Friday, April 16, 2010

Pizza Dough

Okay Rach- here is my guilt post. Well... actually it is probably more of a procrastination post because I am supposed to be writing a paper now and I rather update the food blog. Either way- I'm back and it is not a one author blog anymore :)

This is from my Recipes cookbook by Susan Spungen. I made the pizza dough in my kitchen aid mixer which was really exciting because I haven't used it for anything but cookies since I got it. Then I made calzones and bread sticks. Delicious- anything with bread and cheese you can't really go wrong. The dough was pretty easy, just took a while. I put fresh basil, olive oil, and mozzarella in my calzone. Yum.

Basic Pizza Dough

Makes four 10 inch pizzas

1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling bowl
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

1) Fill metal bowl of an electric stand mixer with hot water then pour it out and dry. this will warm the bowl.

2) In the warmed bowl, make a sponge by mixing the yeast with 1/2 cup warm (100 - 110 degrees) water; stir until the yeast is dissolved. Stir in 1 cup flour. The mixture will be very thick and stiff. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3) Add 1 cup (100 - 110 degrees) water, the milk, oil, and salt. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and turn on low. Slowly add the remaining 3 1/2 cups flour and mix into a soft dough. Change to the dough hook and knead for about 15 mins. The dough should be sticky.

4) Form the dough into a ball. (If it is too sticky, put a few drops of oil on your hands first.) Transfer to an oiled bowl. Turn the dough to coat the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

5) Punch down the dough, knead a few times, and reshape into a ball. Return to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit until nearly doubled, about 40 mins. The dough is now ready to use.

*If making ahead of time, transfer to bowl the the refrigerator overnight. A few hours before using remove the dough from the refrigerator and punch down. divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, cover with plastic wrap, and let dough come to room temperature in a warm place, about 2 hours.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Easter Goods & Theme Cooking & Do Mormons Celebrate Easter?

Hello, friends. I fear I am the lone author of this blog of late. Sadness.

I went to visit my friend Sarah H. for the Easter holiday, and we made a lot of food.

#1: A fruit pizza. A tasty fruit pizza.

Then on Easter Day:
I had my version of communion.

Here's our spread. For three people. Don't judge. Starting from 12:00 going clockwise, we have broccoli, homemade croissants, bacon, quiches from the French quiche lady, spoon bread, funeral potatoes, and cheese for the broccoli. In the middle is some fruit. I'm not telling what's in the little white dish.

The ham & cheese quiche was tasty, but the Roquefort was a little on the pungent side. The spoon bread was deeeeeeelightful.

The "funeral potatoes" were included because of my theme cooking needs. I am currently reading By the Hand of Mormon, a book about the Book of Mormon and how it has been viewed by critics and believers since Joseph Smith introduced it to the world. To be honest, I'm a bit stuck in it. The first part was interesting -- learning about Joseph Smith's background, the earliest followers, how it was printed, how it was "translated," etc. It was also interesting to read about how Mormon apologists have tried to use archeological data to support the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Where I am now, though, it's just, "This critic said this and then this other critic said this other thing..." Dull.

Anyway, I knew I'd have have some issues theme cooking with this book. Mormonism is an American religion, born in upstate New York, which is not, as far as I know, renowned for its culinary artistry. The ethnic background of Smith is pretty boring--kind of WASPy and not food-inspiring.

I first thought about using only ingredients that would be saved for food storage. Fun fact: it is a religious expectation that Mormons will keep a full year of food stocked for an emergency. This was originally due to end-of-times beliefs, but my understanding is that it is now just considered prudent. You can calculate your own storage needs here. I couldn't come up with anything especially interesting from those ingredients.

So, I did myself an internet search for traditional Mormon foods. The food that kept popping up was "Funeral Potatoes." They are starchy, cheesy, and processed. Good, ole American goodness. As Melissa (a non-Mormon, far as I know, but she's been known to keep a secret or two) introduced me to a very similar recipe, I think this is just a midwestern potluck type meal. But it works. Some people thought that we over-cheesed ours. I don't understand that concept, so I cannot agree.