Father’s Day: A Family Affair with Pizza

Can you believe it is already summer?  My wife is home for three months having the time of her life and I’m sitting at my desk thinking about which beer I’m going to have when I get home. If the temperature hits 100 degrees this week I may call in sick for “heat exhaustion”.  Anyway, I’m back with my second post to Butter&Yolk…extremely pathetic and disappointing. Jenna is a bit down on my involvement and that makes me feel worse than I already do when I keep putting off my contributions to this joint venture. So, here we go. Let’s all hope I’m a regular contributer and not some jerk who wants to talk about a burger or something idiotic that Romney said every three months.

With that, food has been on the brain lately (how shocking) and how in the world I will get to try every restaurant and dish and cocktail and beer I hear about on various blogs, or read about on a number of websites and magazines.  Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about the trials and tribulations of being the owner of a rambunctious and stubborn 1.5 year old puggle named Finley, but most importantly, I’ve been thinking about a tremendous and wonderful milestone approaching quickly…Jenna and my first wedding anniversary on July 3! We’ll be celebrating our anniversary in three places – with a much-anticipated dinner on Sunday at Grant Achatz’s Next restaurant in Chicago (THANKS JAMES!!! We’ll try to sneak in some pics for a post without appearing like food dorks with no tact at this exclusive establishment…oh la la), a trip up to an old favorite, Milwaukee, for food, cocktails and fireworks, and a journey to Amsterdam followed by a road trip through France.

Ok, ok, back to the actual topic of this post. As Jenna will tell you, I can be a bit long-winded (another trait I can thank my dear old dad for, lol, sorry pops!). To celebrate the start of summer, great food and family – three things Jenna and I love – we wanted to showcase  a family affair during an important day in June.  Father’s Day in the Temkin family is usually a pretty low-key but important event (my dad is about as low maintenance and easy to please as it gets); however, this year Jenna and I wanted to spice it up a bit and encourage my dad to do something fun at home that he hasn’t done in years and let us document it for our blog.  Makin’ za pizzah at home!  Za Temkin pizzaaaahhh!

When I was younger my dad used to make his long-held pizza recipe that he tweaked over the years, once a year for the kids.  Besides the grand feelings I had that my dad was a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune and I had the opportunity to watch a lot of sports with him in person (I have little athletic ability, so I was relegated to spectator), this making pizza at home business was quite intriguing.  As a kid I only knew of pizza from Gigio’s in Evanston and other local establishments or chains – I never knew or fathomed that pizza could be made at home and I get to help!

I watched in amazement as my dad made this pan pizza and also helped along the way. Kneading the dough, letting it rise, punching it down, cutting the peeled tomatoes, spreading the dough to the edges of the pan, layering the cheese, then topping with the tomatoes and other ingredients, and then shortly thereafter pulling a homemade delicious pan pizza from the oven.  There was something different about this pizza, not only was it tasty but there was something more meaningful about it since it my dad and I did it together.  As the years went by and I got older the pizza making went from a once or twice a year thing to something that we kind of forgot about, until recently, when we were we celebrating my dad’s birthday and I brought up his pizza that he hadn’t made in some time.  There was borne the idea of making the pizza again, together with my dad, on Father’s day.

The morning of Father’s day, I woke up excited that this was the day we’d finally make the pizza again, and I get to take pictures with this new camera and post about it on Butter&Yolk.  Jenna and I went into Andersonville with Finley to get some dog food and find some other things to give my dad as a gift. I already got him a bottle of wine from our visit to Round Barn Winery during our beach day in New Buffalo, MI, but I wanted to add a few other treats.  It’s common knowledge in the Temkin family that while my dad is not into material possessions or logos on shirts, he does like his “dough products”, specifically one’s in desert form that he can be eaten late at night or for breakfast/lunch.  Historically, my father has been a muffin aficionado, but recently he’s gotten into scones.  With that in mind, Jenna and I stopped in to First Slice Pie after picking up dog food, hoping they’d have some good bakery.  We picked up a couple delicious looking hand pies (sour cherry and blueberry) and a ridiculous looking chocolate chip cookie (no scones left that day).  We also couldn’t leave empty-handed ourselves and picked up a decadent slice of chocolate-peanut butter pie (we’ll be back soon to try a slice of the Tabasco pie, as weird as it sounds, we’ve heard good things).  We also found out that First Slice serves some of our favorite (and my dad’s) Alterra coffee, which is a fantastic coffee company in Milwaukee that roasts and serves fair trade small batch coffee in direct partnership with coffee growers in Guatemala and other countries (check out one of their many cafes in Milwaukee, that also have some awesome bakery).

So, fast forward to the late afternoon as Jenna and I arrive at my dad’s house ready to resurrect the Temkin Pizza.  My sisters Allie and Jenna (yes, I have a sister named Jenna) are already there and a delicious peach and blueberry pie that sister Jenna and my step-mom Jody made earlier in the day, is sitting on the kitchen table.  After exchanging hellos with everyone, I enter the kitchen to begin this favorite pastime with my dad and recreate the feelings of excitement and joy I had as a kid.  This time around my dad added a few twists to the usual plain cheese pizza, since his children have all pretty much outgrown the hate veggies phase (except celery, I will not mess with that vegetable in any form or fashion!), he decided to add some spinach and mushroom, with a little bit of onion.  More importantly, my dad upgraded to San Marzano tomatoes, which we all know are the primo canned tomatoes on the market (there really is a difference in quality and taste) and some quality hormone-free all natural mozzarella cheese.

As my dad and I started making the pizza and I started to snap pictures as he knead the dough, cut and drained the tomatoes, and crushed the fennel, I started to feel as I did as a child; a sense of family and togetherness and how far we’ve all come over the years.  I was more happy to be sharing this day and this experience with a new addition to the family, my wife, who’s been excited for some time to try the pizza after I talked it up over the past couple years.

Fast forward again (since I can’t keep one stream out thought), the pizza came out a short time later, cooked perfectly, with a nice crisp crust.  The first bite of the surprisingly light pan pizza with a well-balanced flavor of cheese, tomatoes, oregano with a hint of fennel, toppings and crust, brought back all those memories of past pizzas, including the carry-out variety we ordered as us kids grew up (the one pizza my dad made was never enough for us hungry hounds…this year, Lou Malnati’s thin crust was the backer but it was nothing compared to the Temkin pizza!).  I also thought about how great it’s going to be when I have kids and I can share this recipe and experience with them and their grandfather.  That will be a treat.  So, without further ado, check out some pictures below in the slideshow of the pizza-making process and stay tuned for upcoming posts…including the long-awaited guest spot from our friend and culinary expert, Noah, on his trip back to his hometown of Nashville, TN.

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