Monday, October 27, 2008

Pizza night.

First of all, warm thanks to everyone who offered support after my post last night. I had several phone calls and emails in addition to the sweet comments left here. Even two friends at my bridge game today had read my blog this morning and gave me a big hug when I arrived. It was all much appreciated, and the world seems much brighter today.

We had pizza night tonight, though it was not the family event that I'd envisioned for last night because Robert and Hockey Boy had a Boy Scout meeting, and Vivian fell asleep early.

Nonetheless, Dots and I enjoyed ourselves. She loves to help me knead the dough - always fun and therapeutic, and she thinks it's great fun to watch it rise.

Homemade pizza is Dots's favorite dinner; she requests it about ten times for every time I agree to make it. It's not at all difficult; some parts of it are just a hassle.

My oven came with a very cool bake stone that is ideal for pizza. But to use it, I have to remove all the racks from the oven, pull out a little plug cover in the back, insert a special heating element (that's stored above my refrigerator - so for 5'1" me, that involves getting out the stepladder). Then I have to install a special rack and place the stone on that (this rack and the bake stone are also stored up high). The oven has to preheat to 500º and is nowhere near cool enough to remove everything for several hours afterward, so the tasks of cleaning the stone, putting it and its accompanying paraphernalia away and reassembling my oven have to wait until morning.

Another aspect I dreaded about making pizza was getting the pies in and out of the oven. I had a metal pizza peel, but if the crust was at all thin or laden with yummy toppings, it was darn near impossible to get onto the peel and into the oven without its falling apart or becoming grossly misshapen with toppings spilling onto the hot stone and burning.

Enter my previously mentioned, wonderful sister, Marian. After our family hosted her daughter Guinn at our house this summer, my sister sent me this fabulous contraption called a Super Peel as a thank you gift (she had read an endorsement for it in Cooks Illustrated). Tonight was our first time to try it out, and it worked perfectly! I could not believe how easy (and even fun!) it was to slide the pizzas onto the peel and then off and onto the stone.


Marian, do you think for Christmas you could give me something that would take the racks in and out of my oven? Then we'd be set for pizza night every night around here!


Pizza Dough
by Evan Kleiman, from Fine Cooking, March 2002

1 package active-dry yeast
1½ cups very warm water
4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Pulse together the flour and salt in a food processor then add the water/yeast in a steady stream with the machine running. Add the oil and pulse a few times to combine. Flour a work surface and scrape the soft dough out of the processor bowl and onto the lightly-floured surface. Knead by hand for about 5 minutes. Divide into fourths and roll each into a tight, smooth ball. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet, cover with a cloth and let rise for 45 minutes. Bake in 500º oven for 7-9 minutes. Dough can also be frozen and allowed to thaw and rise in the refrigerator at least 10-12 hours before use.

Crushed Tomato Sauce
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

If I'm really feeling ambitious, I prepare lots of great toppings: roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, etc. Robert and I are the only ones who like any of those, however, so usually we just have the pizza with fresh mozzarella and basil.

***I neglected to pull out my camera tonight, but you can see pictures from a previous pizza night here (scroll to the bottom of the post).***


Erin said...

Great recipe... you know so much about pizza! I have never had much luck at it... but now with your recipe, maybe I will finally achieve success!

Amber M. said...

I am so glad that you and Dots enjoyed your quiet pizza night...a sort of "stick-it" to the nasty man on Sunday.

I'm so sorry that people can't seem to put themselves in another's shoes or just practice a little kindness instead of judgement.

I'm also grateful to you for sharing these challenging helps me to remember to be kind to stangers because we are ALL fighting our own private battles. Hopefully if I pass the kindness, it will in some way make it back to you.


Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

Hopefully homemade pizza can make you feel better! I am so sorry to hear about your encounter with the man at the grocery store. People like that need to have supervision. He had no right to say anything to you! I am so sorry!

cherry said...

That sounds sooo yummy. I have wanted to make my dough in our bread machine but have yet to get around to doing it that way. So cool your oven came with the element and everything. cherry

Patty said...

Hi, I so enjoy your blog. Usually I'm reading in my lunch hour at work, and we are blocked from commenting on blog sites, so I just look like a lurker. But now it's evening and I'm home, I wanted to say how sorry I was to hear about that STUPID man at the supermarket. Honestly!!! You are a marvellous mum, raising a remarkable brood of children.

also wanted to say how very much I enjoyed your travel stories about Italy - my husband and I had 5 days on the Cinque Terre a few years ago, based in Vernazza, and it was magical.

Cheers from Pat
Brisbane, Australia