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Columns

Tom’s Cookbook Library: ‘Rustic Pizza’ pushes the boundaries

“Todd English’s Rustic Pizza” contains more than 100 recipes. English says pizza is believed to have evolved from an Egyptian flatbread and caught on in cultures across the world.
“Todd English’s Rustic Pizza” contains more than 100 recipes. English says pizza is believed to have evolved from an Egyptian flatbread and caught on in cultures across the world.

Home cooks will find plenty of inspiration in “Todd English’s Rustic Pizza” (Castle Point Books). The James Beard award-winning chef and restauranteur takes readers in a new direction.

English points the way for home cooks to turn out crowd-pleasing, free-form, thin-crusted pies, which he introduced in his Figs restaurants in Boston.

Hot off the presses, the book, coauthored by food writer Heather Rodino, offers tips on choosing toppings and equipment.

Its pages contain more than 100 recipes, including Roasted Pear, Camembert and Watercress Pizza (recipe below). English says pizza is believed to have evolved from an Egyptian flatbread and caught on in cultures across the world. The modern traditional pizza found its way to the United States after soldiers posted in Italy brought back a taste for it after World War II.

ROASTED PEAR, CAMEMBERT AND WATERCRESS PIZZA

2 pizza rounds of your choice

All-purpose flour for sprinkling

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 roasted pear, thinly sliced

6 ounces Camembert cheese

2 cups watercress leaves

Balsamic vinegar, for garnish

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

One hour before baking, place a baking stone in the oven and preheat it to 500°F (450°F for gluten-free crusts).

Roll out one pizza round as thinly as possible and place it on a pizza peel sprinkled with flour. Leaving an outer lip all around the edge of the dough, cover the surface with half the oil; season with salt and pepper.

Evenly distribute half the pear on the dough and.dot with half the Camembert.

Shake the peel lightly and slide the pizza onto the hot baking stone. Bake until browned, 6 to 7 minutes (10 to 14 minutes for gluten-free crusts).

Transfer the pizza to a firm surface and cut it into slices. Serve immediately, topped with half the watercress and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Repeat all the steps using the second dough round.

Journalist Tom Witom, who lives in Elgin, has written extensively for years about food and the food industry. Contact him at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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