When answering the question “What are you up to” over the last few weeks, my answer has been a curt “busy”. Busy is a gross understatement. I’ve had a number of projects on back burners that all seemingly reached a boiling point at once while having several fantastic opportunities fall into my lap, with everything needing my attention these last two weeks. It’s been a juggling act like I’ve never had.
Thankfully, I can start to share some of my projects here. Like my new Home & Garden column for CharlottesvilleFamily magazine. My friend Rebecca saw the ad and sent it with the comment that it was written for me. “Are you a Pinterest-obsessed creative cook and crafter? Do your friends call on you for home organization and entertaining tips? You often referred to as a garden guru?” After reading it, I sort of agreed and apparently so did they. To see my first column before it hits newstands, the April issue is up on their website, go here to see it.
I am teaching a series of canning classes at The Happy Cook starting in May and running at least through June. I will be covering hot water bath canning, including jams, jellies & preserves as well as pickling. I will also be covering pressure canning, which I’m currently learning. There should be a link on their website in the next few days which I will also post here. I’m pretty excited about these classes. They start May 7.
I’ve lined up some other canning classes this summer at additional venues that will be posted here as they are released. For those of you who have been asking about my teaching classes other than canning, I have found a kitchen to teach out of. My first class is April 17 – I will be releasing that information in the next few days. If you want to be on that mailing list, please let me know. There are a few other projects in the works that I’m leaving out, but they are in the same vein – writing, lining up classes, getting the pickle idea to become reality and things related to all of those.
Throw in dinner at Peter Chang’s, drinking wine (and working) at l’etoile on top of all that and I have left my family at least partially on their own for dinner quite a bit recently. Sometimes I will do some prepwork for them – like making pizza dough ahead of time, which is what I did Saturday. I’ve been experimenting with some recipes, including this one I’m going to share with you. It’s from a friend who’s father owned a pizza shop when we were growing up that was my family’s Friday night standby in the days before Domino’s. I have tweeked the recipe somewhat from the one he originally gave me, but will give you both versions for you to try on your own.
Edie was thoughtful enough to photograph how well they turned out. I believe this is her dad’s pizza, as he covered it in the various peppers found in jars in the fridge. I need to get better about labeling my science experiments, because some of the hot chilis I’ve been fermenting to make my own hot sauce landed on his pizza. Apparently when he opened the jar, he didn’t think that his burning nostrils was a hint as to how spicy the peppers were.
A few notes here on flour – this recipe calls for high gluten flour – which is generally labeled “Bread flour” at the grocery store. It’s substantially more expensive than all purpose flour, but makes a big difference in your final product. Use it for baking bread and pizza dough. You will see and taste a difference. As I like to include whole grains in my meals, I have found I prefer to use flours that have the same weight to them as bread flour, which means spelt or whole wheat pastry flour. I will do up to a half and half blend. If I use just regular whole grain flour, I will only do a 25/75 mix as I find that flour heavy.
This recipe calls for quite a bit of water – mix the dough and let it stand awhile and it will all be good. While I generally like to knead my doughs by hand, this is the one I will do in the stand mixer because it’s so wet. However, a wetter dough means a lighter baked good. Just keep your hands moist when working with it.
- 2 cups flour – preferably high gluten
- about a cup water – I start with 3/4 and go from there.
- 1 teaspoon or quarter sized palm of yeast
- pinch of sugar (he calls for 1/4 cup, I don’t like mine that sweet)
- pinch of salt
- dash of garlic powder, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper or basil for flavor in the dough.
Combine all in a mixing bowl. Mix in a stand mixer for 5-10 minutes adding water as needed. Place in oiled bowl and let rise for an hour or more. Punch down and roll into a ball. Let sit for another 5-10 minutes before stretching it. Coat your surface with cornmeal and stretch pizza out, top and bake in a preheated oven set as high as it will go – 450 to 500 is ideal. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until cheese is browning.