Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, married her husband Jeffrey when she was 20 years old.
Jeffrey Garten was all of 22. A few years ago, Ina published a cookbook called “Cooking for Jeffrey (A barefoot contessa cookbook, Clarkson Potter 2016). It was her tenth and it’s about as personal as anything she has ever written. It’s as much a story of their relationship as anything else. And of course, it’s a repository of Ina’s distinct style of cooking: simple, straightforward, and easy for the most amateur among us to pull off. There’s an expanded number of cocktails and accompaniments in this volume. An entire 28 pages were devoted to bread and cheese. There are 47 pages of desserts. And just in case, you think the couple does nothing but nosh, there’s a list of 12 of Jeffrey’s ‘all-time’ favorite dinners that cross-reference recipes from all nine previous volumes. Since I like to start at the beginning, the first recipe I tried was nestled into the Cocktail section. It was for a Smoked Salmon Pizza and Ina didn’t actually invent the recipe herself.
One of the hallmarks of Ina’s recipes is that she is all about giving credit where credit is due.
In the case of the Smoked Salmon Pizza, she was ‘inspired’ by none other than Wolfgang Puck, owner, founder, Chef of Spago in Los Angeles, and now the Emperor of more restaurants than I can possibly count. You could make a strong case that Chef Puck’s responsible for the rise of Gourmet Pizza in this country. Pizza was what put both Spago and the Chef himself on the culinary map. Here it is in all its glory: Crisp pizza crust topped with luscious Marscapone cheese, flavored with chives, and silky smoked salmon and finished off with a salmon roe garnish. Ina recounts how the dish was created for Joan Collins, she of “Dynasty” TV fame. Apparently the actress never anything else at Spago. I think we can all thank her for that because this is one incredibly easy dish to put together, even though I cheated.
|Damascus Bakery, Home of Brooklyn Bred|
The recipe for the dough is included here so fire away if you wish. I, on the other hand, was time pressured the first time I decided to make this. I had every intention of, buying pizza dough from one of my local supermarkets. But even more tempting was a pre-made Pizza Crust that yielded really good results in an earlier pizza-making session. Brooklyn Bred, in operation since 1930, was then called Damascus Bakery in honor of its Syrian roots. Still owned by the same family, they simply altered the name in honor of the borough they call home. In case you do not know, Brooklyn is famous for its pizza. And not just any pizza but pizza with a crust that’s thin, light, crisp. Brooklyn Bred’s Pizza Crust is made with OO Italian flour. It’s the most refined. powder-soft flour you can buy. When I took a Pizza Making course in Italy, I was pretty well told that if you don’t use 00 flour, you’re not making an authentic pizza crust. All this is to say I felt completely justified in using one of the beautiful rectangles of perfectly cooked pizza dough.
As the pizza crust warms in the oven, there’s very little that’s simpler to do than to stir fresh chives into the creamy marscapone. Out of the oven, the crust is allowed to cool for just a minute. Then the marscapone is spread over the top, a layer of salmon tops the cheese, sprinkled with chives. And if you’re feeling flush, you can top the salmon with Salmon Roe. Here’s the recipe. For lots more Ina recipes, just use the search function.
2 (1/2 oz) packages of active dry yeast
Good Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. minced fresh chives, plus extra for garnish