Tuesday, July 10, 2012

When the moon hits your eye

like a big piece of pie!

I have posted about pizza before. I had this great dough recipe that I loved but it was a bit cumbersome in the sense that it required you to prepare the dough at least 24 hours in advance! Who wants that?! When you want pizza, you want pizza...and now dangit!

Pizza was on the menu this past weekend. It was a celebration of sorts. You see, back in Janurary we had to rush my baby to the doctor's one morning shortly after New Year's. There was serious concern she might have an obstruction in her intestines and so we went through all the testing and such. She did not have an intestinal obstruction (which I was very thankful for!) BUT in the process they determined she had a severe milk-protein allergy. Which basically means her little gut couldn't process or break down the protein found in milk (whey, casein, etc). It explained why she had been such a colicky baby! I ate greek yogurt every morning for breakfast (along with cheese on my eggs or whatever) and by 5p or so she would be screaming bloody murder. After 3 solid months of her screaming in the evenings/nights I was so relieved there might actually be a solution.

The solution? Oh well....her food supplier (aka ME) had to eliminate all dairy from my diet. Easy enough....right?! Oh it was so hard at first. I did not realize how much dairy I actually ate! I hate plain milk. So I thought I wasn't a real dairy lover....wrong. And dairy protein is in everything! Read some labels of your favorite foods. Guarantee most of them have dairy. Eventually we found a groove and I was able to find a new approach to my eating.

In the last month or so I have been paying less attention to what I eat. I was trying to "test" and see if I could slow re-introduce dairy and what effects it might have. It seemed to be going well. About a week ago Senor and I went out for dinner and had a delicious meal that had all kinds of cheese. I had decided in advance I didn't care if it caused a problem for 1 night/day I was willing to pay the price. Oh my the cheese was amazing!!!!

I was bracing myself for when the cheese would "hit" baby but it never did! She seemed totally unphased! I began trying a bit more dairy. Nothing. The one meal I had missed the most (other than desserts and breakfast items) was pizza. With this new "green light" I decided it was time for a celebration and put pizza on the menu!

I used my newer-ish recipe which I originally found from my friend Sarah. Now this recipe is originally from a Kitchen-Aid mixer recipe book; thus it is implied that you use a mixer. I can't. The thing I love most about mixing dough is using my hands and working out all my pint up stress kneading the dough 'til my arms hurt. So I mix this by hand and insist it makes a huge difference.

Here's the recipe. And my thoughts/tips on making it the ultimate pizza. Forget ordering out ever again.
1 pkg active dry yeast (I use Fleischman's rapid rise in the yellow packets) or 2.5 tsp of the jarred stuff

1 cup warm water (just wait til the tap water begins to feel warm to you)
1/2 tsp salt (I like to use Kosher salt)
2-3 Tbsp EVOO (plus extra for kneading)
3-4 Tbsp vital wheat gluten--this helps to give the dough a nice smooth soft texture

2-3 c APF
1 Tbsp cornmeal

Utensils needed:
a large mixing bowl
a fork
measuring devices (obv)
a baking stone or pizza stone is preferable
cookie sheet or pizza pan or some other flat metal baking item you can flatten out your dough on

For this pictured pizza I used:
fresh green peppers-chopped
fresh onion-chopped
fresh roma tomato-sliced thin and squeezed to eliminate excess liquid
fresh spinach finely chopped
Bertoli Tomato and Basil sauce
Boar's Head Pepperoni from the deli
Fresh parmesan cheese + fresh Romano cheese
fresh mozarella cheese
Basil pesto

1. Mix water and yeast in a bowl. Let it sit for 5 minute.
2. Add EVOO and salt. Dump in 2 cups APF + vital wheat gluten and stir with a fork.
3. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Scrape fork and use extra EVOO to douse your hands in olive oil (think of it as your spa treatment for the day).
4. Now if your mixture is holding together and is relatively cohesive but sticky add another 1/2 c APF.
5. Work that in and knead with your hands.
6. Fold the dough over itself (kneading it) for about 10-15 min. Add little sprinkles of flour and grease your hands as needed until the dough forms a nice smooth ball but isn't dry.
7. Now grease a large bowl and set dough down inside. flip it once to coat the top of the dough. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit for 1-2 hours (until the dough AT LEAST doubles in size...the longer you can let it rise the better).
8. About 30-45 min before you plan to bake the pizza turn on your oven to as high as you can crank it and place your pizza stone in there while the oven is cold.
9. Chop and prep & organize all your toppings as you wish.
10. Once your dough has risen lightly coat a round metal pizza baking dish with EVOO. Dump your dough out onto the center of the metal pizza dish. Begin (coat your hands again in EVOO; use your fingers and palms) to flatten/roll out the dough towards the sides of the pan forming a nice crust and a thin center as you go.
11. Once you have wrangled the dough into an acceptable shape dust the top with corn meal and let it sit for about 10 min.
12. Now use some hot mitts to remove your pizza stone from your hotter than hades oven and set the stone on a safe spot for something so hot (I use my oven top). Decrease the temperature setting on the oven to 475F. Quickly grab your pizza dough (on it's pan) and invert it onto the pizza stone--so that the cornmeal covered top is now on the stone and you have a clean dough surface facing you. (DO NOT panic if it folds or wrinkles...just quickly straighten it out and stretch the dough to your liking)
13. Place the dough on the stone back in the oven for 3 min.  (@475F)
14. Take it back out and set it on a safe place. Top it with a very thin layer marinara sauce (for 1 large pizza I would say no more than 3-4 Tbsp...you do not want a super saucy mess of a pizza....I won't tell you about the time I over did the sauce and managed to slosh all of the toppings off the pizza while trying to remove it from the oven...)
15. Layer your toppings as you wish. I recommend veggies, meats, some cheese, tomatoes/fresh herbs, more cheese...but it's your pie so do as you wish. I also like to brush my crusts with pesto; but that's me.
16. Return it to the oven and bake for another 8-12 minutes @450-475F; until it's brown and bubbly!

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