Retired as a special-education teacher at the Islip public schools, she is an adjunct professor in special ed at Dowling College and lives in North Babylon with her husband and son.
Who taught you how to cook? My grandmother, my mother. And I've taken cooking classes.
What are your specialties? My meatballs -- I make them with raisins. Bolognese sauce, tomato sauce. Pasta fagioli, eggplant caponata. I'm also half Ukrainian, so I make pierogies, stuffed cabbage. I'm famous for my rainbow cookies.
Why do you make pizza dough from scratch? It just has a fresher taste. You can make the dough and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.
Can you knead the dough by hand? Absolutely. You want that smooth, elastic texture.
Where do you buy your mozzarella? Joe's Italian Market in West Babylon. The important thing is to buy fresh mozzarella packed in water, slice it thin and drain the slices on paper towels or your pizza will be soggy.
Do you ever use other toppings? We like the Margarita the best, but you can use anything you like: caramelized onions, mushrooms, olives, different cheeses like Asiago, ricotta, Fontina. Whatever you use, just add a few tablespoons of sauce.
½ cup warm milk (whole or 2 percent)
½ cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
One 28-ounce can Imported San Marzano Tomatoes, poured into a bowl with juice and broken up into small pieces-
3 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon oregano
2 whole basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound of fresh mozzarella, sliced as thinly as possible
Grated Romano cheese
½ cup olive oil that has been simmered with salt, pepper, and rosemary
6 to 8 basil leaves
1. Make dough: Combine milk and water in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over liquid and let stand until yeast is dissolved.
2. Combine flour and salt in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn mixer on low and gradually pour in liquid. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes. Place in a large oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.
3. Make sauce: Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes and juice. Add oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Chop 2 basil leaves and stir into sauce. Remove from heat.
4. Preheat gas grill to medium-low. Clean and oil grids. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into an approximate 10-inch round with a rolling pin.
5. Brush each piece of dough generously with seasoned olive oil. Working quickly, place dough pieces on the grill, oiled sides down. Brush tops with more oil. Cook, covered, until bottoms are lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and cook another 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Transfer pizzas to baking sheets. Spread 2 to 3 tablespoons sauce on each dough piece. Add mozzarella pieces, making sure cheese is not too close to edges. Sprinkle with grated Romano and tear basil leaves and scatter over pizzas. Place back on grill and cook, covered, until cheese melts. Serve immediately.
Makes four to six 10-inch pizzas