Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Basic Pizza Dough

This dough makes a delicious and versatile crust. It can be thin and crisp or thick and chewy, depending on how it is rolled out and baked.

4 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pkg. dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 tsp. light brown sugar

Add brown sugar to 1/4 cup warm water (about 110˚F) in a measuring cup. Dissolve the yeast in the water and set aside for at least 5 minutes. The yeast will become frothy during this time.

Meanwhile, sift flour and salt into large mixing bowl. Make a depression in middle of flour and add olive oil and 1/2 cup warm water. When yeast mixture has risen for 5 minutes, add it to the flour. Mix all ingredients in bowl with hands; place on flour surface. Knead dough for 8 to 10 minutes.

Rub a clean bowl with olive oil and place the kneaded dough in it. Moisten the top of the dough with oil. Place a clean dish towel over the bowl and put it in a warm, draft-free place to rise.

When the dough has risen for 1-1/2 hours, remove it and place it again on the floured surface. Flatten the ball with your hand. Roll that circle flat until it is somewhat larger than your pizza pan. Rotate the dough occasionally as you roll it out. You should also lift dough up carefully at least once, place more flour on the surface, and turn the dough over to roll the other side. When the dough has been rolled out, sprinkle cornmeal on the pizza pan. The dough that hangs over the edge should be rolled up to form a rim. Brush olive oil on the dough before putting sauce on it.

Thin crust: Bake at 500˚F for 10 to 15 minutes. Preheat pizza stone for 1/2 hour.

Thick crust: Double the recipe. Bake at 450˚F for 25 minutes.

1 pizza dough

The Complete Book of Pizza by Louise Love

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mediterranean Pasta

Chef Notes: We made some modifications to the original recipe to match our tastes (changes included below). A very easy and full-flavored recipe.

8 oz. penne pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms
1/4-1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives, optional
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
6 oz. bag fresh baby spinach
4 oz. feta cheese crumbles
2 Tbsp. Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle

Cook the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, heat 1/2 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, olives and sun-dried tomatoes. When the mushrooms are nicely browned and softened, about 5 minutes, sprinkle the spinach over the top. Cover the skillet with a lid to steam the spinach but do not fully cook it (the heat from the pasta will take care of it). Remove the skillet from the heat if the pasta isn't nearly done at this point.

Drain the pasta and mix with the contents of the skillet. Add the remaining olive oil and the Pasta Sprinkle and stir. Immediately before serving, stir in the feta.

3-4 servings

Modified from Penzey's