January 18, 2009

artichoke and olive pizza

It's pizza time!

Serving size: 6 (2 pizzas)

Dough Ingredients:
3 1/2 c. flour
1 c. warm water
2 T. yeast
2 T. honey
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

Optional Dough Ingredients:
2 T. minced garlic
1 T. basil
1 T. oregano
1 T. rosemary
1 tsp. sage

Sauce Ingredients:
16 oz (1 pint) tomato sauce
2 T. olive oil
2 T. honey
1 T. basil
1 T. oregano

Pizza Toppings:
black olives
artichoke hearts
caramelized onions (1 red onion, 2 T. canola oil, 2 T. margerine/butter)

Note that the dough will need around 2 hours to rise, with a good punch in the middle.

My favorite part of making pizza is adding things to the dough, like LOTS of garlic and basil and oregano...and eating the bits of leftover dough...and the smell of the garlicky dough in the oven. We find that making pizza dough in a food processor is pretty convenient, but you can also knead it all by hand or do it all in a bread machine. The best pizza dough recipe that we've found is Mitch's Basic Pizza Dough--I like it because it uses honey. The link includes directions for all three methods.

If you're using a food processor, you can use a dough blade, but the regular blade works just as well, if not better. If you do use the regular blade, you can put whole, peeled, garlic cloves into the machine first and let the machine chop them up. Otherwise you can chop them up yourself or use a garlic press. You can use whole wheat or white wheat or half and half or half corn meal--whatever you like!

Start by putting 1 cup warm water (about 85 to 115° F) in the processor. Add the honey and salt and mix or low for 20 seconds. Add the yeast and stir with a spoon or mix on low. You should start to see bubbles and smell the yeast working. Add 1 cup of flour, mixing again. Add the olive oil and mix again. Add the remaining flour and any optional additions (basil and oregano are my favorites, but I've also done rosemary and sage). Mix on high until the dough balls up, adding more water or flour as needed. Then take the dough out, balling up loose scraps, and knead for 5 minutes (use both hands, rolling the dough forward, trying to seal the seam with your palms on each fold). It's good if you play some loud music and get really into the kneading until you forget you are even doing it. You can try spinning the dough up in the air here; it's pretty fun. Once you've had enough, ball up the dough, closing and pinching the seam closed. Coat the ball with olive oil and put into a metal, ceramic, or glass bowl. Cover with a damp towel (I use warm water to make it damp). You will now let the dough rise for about 45 minutes. Put the bowl in a warm place. During the winter, putting it above the pilot light, or on a radiator, or in a barely warm oven works nicely. If it is too warm, then it will start to bake! After around 45 minutes, the dough should be close to double in size. If not, then double-check your yeast. Punch your fist into the ball to deflate it. Leaving the big fist hole just as it is, let the dough rise for 1-1.5 hours. (The Tassajara Bread Book is a great reference for the "why"s of bread making.)

While the dough is rising this second time, you can prepare the other ingredients. For the sauce, you can use tomato puree or sauce directly from the can or jar, or you can mix in some tomato paste for a thicker sauce. You can also add other ingredients to make a tastier sauce. For this recipe, I put 2 T. olive oil in a saucepan, them added around 16 oz (1 pint) of sauce. Then I added 2 T honey for a sweeter sauce and some spices (1 T. each of basil and oregano). Add some salt here if you like. When the sauce is mixed up and warm, it is ready.

Now is when I caramelize the onion. You may have noticed that we didn't put cheese on this pizza. We find that often, homemade pizza doesn't need cheese to taste good, especially with caramelized onions on it. Cut up 1 onion (the sweeter the better: vidalia or red are nice) into semicircles and cook on the stove in oil on really low heat. Cooking them slowly will allow the sugar in the onion to caramelize. You can also add honey or sugar for even sweeter and more caramelized flavor.

You can get other ingredients ready now too. The pizza in the photo has black olives and artichoke hearts on it. You could also reconstitute sun dried tomatos or dried mushrooms in wine or water. Even in winter the possibilities are endless: fried tofu covered in bbq sauce, indian curry pizza, thai pizza.

After letting the dough rise this second time, roll it out. Before you do so, get the oven heating up to 400 F. The amount of dough made by the ingredient amounts above is good for two medium pizzas. After rolled out, bake the crusts for 5-10 minutes so they don't get too soggy when you add the sauce. Add the sauce and the ingredients and bake some more until the crust is golden brown. You can put olive oil on the crust and more spices on top of the pizza if you like. That is some good pizza!

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