23 October 2010

Homemade pizza [plus a few random notes]

Does yeast baking make you skittish? Do you only have an hour to make dinner? Are you attempting to avoid takeout? Most importantly, do you love pizza?

Then please try this. Homemade pizza is cheap and easy and healthy and infinitely adaptable. Your troubles will melt into thin air . . . at least the yeast-fearing, time-crunching, takeout-avoiding kind of troubles.

Rapid Rise Pizza Dough
(recipe originally from my mom)

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup stoneground cormeal (or more whole wheat flour)
1 tablespoon instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water (not steaming hot, but very warm)
2 tablespoons olive oil

1) Combine all ingredients in your mixer, fitted with a dough hook, or in a large bowl if you are doing it by hand. Knead for 5 minutes and check to see if it needs a tablespoon or two more of flour. It should be neither extremely sticky nor extremely dry; just "handleable."
2) Shape dough into a ball. Let rise for 25 minutes, covered with a lint-free towel, either in a greased bowl or on a greased countertop. (Note: if you have more time, let it rise for 1 hour, punch it down, and let it rise for 25-30 minutes again. We think it tastes better than way. But if you are in a hurry, proceed without the lengthy rising. It still works fine.)
3) While the dough rises, preheat the oven (and your pizza stone if that's what you use) to 400 degrees. Fry up your sausage and mushrooms. Slice your olives and artichokes. Grate your cheese. Get out your pizza sauce, or pesto if you want to mix things up a bit. Usually I just go searching through the fridge for possible toppings, coming up with anything from roasted broccoli to leftover steak to sundried tomatoes.
4) After dough has risen, roll it out on a lightly sprayed pizza stone or baking sheet. Add toppings. Stick the whole thing in the oven and bake for 15-17 minutes. I like to let it rest for a few minutes before cutting, so it isn't piping hot and so the cheese isn't stringing all over the place.

Random Note Section
'Tis the season for pumpkin. But did you know that butternut squash works exactly the same as pumpkin? Actually, I think it is even sweeter and orange-er, and it boasts the same health benefits. So if you're going to roast a pumpkin for pie, bread, or whatever, use a squash!

For those of you who use Pandora (and gosh it has gotten so much better than its early days), try the Kate Rusby station. Rather fabulous.

I am trying to grow herbs indoors over the winter. Our house doesn't have an abundance of sunlight (its one flaw) but my little pots of sage and oregano are making a valiant attempt to survive on the windowsills. Has anyone done this, and if so, have you any tips for a rookie gardener?

Also on flowers. I really want to plant bulbs this fall, so they can bloom in the spring. I've heard that groundhogs nibble some bulbs and avoid others. Is this true? If yes, which ones are groundhog-proof?


  1. Kate Rusby station......

  2. I hope you have herbal success - I want to try too and I want you to go first so you can give me the tips :)