A Simple Pizza

Everyone has their go-to’s.

Their go-to restaurant, their go-to chapstick, t-shirt, jeans, and so on.

You know, something to fall back on when special plans don’t work out. When I’m feeling like a chubster, high-waisted jeans are a life-save. Burt’s Bees will always be in season.

Sometimes, go-to’s are a source of therapy. The Little Mermaid is my go-to for a good cry session. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is perfect for a quick evening read when my eyes are jittery from hours of computer time.

Of course, there are my go-to chocolate chip cookies. They have yet to fail me once.

And when stir-fries, smorgasbords and plain old pasta are just too darned boring, I always go-to pizza.

You might not like me anymore if you knew how often I make pizza.

I make it a lot. Let’s leave it at that.

Good dough is so absurdly important for a delicious pizza. This variety has rosemary in it. Another good idea is ground garlic. Get crazy.

Roasted garlic gives this otherwise simple pizza some zip and zing. Every few bites you’ll get an explosion of flavor.

These are roasted separately in a covered bread baking pan so that each clove absorbs loads of olive oil.

Sparse? Kind of. But just you wait.

Kapow! Melted goodness.

A Simple Pizza.

For the dough:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup wrist temperature water
1 tablespoon dried rosemary

For the pizza:
8-10 cloves of garlic
fresh mozzarella cheese

To make the dough, create a small volcanic flour mountain with enough room in the middle to support half a cup of water. Meanwhile, let the yeast foam up in the water, which will take about 5 minutes or so. Add salt and rosemary to the crater of the volcano before carefully pouring in the water/yeast mixture. With a fork, slowly pick at the sides of the crater, mixing flour with water until all of the dry and wet ingredients are fully incorporated. With your hand, knead the dough for about 7 minutes, until it forms a smooth ball.

Lightly dust a medium bowl with flour and place the ball of dough inside. Cover with a damp towel and let sit for about an hour, until the dough doubles in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange garlic cloves, skins on, in a bread baking pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for about half an hour. Pull out and let cool completely before peeling by hand.

Turn up the oven’s heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the dough is ready, roll out with a pin until it reaches desired thickness and size. Brush with olive oil before adding cheese, tomatoes, basil and garlic, and whatever other ingredients you choose to add. Place on a pizza stone or baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is slightly brown.

Serves two to three.


Swedish-Style Baked Potato

The first time I ever baked something was with my mom.  Hillary Clinton Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They were full of chocolate, chewy, moist, and I still have the recipe memorized.  It’s my go-to in times of junk food desperation.

I remember the first time I broke a bone, rode a bike, my first tooth-pulling, my first Barbie (and last), first smooch, first punch, and quite possibly hundreds of other life landmarks.  Then again, I can’t remember my first piercing because I was just a month old living in the Philippines.

It’s 2011, and maybe it’s the two ones in the year, but I’ve got a massive underlying desire to rack up the firsts before the year’s out.  Like carving pumpkins.  And ice skating on a pond.  And if I dare, skiing?!

Apple picking, check.

I’ve yet to decide what to do with a good 12 pounds of all sorts of apples.  Maybe I’m avoiding them because we ate half a dozen apples to our faces before even picking any for the bag.  Apples make my tummy do cartwheels.

I can tell you that last night marked the first time I successfully baked a potato.

I have issues with potatoes.  I’m only slightly Irish and my starch of choice has always been rice, so when someone asks me to whip up home fries for breakfast, the kitchen explodes.

They look like caterpillars before you bake them.  And after.

Swedish-style Baked Potatoes.

5 red potatoes
5-7 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 slivers butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

To slice the potatoes thin, you’ll need a super sharp knife.  Begin at one end of the potato and slice almost all the way do the bottom, leaving about an eighth of an inch.  Continue slicing slivers about a sixteenth of an inch all the way down the potato.

Stuff the gaps with thinly sliced garlic.  Place on a baking sheet and drizzle each potato with olive oil.  Top with a slice of butter and salt and pepper.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the potatoes are crisp.

Serves two hungry hippos or as 5 sides.