Friday, June 18, 2010

Rosie Makes Pizza For Maxine And Carmen.

Imagine Monday night. Rosie made pizza for Maxine and Carmen. Here's the actual recipe for the Pizza Dough: 1 package yeast 1/2 cup warm water 1 TB sugar 1 egg 1 TB olive oil 1 cup bread flour 1/4 cup extra bread flour or maybe more or maybe less Depends on a lotta stuff - tides, humidity, planetary alignment, moon phase, religious affiliation, political alignment - you name it. salt, freshly cracked Toppings: Shredded cheeses I Semi-Ho'd it by buying two bags of shredded cheeses. Italian cheeses - Mozzarella, Provolone, Romano, Asiago, and Parmesan. Triple cheddar - Vermont white cheddar, sharp cheddar, and mild cheddar cheeses. Feta cheese. Spinach, steamed and moisture sqwuzzed out. Broccoli, halfway steamed. Mushrooms, sliced and sauteed. Tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, and sliced. Zucchini, sliced. Squash, sliced. Peppers - red, orange, yellow green, small dice. Red onion, sliced. Sausage, crumbled. As for the toppings, put on whatever you want. This is what I'd brought with me from home in my cooler, which I didn't want to leave to go bad, and what Maxine had in her fridge. Personally, I love veggie pizzas, but if you have some ham, or sausage, or pepperoni, pancetta, or prosciutto in the fridge, go for it. Whatever vegetables you have, the better. Pesto is a gift from God. Use it, liberally. Sun-dried tomatoes. Oh, the possibilities. Goat cheese. Brie. So many good things to put on a pizza. Pizza ain't rocket science. Make it fun. About ten years ago, a friend I hadn't seen for maybe 15 years came down to Hatteras with two other friends for a vacation. She called me to let me know of her whereabouts, made plans to visit, and I immediately asked her what she and her friends would like for dinner. Since this is the beach, I was expecting seafood requests. Boiled shrimp with nose-searing cocktail sauce. Fried oysters with jalapeno tartar sauce. Pistachio-encrusted mahi mahi. Seared tuna with a lemon/butter/caper sauce and fresh ripe lemony coriander seeds from my cilantro plants. Oysters Rockefeller. Abercrombie Chowder, an award-winning recipe my friend had partaken of before. Coconut fried shrimp with a pineapple/mango/habanero/mint/red pepper salsa thingie going on. My list was endless. My friend finally told me to shut up. She wanted one of our pizzas. Back in the 80's, when we all partied together, most evenings were spent at Casa Hawthorne in Danville. We had an entourage. An entourage focused on food. And Mr. Hawthorne and I were happy to dispense. It was dinner theater at its finest. Thirty years ago, my go-to menu for our little Algonquin Table was pizza. Glyn always loved my pizza. And after being without my pizza for lo these many years, Glyn asked me to make pizza. I loved that. And I loved making that pizza for Glyn. The sharing of food is a wonderful thing. It is friendship. It is primal. It is visceral. It is intimate. It is love. It makes me happy.
Now, for the method.
While Maxine napped upstairs, I started on the dough. Pour a package of yeast into 1/2 cup of warm water.
Fill up the package with water. Swirl around. Pour dregs of yeast into water/yeast mixture. Waste not. Want not.
Sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar over surface. The sugar grabs onto the yeast and pulls it down.
Stir a bit and let sit ...
... until the yeast proofs ...
... i.e., gets foamy and poofy. That way, you know the yeast is good. You may continue.
Add in one egg to the poofy yeast mixture.
Daggone! Perfect pic. The exact moment when the egg hit the yeast mixture. Too bad it's not in focus.
I poured in the one cup of bread flour and stirred it in until the batter was smooth.
One tablespoon of olive oil.
Needed more flour so I could knead the dough. Ended up gradually adding 1/4 cup more. Just a little bit at a time.
Sprinkle in a tablespoon at a time. Forking it in.
When you have a gloppy mess, take it ...
... and dump it onto a floured board and sprinkle more on top. Start kneading, adding more flour as needed.
Lovely, smooth, elastic, pliable dough.
Pour a little OO over top. Slide the dough around to coat and cover in plastic.
Back to Rosie's trick of putting plastic wrap over the dough, nuking wet towels, enveloping the bowl in the hot towels, and letting the yeast do its stuff. The steam and heat from the wet hot towel help the dough rise. Do NOT nuke the dough. That kills the yeast. Only nuke the wet towels to get them hot.
When the dough has doubled ...
... punch it down with floured fist.
A few more sprinkles of flour ...
... and more kneading ...
... until you get this.
I wanted a thin and crispy crust and realized I could halve the dough for this pizza. Pack the remaining dough securely in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. The dough always finds its way out of plastic wrap.
Flatten your little dough pile onto an oiled pan. Start at the center and start pressing and pushing outward. Stop. Walk away. Let the dough breathe. Have a glass of wine. You need to let the dough rest. And you need to breathe. Or at least I did.
Go back and tend to the dough. Keep pressing. Pushing. Smoothing. Rest. Go back. Press dough out. Take your time. Play with it. Learn the ways of dough.
When the dough is maximized, pour a little OO over. Fork it. Let rise in a warm place. But not too much. Remember, I'm wanting a thin and crispy crust. Leave the dough to get all cozy and concentrate on the toppings.
I'd brought mushrooms from home in my cooler. Start slicing.
Saute in olive oil and butter until nicely browned. If you put raw shrooms on top of pizza dough, you get soggy crust. Mushrooms exude moisture. Saute the water out. And never salt your shrooms. Wait until they cook. So they saute. If you salt first, you bring out the water in the shrooms and they steam, not saute.
Maxine always has frozen homemade pesto. Little bit of fruity OO thrown in.
I had a bag of spinach, which I steamed ...
... along with some broccoli I added later.
I'd brought multi-colored peppers For you novices out there, when you chop/slice peppers, turn them on their backs, so you're slicing the inside part. It works that way. Doesn't work if you try to slice the outside/down. Try it.
Pepper confetti.
Squeeze out as much moisture as you can from the spinach.
After the crust had risen just a little bit I put it in a 425 degree oven to slightly brown. Let's start building a pizza. Sprinkle a layer of shredded cheese over top.
Dabble some pesto on the pizza.
Add some sliced zucchini and squash, peeled, seeded, juiced, and sliced tomatoes, and torn spinach.
Next, some sauteed shrooms and steamed broccoli.
Now, my pepper confetti.
Crumbled feta cheese and red onions.
More cheese.
And yes. Rosie is Semi-Ho'ing this pizza with - gasp - pre-shredded cheese, as Sandy calls it. I would call it just plain shredded cheese because I believe pre-shredded cheese would be a block of cheese.
One can never have too much cheese. Be generous.
The green is three different types of basil I got from Carmen - a regular basil, a Thai basil, and a "boxwood" basil.
Then I used up the leftover sausage from breakfast.
And put on more cheese. Bake at 425 degrees until cheese is melted and pizza is heated through. About 12- 15 minutes. This sucker was about 3-4 inches thick in the middle.
Ta daaaaa! Dinner is served. Maxine had made one of my favorite bean salads. Let me see if I can remember everything in it: can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained can of black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained green pepper jar of pimientos sliced mushrooms tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, chopped celery, sliced Italian dressing Let sit overnight for flavors to develop. Maxine, did I miss anything?
The lovely Carmen.
Diggin' in.
I'm liking this picture. Very much. It tells a story.
The Kiss. Three dimensional.

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