Channeling My Inner Domestic Goddess with Friday Night Pizza


Getting used to doing NOTHING is difficult. There’s only so much running (in a not so nice gym and on a treadmill to boot) and lonely yoga one can do before insanity sets in. I’ve organized the home as much as possible, I have nothing to buy (and have shopping issues–see post 1 number 9 on the list), and no friends. What’s a girl to do? Cook.

Friday night pizza has been a tradition of Raj and mine for years. I’ve been sick of it for years because there’s no deviation from the type of pizza that is served. It’s always the same: whole wheat crust, tomato sauce, pepperoni on his side, and mozzarella (barely any on my side). I’ve occasionally and unsuccessfully tried to slip in a fig and prosciutto pizza with arugula, or even a white pizza, but Raj always insists on what he considers the gold standard–pepperoni. [If you’ve ever been invited to our home for dinner, you’ve most likely had THIS pizza. It would seem to most that this is my ONLY recipe. I only make pizza. Not true. I love to cook, but this is the dish Raj wants to share with EVERYONE.] If you’d like to see an homage to Raj and HIS pizza, here’s a link to Penzey’s catalog. The recipe was featured last fall: http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/recipes/JenniferPalumboMaan.html

Similar to the eggplant caponata of the previous post, there’s always a Middle Eastern snag. Here in Jordan (as you might have guessed) pork products are nearly impossible to find (and I’ve scoured three grocery stores thus far).  What we’re left with is  “beef” pepperoni and it’s not pretty. In fact, it reminds me of bologna. Yum.

Despite my trepidation to return to the kitchen with the lack of ventilation and the propane burning oven (you can see the blue flame burning brightly inside the oven where the heating element is usually housed), I gathered up my strength and courage and mightily slew the culinary dragons lurking in the open cabinets to prepare a feast like none other.  Here’s the menu (keeping in mind that everything is made from SCRATCH):

  • Focaccia with rosemary and sea salt served with caponata
  • Breadsticks and marinara sauce
  • Raj’s Pepperoni (bologna) Pizza
  • Pine nut and rosemary biscotti
It was a beautiful spread and I congratulated myself mightily. Raj commented that the crust on the pizza wasn’t as good as it was back home. I pushed. “What?” He claimed it must be the oven or the water. He still LOVED it, but it’s different, like everything else here. A taste of home, but with a Middle Eastern slant.
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16 thoughts on “Channeling My Inner Domestic Goddess with Friday Night Pizza

  1. Delicious! Will you post the focaccia recipe? Can we send anything? Mindy and I will look into how to ship pepperoni over for the cabana boy!

  2. Jen! I’m enjoying your blog chronicling this crazy adventure in Amman. Reading this post about Friday night pizzat cracked me up. One, because I’ve had the “Raj Special” and laugh it up that its the only one he reaches for. (I’ve had your other pizzas too so I can vouch they are delicious!) Two, I could only imagine in my head how taboo it would be to have authentic *gasp* PORK sausage in your possession out there!

    Keep up the blogging! I enjoy following what you’re up to out there!

    1. Thanks Dave. Considering you responded to the pizza post, I wish you could have used the picture that Raj took of you at the party eating the Raj special for your icon shot.
      Thanks for checking it out…and we’re expecting you to visit so that you can try the Jordanian Raj Special…

  3. The focaccia recipe is from my new favorite book, “My Life from Scratch” by Gesine Bullock-Prado (Sandra Bullocks sister turned baker in Montpelier, VT). I also bought her latest cookbook, Sugarbaby…She’s so much better than your gal, Bethany.

    Here’s the recipe for one large focaccia. It’s super easy:
    One 1/4 oz. package active dry yeast
    5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
    1/4 cup plus 3 tbl. extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for bowl and pan
    2 1/2 tsp. table salt (I prefer kosher, you might too…)
    1 tbl. finely chopped fresh rosemary
    1 tsp course sea salt (I prefer Malden salt)

    Stir together 1 2/3 cup lukewarm water (105 – 115 degrees) water and the yeast in the bowl of an electric miser and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

    Add the flour, 1/4 cup of the oil, and table salt and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until a dough forms. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead at low speed until the dough is soft, smooth, and sticky, about 3 to 4 minutes.

    Lightly oil a large bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead in 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour. Knead the dough 1 minute more (it will still be slightly sticky), then transfer to the bowl and turn the dough to coat it with oil (or Pam spray). Let rise, covered with plastic wrap, at warm room temperature (about 70 degrees) until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

    Generously oil a 15 x 10-inch baking pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan and cover it completely with a damp kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm corner of the room until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

    While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 425 degrees.

