September 22, 2009

Two Pizzas Are Better Than One

Yesterday I posted about The Perfect Pizza Dough recipe that I use whenever I make pizzas. Here are my latest pizza creations: the first was inspired by a zucchini pizza from a local bakery, and the second by the tastiness that is a pizza loaded with lots of veggies.

Zucchini, Red Onion and Feta Pizza

1/2 - 1 medium zucchini, sliced very thin
1/6 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 small/medium tomato, thinly sliced
8 oz crumbled fresh mozzarella cheese
handful of feta cheese
1 - 2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil
freshly grated parmessan cheese

Evenly disperse mozzarella on surface of dough. Add zucchini, red onion and tomato in an even layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and feta to taste. For a little extra flavor and perfect browning, use your fingers to dabble olive oil onto the outer edges of the crust. Bake on 450 degree Fahrenheit preheated pizza/baking stone for 10-16 minutes, depending on preference. Remove from oven and sprinkle hot pizza with sliced basil and parmessan cheese.

Garden Veggie Pizza

1 can marinated artichoke hearts, drained well and cut into quarters
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
1/8 medium red onion, thinly sliced
8 - 10 kalamata olives (optional)
1 - 2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 - 4 brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
8 oz. crumbled fresh mozzarella cheese
handful of feta cheese
1 - 2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh basil
freshly grated parmessan cheese

Evenly disperese mozzarella on surface of dough. Add the veggies and half of the garlic in an even layer. Sprinkle with feta, salt and pepper, to taste. For a little extra flavor and perfect browning, use your fingers to dabble olive oil and garlic onto the outer edges of the crust. Bake on 450 degree Fahrenheit preheated pizza/baking stone for 10-16 minutes, depending on preference. Remove from oven and sprinkle hot pizza with sliced basil and parmessan cheese.

The Perfect Pizza Dough

I recently acquired a baking stone, a stand mixer and an immense sense of satisfaction from making yeast-based doughs. Successfully combining simple ingredients in just the right way so that the wonders of fermentation transform them into bread is just too satisfying for me to forgo.

My first attempts at making pizza dough sans proper preparation (i.e. proofing and resting), equipment (baking stone) and time, resulted in crust that was lacking in flavor, texture and satisfaction. However now that I have all three, I can finally indulge in tasty, crispy homemade pizza--whose crust is good enough to eat without the toppings.

I found the pizza dough recipe through Foodgawker (my new-found and preferred go-to site for recipes) and decided to try it because it was simple, straightforward and relatively quick. I've included said recipe below, but you can also find it here. This recipe produces enough dough to make two medium sized, relatively thin crust pizzas. Accordingly, I take advantage of the opportunity to make two varieties of pizza. Below you will find my latest pizza recipes. Enjoy!

Perfect Pizza Dough

Pizza or baking stone
Pizza paddle
Baking sheet (or second pizza paddle)
Rolling pin
Stand mixer (optional)

  • 1 package (approx. 2 1/4 tsp), active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 cup warm water (I like to use a combination of boiling water that I heated on the stove and cold tap water...cuts down on wasting water while waiting for the tap to heat up.)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbs salt

Mix the yeast and water in a mixing bowl. I like to use the mixing bowl of my stand mixer, because it reduces waste and the number of dirtied dishes. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes in a warm place, like in a sunny spot.

Ideally the yeast should proof into a nice foam, but I've found that some bubbles and "strands" of yeast when you swirl the mixture are good enough for proper fermentation.

Then add the flour, salt and olive oil.

Mix ingredients by hand or on low speed until thoroughly combined, about a minute. Sprinkle a good amount of flour onto your kneading surface (if using your hands, do this before you mix the dough) and turn the dough onto the surface.

Knead the dough by repeatedly turning and folding the dough in half with the press of the palm of your hand for 7-10 minutes, adding flour in small increments until the dough is soft and no longer sticky.

Next, form the dough into a round, smooth ball and place in a large bowl.

Cover the bowl with a towel, and let rise in a warm area, such as a sunny patch near a window, for one hour. Try your best not to peek.

