Grilled Nectarine and Goat Cheese Pizza

I’ve been making a lot of pizza on the grill this summer, and I’ve made this one quite a few times, both because I really like it and because I’ve been hoping to get a decent photo of the finished pizza. The photos aren’t really happening, but I decided to post it anyway.

The general idea is the same as for the grilled pizza margherita I made a few weeks ago: Grill the olive-oil-brushed crust on both sides, directly on the grill, adding the toppings after the first side is done.

The toppings here are pre-grilled nectarine slices (grilled on one side only), thinly-sliced Sally Jackson goat cheese, and a little chopped rosemary and Kosher salt. I chose this cheese, which comes wrapped in grape leaves, because it is a sliceable, meltable goat cheese; crumbly or creamy goat cheeses will not melt well in the short amount of time you have to cook the pizza while the second side of the crust is grilling.

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Grilled Pizza Margherita

Within the first week of my being bitten by the bread bug about three years ago, my oven had (quite literally) a meltdown, and the sight of poor ovenless me mooning around forlornly for the three weeks or so it took to get it repaired was a pretty pitiful one. Too bad I didn’t know about grilled pizza at the time.

I wouldn’t suggest waiting for an oven disaster, though, to make pizza on the grill. It is seriously, seriously good.

The idea is that the crust is placed directly on the grill grate to cook one one side, then turned over and the toppings added while the other side of the crust grills. Toppings should be simple and light, both because they don’t have a lot of time to cook and because, if you’re like me, you want the summer flavor of the lightly charred grilled crust to be front and center.

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Grissini Revisited

As far as I’m concerned, there is no more perfect party food than grissini. A bouquet of these thin bread sticks looks beautiful and never fails to draw a crowd. They’re crunchy and savory and can be picked up and eaten with one hand.

But let’s face it, if you have to roll several dozen of these things individually you may be arriving a little late to your own party. It’s not that I don’t love hands-on time with my dough, but sometimes just a little more efficiency is in order.

In her book The Italian Baker, Carol Field describes how Italian bakers do it, by simply stretching the elastic dough with the hands. For me, this was not only faster but produced wonderfully rustic, knobby-ended grissini. (Do you know me? I am nothing if not a fan of rusticity!)

I love my grissini thin thin thin. If you prefer something a little plumper, roll the dough into a 6 x 4-inch (rather than 12 x 4) rectangle, and cut it into only 8 pieces rather than 16.

This sourdough recipe is very flavorful (and makes nice pizza as well), but yeasted grissini are great too!

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Fennel and Pepper Taralli

I have seen taralli variously described as Italian bagels, Italian pretzels, and Italian oval bread sticks. So I guess we can at least safely say they’re Italian. Since I haven’t eaten these in Italy, I don’t know whether the ones I made are anything like the authentic ones, but they did taste good with a glass of red wine. And they’ll keep until your two-year-old is in college.

The recipe is inspired by Royal Crown’s Fennel Taralli from Artisan Baking by Maggie Glezer. I added some cracked pepper and made a few other adaptations for the ingredients I had on hand. I used a food processor but the dough can also be kneaded by hand if your upper body needs a good workout. The fennel seeds are worked in by hand at the end in either case.

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Gorgonzola Fougasse With Figs and Pecans

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Fougasse, the French version of focaccia, is a flat bread that is cut to resemble a tree, leaf, or ladder. Because the cuts maximize surface area, this is yet another type of loaf that is wonderful for crust lovers like my husband. The dough usually contains olive oil, and may have additions or fillings such as fresh herbs, cheese, nuts, olives, or anchovies.

I chose to make mine really cheesy with Gorgonzola, and added some pecans and figs to make it extra decadent. I know it’s not much to look at, but please take my word for it — it it tastes a lot better than it looks. Just to be clear, it’s really cheesy.

Since I was going for crispy as well as cheesy, I flattened the dough to about 1/4-inch thick. If you want it a little softer in the middle, you could make it thicker. Also, depending on the size and shape of your stone, you may need to make the fougasse a little more square or circular rather than elongated like mine. For more options on how to shape and cut a fougasse, take a look at these from Mon Blog Loisirs and Living in the Kitchen With Puppies.

I have found that it’s much easier to make clean cuts by exerting straight downward pressure on the dough (guillotine-style), rather than dragging a blade through it. I use a small rigid plastic dough scraper, but the end of a square metal spatula would work as well.

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Flaxseed Flatbread

Chances are you can have these mixed, shaped, baked, and on the table before you can master saying “flaxseed flatbread” five times fast.

I’ve been a little busy this week and haven’t had time to wait for yeast to do its thing, but unleavened flatbreads are an easy and quick way to still have fresh bread for dinner. These very crisp breads are adaptable to a wide variety of flour and flavor combinations, and are in fact a variation on the Sesame-Semolina Flatbreads I wrote abut a few months ago. Roll them in a pasta roller or with a rolling pin, as thinly as possible for maximum crunch.

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