    Stir together the rosemary and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Make shallow indentations all over the dough with your fingertips, then brush with the rosemary oil, letting it pool in the indentations. Sprinkle the sea salt evenly over the focaccia and bake in the middle of the oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

    Immediately set a rack over the pan and flip the focaccia onto it, then turn right side up. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Enjoy.

    I’m good so far on supplies. I ordered the Cabana Boy pepperoni from NetGrocer.com…however, the Cocoapuffs are getting dangerously low. I hope he doesn’t get kuu koo (spelling?)
    Talk soon…

  4. Alright Goddess,
    You hve become a Italian food maven. Well, since you are just a stone’s throw from Israel, you can enhance your cooking repetoire with Israeli cooking (which I am not too fond of) or you try some authentic Jewish cooking.

    I am not too fond of pizza since I left my hometown where we had the best pizza ever. I can still taste Mama Verdoni’s crust. It was thin but not flimsy. She topped it with cheese and tomato sauce. Sometimes my father would order half of it with anchovies. I like anchovies but not on pizza.

    We also had a restaurant(Anton’s) that had the very best meat sauce. No matter what I do to emulate it, I fail. It was very spicey with a smack of fennel(anise). I guess everything seems better from home.
    j

    1. Have any Israeli recipes to share? Or other Jewish ones to add to my repertoire? I guess I won’t be making you pizza when you come to visit. By then I’ll have a recipe for mansef (the national dish or Jordan).

  5. Very impressive. I remember in Rome, the oven scared me too, because it had the same element that you are talking about. How big was your oven? The Rome oven was slightly bigger than a large microwave. In Sweden I remember making the kids frozen French fries in that oven and the temperature wasn’t even that high and that sent their smoke alarm going. Like you said about the dishwasher, I remember the dishes never feeling that clean. The thing I missed most though was the garbage disposal. Although I’m not the type to put everything down mine, what I found the most disgusting was making a nice meal and then having to scrape everything leftover in the trash. I always prayed for everyone to finish what was on their plates. What’s up next on your cooking adventures? Why don’t you tackle a tagine or macaroons? Something difficult to encompass a day? Gotta go look for a Real Housewife rerun.

    YBS

    1. I’ll tackle macaroons once I get the almond flour that I ordered from NetGrocer.com, but I don’t have a Le Creuset tagine. I suppose I could order one from Sur la Table. Don’t rub the RHNY in my face…

      1. You don’t need almond flour, most recipes say to just grind up almonds. You brought your food processor, didn’t you? What do you want for your birthday.?Mom is already stressing about your package arriving in time for your bday. Are you 5 years old? It sounds like your Net Grocer bill is going to be a few thousand dollars.

  6. Various American producers are doing a fairly good job of making sausage and Salame with Chicken or Turkey. You might want to look on the internet or see if you can order some from Trader Joes. I don’t recall seeing Perperoni Salame, but I have had a couple of Andouille Sausages made with Chicken or Turkey that tasted very good and would make a fine topping for Pepperoni Pizza and would be legal in Jordan. Tell Raj that Pepperoni is far from the only kind of Pizza. One of our favorites is Spinach, Pine Nut and Goat Cheese Pizza with no tomato undercoating. Sorry Amman is so booring. I thought it might be a little more cosmopolitan.

    1. Hi, Fred, Your pizzas look amazing and I’m extremely envious of your pizza oven. Once Raj and I settle to our ‘forever home’ he promises that I too will have one. In the meantime though I stuck cooking my pizzas on an All Clad pizza stone in a propane oven. I found “pizza flour” here at the grocery store, but I don’t know what the ratio of it is to regular white flour. Is is 1:1 or something else? I thought you might know.

  7. Ah, the pizza dilemma. Paul got sick of the pizza the kids insisted on having every Wednesday and Friday night when we were married. He worked those nights so I thought we could get away with it! Thankfully for me, as I, too, tired of the “allergy-free” homemade pizza, the kids only ask for it once every week or so now. (Whew!) I can imagine how many modifications to meals you must be making. The photos of dishes you prepared look delicious! Loving your blog :o)

  8. Hi Jen,
    Your Dad recently sent the address for your blog. Love reading about your adventures, and appreciate so much your yummy recipe’s.
    Please tell Raj we send our very best to you both!!!!
    Richard, Mary and Indy

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