Take advantage of this hour by prepping the ingredients for the pizzas: cut the veggies and other toppings, shred the cheese, etc.

After about one hour, the dough should double in bulk and look something like this:

Preheat the oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Punch the dough (my favorite part) and turn onto a well floured surface.

Knead lightly, but firmly, for about a minute, adding flour to the dough and the surface as needed. Break the dough into two evenly sized portions, and form each into a smooth ball. Beginning with one ball, work the dough into a flat disk using a lightly floured rolling pin. Flip the dough and re-flour your surface periodically in order to prevent the dough from sticking.

Once you have rolled the dough to your preferred thickness or the size of your pizza stone, transfer the dough to a pizza paddle that has been seasoned with a tablespoon of flour and 1 -2 teaspoons of cornmeal.

Add your toppings:
When transfering the pizza to the oven, pull the rack that the hot baking stone is resting on half way out. With the front end of the paddle positioned near the far edge of the stone, angle the paddle slightly and slide the pizza onto the stone using short, jerking forward motions. Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on dough thickness and crispness preference. While the first pizza is baking, roll out and top the second ball of dough on the pizza paddle.

Remove the baked pizza with a cookie sheet. Feel free to use an ovenmit clad hand to help transfer the pizza to the cookie sheet. Place the second pizza onto the stone and bake until done. Transfer pizzas to a cutting board and let cool for a few minutes. Cut, serve and enjoy.

September 14, 2009

Handicraft Diary: Double Wrap Cowl

For years I have bought yarn with the good intentions of using every last skein in a timely manner. Sometimes I would buy yarn with a particular project in mind. More often than not however, I found myself being seduced by yarns of various colors, textures and reasonable prices. I've also received quite a bit of yarn as gifts.

As a result, I have collected a massive stockpile of yarn. True, I keep it neatly stored away in plastic bins. But still, I have too much. Earlier this year I banned myself from buying anymore yarn until I use most of it up. I compiled a list of projects that had been swimming in my head and vowed to begin ticking off said projects this summer. Well...moving, job seeking and the catnip toys delayed this grandiose idea, but now I am resolved to see it through.

With that said, I introduce to you my first undertaking in my Handicraft Diary:

Double Wrap Cowl

I wanted something simple and yet elegant. I found the pattern for this cowl at Cocoknits while I was looking for projects that called for chunky alpaca yarn. I received 8 skeins of Misti International Chunky Baby Alpaca yarn for Christmas a few years ago. And, much like with all of my more luxurious yarns, I saved it for the perfect project. I figured that this yarn would be the perfect material for the maiden project for my Handicraft Diary.

You can download the pattern and try it for yourself. Using a 2 x 2 rib stitch, I followed the directions exactly, and am quite pleased with the result. The simple trick of sewing the ends together with the wrong and right sides facing each other gives this cowl an effortless, elegant slouch. Plus alpaca–the warmest, softest natural fiber–makes it beautiful to wear in every way…especially if you don’t mind minor shedding!

September 10, 2009

My First Post!

Hello Blogosphere!

After weeks of procrastination and general laziness, I've finally done it. I've created a blog. What originally started as an idea for how I could get the word out about my Etsy shop, has evolved into a blog about all things handicraft and cookery related.

I shall begin with my original intention: with a post featuring some items from my Etsy shop,

This is Brown Bunny, a catnip filled felt bunny. I used a template from a book titled "The Cute Book" by Aranzi Aronzo. After I graduated from college this past May I found myself with a large quantity of catnip, felt and free time. So I decided to make catnip toys and try my hand at turning a hobby into something more. Not much has come my way in terms of monetary success from my Etsy endeavors, but I remain optimistic and love that people are looking. Here are some other examples of my work:

Catnip Cupcake (sold!)

Catnip Mushrooms
An appropriate (if not somewhat cliche) design choice for catnip toys.

And finally, an example of my knitting:
Knit Catnip Mouse

More posts to that I've actually got this up and running.