- Fornino in Brooklyn, NY opened its doors in 2004.
- Since New York’s restaurants and bars are closed to dine-in service, Insider’s Lisa Paradise asked chef and owner Michael Ayoub to send a fig and prosciutto pie, with some key ingredients to try to remake it at home. She has to rely on what she has on hand, including fig newton cookies.
- When she’s finished baking her pie, Chef Michael breaks down everything Lisa did right and wrong to recreate a takeout quality pizza at home.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Lisa Paradise: So, instead of going out to a restaurant to see how chefs are making the food that I wanna try, I’m going to have a chef send me a dish, and then I’m also gonna have them send me some ingredients to make the dish so that I can try and make it at home.
I’m Lisa, and welcome to my very tiny Brooklyn apartment and my very tiny Brooklyn kitchen. So, today, I am going to be calling chef Michael, who is the chef and owner of Fornino, a local pizza shop that I love going to.
Hey, Michael, how are you?
Michael Ayoub: Hello, hello! So, I sent you a fig and prosciutto pizza.
Michael: It’s one of our most popular in the restaurant, and it’s part of the third generation of Fornino. So, what it is, is mozzarella, Gorgonzola, then we bake figs right onto the pizza with the prosciutto, then after it comes out of the oven we add arugula, a little Parmesan cheese, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Lisa: Are there any, like, tips that you have for me?
Michael: Make sure that the fig and the prosciutto and all these different ingredients, they’re not on top of each other. So this way, when it comes out of the oven, there’s multiple colours.
Lisa: I don’t have a wood-burning oven. I assume you guys do.
Michael: Oh, I forgot to send you over the oven. [laughs] So, how are you gonna make this pizza?
Lisa: I don’t know. But I did go to culinary school for baking, so I think I know the proportions for pizza dough.
So, I have got the goods. The prosciutto’s super salty, the figs are sweet and caramelised, and then the arugula on top gives it, like, a spicy flavour.
I know that every, like, wood-fired pizza, you really want, like, a good, kind of [tapping] sound crust. And then the crispy edges. I don’t know if that’s possible. We will find out.
Lovely bag of ingredients. There are only two things in here. All right. I have mozzarella cheese. [glass breaking] Prosciutto. It’s interesting to me, Michael assumed that I have figs and Gorgonzola and not prosciutto and mozz.
So, I know that pizza dough’s supposed to be a relatively sticky dough, so I’m gonna do a water percentage that’s a little bit more than half to the amount of flour that I’m using.
So, to keep the maths simple for myself, because I’m terrible at maths, I’m gonna start out with 150 grams of water and then kinda figure it out from there.
I’m gonna add 5 grams of yeast into kind of lukewarm, like, room-temperature water and let it sit for a couple minutes until it starts to bubble and look like it’s working.
That’s how you know that the yeast is alive and that it’s gonna, like, do the thing and when you let it rest it will rise.
250 grams of flour. About 10 grams of olive oil. I’m just gonna stir it until I can figure out whether or not this is any kind of proper consistency. And it’s not. It is dry as hell.
So I’m gonna add, like, 20 more grams of water. I’ll add more olive oil. Oh, that’s actually not bad.
So, I’m gonna flip this out onto the counter and give it a little knead and see where it’s at. When I push it, it’s kinda coming back. That means that I’ve worked the gluten enough and it’s probably good to sit.
I’m going to shape it, which just basically means that I’m gonna roll it on the counter while tucking the outside in with my fingers, and then once the surface is nice and flat, and then you just cover it with a towel and you let it sit until it has, I guess, doubled in size, and then we’ll make a pizza.
I’ve got the homemade mozzarella and the prosciutto that chef Michael sent me. I also have the blue cheese that I found in my fridge, which I’m hoping makes a good substitute for the Gorgonzola, and then the pecorino Romano, which I also found in my fridge, which we’re using instead of Parmesan because I grew up with Italian parents and Parmesan is not something that I buy.
Whole-grain wheat flour and then figs. Oh, OK. So, figs are the second ingredient on Fig Newtons, so I’m hoping that they are a very comparable trade out for real figs.
I’m gonna hope that the inside of a Fig Newton is something that will, like, melt a little bit, and maybe it will become, like, a cool, fun consistency as opposed to this, like, congealed blob that is on the inside of a Fig Newton.
I found two pans in my, like, broiler drawer or whatever is at the bottom of your oven. I’m gonna go with the rectangular one because I don’t have, like, a wood-fire oven or any real heat control because it’s kind of a crappy Brooklyn oven.
