a fork. Good homemade food and artisan bread makes the simplest meal a feast.