Mystic Pizza

I took a short hike the other morning. This is looking west to the Adirondacks. I couldn't help but notice the complete lack of snow below in Vermont!

I took a short hike the other morning. This is looking west to the Adirondacks. A weird winter indeed; a complete  lack of snow and Lake Champlain isn’t frozen over despite the cold temps in January!

An addendum to last week’s recipe. I was corrected by my mother that the correct title of the cookies is Coconut Orange Refrigerator Cookies. Duly noted and a correction has been made!

A favorite movie of mine from the late 1980s was “Mystic Pizza,” a coming of age story of three young women who worked in a pizza parlor in Mystic, Connecticut. While I always wanted my own pizza parlor days to resemble theirs (it didn’t), it certainly gave me lots of experience making pizza, which I brought back to my kitchen.

I usually make my same pizza recipe at home, but it’s always nice to make something different once in a while. You might think a combination of oregano, cilantro, and fennel seeds is odd, but it makes for a flavorful and different sauce than the usual tomato or marinara, especially with the kick of garlic. The local market I go to sells single containers of herbs for just .99, so you won’t have to buy a big bunch of cilantro–unless you want!

Mystic Pizza
This recipe first appeared in the March 1998 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package quick-rise yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons cornmeal
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.

2. Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 1/4 cups flour, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; stir to form a soft dough.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.

4. Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray; turn to coat top. Cover; let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

5. Preheat oven to 450°.

6. Punch dough down; roll dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a baking sheet or 12-inch pizza pan coated with cooking spray and sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough to form a rim. Let dough stand, covered, 10 minutes.

7. Place a small saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add garlic, and sauté 2 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, oregano, cilantro, fennel seeds, pepper, and tomato sauce; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring occasionally. Spread sauce over pizza crust; sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden. Remove pizza to cutting board; cut into wedges.