Thursday, April 1, 2010
You know, sometimes, I don't feel like writing a huge preamble to a recipe. Sometimes, the thought of creating a story based on a memory related to food feels formulaic and not at all what I want to write about.
I'd rather tell you about the other afternoon, when I was preparing to make this pizza in an effort to catch an hour or two of silence, away from the wedding planning, away from the emailing and the phone ringing and the dog mooching and the cat being a total dink. How on that afternoon, I put on Vivaldi's violin concerto in D Major, and it took my breath away. I pulled a chair up right in front of the stereo speakers and closed my eyes and felt something like elation, a funny, soaring kind of feeling in my stomach. The sunlight filled the kitchen and I had one of those transcendent moments that was absolutely perfect in its simplicity.
What better food to be making than a sort of Margherita Pizza? Could anything be simpler than thawing a ball of frozen herbed dough I'd made a little while ago and topping it with broken-down tomatoes tinged with balsamic vinegar and some mozzarella and basil?
I listened to the rest of the cd and got my ingredients ready, blissfully absorbed in what I was doing. I readied it for baking, covered it and put it in the fridge. Almost Husband came home an hour or so later with a bottle of wine, poured me a glass and a beer for himself, and we sat on our deck and talked, soaking in the dusk. I want to remember days like these, where nothing really happens, there's no real drama, but everything is bathed in a golden calm, and I recognize that I am as close to touching happiness as I'll ever get.
Simple Pizza Dough via Everybody Likes Sandwiches:
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I tend to use a mix of all purpose and whole wheat flour)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp assorted dried herbs (I used oregano and basil, but I'm sure lots of different ones will work)
1/2 tsp salt
cornmeal (I've never used this, but I'm sure it's lovely)
1. In large bowl, combine yeast with 1 cup of the warm water. Stir in flour, salt and olive oil and mix with wooden spoon till sticky dough starts to form. Add the rest of the warm water and shape the dough into a ball with your hands - you may need to flour your hands a bit if the dough is too sticky to handle with ease. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Get in there! Get it nice and elastic.
2. Oil up another bowl and place the dough inside. Cover it with plastic wrap and set it in a warmish place and allow to sit for 2 hours. It should double in size. If using, sprinkle some cornmeal on your work surface along with a bit of flour and set the dough on top of it. Cut the dough in half - this recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas. You can either use both doughs now or do what I do and freeze the other half - it freezes really well and just needs to be thawed in the fridge for a few hours. You can also keep it covered in the oiled bowl in the fridge for a couple of days if you want to make another pizza during the week.
3. If you have a rolling pin, I'm sure that would make life a lot easier, but I've never had one, so I've just stretched out the dough to about a 1/2 inch thickness, placed it on a greased baking sheet and then added my toppings. Bake at 350-400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on it so the crust doesn't burn. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then cut and devour!
Margherita Pizza, sort of...
A bunch of small tomatoes - I used organic grape tomatoes, about 10-12., washed and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
A generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp or more of dried red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like it
salt and pepper to taste
A bunch of fresh basil, ripped into small pieces
About half a ball of mozzarella (1/2 cup?) cut into small cubes
1/2 cup whole milk mozzarella, cut into cubes
1. Preheat oven to 350-400 degrees. In frying pan, heat up the olive oil on medium setting. Add the chopped tomatoes and oregano and cook till they are softened and breaking down, about 5-10 minutes. Add drizzle of balsamic and cook further for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the pepper flakes and salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Combine the cheese cubes and the basil in a bowl. Place the cheese and basil mixture over the readied pizza dough. Add the tomato mixture over top, allowing for some of the cheese to peek through. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Once cooked, allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Garnish with additional basil leaves.