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Mucho Gusto

Pizza Friday’s

Sizzling cheese, ruby red sauce, and crispy crust. This is pizza for me. My dad, Ed, is New York through and through, so pizza has always been held to the highest of standards in the Kuffner household. A Dominos or Papa John’s box has never entered our house, and we only order from our local pizza place Tony’s. The owners learned the trade from the famous Smileys Pizza in New York, so the pies are up to Ed’s standards, and it is the only place we will order from. As a kid, I remember running into Tony’s with a $20 bill in my hand, saying hi to the counter lady, and grabbing the piping hot box. Every week I would wait for Friday to come because I knew that that meant we were eating pizza. As a family, we rarely ate out since my mom always cooked homemade meals, but on Fridays, we feasted. 

Pizza originated in Naples, Italy, and gained broad popularity in the 1940s when Italians immigrated to the United States. Now, pizza is one of the most popular foods in our lives and the food that I personally associate with my formative memories. Birthday? We had pizza. After winning a soccer game? Get pizza with your team. Fun movie night with friends? Order a pizza. Pizza is a light yet comforting food that excites your taste buds, fills you up, and makes you smile with glee all in one bite. Its simplicity is what makes it perfect. When ordering from a pizza place, my go-to is two slices of plain cheese pizza with extra basil. I love trying new places wherever I travel, and it is a time-old debate in my house over what is the best pizza we have ever eaten. 

For me, nothing will beat the piping hot pie I had while sitting on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in Panza, Italy. I was on the brink of a cliff sitting on a rusty blue picnic table when the owner, who spoke no English, came out carrying the pizza in a century-old iron pan. The pie emulated typical Sicilian pizza found in the states, but its crust was perfectly crisp, and the sauce was bursting with flavor. This pizza was made with love, and I haven’t eaten anything as good since. 

Even though Tony’s will never be up to par with the Panza pizza, I still look forward to pizza Fridays, and now I make flatbreads and pizzas for the occasion. At Tony’s, I stick to plain, but at home, I love to look in the refrigerator and let my creative instincts kick in, enabling me to utilize whatever ingredients I have to make a mouthwatering pie. These four flatbreads offer something for everyone with a classic plain pizza, a hearty meat lovers pie, a fresh greek flatbread, and a sweet fig ricotta flatbread. As I have grown up, my palette has expanded and I enjoy indulging in elevated pizzas while bringing different tastes and textures to our Friday night tradition. 

Classic Plain 

1 package pizza dough 

¼ cup flour 

1 cup fresh tomato sauce

1 cup fresh mozzarella 

½ teaspoon oregano 

1 spring basil for garnish 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 475℉. Spread the flour on a clean work surface to prevent sticking. Slowly knead and spread the dough using the palm of your hands until it is about ¼ inch thick all around. Spread the tomato sauce using a ladle evenly around the dough. Sprinkle the mozzarella around, and bake the pizza for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is crunchy and the cheese is lightly browned. Once removed, sprinkle with oregano and top with basil.

Meat Lovers Pie

2 chicken breasts 

2 teaspoons pesto

1 package pizza dough 

¼ cup flour 

1 cup fresh tomato sauce

1 cup fresh mozzarella 

½ cup sliced Italian soppressata 

½ teaspoon oregano 

Instructions 

Preheat the oven to 475℉. Cut the chicken breasts into 2-inch pieces and season with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet pan with oil on medium heat and once sizzling, add the chicken. Cook until fully cooked and then add the pesto, ensuring all the chicken is coated. Spread the flour on a clean work surface to prevent sticking. Slowly knead and spread the dough using the palm of your hands until it is about ¼ inch thick all around. Spread the sauce on the dough and then sprinkle the cheese evenly around. Place the soppressata and pesto chicken around the pie. Bake for 10-15 min or until golden brown. Sprinkle with oregano. 

Greek Flatbread 

1 flatbread crust 

1 medium onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup spinach 

½ cup zucchini, sliced 

½ cup yellow squash, sliced

½ cup cherry tomatoes halved

¼ cup red onion, sliced 

1 cup feta cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil 

½ teaspoon parsley 

Instructions 

Preheat the oven to 475℉. In a small skillet pan over medium heat saute the onions until sweated. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly browned. To assemble the flatbread, spread the onion and garlic on the bread, and top with the spinach, zucchini, and squash. Add the tomato halves and red onion. Sprinkle the flatbread with the feat cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and top with the parsley. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and the flatbread is lightly browned. 

Fig Ricotta Flatbread

1 flatbread crust 

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

⅓ cup fig jam

8 dried figs, sliced 

Balsamic reduction drizzle 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 475℉. Spread the ricotta evenly around the flatbread, top with the fig jam. Add the sliced figs and bake for 8-10 mins or until the flatbread is crispy. This flatbread will cook very quickly. Once removed drizzle with balsamic reduction and serve.

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