Friday, May 08, 2009

May 8, 2009: Pizza!

Dear Blog, I have only been at this for a few days now (in this iteration) but it has already happened! I actually felt driven to cook something new, exciting, and most of all PRETTY so that I could post something other than the bagels and quinoa that I've been eating every day for the past week.

I remembered the 6 packets of yeast that have been sitting in my fridge for months (but haven't expired yet) so last night I looked up a recipe in the indubitable Vegan with a Vengeance for some simple pizza dough. All of the ingredients (flour, sugar, oil, water) were already here, so that decided it. I've never made pizza dough from scratch before, and have only made pizza at home once or twice, so it was definitely an experiment. I did learn some things, but I'll get to that at the bottom of the post . . . First, here are some other tasty photos.

Here's a photo from late last night, when I followed my usual Thursday night TV watching party (with 2 best friends) with a Netflix movie and an icy cold vodka martini (not too dry, just a wee bit of olive brine, 3 giant olives). Not a bad way to end the evening, though I will admit that it led to some 2 am tiny bagels, which brings my tiny bagel count for yesterday to . . . six? I don't even know. That's only like 2 regular sized bagels, but still a bit insane.

And then this morning, I was still out of spinach so there was no morning veggie smoothie. I had a pear with some PB2 when I woke up at 11 am. I am really becoming nocturnal these days.

I am a bit sick of pears, and I think maybe I'm going to stop buying them for a while. Apples are so totally superior, but my neighborhood grocery store has had crummy apples most of the time lately. So, we'll see what they've got when I go do big shopping tomorrow.

For lunch: a meatless-meatball sandwich, featuring Trader Joe's amazing meatless meatballs. I've got 2 bags of these in the freezer, but I had run out of tomato sauce a while back so I haven't had them in a while. I used just a teeny bit of jarred sauce to heat up with these wee meatballs for a tasty and very filling sandwich.

After that, I did major shopping at my favorite health food store, and picked up ingredients for tomato sauce and tofu-basil ricotta. I also picked up a few things for other fun things I want to make in the next couple of weeks.

When I got back, I got to work on the dough, sauce, and "cheese." And I whipped up a frozen mocha to cool off after hefting the groceries around on my couple-mile walk.

After mixing, kneading, waiting (waiting, waiting), and baking, here's the finished product!

Pizza #1: red peppers and red onion, plus tofu-basil ricotta and the tastiest homemade sauce, also from VWAV.

Pizza #2: zucchini, plus same sauce and cheese.

It came out really well. I think there is still much room for improvement, but look at that spread. Excellent Friday evening in, with some homemade vegan deliciousness and a relaxing Harpoon beer (Boston!). I threw on a video (Secretary) and got to work on the blog after I finished eating.

Look at that crust! Using cornmeal on the bottom instead of oiling the pan made a huge difference. Definitely worth buying the cornmeal, which I've got loads of now. I sense corn muffins in my future, or maybe cornmeal pancakes.

Lessons learned: for a first try, this really came out better than expected. However, the next time I do this (and there surely will be a next time, as I've got lots of sauce in the freezer and 5 more packets of yeast in the fridge) I'll do a few things differently.

For one, I will bake the pizzas one at a time, because I think they really benefit from being very close to the heat source, so I'll put them on the bottom shelf, as close to the bottom of the oven as possible, just one at a time. And cook for a little bit longer maybe, but I think that just putting them on the bottom shelf could make that unnecessary.

I guess maybe that's it. This pizza really was superb, and although I thought the sauce was going to be too salty, once I pureed it a bit with the stick blender it cut the saltiness enough that it was just flavorful and great. Definitely more salt that I would have added on my own, but I'm a little bit reticent to add much salt to anything. We weren't allowed to salt our food when I was a kid so I think my salty-sensor taste buds are especially strong and I really only need a tiny amount.

So, another lazy day with some tasty food. But new! Pizza! I have lots left since my friend who I invited over ended up bailing on me for paper-writing or some such bologna. So, there'll be lots of leftover pizza all weekend, but I am definitely not complaining. Yum!

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