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
basil
tomatoes

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.

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Deep Dish Pizza with Sweet Potato Sauce

Sweet tea and 70 degrees. Shorts. Sunshine for the seedlings. Listening to Ira Glass get super mad.

Dinner parties and St. Patrick’s Day recovery.

And best of all, sitting on the porch for the first time in months.

Hello, Spring. I’ve missed you.

I had my first deep dish pizza in Berkeley. It changed my entire pizza-world-view. Long gone are the days of thin crust. Welcome to the time of sweet corn.

I never liked tomato sauce. Sage and sweet potato have replaced the red stuff for this pizza. It’s not weird. It’s still a pizza.

Two pieces are better than one.

Deep Dish Pizza with Sweet Potato Sauce

Dough recipe

For the pizza:

1 large sweet potato
1 tablespoon milk
Bunch of sage, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed
1 cup mozarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare the dough by rolling it out and placing in a 9-inch pie dish. Fill with dried beans and bake for about 10 minutes. This is called “blind” baking, which will prevent the heavy pizza filling from weighing down the crust.

Stab the sweet potato with a fork and microwave for about 10 minutes, or until very soft. Let cool slightly and peel the skin off. Add the milk and mash until smooth.

Sauté the onions and sage in butter until the onion is just turning translucent.

Add the onions and sage to the sweet potato along with the sweet corn. Mix until evenly distributed.

Line the bottom of the pie crust with the mozzarella cheese. Scoop in the sweet potato mixture and spread evenly. Top with sliced zucchini and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered for about 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted and zucchini is slightly browned.

Makes 6 massive slices. Should feed three people.

Kale Pesto Pizza with Honey Whole Wheat Dough

Ever go on a mission to, say, the grocery store, and instead of getting beets and onions for a pizza you leave with a pound of kale, a bag of popcorn, a pair of walking shoes, a belt, and a bar of chocolate?

It was one of those days.

But I’ve been meaning to make dinosaur kale pesto, so I wasn’t too far off.

Kale is fantastic, did you know that?  About a year ago I was sort of banned from the stuff because of reasonsIwon’tgetinto, and basically told the rules to suck it.  Kale 4 lyf.

 Them’s baker’s hands.  At CFB they make a honey whole wheat bread that I would often take home in doughy form for pizzas.  Since then, I’ve made my own.

I was supposed to get picture frames, too.  And curtains.  I forgot to get a mirror.

 This apartment is missing Aloha-shirt-shaped oven mitts.

Kale Pesto Pizza with Honey Whole Wheat Dough.

The Pesto.

4 garlic cloves
6 large dinosaur kale leaves, stems removed
1 cup packed fresh basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch of salt, to taste

In a food processor, chop garlic until fully minced.  Add kale leaves and chop until smooth.  Add basil, and while the pesto is chopping, add olive oil, lemon, and salt and blend to desired consistency.

Should make just enough for this pizza.

The Dough.

1 cup wrist temperature water
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt

Add honey and water to the yeast in a small bowl, stirring until yeast is fully dissolved.  Leave for a few minutes before adding salt.

On a clean surface, create a well with the flour in order to accommodate about half of the hydrated yeast.  Using a fork, slowly peel away at the inner walls of the flour, mixing thoroughly so as not to create a pahoehoe volcanic eruption.  Add more liquid as you go, mixing until the dough is kneedable by hand.  Fold and press for about ten minutes by hand, or about 5 minutes in a standard mixer.  Dough should be pretty sticky.  It’s better this way.

Place the ball of dough in a large floured bowl and cover with a cheese cloth for about an hour and a half, or until the dough has doubled in size.

When the dough is ready (You’ll know by pressing the surface with your finger.  If the dough bounces back, it isn’t ready.  If the indent lingers, you’re good to go), roll out on a floured surface to desired shape (circle, rectangle, star).

Add pesto and spread around the entire surface.  Add desired ingredients on top of that.

I put chopped spinach, white mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese.

Throw in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes.

Eat with beer.  Outdoors.