Tuesday, September 01, 2009

is that a salt lick?

Hot damn! Or, cool damn! We’ve had a breakthrough in the weather and I can’t imagine getting hit with an Indian summer re-hash now that it’s September 1st. I could be horribly wrong but hope springs (falls?) eternal. The A/C was switched off on Sunday and has been off for a few days. The temperature dropped into the upper 50s last night, the windows were open, and the sleeping was perfect: felt like sleeping in the mountains during our short summer vacation up in Truckee a few years back. Needless to say, I’m happy.

The little lady is off to BWI this afternoon/eve to retrieve her two children, one WonderTwin, and two more children. I’m not sure how all the people and bags will fit into the big gold ride but I’m sure they’ll figure something out or leave one kid behind. I’ll be sitting at home on the couch and thinking nothing of it.

Here’s another in my series of articles that seem stupid and actually are stupid…and deal with food. I hope no one actually gets their health ideas from Yahoo! (or CNN or MSNBC, or Ask Jeeves?...) so I’m always of two minds when linking to them: I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. This one is about the best and worst pizzas (primarily worst) at American food chains. I certainly have some favorite pizzas out there that I like but I’m under no illusion that any pizza I buy from anyone is actually good for me. In fact, the default position is that every single one of them is something you shouldn’t be eating. Pizza, in particular, has climbed way up my food chain since I make it one night a week at home and if those others aren’t making it like me then it’s not anything I want to eat. Two things: I’m not saying my pizza is the best in the World but it’s close; second, being that they don’t make it like me it’s disqualified from any food category aside from “I’m so hungry while stuck in this airport that I’ll eat anything.” As with anything it’s all about moderation and eating out is pretty moderate with us (Farrah Olivia, Sunflower Café…that’s about it). Of everything that I cook the pizza is the easiest and I’m going to learn you a bit. To make two crusts you do this:

Preheat oven to 420º

Mix 1 cup lukewarm (just barely warm to the touch: maybe 90-100º) water with one package (2 ¼ tsp) of yeast in a biggish bowl and let sit for a few minutes under a towel.

Add 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup white flour (you need some white to get that gluten-y stuff happening),
1 Tbs olive oil,
1 Tbs raw-like sugar,
A good pinch of kosher salt.

Mix it up until it’s just sticking together – don’t overdo it – and let that sit for about ten minutes.

(Now you can get your toppings in order…)

Pull the dough out, give it three or four kneads on the floured counter just to get it stuck together and roll it out one half at-a-time into two round pizza shapes. I lighten spray my pans with some olive oil, add the crusts, poke holes with a fork, and bake (sans toppings) for about 5 minutes. I’ve sort of learned that my topping mix can be a little moist and the pre-baking sets the crust and keeps it crisp for the final bake.

For the Eleven’s pizza I’ll start with either just olive oil on the base or some type of pesto, sliced farmers market mozzarella, and then move on to strange combos of stuff from this list (I’m going to just throw out as many as I can think of that I’ve used over the last six months): roasted corn, mushrooms, all types of olives, capers, roasted red or yellow peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, sliced romas (or any other tomato), spinach, arugula, garlic, green onions, red onions, Vidalia onions, romesco, zucchini, smoked salmon, anchovies, asparagus, roasted potatoes, jalapenos, roasted parsnips, pinenuts, eggplant, cilantro, or black beans. I’ll generally add loads of dried oregano (order all your herbs and whatnot from Penzey’s*), dried red chili flakes, and micro-grated parmesan, a pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper over the top of the finished load. Back into the oven for about 20 minutes (check at about 15) and your gold, solid gold. There’s no reason to eat any pie but what comes from your oven. Nothing to it and you’ll be much happier; you don’t feel loaded down with grease and shit that will kill you. What’s in there that bad for you? A whole lot of nothing, that’s what

Well, that turned out much longer than I expected. I was just going to link to the piece, cuss them out, and move along. Before I knew it I was teaching some fool class on pizza; it happens.


* for the usual readers: there are Penzey’s stores in Omaha, Minneapolis (where I lost my virginity, spice-wise), NYC, D.C. (Northern Virgina and Rockville), Philly, Dallas, Menlo Park, West Hartford, and Phoenix. Trust me, if you haven’t been then you’ll thank me…or not.

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