Sunday, October 10, 2010

Simple & Rustic

 Making pizza, by far has been my favorite style of cooking! Inspired by Wolfgang Puck and David Rocco, I decided it was time to attempt my first pizza! Don't mind the small pictures, there's just too many of them, click to see the original.
You need dry active yeast (quick rise), about 1/2 tbsp.

In a bowl: mix 1 1/2 cups of warm water (not boiling or you'll kill the yeast), the package of yeast and 1 generous tbsp of honey because yeast needs sugar and warmth to activate.

In a large bowl sift 31/2 cups of flour and make a burrow in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture. Add 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt as well.
 Use a spatula to draw the wet and dry together. Eventually you are left with a sticky ball. Flip the ball out to a floured surface to form dough. Knead the dough briefly with your hands using a push and fold method. Just knead long enough for the dough to take in more flour and becomes less sticky.

 Rub the inside of a clean bowl with olive oil. Place the ball in the bowl and make two cross incisions.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen cloth and let the bowl sit in a warm place (20-24 degrees) for 2 hours. Meanwhile, you can prepare your pizza toppings. Seen on the right is an eggplant that I sliced.
Bocconcini is a very similar cheese to mozzarella. I took a large handful of spinach, took off the stems and sauteed the leaves in olive oil and garlic. 
David Rocco made a potato pizza so I made paper thin slices of a small potato. Saute white button mushrooms with olive oil and garlic. Don't add salt until the very end.
Ah, my 'holy trinity' of spices. Thyme, rosemary and basil.
Instead of the typical tomato based sauce I made an herb oil. Smash a 1-2 heads of garlic and add to 1/4 cup of EVOO, and pinches of your favorite dried herbs. Microwave for 20 seconds. Simple yet fragrant.
The cheese came in little balls the way fresh mozzarella would. Simply cut into little pieces.
The really neat thing about making yeast dough is that it's alive! For 2 hours I could hear little popping noises coming from under the towel. The dough doubled in size and smelt very sweet. Punch the the dough down to release air. The recipe can make 3 12inch pizza rounds, I divided the dough into 4 sections and only used 3 sections to make awkwardly shaped pizzas.
Roll a section of dough out on a floured surface, flip once or twice to stretch. Make it as thin as possible. Put your sheet of dough onto the surface that you will be cooking it on such as a pan or foil. It makes it easier to move than after you have put toppings on. Spread some herb oil and top with veggies!
My first pizza: herb oil, tomatoes, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, 
with little nubs of cheese. The second pizza (Wolfgang Puck's spicy chicken pizza): zucchini, eggplant, spicy chicken (marinated in hot sauce and grilled), banana peppers, and cheese.
Bake in a 525 degree oven for 15 minutes. I left the first pizza in for over 20 minutes and it got a little dark around the edges.
Pizza #1
Pizza #2
Pizza #3

The third pizza : herb oil, potato slices and sprinkle of rosemary on top.
I enjoyed eating as much as making them!

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