July 13, 2008

Back from Vacation

Just spent a week in Canada at the family's lakehouse. This idyllic setting provides R&R like no where else I know. You leave your car at the landing, take a boat for 20 minutes to the island, take all your groceries for the week, and most importantly, bring 3 good books and leave your cell phone behind. It's heaven. No TV, no email, no distractions.

Since we vacationed with Paul's family, we split cooking responsibilities between couples and each made 2 meals during the week. Meal one was marinated flank steak, garlic bread and salad. Meal two was homemade pizza. Other highlights throughout the week were spicy Kung Pao Chicken, Chipotle Chicken Tacos (w/Paul's righteous guacamole, of course!) and this Chicken Curry with Cashews, which remains one of my favorite meals.

I'm sure you'll agree with me that everything tastes better on vacation, even a simple ham & cheese sandwich, ketchup chips, an apple and a beer, which was mostly what my lunch consisted of each day! Funny how the prospect of eating this at the office (minus the beer, of course) is a rather depressing thought. Kind of a boring lunch, really, but sitting on a rock in the sun, looking out at the shimmering, calm water, knowing all you've got to do that day is swim, lay in the hot sun and drink a Gin & Tonic as soon as the clock strikes 5, is pretty damn satisfying.

Sigh...but back to the task at hand. Paul and I make this pizza more often than I'd like to admit because it's so easy and delicious. The dough recipe comes from The Best Recipe cookbook, by Cooks Illustrated. They provide many different crust options and this is their "fastest" pizza dough. You can have homemade pizza ready to eat in 1 hour. Fastest Pizza Dough
(makes 2 baking-sheet sized pizzas)

1 1/2 cups warm water (105-110 degrees F)
1 packet Rapid Rise yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups bread (or all-purpose) flour
1 1/2 Tbsp salt

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and then TURN OFF.

Pulse water, yeast and sugar in a food processor, 2 times is sufficient. Add oil, flour and salt. Pulse until dough forms a fairly smooth ball, or basically comes together. It will be a bit tacky, but shouldn't be so sticky that it pulls apart, getting stuck on your fingers. Add more flour (or water, if too thick) by the Tbsp and pulse until desired consistency is achieved.

Place in a well-oiled bowl (I mean really well-oiled!), cover with plastic wrap and place in the oven for 40 minutes. Make sure the oven is turned off.

Remove and divide dough in half. Usually the dough is pretty soft and pliable; easy to spread out.

-If it's too sticky, dip your fingers in olive oil and pat the dough out that way.
-Don't add too much extra flour to a sticky dough as this makes it tough, in my experience.

Here's where we've mastered our technique:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Top your crust with pizza sauce (or bottled marinara sauce works well) and bake, without other toppings, for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven, add your toppings and cheese, and bake another 9-10 minutes until the cheese is melted. This method results in a crisp crust and cheese that is just melted, but not overly browned. If you pile all the toppings on the dough at the beginning, the crust never cooks through and is a little soggy.

Hope you enjoy our favorite pizza as much as we do!

The standard:
quality hot italian (or chorizo) turkey sausage
thinly sliced yellow onions (placed on the pizza raw, they get cooked just enough)
thinly sliced red peppers (sauteed for a few minutes to soften)
1 ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced. (It's a mess to try and grate it). There is no substitute here for fresh.
grated parmeggiano-reggiano
dried oregano, sprinkled on with the other toppings.

Extras we swap in or out:
sliced and sauteed cremini mushrooms
black olives

I'm drooling already.

1 comment:

Oob said...

Any suggestions for those of us without food processors? My attempts usually wind up as very dense crusts or if, heaven forbid, I try calzones... hard as a rock! :(