Trying to find solace in a city with 8 million people can be difficult. The other day I was walking through Times Square in 90+ degree heat and a slightly scruffy, shoeless young man was meditating in the middle of a throng of tourists. I thought to myself, "okey doke! " But I'm guessing he's a recent transplant, or more likely a passer-though, as opposed to the 70 year old upper-east-sider who wears hostility like a badge of honor and cuts in front of another 70 year old to get a slightly better seat on the crosstown bus after which the other 70 year old huffs and puffs and scowls and looks at you like, "can you believe this guy?".
I was once in a dance studio taking an Alexander Technique class and there was high decibel street work going on three floors below. One of the students just could not get over it. He suggested closing the windows despite the warm weather and went on about how hard it is to find peace and quiet in this city, most dance and yoga studios are so noisy and on and on and on. Our teacher, also a great friend, sent a nice clear stream of energy up her spine and responded, and I'm paraphrasing, " we have chosen to live in this city, the city is noisy and we have little control over it. Why not accept the noise, make peace with it, let it move through you and lets get back to work!" That shut him up and cut down on at least 20% of the noise problem.
About a month ago, Chris and I went for an invigorating evening run up the Hudson River. While traveling north, one gets a view of spectacular sunsets over New Jersey, and on the way back, the glittering lights of lower Manhattan. You get fresh salty gusts coming up the river from the ocean and sweat out the day's bullshit, pardon my French. It's free, it clears my head and I get to spend time with my husband. Once we reach a certain point in our run, we slow to a walk and continue at that pace all the way home. On this particular day, red faced and sweaty, we walked passed the new Sarahbeth's which has outdoor seating. An older gentleman was sitting alone having what appeared to be some sort of dessert and a glass of wine. Out of nowhere he yelled up to us, " Have you been walking or running?" "What?" Chris I think was in disbelief. "Have you been walking or running?" "Both!" Chris barked. By this point we had passed the man and I was still processing what had just happened. Without skipping a beat Chris, gazing back over his shoulder shot back, "Are you having dinner, or dessert?" "Both!" we heard echo down the street.
I find solace in the kitchen. And sitting down to a delicious meal afterward is just icing on the cake. However, when you're cooking in your bathroom things don't always go smoothly. Suddenly the damp bath mat is covered in a dusting of flour, hot oil splatters back at you while pinned against the window, smoke billows from the toaster oven, etc., etc. But despite all this, I go on. Make pizza from scratch in a cubby hole with a dinky toaster oven, sure! Why not! It certainly keeps me on my toes.
I like to make my dough from scratch but you can also buy it fresh from a local pizzeria or from a Whole Foods or grocery store.
Jim Lahey's No-Need Pizza dough rises for 18 hours overnight, then 2 more hours before baking and it is delicious! I halve the recipe and it turns out great and it's enough for two nights worth of dinners.
Bon Appetit has some toppings suggestions but here is how I top our pizza:
Pomi crushed tomatoes
Maldon sea salt
red pepper flakes
shallots, thinly sliced
leaks, thinly sliced
crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
garlic, thinly sliced
nicoise olives, split
fresh parsley, finely chopped
Once you have the dough worked into a pizza shape, place it on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Splash a little olive oil around the dough and rub it around, coating the surface evenly with your fingers. (Olive oil on the edges will make for a more crispy crust, while no olive oil makes for a more chewy crust.) Spoon pools of tomatoes around the pizza, like you're making an abstract painting, a little pool of olive here, a little splash of tomato there. Sprinkle a little salt and red pepper flakes around. Then scatter garlic followed by shallots, then leaks, mushrooms and olives. Bake according to Lahey's instructions (about 13-15 minutes in my toaster oven). Remove from the oven, sprinkle with fresh parsley and you're done! Good with beer or a nice cold glass of white wine.