Book Book Book Book
Commentary Commentary RSS Reviews Podcasts_Audio Podcasts RSS Blog Links Archives Indexes

Jeff Hertzberg, M. D. and Zoe Francois
Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day
Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2011

Thomas Dunne Books/ St. Martin's Press
US Hardcover First Edition
ISBN 978-0-312-64994-4
Publication Date: 10-25-2011
304 Pages; $27
Date Reviewed: 11-11-2011

Index:  Non-Fiction

Cookbooks are sort of addictive. To a degree, you can never have too many. Novelty matters. But it's important that cookbooks are usable, and that has two meanings with regards to cookbooks. The first, for me, is that the recipes within are inviting to make. You show me a recipe with too many ingredients, or a recipe that has too many steps, and my eyes glaze over. Short ingredient lists for recipes, sad though it may be to admit it, make those recipes inviting. The second aspect of usability in a cookbook is that you have to want to make the meals. It's not just that they taste good, but they have to fall into some matrix of tasty, hearty, comforting — food that you actually want to make as opposed to food you just want to eat.

It's tempting to think that the first book by Jeff Hertzberg, M. D. and Zoe Francois, 'Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day' is all you need. It's got a fine recipe for pizza olive oil dough that works well and with which you can make pizza for two weeks, should you be inclined and exercise enough. But 'Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day' offers a lot more than dough; these are recipes for a variety of flatbreads, pizzas, toppings and at least one this-recipe-justifies-the-price-of-the-book dessert. Buying this book is going to get you into the kitchen, cooking your own food for a fraction of what you'd pay for take-out versions that will seem exorbitantly over-priced and pretty gross compared to what you can do at home — easily.

The book is set up the same way the authors' other books are set up, with specifics that address the types of food being made here. You'll find out more about pizza and flatbread specific tools and in particular the Holy Grail of pizza dough, 00 flour. You probably will not be able to find this sort of flour in the local chains, even the healthier-than-thou versions. But your local grocer is likely to carry it; it comes in much smaller (1000 g) bags. I found Napoli Caputo Brothers flour.

The gotcha with regards to pizza is your oven. Channces are it only goes up 550 F; if you wanted to really make pizza the Italian way (they have laws, and those laws are in the book), you'd do so in a wood-fired oven of 905 F. That's where the good flour and your pizza stone come in. Between the two, you can get close enough to put your local chain pizza delivery service out of business.

Of course, what you put on top of the dough comprises a big part of the book, and the authors have plenty of ideas that are easy and delicious. The general theme is "less is better," as the challenge of cooking a pizza is getting it off the peel and onto the stone without having it turn inside-out. The authors give plenty of tips and recipes that turn out with restaurant-quality taste and not a lot of fuss.

There's more than pizza and topping recipes here; the flatbreads are fantastic, just as easy, and quite importantly, pretty far off the beaten path. The theme is the same; make the dough in advance and then all you have to gather a few toppings (or dips) and you have a quick, delicious meal.

All of this is of course supported by a website, There are links to corrections, reviews, videos and everything you need beyond the book. They're running a World Wide Pizza Party tomorrow on Twitter (#PizzaPartyin5), and I trust you'll not be shocked to find out they’ve got a YouTube Channel as well.

Going beyond savory food, which does not seem easy, proves to be quite easy, with a skillet apple pie that is beyond the beyond. It's a lot easier than "Mom's," far beyond anything you can get at your local bakery and it looks devastatingly delicious. There is a catch to all this; the food is great, the food is inexpensive, the food is easy. The catch is that you'd better plan on a lot more exercise time to run it off, lest you begin to resemble a certain advertising icon last seen lumbering down the streets of New York.

Here's my Pizza in Five:

First, the ingredients are out.

The dough ball.

Flatten the dough with knuckles and let it sit for ten or so minutes.

Olive oil the dough.

Put on the toppings, then slide into the oven.

Out of the oven, ready to serve, ten or so minutes later.

Apple, brie and culatello ham tart, ingredients.

Apple, brie and culatello ham tart, finish.

Turkish spiced lamb flatbread (Lahmacun) ingredients.

Sautee onions with spices, including paprika, cumin and freshly-ground coriander seeds.

Add one pound ground lamb.

Condiments and cooked lamb, cooling, ready to stage onto flatbread.

Cooked flatbread with condiments. (Arugula instead of parsley.)

Turkish spiced lamb flatbread (Lahmacun) as served.

Review Archive
All Reviews alphabetized by author.

General Fiction
Non-Genre, general fiction and literature.

Supernatural fiction, supernatural horror and non-supernatural horror.

Science Fiction
Science fiction, science fantasy, speculative fiction, alternate history.

Fantasy, surrealism and magic realism.

Crime, thrillers, mystery, suspense.

Non-Fiction, True Crime, Forteana, Reference.


Archives Indexes How to use the Agony Column Contact Us About Us