Monday, August 8, 2011

Pizza, a great way to use fresh vegetables

Tomatoes, basil, eggplant, heirloom summer squash, dried oregano... all from the garden. Add garlic, onion, olive oil and you've got something healthy and tasty. Add pepperoni and you lose the healthy aspect but gain some extra flavor. A bit of goat cheese doesn't hurt, either. For extra gooeyness, Mozzarella is a must.

I didn't want to make tomato sauce - for one thing, this isn't the best year for tomatoes and yields are low. For another, a 550° oven makes the kitchen hot enough without adding bubbling pots of sauce to the thermal mix. So, after shaping the 'za, I added olive oil, sliced red, ripe garden tomatoes, fine strips of basil, julienned onions, garlic, and goat cheese. Then I decided that was too healthy and threw on some pepperoni and olives.

A quick transfer to the pizza stone in the oven, a bit of bubbling and rising and eccolo! A home made pizza. Nobody missed the tomato sauce since the garlic, oil, oregano, tomato and basil pretty much created the sauce right on the pie.

Since the dough is prepared in advance and pizzas bake very quickly, this is the perfect light summer meal with friends.

Pizza Dough
This is still a work in progress, so it's subject to change, and I've been playing with a mixed grain version, too. Yes, it's a metric recipe. It's so much easier to scale up and down when everything is in grams. Digital scales and measuring cups normally have metric capability, so no whining. No conversion necessary - that's a pain!

  • 7g instant (SAF) yeast
  • 18g honey
  • 300g bread flour
  • 100g high gluten flour (Giusto's Vital Wheat)
  • 5g kosher salt
  • 40g extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Combine dry ingredients: flours, salt, yeast. Mix well.
  2. Mix the honey into the water,  stir well.
  3. Mix the water into the flour, briefly
  4. Mix the oil into the dough, then knead well.
  5. Form into a ball and let proof until it rises
  6. Divide into two pieces, form into balls and refrigerate until ready
  7. Take the balls out before use to let them warm up. Place a pizza stone in your oven, preheat oven to max (550 works).
  8. Toss if you're good at that kind of thing, or form with your hands.
  9. Coat with olive oil, toppings, etc. I'm assuming you're not from Betelgeuse and know what a pizza looks like.
  10. Using a peel, slide the pie onto the stone and close the oven door quickly.
  11. Your pie should be ready quickly, depending on how thick you made the crust and how hot your oven gets.
  12. Turn onto pizza pan if you're really well-equipped, or onto a metal baking sheet if not, cut and eat.

This method is set up for a food processor since I don't have a fancy stand mixer. The idea is still to mix all the ingredients in the flour very well and knead enough to develop the gluten. Do NOT, EVER, add more high gluten flour than this or you will get something more resembling a sticky, fibrous, elastic ball than dough. It won't taste as good, either.

One more thing: if you want to add an egg to your pizza, crack it over the hot pizza as it comes out of the oven, so the yolk will run all over your pie but the white will be set up. They do this in Europe. Not really an American thing, but if you have too many eggs or like the flavor combination, give it a try.

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