This is Tomato Month, and for the next few posts we'll be using those wonderful tomatoes we got from Riperia Farm in our dishes. If you don't like tomatoes, then, well, you're out of luck for the next couple of weeks.
We start off Tomato Month with a margherita pizza made using some incredibly sweet brandywine tomatoes. It was yummy!
The Food (Jhan)
We haven't done any pizzas lately so I thought we should make one with our lovely tomatoes. This is my version of pizza Margherita - one of my favorite pizzas. This one has it all; sweet roasted tomatoes, smooth creamy ricotta, chewy mozzarella, fresh herbs and a crispy crust. Since our summer weather has been cooler than usual, turning on the oven for a few minutes to bake this wasn't a big deal. This pizza is simple, requires only a handful of ingredients, and the results are incredible.
You'll need a good store bought pizza dough (I use Trader Joe's fresh Rosemary dough), about 1/4 cup of tomato paste, some dried basil, garlic salt, a handful of fresh basil, one large beefsteak tomato, ricotta cheese, 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup slivered kalamata olives, kosher salt and olive oil.
Prepare the dough as directed on the package. Spread the tomato paste onto pizza crust and sprinkle with dried basil and garlic salt. Dollop generous spoonfuls of ricotta onto prepared crust, sprinkle with slivered olives, drop mozzarella over all and add tomato slices (seed the tomatoes to prevent a soggy crust). Drizzle pizza with a little olive oil (especially over the tomatoes) and and brush oil over edges of crust. Sprinkle edges with course salt. Bake pizza at 450 degrees until cheese is browned and crust is baked ( about 8-12 minutes). Add fresh basil leaves to finished pizza.
Jhan's first comment when she saw the photos from this shoot was "Don't you ever even think of putting those raggedly old potholders in a photo again. They're disgusting and embarrassing." And I thought they looked 'rustic'.
And that was kind of what I was looking for in the setup. Margherita pizza is a simple, rustic sort of dish. Nothing fancy or haute cuisine, and I wanted to reflect that. So I put the whole pizza on our beat up wooden cutting board with the 'rustic' potholder to add a bit of texture.
The Lighting and Photography
For some reason, I didn't take a photo of the lighting I used for the pizza, but it was very similar to one of the set up I used in the previous post, with the key light bounced off a sheet and a small bit of fill shot through a reflector and another small bit of general fill bounced off the ceiling.
There was nothing really challenging in this shoot as far as the lighting. I did, however, learn that fresh basil rapidly turns brown when it gets hot, so I had to replace the basil on the pizza when I started taking pictures to make sure that the leaves were green. As it was, some of the leaves are showing bits of brown on them.
Also, I think Jhan's tip about seeding the tomatoes to prevent the pizza from getting soggy is very important. Tomatoes contain a lot of water in the seedy pulp, and removing that part of the tomato will help prevent a soggy pizza. And nobody likes soggy pizza.