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I love birthdays!  Especially, when it is someone else’s birthday.  Someone else getting older, and being the center of attention.  For Adam’s birthday, this year, we decided to take full advantage of the unusually warm weather in New York, and utilize our deck for a small gathering of friends.  I, of course, had great plans to make a fantastic feast for Adam, which I completely forgot to photograph.  I made a lovely Pappa al Pomodoro soup (Tuscan bread soup), green salad with grapefruit and mint vinaigrette, baguette with roasted garlic and parmesan cheese, roasted tomato caprese salad, and double chocolate brownies from the April issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.  I was a busy cook on Saturday!

On Sunday, I made Ina Garten’s White Pizza with Arugula.  They were perfect for my tiny oven and lack of a pizza stone.  I’d never made pizza dough from scratch, but I can tell you, I will use this recipe from now on.  It was so easy and tasty!  The flavors of the 3 cheeses, the homemade garlic oil, and topped with the lemon peppery arugula, was divine!  It was a Happy Birthday for Adam & his tummy.

White Pizza with Arugula
by Ina Garten
Printable Recipe

For the Pizza
1 1/2 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 TBS honey
olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
salt
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
ground black pepper
3 cups grated Italian Fontina cheese (8 ounces)
1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella (7 ounces)
11 ounces creamy goat cheese such as Montrachet, crumbled

For the salad
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 ounces baby arugula

For the dough, combine the water, yeast honey, and 3 tablespoons olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Wait approximately 10 minutes, until the yeast has dissolved.  Add 3 cups of the flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed.  While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough.  Knead dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.  When dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times.  It should be smooth and elastic.  Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the garlic oil.  Place 1/2 cup olive oil, the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over low heat.  Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces.  Place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and cover with a damp towel.  Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.  Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each parchment-lined sheet pan.  (If you’ve chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)  Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with Fontina, mozzarella, and goat cheese.  Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.
Meanwhile, for the vinaigrette, whisk together 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten.  Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and serve immediately.
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