PIZZA DOUGH "Around Napoli, the people used to make pizzas out of leftover bread dough," writes Wolfgang Puck in "Adventures in the Kitchen" (Random House, $30). For toppings, they would use "tomatoes, fresh herbs, and sometimes buffalo mozzarella from the water buffalo grazing nearby. I add honey to the dough, which gives the crust a nice golden color when cooked." 1 package active dry or fresh yeast 1 teaspoon honey or sugar 3/4 cup warm water (105 degrees F. to 115 degrees F.) 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons olive oil (or chili and garlic oil, if available), plus additionl for brushing
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4 cup of the warm water.
In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the oil and, when absorbed, scrape in the dissolved yeast. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of warm water and knead on low speed for about 5 minutes.
Turn out onto a board and knead 2 or 3 minutes longer. Dough should be smooth and firm. Let rise in a warm spot, covered with a damp towel, about 30 minutes. (Dough will stretch when lightly pulled.)
Divide dough into 4 balls, about 6 ounces each. Work each ball by pulling down sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 or 5 times. Then, on a smooth unfloured surface, roll ball under the palm of your hand until the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Cover with a damp towel and let rest 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, balls can be loosely covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 525 degrees F. If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven.
To prepare each pizza, place a ball of dough on a lightly floured surface. Press down on the center, spreading dough, or roll into a 7- or 8-inch circle, with the outer border a little thicker than the inner circle. Brush lightly with oil and arrange the topping of your choice (see spicy chicken topping recipe) only over the inner circle.
Arrange pizza on the stone or baking sheet, and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pizzas are nicely browned. Transfer to a firm surface and cut into slices with a pizza cutter.
SPICY CHICKEN PIZZA Spicy Chicken Pizza, Mexican Pizza, Vegetarian Pizza, and Spicy Scallop Pizza "are four of the most popular pizzas served at Spago," one of Chef Puck's restaurants, he writes. "You may want to try your own variations and come up with some interesting combinations." 3 cups (about 1 pound skinned and boned)
cubed chicken MARINADE: 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 1/2 tablespoons lime juice 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeno pepper Pinch of chopped cilantro Salt TOPPING: 3 cups grated mozzarella cheese 2 cups grated fontina cheese 1 pound (about 6) plum tomatoes, ends removed, cut into thin slices 1/2 cup cubed eggplant, sauteed or grilled 1/2 cup grilled onion, chopped Chopped chives 4 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
Arrange the cubed chicken in a medium bowl and toss with the marinade ingredients, using 1/2 cup olive oil. Season lightly with salt. Let marinate for about 1 hour, refrigerated.
In a skillet large enough to hold the chicken in one layer, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Saute the chicken just to brown on all sides.
Preheat oven to 525 degrees F. Place a pizza stone in the oven. Follow directions in pizza dough recipe for preparing pizzas. Arrange toppings on pizza in the order given, with sauteed chicken last. Enough topping for 4, 7- or 8-inch pizzas.
BEEF SATE WITH SPICY SZECHUAN SAUCE "Appetizers should be served in small portions, well-seasoned, to stimulate the appetite," Puck writes. "Dinner for many of my customers consists of two or three appetizers. They like the idea of many tastes but smaller portions." 3/4 pound trimmed New York or fillet steak MARINADE: 1/2 cup soy sauce 1 tablespoon honey 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon turmeric SZECHUAN SAUCE: 6 tablespoons (3 oz.) unsalted butter 2 blanched garlic cloves, chopped fine (about 1 tablespoon) 1 green onion, chopped fine 1 cup chicken stock 1/4 cup soy sauce 1 teaspoon chili flakes
Soak 24 6-inch bamboo skewers in cold water and refrigerate for one hour before skewering the steak.
Cut the steak into 24 3-by-1-inch strips, each weighing about 1/2 ounce. Stick a skewer into each strip lengthwise and arrange on a large platter or baking pan. Refrigerate until needed.
For marinade: In a small bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and pour over the meat, turning to coat all sides. Let marinate, unrefrigerated, about 15 minutes.
Preheat the grill or broiler while the steak is marinating.
For sauce: In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the garlic and green onion and saute over medium-high heat until soft, about 2 minutes. Pour in the stock, soy sauce, and chili pepper flakes, and cook 1 or 2 minutes longer. Strain into a clean pan and whisk in the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Keep warm.
Arrange skewers of steak on the grill or under the broiler (bring your broiler tray directly under the flame for best results), being careful that the bare end of the skewers are not directly over (or under) the flame. Grill until medium rare, about 30 or 40 seconds on each side.
Pour the sauce into a small bowl and set in the center of a large serving platter. Arrange the skewers around the bowl and serve immediately.
CREAMY MASHED POTATOES WITH BROWN ONIONS "If I were to choose my favorite topping for mashed potatoes," Puck writes, "it would be shaved white truffles. But the fried onions, or, if desired, leeks, are delicious too, adding flavor and texture to the potatoes." 2 1/2 lbs. baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks Salt 8 tablespoons (4 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature 1/2 cup heavy cream, brought to a boil Freshly ground white pepper Freshly grated nutmeg Vegetable oil 1/2 lb. onions, cut into thinly sliced rings All-purpose flour
In a saucepan, cook the potatoes in lightly salted water to cover, until tender. Drain well. Mash the potatoes through a food mill into a stainless steel bowl. Stir in the butter and warm cream and combine thoroughly. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Set over simmering water to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a deep-fat fryer or a deep, heavy saucepan, heat about 3 inches of oil. Dust the onion rings with flour and carefully drop into the heated oil. Cook until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a clean towel. Season lightly with salt.
Spoon some of the mashed potatoes onto five or six warmed plates and top with a few of the browned onions. Serve immediately. Serves 5 or 6.