Yes, another pizza post! These seem to be quite popular. I actually like making pizza so much that, now that I'm unemployed, I've been fantasizing about opening my own pizza shop (in another country, mind you, where the pizza competition is less fierce).
I can see it now: Eli's Organic Thin Crust...the neon sign would be silhouetted against a tropical setting sun, palm trees swaying, reggae and the sound of waves wafting on the breeze...it could happen!
I made great strides in my homemade dough today by using the bread flour I bought (King Arthur brand, btw) - a tip I picked up on the interwebs. I also used a different brand of dry active yeast (Hodgson Mill) that boasts "25% more yeast per pack for higher rises!" Higher rises, indeed! My normal pizza dough recipe that yields two smallish (6-piece) pizzas, made two less-puny pies this time - the one I made gave way to 9 adult-sized slices!
The bread flour definitely makes kneading a bit more difficult - the dough is much stickier overall - but I think the end result is worth it. The crust was crisper on the outside and chewier on the inside - mmmmmm....
I was having trouble deciding what to top the pizza with until I remembered the fresh Michigan asparagus I got at the farmer's market. I figured that goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes would make fast friends with the asparagus, and I was right!
My dear friend Kelly came over - bottle of Two-Buck Chuck in tow - and we devoured 7/9 of this delicious pizza.
ASPARAGUS & GOAT CHEESE PIZZA
2 1/2 - 3 c. bread flour
1 1/2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. honey
1 package active dry yeast
1 c. warm water (110 degrees)
more flour for kneading
olive oil for rubbing
1 large can crushed tomatoes
2 T. tomato paste
blend of dry Italian herbs, plus salt and pepper and red pepper flakes*
*I keep an herb blend around, pre-mixed, for just this purpose - I make a lot of pizzas. I just used an old empty herb shaker bottle and mixed dried oregano, thyme, parsley, and red pepper flakes in what seems to be a logical ratio. Works like a charm.
1 small log goat cheese
1 bunch fresh asparagus, ends trimmed off, cut into pieces
fresh parmesan cheese, for grating
1/2 small jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes*
olive oil for brushing
cornmeal for sprinkling
*I don't care what anyone says, I HATE dry sun-dried tomatoes. The oil-packed ones taste a thousand times better.
Make the dough according to these directions (I added the honey as my own personal touch - take it or leave it). NOTE: I find the dough much easier to roll out and work with after it's rested in the fridge for a few hours, so I always try to make it 5-6 hours ahead of time, or the night before. I just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
Make the sauce: combine all ingredients and heat over medium-high heat; let cook until slightly thickened.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough to desired thinness on a lightly floured work surface. Brush a pizza stone or baking sheet with olive oil. Sprinkle cornmeal lightly all over. Place the pizza dough on the baking surface. Brush the dough with a little olive oil all over.
Spread some sauce on the pizza dough, then top with desired toppings. Grate some fresh parmesan over the top of it all. Bake at 400 until edges are brown and crisp. Slice with a pizza slicer. Enjoy!
Wow, who knew asparagus would make such a great pizza topping (OK, I sort of stole the idea from La Madia - so sue me)?!? It didn't need a thing - it was perfect going from raw to just roasting on top of the pizza. The goat cheese was great, as could be expected (I can't tell you how crazy I am about goat cheese - it makes me want to just hug every goat I see*).
*I never see goats.
And red wine with pizza with one of my favorite people on the planet...this exact combination of things is one of the top three best things in life, hands down. And I don't have to go to work tomorrow! And it's going to be a high of 70 - and sunny!
Ain't life grand?
Thanks for reading! More soon...