Lost in the whirlwind of summer, I’m completely ashamed to say that I probably haven’t made a decent meal for myself, or anyone else in the past month. I can barely remember how I’ve been sustaining myself- a Clif bar here, falafel from the Magic Carpet truck there, pasta, pasta, and more pasta (note: from a box). Maybe a delicious tomato here or there, yellow nectarines, italian plums, but honestly, definitely nothing worthy of any blog post.
So, in the wake of Nate’s impending birthday, I have birthdays on the mind. And I feel like if I don’t post soon, within the next few days I’m within risk of having big men in black suits show up at my door to charge me for blog neglect. In my brother’s words, “Seems like you are suffering from the usual blogger’s fate: 1 post in the past month!!!”. Oops.
I’m reaching into our archive of post ideas- the ones that inspired our blog in the first place. With that said, going back to the topics of birthdays… I love birthdays. And, selfishly, I particularly love my own birthday. I love birthdays though, really anyone’s birthday, because it’s a great reason to get together, have a par-tay and do it up for one night. When Nate, inspired by an article in Bon Appetit, proposed a Pizza and Prosecco party for my birthday, I threw up my hands and said “that’s it!” It was so us.
The party turned out miraculously well. At first I thought prosecco + a scorching hot oven = disaster, but we made it through the night without one casualty (at least that I know of!)
The premise: Everyone made their own individual pizza. We provided the kitchen manned with pizza dough (cough… 30 dough balls…) and prosecco. Each guest brought their favorite toppings, and I asked a few closer friends to chip in to bring some extra sauce and cheese. Nate and I tend to have a pretty random assortment of friends, and I think the real reason why it went over so well is that the act of making the pizza created this incredible ice breaker for everyone to casually get to know each other and interact about something other than “so where do you live, what do you do? … what’s your name again?”. What worked out even better, Albert, our friendly friend from the Farmstand is a professional photographer, and whipped out his fancy camera when we joked, “Hey, maybe we should be taking pictures for our future blog!” (PS. Thanks Albert!) Here are some of the delicious results, and perhaps some inspiration for future homemade pizzas:
Pam and her husband, Matt, made this amazing pizza. One of the most creative of the evening! If you want the recipe, I’m sure I can pester her for it. Lemme know!
Ingredients: chicken marinated in a thai peanut/satay sauce, sweet pickled cucumbers, monterey jack cheese, sprouts, scallions, yellow peppers
Ingredients (well, kinda obvious): diced tomatoes, green peppers, spinach, mozzarella
Ingredients: spinach, mushrooms, cheese, parmesan cheese, more cheese, cheese, more cheese, probably something else…
If you get a little overzealous with the dough-making and have a bunch of left over dough balls, try making pizzandwiches- stuff ‘em with whatever you got left!
I made 2 batches of regular dough, 1 batch of whole wheat (just substitute 3 cups whole wheat flour in place of all purpose flour in the recipe), and 1 batch of regular dough with herbs in it (oregano, parsley, basil). Here’s the recipe for the dough - I thought it would be a good idea to quadruple it for some reason, which ended up being a bit too much:
Overnight Pizza Dough
Bon Appetit | April 2009
Makes 8 9-inch pizzas
The dough gets its slightly tangy flavor from a “sponge” (a mixture of warm water, yeast, and flour thats allowed to ferment). Timing note: The sponge needs to rest overnight; the dough needs to rise for about eight hours.
1 cup lukewarm water (110°F to 115°F)
1 envelope active dry yeast, divided
1 cup all purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 cups lukewarm (110°F to 115°F) water
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 envelope active dry yeast
6 cups (or more) all purpose flour
Yellow cornmeal for dusting the pizza stone
For sponge: Place 1 cup lukewarm water in large bowl of heavy-duty mixer. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon yeast (reserve remaining yeast for dough) and 1/4 teaspoon flour over water. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture looks spongy, about 4 minutes. Add remaining flour and whisk until smooth; scrape down sides of bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sponge rest at room temperature in draft-free area overnight (about 12 hours; sponge will look bubbly).
For dough: Add 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 envelope yeast, and reserved remaining yeast to sponge, then add 6 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, beating with dough hook to blend after each addition. Continue to beat until dough is smooth, comes cleanly away from sides of bowl, and is only slightly sticky to touch, scraping down bowl occasionally, about 5 minutes. If dough is very sticky, beat in more flour, 1/4 cupful at a time. Scrape dough onto floured surface; knead into smooth ball.
Brush inside of large bowl with oil. Add dough; turn to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; chill 6 hours, kneading dough down when doubled (after 2 hours).
About 1 1/2 hours before baking, dust 2 baking sheets with flour. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead gently; shape into 16-inch log. Cut into 8 equal pieces. Knead each piece into smooth ball. Arrange 4 balls of dough on each sheet. Cover loosely with kitchen towels and let rise until almost doubled, 1 to 11/4 hours.
If using pizza stone, place in oven.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees for 45 minutes. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, dust dough with flour. Press into 5-inch round, then gently stretch and roll out to 9-inch round.
If using pizza stone, sprinkle pizza peel or rimless baking sheet with cornmeal. If not using pizza stone, sprinkle large baking sheet with cornmeal. Place dough round on cornmeal; brush lightly with oil. Top as desired. Slide pizza onto stone or place pizza on baking sheet into oven.
Bake pizza until sauce is bubbling and crust is crisp and brown, lifting edge of pizza to check underside, about 14 minutes.
Test-kitchen tip: To speed things up, you can bake two pizzas at the same time. To ensure even cooking, be sure to reverse the position of the baking sheets after 8 minutes. Baking two pizzas at once may take longer than 14 minutes.
So- try it. You’ll like it! And you’ll be stuffed, extremely happy, and will have thrown an amazingly fun and entertaining party in the end!
Oh, and if you stuck with me through this whole post… This is for you, although I might regret it later… Another way to get rid of extra dough (especially whole wheat): play a joke on someone. If you change the shape, it somehow morphs into an astounding doppleganger of a big turd. See? How could this party have gone wrong?!
They totally got me.