I want a denser pan so that it holds a little bit better and it conducts more heat from the bottom so hopefully it gets a crispier crust on the bottom.
First we’re gonna douse the pizza with some olive oil. I’m gonna brush it over the whole thing. And then I’m going to throw some blocks of cheeses across it.
Into the oven.
Cheese is melted, I’m not mad at it. So, now I’m gonna add on the prosciutto, the Parmesan, and the questionable-at-best fig situation. I’m gonna throw this back in the oven on the broiler setting.
According to chef Michael, that’s the best way to get a crispy crust and to get it that, like, char flavour.
So, it didn’t char nearly as much as I wanted it to. The prosciutto’s looking like it might end up kinda burnt, so I’m gonna char it. I’m gonna char it. They shouldn’t let me have one of these.
While I am well aware that I am probably the only person trying to make a pizza at home willing to char it with a blowtorch, I cannot recommend this method enough. It is both cathartic and very fun.
Oh! Arugula, arugula. Just gonna kinda sprinkle it on. Go rogue.
Michael: We’re using arugula as an herb, not a salad on top of it.
Lisa: Oh, wait, “not a salad.” So I’m gonna take some off.
I’m pretty happy with how the crust turned out. It’s not quite as thin as chef Michael’s, but it’s still thin enough, I think, to pass as a thin-crust pizza. The prosciutto’s well cooked. The cheese is all melty.
The one thing that I’m gonna go ahead and say does not work are the Fig Newtons. And it’s, like, a little bit gelatinous, but not nearly as much as you would want. I made it, and so I’m going to eat it.
No. The Fig Newtons got tacky in the oven. So they are like a half-melted hard candy. Turns out Fig Newtons are not meant for pizza. But, overall, it’s not a bad pizza.
The blue cheese definitely melts less than the Gorgonzola, and it’s a sharper taste, and it doesn’t meld as well with the other flavours as the Gorgonzola did. It’s not spot-on, but it’s definitely close.
But if you make this at home and you use Fig Newtons, you’re not gonna like it.
Lisa: Hey, how are you?
Michael: Good, good, good.
Lisa: So, how’d I do? [laughs] Cut the ends off of the Fig Newtons that I found in my cabinet. I’m gonna hope that the inside of a Fig Newton is something that will, [Michael laughing] like, melt a little bit. [Michael laughing]
Michael: You did about a 63% hydration, which is good. You were a little high on the yeast. Normally you would do a 2%, 3%, and you were up in the, much higher than that obviously with 5%. 10 grams of oil, you were at 4%. You could have actually put a little bit more oil in. But it looked good in your pan, I have to say. Did you put salt in it?
Lisa: I did. I put, uh, 3 grams of salt.
Michael: Well, I would have gone to 7 grams of salt.
Lisa: If I’m being perfectly honest, I never measure salt, but I wrote down 3 grams.
Michael: OK. [both laugh]
Lisa: I was just raised to just be like [makes pouring noise] and then, like, throw it in. You know? Be like, “That’s enough.”
Michael: It’s the Italian in you, I got you.
Lisa: Yeah. [laughs]
Michael: After you rolled it out and put it in the pan, did you let it proof up again?
Lisa: No, I did not.
Michael: OK, I would have proofed it up again. ‘Cause you didn’t have enough gluten development. So, to get that gluten development, our dough takes two days to make. It’s a slow, cold process, our yeast is much lower. I mean, there’s a term in baking called a gluten window.
The blue cheese probably didn’t melt, it didn’t have the cream factor. The Fig Newtons I think was a stretch. [both laugh]
The inside of a Fig Newton is kind of a fig, but it’s, you know what it is, the reality is there’s so much sugar in there. I would have put it under the broiler.
Lisa: So, I tried to put it under the broiler, and before the pizza crust started to darken at all, I noticed that the prosciutto looked like it was gonna burn, so I took it out before that happened.
Michael: Right. You know, everybody thinks pizza’s pretty easy, but it’s not as easy as it looks.
Lisa: If you were to rate it, would you throw it out, would you eat it at home, or would you serve it? Michael: I would eat it at home. Lisa: You’d try it?
Michael: Yeah, absolutely.
Lisa: Once I peeled those figs off, it was not as good as yours, but it was sufficient. How can people who love Fornino support you guys during COVID?
Michael: So, we would appreciate it, once we’re open again, you know, come on back.
Lisa: We’ll have a party. We’ll have a pizza party.
EDTIOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in May 2020.
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