entertainingfoodFood & Drinkin the kitchen withkristina gillrecipes

in the kitchen with: amanda hesser

by Kristina Gill

I live in Italy. I love pizza. I don’t know if one has anything to do with the other, but both are true! I’ve been thinking about a pizza recipe for the column ever since mud australia explained how they actually bake their pizzas on mud dinner plates. However, this week’s guest beat me to the punch. Food52 founder, Amanda Hesser, has shared her recipe for Kale, Pancetta and Grape Pizza.* Though this didn’t seem like a likely combination, the strong kale with the salty bacon and the pecorino contrast with the sweet grapes and mild mozzarella make for an oh-so interesting eat. Perfect for our readers, I thought. If you have pizza-topping combos you love, let us know!! — Kristina

*Although Amanda didn’t bake her pizza on a mud plate, if you do any baking in mud, check out the end of this post for info on how you can win $500 worth of mud with your own food photography!

About Amanda: Amanda Hesser has designed a 17th-century-style herb garden at a French chateau, developed the Twitter app Plodt and appeared in Julie & Julia, playing herself. Hesser has been named one of 50 female game-changers in food by Gourmet. She is now the cofounder and CEO of the website Food 52. Hesser was the food editor at the New York Times Magazine. She has written the award-winning books Cooking for Mr. Latte and The Cook and the Gardener and edited the essay collection Eat, Memory. Her latest book, a New York Times bestseller and winner of a James Beard award, is The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Hesser lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Tad Friend, and their two children.

This post is presented by S. Pellegrino, Fine Dining Lovers.

Recipe and more beautiful images after the jump!

Kale, Pancetta and Grape Pizza
Makes four 12-inch-round pizzas

For the dough

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup semolina flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


1. Stir the yeast and lukewarm water together in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and semolina. Mix well. Let sit until bubbly, about 10 to 20 minutes.

2. Combine the remaining flour and salt in another bowl. Add this mixture to the yeast along with the cold water and olive oil. Mix well to form a dough — you may do this and the kneading in the next step by hand or in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides with oil. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours. Punch the dough down and let rise another 45 minutes.

5. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and loosely shape into rounds. Let rest for 30 minutes (lightly covered with plastic wrap or a tea towel). Lightly flour a work surface. Using your fingers or the heels of your hands, stretch the disks to circles — or shapes! — that are 12 inches in diameter.

For the topping

  • 1/3 pound pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 1 large bunch Russian red kale or dinosaur kale, center rib removed and cut into 2-inch strips
  • salt
  • 1 1/2 cups small red seedless grapes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
  • 1 pound fresh, lightly salted Mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup grated pecorino Romano


1. Spread the diced pancetta in a large skillet and set over medium heat. Once the fat begins to sizzle, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the pancetta render its fat and brown, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate.

2. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil with the garlic clove over medium-high heat. When you begin to smell the garlic and the oil shimmers, add the kale and a large pinch of salt. Cover the saucepan, and let cook for a minute. Use tongs to toss the kale and keep it moving. You want it to just wilt. Remove from the heat.

3. Arrange your oven rack in the lower third of your oven, and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Lightly brush the top of each of the 4 shaped pizza doughs with olive oil. Scatter the kale, pancetta and grapes over the dough. Sprinkle with thyme. Lay the mozzarella slices on top; be judicious with the cheese, as it will spread. Sprinkle with the pecorino.

4. Bake the pizzas, ideally one at a time, but don’t torture yourself — 2 or 3 at a time will be fine. The pizza is ready when the edges are burnished and the cheese has melted and toasted, about 15 minutes.



Food photography by James Ransom, portrait of Amanda by Sarah Shatz

Why Amanda Loves This Recipe

This is a recipe I made with my kids after shopping for kale and grapes at the farmers’ market. Assembling the ingredients on the dough feels like painting a beautiful, rustic, autumn landscape. The dough recipe comes from Tastefood, one of FOOD52’s many talented contributors.

Just when you thought you couldn’t have any more fun!

Because I use so much mud to style the images on the column, I couldn’t resist telling you about their ongoing contest, Baked in Mud. You can see the complete rules on their Facebook page, but here’s a quick summary: Bake something in a mud dish of any type, take a picture of it, give the recipe a title and a brief explanation and mail it to mud@mudaustralia.com, or post the image on their Facebook page. The contest ends on December 9, 2011, so you have time to try out some of your own recipes and choose the best one! The entries will be judged by Shelley Simpson, mud’s founder, and Emma Knowles, Food Director of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

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