27 June 2011

pizza. or, an ode to trader joe's

How is it possible that 3 months into writing this blog I still haven't openly proclaimed my undying love for Trader Joe's? Trader Joes' is a magical place that I took entirely for granted before moving to a country where it doesn't exist. I know many of you probably complain about driving out of your way to shop at this amazing store. In fact, my beautiful friend Ashley used to drive from Corvallis to Eugene, OR to stock up on a regular basis. That's commitment. The closest store to me, now, is about an hour away in Bellingham, but an hour which could easily turn into 4 depending on traffic and the mood of the border officials. I do get there every now and then but I long for the days that TJ's and I can be regular buddies again. Although, apparently there is now a Trader Joe's online delivery service, but I would most likely have to pay with my left leg and arm and I still need those at this point.

There are so many things I miss about shopping at Trader Joes, but one of the items I knew we would miss the most is their ready-made pizza dough. The hubs and I came to rely on these (and their jars of pizza sauce) for a quick, delicious meal early in our marriage (I have very, very fond memories of making pizza and watching episode after episode of LOST in our first apartment). When we moved, I knew I needed to find a solution.

After realizing that few stores, at least in Canada, offer fresh pizza dough, I decided to try making my own. Lots of trial and error found me a recipe that I love, and we are in the habit of making a batch, freezing the rest, and pulling the frozen doughs out in the morning (if we remember) to thaw on the counter all day for dinner. So quick, easy and inexpensive! We also have a ceramic pizza stone. I highly, highly recommend getting one if you don't already have one: the hot stone mimics a wood-fire oven and bakes a delightfully crispy crust.

I hate to say it, but even when (if?) we return to the States and the kingdom of Trader Joe's, I may keep on making my own dough. Sorry, Joe, but I'll spend plenty of money on you either way.

Homemade Pizza Crust
{adapted slightly from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook}
makes 2 crusts

1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1/4 tsp sugar
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour, or a combination of WW and white flour: I use 1 cup WW and 2 3/4 cup white)
1 tsp table salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Corn meal for dusting

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle sugar and yeast over warm water; stir until yeast and sugar dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. In a food processor, pulse flour and salt to combine. Add yeast mixture and oil; pulse until a mixture comes together but it is still slightly tacky. Dough should pull away cleanly from your fingers after it's squeezed. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured counter; knead four or five times, until a smooth ball forms.

3. Place ball into a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a very damp towel. Allow to rise in a warm place (turn oven to 200, then turn off and leave bowl in oven) until doubled in size, about 40 minutes. Punch down dough. Fold dough back onto itself four or five times, then turn smooth side up. Replace towel and return dough to warm place until doubled in size again, 30 to 40 minutes.

4. Punch down dough; turn out onto a lightly floured counter. Using a bench scraper (or knife) divide dough into 2 equal pieces. (At this point, if you don't plan to use both crusts, form one half into a slightly squashed ball, wrap tightly in plastic, place in a freezer bag in the freezer to use later.) Pat one ball into a flattened disk and cover with plastic wrap, allowing to rest for 5 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and place pizza stone (or pan) on middle shelf. Sprinkle counter with a small amount of cornmeal, and using your hands or a rolling pin, roll and stretch the dough into desired shape, working outward from center in all directions. (Your first few may be wonky. You'll get it down.) Transfer dough to a piece or parchment paper laid out on a large cutting board, and spread with sauce, cheese, and desired toppings. Remove stone from oven and transfer dough (on the parchment) to stone. Bake until crust begins to brown and cheese begins to bubble, 12- 15 minutes. Cut and enjoy!

Hubs will always have pepperoni and only pepperoni on his half. Some of my favorite toppings are:
peppers, red onions and mushrooms
fresh basil and tomato slices
Canadian bacon

The options, obviously, are endless so go for it!

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Hey there pal! I'm linking your recipe for pizza dough made without a bread maker to my Thai chicken pizza... I'm guessing this recipe happened before that horrible-sounding detox diet? :-)

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