"Pizza & Panini" (CIG) Erik Sherman

Pros: A good basic primer
Cons: Make sure you read the info before using the recipes; missing details; no photos
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Alpha Books.
Visit Erik Sherman’s food blog.
This is my fourth entry in the Soup’s On [dead link removed] reading challenge.


Pizza: it’s an incredibly popular food, and panini (rustic grilled sandwiches) aren’t far behind. These are fabulously versatile foods that allow you to combine a wide array of bread products with virtually limitless toppings. You might not be sure where to start, however, if you want to make them at home; many people think they’re limited to takeout, restaurants, and frozen pizzas. Instead, you could pick up Erik Sherman’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pizza & Panini. It’s part how-to guide and part recipe book.

Sherman’s book walks you through from start to finish: equipment, tools, doughs, breads, sauces, and finally, the complete recipes. This isn’t an exhaustive cookbook; it’s meant to give you the how-to and provide a handful of samples in different areas, such as meat pizzas, vegetable pizzas, breakfast and dessert pizzas, and then a similar array of panini.

The directions are quite thorough, and include many little tips along the way. Unfortunately, there are also a few missing bits of information. For example, the section on using a stand mixer to knead your pizza doughs says,

At the end of the kneading, check the texture of the dough. It should appear as it would after hand-kneading (see the preceding “People Who Knead Pizza…” section).

Unfortunately, the closest that afore-mentioned other section comes to providing the necessary info is to tell you to check a certain URL of the author’s website in order to see photos of what the doughs should look like—and that URL no longer exists at the author’s site. That information should have been in the book, and the author shouldn’t have put a URL repeatedly into the book with promises of extra content there if he was going to take it down again before even a single year had passed.

The good news is, the recipes are delicious and easy. I enjoyed the various pizza doughs we made from Sherman’s recipes, as well as the homemade pizza sauce. The Artichoke & Brie Pizza was a nice change of pace, and the homemade version of a Quattro Formaggio (four cheese) Pizza was definitely better than the commercial equivalent. There’s a ‘Tuna Meltdown Panino’ in here that combined such ingredients as tuna salad, gouda, and avocado to wonderful effect (a bit tough to flip thanks to that tuna salad, but so delicious it’s worth it). The recipe instructions are clear and easy to follow, although there are no photos (not a big deal with most parts of making pizza and panini, but I know they’re important to some folks).

Just make sure you read the informational/how-to parts of the book before you dive into the recipes. You’ll want to read through the extended version of the directions for pizza dough and the like at least once. After that, however, I think you’ll find it so surprisingly easy to make your own pizzas that you’ll be tempted to do it every week!


Since I now have a digital camera, I thought it would be fun to start including photos with our cookbook reviews. When I discovered the slideshow feature at photobucket (so I wouldn’t have to choose a single photo or try to awkwardly fit a bunch of them into one review), I knew I was a goner. Here you have it, a few selected photos from our pizza & panini experiments:



Posted in Cooking, Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , ,
8 comments on “"Pizza & Panini" (CIG) Erik Sherman
  1. Wendy says:

    Oh, those photos are mouth watering – especially the pizza ones! I love pizza – and making it from scratch is not all that difficult. Hopefully the author will fix his mistakes at some point!

  2. tara says:

    Love the photos!

  3. heather says:

    Wendy: Hopefully there’ll be a second edition; there often is with CIGs.

    tara: Thank you! It’s fun to be able to include some color with the reviews. 🙂

  4. Trish says:

    Brie and artichoke pizza?? Yum! You’re really getting into this whole camera thing…looks great!

  5. Colleen W says:

    Photos were great! Love the 4 cheese style pizza! I will take a tuna sandwich pre-panini or post-panini anyday! 🙂

  6. heather says:

    Trish: I have such a weakness for brie! I try not to keep it in the house or I’ll eat way too much of it. 😉

    Colleen: I’m glad you like the photos! They really do add something to the cookbook reviews.

  7. The pictures are mouthwatering … like one of your previous commentators, I’m a sucker for brie.

    I was recently introduced to a British cookie/cracker called a digestive, which is fabulous with all sorts of cheese, but particularly brie.

  8. heather says:

    Marta: I’m glad you enjoyed the pics! I think they’ve definitely added a lot to my cookbook reviews since I got my camera.

    Ooooh. I’ll have to try that combo!

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