Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pizza night

We made one of my favorite meals, pizza, on Friday. The pizza was completely vegan. It had a partial whole wheat crust and was topped with tomato sauce, seitan, soy pepperoni, caramelized onions, red peppers, mushrooms, soy cheese, and basil. The lovely results are shown above.

I hope that posterity will know me as a great philanthropist, an arm-wrestling champion, a licensed forklift driver, and as one of the premier collectors of Smiths-related memorabilia. But dare I hope that my legacy will also include making one or two cooks unafraid of yeast? Yes, the following recipe contains yeast. Don't be scared. Pizza crust is not nearly as fussy as making bread. Just pick up one of those little Fleischmann's 3-compartment packets next time you go to the store. They're usually in the refrigerated section near the dairy products. Keep it in your fridge and say kind words to it. Then, on a warm and quiet day, send the yeast on its way to its karmatic reward.

Pizza Crust
2 cups flour (I use 1.5 cups white and .5 cup whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons or 1 packet of yeast
3/4 cup wrist-temperature water
1 heaping teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Additional olive or canola/vegetable oil

Stir the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Turn on your kitchen tap to slightly warm water. You'll know it's the right temperature when you run your wrist under the water and the water feels the same temperature as your skin. Got it? OK, now the hardest part of the recipe is over.

Put the yeast in a small bowl and add the warm water and sugar. Stir (preferably with a whisk). Let sit for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the yeasty water to the flour in the large bowl. Pour the tablespoon of olive oil on top. Now knead everything together for a few minutes until it feels like dough. Add more flour if the dough is sticking to your hands.

Put the dough back in the large bowl and cover it with a clean dishtowel. Put it in a warm place and keep the death metal turned down for the next half hour. After 30 minutes, you should notice it looks a little puffy. Punch that bad boy down and knead it some more.

If you don't have a large pizza pan, take 2 9" round pans (cake layer pans) and pour some oil in the bottom of them. Don't be stingy--you need enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. If you're using 2 9" pans, divide the dough ball into 2 equal pieces. Gently stretch the dough out to fit the pans. Once the dough is in the pans, place your toppings, except for the cheese, on top. Turn the oven to 425 degrees. Once the oven is heated, place the pizzas inside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, take the pizzas out and put the cheese on top. Put the pizzas back inside the oven for 7 more minutes. Take them out and let them rest in the pans for about 5 minutes before eating.

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