I want to start off the post with a picture because it’s pretty and it reminds me of how beautiful the weather is right now. It also reminds me how thankful I am it isn’t snowing here. (Does happy dance)
First things first, spring break 2010 is over….part of me is happy and part of me is trying to convince my brain that I have to start doing work again. That second part is not succeeding, but I’m happy because I was starting to get anxious about the next thing that might go wrong. To round out the trip, on the second to last day I pulled a muscle somewhere in the back of my leg and I had to be piggy-backed out of the Kraft Boulders. 98% of the piggy-backing was completed by my angel of a boyfriend and the other 2% was completed by a british film director that we had met 1 hour prior. To both of them I say THANK YOU. The rest of the day was spent, first eating Pei Wei, and second in the ER because at that point I couldn’t walk and was stressing out about possibly having torn something in my leg. After 5 hours the doctor informed me that I didn’t have a broken femur, referred me to an orthopedist, and gave me pain killers. Great. As of a few days ago I am up and walking around, just a little slower than I used to be. It’s most likely that I pulled a muscle and I’m crossing my fingers that it will heal soon. Overall the trip was really fun, and it definitely felt like an adventure, but I’m not sure how much more “adventure” I could have handled, so it’s nice to be home. Anyways I don’t want to dwell on that because it’s over and regular life has begun again.
A couple weeks ago I had made some 50% whole wheat pizza dough. It was more or less an experiment. The original recipe came from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice and I just substituted whole wheat flour for half of the total flour. It turned out really well and gave the pizza that really nutty and robust flavor that makes whole wheat so awesome. I won’t post the recipe because I’m pretty sure that would be unauthorized reproduction of a copyrighted work and I’m not so down with infringement. I must insist, however, that you go buy this book or borrow a copy from the library because its the MOST AWESOME COOK BOOK EVER. I’m sure that other pizza dough recipes, which are readily available on internet, will work just as well as mine but I have to be biased because I did go out and buy the book and I have consumer pride.
When searching for a pizza dough recipe online it’s important to look for one that has you putting the dough in the fridge over night. Drawing upon my knowledge of pizza dough, that step seems to be the key for creating a flavorful dough. My strategy when making dough is to make a lot (which the BBA recipe does) and then freeze the individual dough balls until I want to use them. It’s a brilliant system and it lets me have pizza whenever I want, basically fulfilling the majority of my childhood fantasies.
Tonight I just pulled one of the dough balls out of the freezer and let it thaw on the counter for a couple of hours and voila! PIZZA! The game plan was to make a cheese-less and sauce-less pizza. Now I know this seems weird because, knowing me, I’m completely in love with ooey gooey cheesy pizza, but route climbing season is just around the corner and its time to start monitoring fat intake. Insert Debbie Downer noise here. The ideal ratio for nutrients everyday, for me at least, is going to be 65% carbs, 20% fat, and 15% protein. Now I’m a small person and I don’t need to eat all that much food everyday (unfortunately) so not putting cheese on pizza is something I need to do if I want to make the calories I eat fall into the right categories. But you know what? Pizza without cheese and sauce is actually very good. Now I’ve read many articles that argue about what constituent “makes” a pizza. The debate is between cheese, dough, and sauce. I belong to the group that thinks dough is the most important element. In my opinion, if the pizza doesn’t have a high quality dough, it becomes more of a challenge to produce an exceptional pizza. So, eating a cheese-less and sauce-less pizza is a good way to see if you’re crust can stand alone. Since I’m not posting the recipe I used I want to direct you to a recipe that I have used in the past with good results. Anyone who knows anything, knows that Alton Brown is the man and this recipe is very good. Now if you’re not into making you’re own dough, and you happen to live in Tucson, Sunflower Farmer’s Market sells both whole wheat and white dough pre-made and it’s a completely palatable. If you don’t live in Tucson I’m sure any Whole Foods or some store like that would have pre-made pizza dough as well.
Well I think I’ve rambled enough. Let’s get on to the recipe.
- Pizza dough
- 10 Kalamata + green olives
- 1/4 lb ground pork
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Half of a zucchini
- Fresh basil
- Olive oil for brushing on the pizza
- Red pepper flakes
- Garlic salt
Here’s the dough. It’s never been a perfect circle and most of the time (i.e. the times when I do the stretching and tossing) it ends up a rectangle.
Pizza tossing has been a hard skill to master, but I’m working on it. Here’s a tutorial that I think is pretty good and with a little practice and a good dough to start out with, you should be a pro in no time. Pizza tossing lessons.
Normally we would be preparing the dough on a pizza peel and transferring it onto a pre-heated pizza stone, but we don’t have a pizza stone at the boyfriend’s house so we cook the pizza’s on the back of a sheet pan until it’s sturdy enough to be transferred directly to the rack.
- You’re going to want to start by pre-heating the oven to 500 degrees fahrenheit.
- Next, chop up the sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and zucchini. You want to slice the zucchini up pretty thin or it gets a bit overwhelming on the pizza.
- Sauté the zucchini and add a few dashes of oregano, garlic salt and red pepper flakes. Cook until tender.
- Heat up a skillet and add ground pork and several dashes of oregano, garlic salt, and red pepper flakes. Pan fry until crumbly and fully cooked.
- While all of the above is cooking politely ask your kitchen helper to lightly coat the pizza dough with olive oil, thinly slice the fresh basil, and sprinkle it on the dough.
- At this point I like to sprinkle on some salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Assemble the toppings and slide the sheet pan into the oven
- Bake for approximately 5 then transfer the pizza onto the wire rack. Cook for an additional few minutes until you have achieved a nicely browned bottom and crust, and, fully cooked toppings.
Here’s the finished product
Here’s the finished product half eaten….
The crust was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I was in pizza heaven.