Entertaining in the summer is always so much fun. The sun sets later in the evening and it's easy to let go and enjoy the warm pleasant nights. Casual, fun parties are most definitely in order. There's no need to throw a fussy event that requires a lot of work. I think a summer pizza party is a perfect way to spend a warm evening. Invent a few creative pizzas or simply go with the classics, whip up fresh, crisp cocktails or chill some craft beer, and ease into the summer living.
No party would be complete without a little decor. Billy Balls in bud vases and thick and sturdy (but colorful) kitchen towels are a sweet way to set a fun and festive tone for the event. Nothing has to match perfectly. I created a little handwritten menu card listing all the different kinds of pizzas guests could look forward to, on a round piece of stock, evoking pizza, naturally.
Fire it up! I made a bunch of dough and grilled off two pizzas at time, involving some guests and making for a quick delivery. The pizzas char up in no time on the grill.
The pizza menu included:
Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Garlic, Gruyere, Arugula, Truffle Oil
Crushed San Marzano Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomato Slices, Basil
Bacon Jam, Mozzarella, Fresh Thyme
Barbeque Chicken, Sauce (from my favorite local BBQ spot Rocklands), Gouda, Red Onion
Surry Sausage, Fresh Mozzarella, and Crushed San Marzano Tomatoes
The first pies were served and then split Romaine heads were grilled and topped with a creamy fresh Caesar dressing.
Of course a cocktail was in order. Grapefruit margaritas in lime-grapefruit sugar-rimmed glasses and topped off with a little Izze grapefruit soda for sparkle.
A little homemade ice cream, salted caramel with a fudge swirl in homemade waffle cones (made on the panini press!) ended the evening.
Grilled California Pizzas (from Ina Garten)
For the dough:
- 1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110 degrees F) water
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 3 cups flour, then the salt, and mix. While mixing, add 1 more cup of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and roll each one into a smooth ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature. Roll and stretch each ball into a rough 8-inch circle and place them all on baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. (You will be able to fit 2 pizzas on each 18 by 13-inch baking sheet.)
Light your grill and wait until it's hot.
Place the pizzas directly onto the grill and cook on 1 side for 1 minute.
Top the pizzas with any toppings you wish, piling them high. Put the lid on your grill and cook for 5 minutes more, until the crust is crisp and the toppings are cooked.