The very first thing I did this morning was drop $280 for an hour in the dentist’s chair getting my teeth scraped with a variety of picks. I would have preferred a new pair of John Fluevog boots, or a flight to Vegas, or something. The day got more expensive from there: a $5000+ estimate on near-future dental work, and the same from the roofer. I think somewhere along the way I forgot to marry rich. Who came up with the phrase love OR money, anyway? (One of the downfalls of being self-employed: no dental plan. I think I need a dentist boyfriend to see on the side. Mike would totally understand. So if anyone knows any available dentists, you know, I’m game. Too bad crowns aren’t exactly a fair trade for cookies.)
So dinner was on the cheap. Awhile ago I grilled far too many vegetables (or did it too late in the evening, after everyone had had too many mojitos and cared only about the prime rib), and so after a couple grilled veg sandwiches I pulsed the rest in the food processor and froze it, thinking I’d sneak it into some future pasta sauce. Instead I pulled it out and turned it into an easy pizza topping.
It was also a great opportunity to make pizza on the grill again. A lot of people talk about this, but it seems to me even more are freaked out by it, thinking (and rightly so) that the raw dough is going to fuse to the grill, or sink down between the slats, or do something weird. It doesn’t. If you fire up the grill, crank it up and leave it until it’s nice and hot, then slap a big rolled out piece of dough directly onto it (brush the dough with some oil first if it makes you feel better, but you totally don’t have to), it will cook up all nice and crusty and grill-marked. Pizza dough makes great flatbread to serve with dips – simply flip it over, brush with garlicky oil and when it’s toasty on both sides, take it off and cut into pieces or break into shards. Otherwise, flip it over and spread the browned side with pizza sauce, toppings and grated cheese; turn the heat down a bit and close the lid, creating an oven environment that will melt the cheese and heat the toppings through just like your inside oven would. The grill is the best way to cook frozen pizzas, even – the bottom gets nice and crisp, never soggy with that high, direct heat – and you don’t have to heat up the house.
Basic Pizza Dough
Plain or flavoured pizza dough also makes great breadsticks – roll the risen dough into sticks as thin or fat as you like, sprinkle with coarse salt or grated Parmesan cheese and bake until golden.
1 cup lukewarm water
1 pkg. (or 2 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar or honey
2 1/2 – 3 cups flour – all purpose, whole wheat, or any combination of the two (I usually use about 2 3/4 cups)
1 tsp. salt
a drizzle (1 tsp. – 1 Tbsp.) olive or canola oil
In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast and sugar; set aside for 5 minutes, until it’s foamy. (If it doesn’t get foamy, either your water was too hot and killed the yeast or it was inactive to begin with – toss it and buy fresh yeast or try again!)
Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt and oil and stir until the dough comes together. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 8 minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat all over. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for half an hour to an hour, until doubled in bulk. If you want you can let it rise more slowly in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.
Roll the dough out into one or two pizzas. Spread the pizza dough with tomato sauce or paste, sprinkle with desired toppings and bake on a preheated pizza stone or cookie sheet at 450F for 15-20 minutes, until bubbly and golden, or cook on the grill (see above).
Makes enough dough for 2 – 9” pizzas, or one big rectangular one.
Per slice (based on 12 slices): 111 calories, 0.7 g total fat (0.1 g saturated fat, 0.3 g monounsaturated fat, 0.2 g polyunsaturated fat), 3.2 g protein, 22.5 g carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.1 g fiber. 6% calories from fat
To make flavored pizza dough: add a generous pinch of chopped fresh or dried basil, rosemary or oregano, a clove of minced garlic, a few finely chopped olives or sun dried tomatoes (if they come packed in oil, use it in place of the olive oil) or 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper along with the flour.
At 6:20 I realized I had to be at a meeting on the opposite end of the city at 7, and had promised to bring something edible. Oops. The last few spoonfuls of grilled veg went into the food processor with about half a dozen slow-roasted tomatoes from the fridge, a few pieces or leftover roasted broccoli and cauliflower, some grated Parmesan, a spoonful of pesto, glug of olive oil and drizzle of balsamic. It was kind of a weird vegetable tapenade of sorts – people said they liked it, but were very possibly just trying to be nice. I think it would have been fine on pasta though, with a little crumbled feta or soft goat cheese swirled in.
(It is unfortunately one of those foods that is almost impossible to photograph without looking regurgitated.)
One Year Ago: Bagels