Mystic Pizza

It’s that time of year again.  There are twelve days between now and the 84th Academy Awards, when we find out who takes home a statue, and who doesn’t. Because I’m a sucker for Hollywood glamour, I look forward to this every year.  Last year’s 12 Days of Oscar series was so well-received, I knew I had to do it again this year. So, I picked out twelve films, and picked out twelve recipes.  This year, I gave myself the added challenge of trying to keep the recipes somewhat healthy, but I promise they’re just as fun as last year’s selection and I hope, equally as tasty.

The first film in this year’s lineup was never nominated for an Oscar, but is a favorite of mine just the same.  The 1988 film Mystic Pizza, featuring Julia Roberts (pre-Pretty Woman), Annabeth Gish, and Lili Taylor, is the story of three girls coming of age in Mystic, Connecticut.  Roberts stars as Daisy, who wants to just get out of Mystic, and meets a wealthy Ivy League dropout. Gish portrays Daisy’s sister Kat, who works three jobs in an attempt to pay her Yale tuition. Taylor is JoJo, their friend, who has a hard time committing to marriage because she wants to maintain her own identity.  A very young Matt Damon also has one line (don’t blink or you might miss it), during a dinner scene. The three girls work at Mystic Pizza, which is a real pizza shop here in Connecticut.

The recipe I found in Cooking Light didn’t disappoint.  It wasn’t an exact replica, but it’s the closest I’ve come across.  The pizza wasn’t greasy, and the crust pleasantly surprised me.  Simmering the sauce makes all of the difference.  I left my pizza with just cheese, but you could very easily add whatever toppings you like.

Mystic Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 package quick-rise yeast (2 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1/2 C. warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tsp. cornmeal
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh or 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 C. (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.

Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water in a large bowl, let stand 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/4 cups flour, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the yeast mixture and stir to form a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to your hands.

Coat a bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place the dough into it, turning to coat the top of the dough.

Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Punch dough down and roll dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface.

Place dough on a baking sheet or 12-inch pizza pan coated with cooking spray and sprinkled with cornmeal.

Crimp edges of dough to form a crust.

Let dough stand, covered, 10 minutes.

Place a small saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot.

Add garlic, and sauté 2 minutes.

Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, oregano, cilantro, fennel seeds, pepper, and tomato sauce and reduce heat.

Simmer, uncovered,  for 20 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring occasionally.

Spread the sauce over pizza crust and then sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden.

Remove pizza to cutting board and cut into wedges.

Makes 12 servings.

Source: Cooking Light, March 1998

Just for fun, here’s me with my youngest sister, at the famous Mystic Pizza a few summers ago 🙂  I’m on the right, clearly I did not get the “tall gene.”

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