I was a waitress in college–and I was good at it. I love food, chitchat and people, and my favorite clientele were relaxed, easy-going and there for the social experience.
Consequently, I’ve always been a good customer. If a mistake comes out of the kitchen, unless it’s a safety issue, I’ve just said “thanks”. I didn’t come to create problems, or hold up my friends meals while I micromanage my order. I came to have fun. As long as the food and service are within a wide end-zone of reasonable, I’m very easy to please–especially if there is a nice merlot involved.
But one day, I woke up vegan, and new ordering complications capsized the anything-goes adventure. I’m officially a pain-in-the-ass, an embarrassment to those around me, and the one the servers talk about in the back. Even my high-maintenance friends whose soup is always cold and order is never right avoid eye contact when I start with awkward explanations and feeble apologies.
Ugh. I hate going out.
So it’s a good thing I love to cook. On a Friday night, a glass of wine and a fellow chopper make the kitchen my favorite place to be.
The hardest part of great pizza is the dough. And there are so many ways to get it wrong. This recipe is Jamie Oliver’s Pizza Dough. The crust has a super-smooth texture with a bit of elasticity (pull) to it. And the best thing is that it creates 8 servings, so you can make 2 or 3 good size pizzas and then freeze the rest for quick-and-easy next time.
The flour is key. Five cups of white bread flour and two cups of finely ground wheat gluten flour are what worked tonight.
In an aluminum bowl, mix the flours and 1 tbsp of fine sea salt. In a large measuring cup, mix 2 (1/4oz) packets of active dried yeast, 1 tbsp of raw sugar and 4 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil into 2 1/2 cups of lukewarm water. Let it set until the yeast begins to bubble. Scoop out a ‘well’ in the flour and add the liquid, using a fork to gradually mix flour into center. Once you’ve got it mixed, flour your hands and kneed the dough until it’s springy. (When you punch it, it comes back.) Thoroughly clean and dry the bowl, dust it with flour with flour, place dough inside and cover with a damp cloth. Place on your stove and preheat the oven to 550. Place a stone inside. Once the oven is preheated, bake just the stone for at least 30 minutes. By the time the dough has doubled in size (up to an hour), your stone will be ready.
Punch down the dough and cut into eight pieces. Wrap what you don’t intend to use in individual parchment paper and then put in a plastic storage bag in the freezer.
Roll out first dough on floured surface. Make it thin (about 14 inches). Place on a side-free baking sheet and begin designing the party-in-your-mouth that is now only a few minutes away.
For THE BEST white sauce: whisk together 2 tbsp of olive oil, 2 tbsp of white wine and 2 pressed garlic cloves. Spread over dough.
I then added spinach leaves, white onion, crimini mushrooms, grape tomatoes, dollops of hummus (creamy!) and thinly sliced Ronde De Emerald Heirloom Squash (Who knew? Thanks for the introduction Green B.E.A.N. Delivery).
For the second pizza, I used Local Folks pizza sauce, fewer veggies and Daiya Vegan mozzarella cheese. (Kids…)
Open the oven, pull out the rack with the stone on it, and gently shift the decorated pizza onto the stone. (Loosen, shake/shimmy it) Set time for 3 minutes. Watch it carefully. Pull stone out and slide pizza back onto baking sheet. RUB TRUFFLE OIL ON THE EDGES OF THE CRUST.
Tip the server and the chef well. And thanks to Jamie Oliver’s Pizza Dough recipe for an easy Friday night meal.