Pizza

Easy Peasy Pizza Dough

One of the things that I missed when we first moved to Mexico was the ability to walk into any grocery store in my old stomping grounds of Bolton, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, and buy fresh pizza dough.  Bolton had/has a community of Italians and hence-forth, one could always find pizza dough wrapped up in plastic for 99 cents at the grocery store, any grocery store.  When I realized that one can find fresh corn tortillas for that cheap in Mexico, but not pizza dough, I was happy and sad all at the same time.

Dear friends of our had moved to Africa about the same time we moved to Mexico.  With the internet not so reliable where they lived, we were keeping in touch, but not too often.  When we did, we still spoke about food; what we were cooking, eating, had access to.  It was comforting to compare notes as we were both learning new cultures and ways of living at the same time, but across the globe from each other.

I told her in one email my sadness at no more homemade pizza.  She told me that she had felt the same and so had started to make her own dough.  “There’s no way I can make pizza dough”, I replied.  My soft-spoken, kind and lovely girlfriend firmly said “If I can make it in Ghana, you can make it in Mexico.”

Challenge accepted.  Be-grudgingly.

In addition to that, our friends who live in Belize used to sell pizza and were very popular in their town .  One time when we visited I watched how the dough was made and stored, ready for use.  Ug, even more proof that it could be done.  Sometimes aren’t you mad when you’re trying to make an excuse not to do something and people prove you wrong?  I had no choice, I now had to give it a shot.

I was very nervous to try but as I read about easy pizza dough, I thought I would start there, and from the very start, I will say easy it was.  The bonus? Because it’s always 30 degrees here, anything we make with yeast in it rises in half the time that’s mentioned in most recipes.  That means because I don’t have to wait an hour or two for my pizza dough to rise, I can sometimes make it faster than they can deliver it to me.

Try this dough, it’s basic, simple, and great for first-timers.  There are other, more Italian ways to make dough, of which I will be practicing over the next few months.  Our trip to Italy opened my eyes to the variety of ways that I can enjoy pizza.  We had pizza all over Italy this year, pretty much every day for the month that we traveled, and I never tired of it.  Pizza in Naples, Italy?  Bucket list check!

Stumped for toppings?  ANYTHING GOES.  My favorite is the one shown: blue cheese, bacon, red onion, and of course, portobello mushrooms.  This last addition also ensures that my children don’t ask me to share with them.

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In Toronto, we had a pizza place down the street from us that served chicken, feta, and red onion.  My oh my that was good.  But really, pretty much anything can be thrown on top.  Try different cheeses, different sauces.  Sometimes I make pizza with just oil, sometimes a white garlic sauce, you can even buy cans of pre-made sauces and use that as the base.  We make pizza a lot here so you may see a lot up on the blog and the other social media sites, but this is the dough I’ll always use when I want pizza and I want it fast.

Trust me, there’s no better way to cut your carbs.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 cups (or more) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 TAB olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Measure water, add yeast and stir until dissolved. Wait five minutes until frothy to make sure yeast is active.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together. Add the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too dry, add a little extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too sticky, add extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface.  Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Drizzle the inside of a clean bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough in the bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Set the bowl in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.  (The time it takes to double in size depends on the warmth of your room)

Punch the dough to deflate it. Form the dough a ball and cover until ready to use.  If you are making earlier in the day, it can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.

When ready to use, flour your rolling surface.  Roll out to size and shape you like, making sure it doesn’t stick to the surface.  Toss some cornmeal on your pizza paddle and lay dough on, so the dough does not stick to the paddle.  Top as desired and bake in a preheated 425 oven for ten minutes or until golden brown.

Makes one large pizza dough.

 

 

Pizza Loaf

I was looking through my mom’s old Pillsbury book the other day and let me say, thank goodness food photography has come as far as it has.  The pictures weren’t that exciting back then.  Mind you, the book is so old there’s barely any color left in the pictures.

I thought I’d look through for some new ideas that I could re-invent, and I saw the Pizza Loaf.  It looked like a pretty pizza.  For some reason, the recipe was full of ground beef, which was not more like a meat roll.  But I liked how it looked.

So I took my pizza dough recipe and put in (some of) my favorite pizza toppings and presto, a prettier way to eat pizza.  If you have a local Italian place to buy your dough, this recipe is pretty much non-existent, just check out the pictures and how to fold up.

Mine is not perfect looking; baking in a hot kitchen means my pizza dough was super soft, but you get the idea.  When my dough was ready, I flattened it to the width of my pan.  I then put the toppings down the middle like this.

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Then I cut little slits on each side and simply brought them to the middle of the pizza.

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I did the same on the other side and brought them to overlap each other. As you can see, I didn’t do it perfectly with the hot temperature that was in my kitchen that day.  I’m sure in your more evenly regulated kitchen it’ll turn out neater.  Make sure you post it if you make it and tag me in it so I can see!

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Then, watch everybody tear it apart.  I tried to take a picture of it cut after, but literally, it was too deliciously messy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups (and more) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 TAB olive oil

Pour 3/4 cup warm water into a small bowl, stir in yeast.  Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.  Add yeast mixture and oil and combine until dough is a sticky ball.  Transfer to lightly floured surface and knead dough until smooth, about a few minutes, adding more flour if needed. Transfer to lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise until doubled in volume, about an hour depending on how warm your kitchen is.  Punch dough. Roll out to fit rectangular jelly roll pan.

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 TAB butter
  • 2 TAB flour
  • 2 garlic gloves
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan (optional)
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion
  • 1/2 lb italian sausage
  • 1 cup mozzarella, grated

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add garlic and whisk one minute.  Add flour and whisk two minutes.  Add milk slowly, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens.  Set aside to cool.

Spread desired amount of sauce down middle of dough.  Add toppings.  Cut on a diagonal into each side of the dough.  Bring each piece of dough towards middle, it’s okay if they overlap.

Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool and rip to shreds.

 

 

Tomato Galette

A lot of what I cook here in Mexico depends on what I happen to see in the moment.  I could see something one day, and the next day it’s gone.  I have learned to move fast, and if I choose not to, I don’t allow myself to be mad the next day when my food item has already been purchased by some other happy expat.

This Galette came about because I saw these colorful tomatoes and just had to have them.  Aren’t they beautiful? I’m sure you can buy these all the time, but I can’t, so please, indulge me.

tart3

As stated previously, I am not an artiste.  I am a cook.  I do not excel at making things look beautiful, I do not have the patience or the eye for it.  I have tried making cakes for special occasions when friends have asked, but frankly, it stresses me out.  So now I have a system: I bake, and I beg my talented 20-something-year-old friend to come and decorate for me.  Her and my daughter sit for hours and play with fondant and cut-outs and always come up with something beautiful.

That’s how this Galette came about.   An easy crust, that doesn’t have to measure to anything except to fit on the pan that I’m baking it on.  I love the dough, the cornmeal makes it more rustic.

You really could do whatever you like to mix this up.  I put my favorite combination of cheese and veggies in it, but you can add your own combination of veggies or cheese.  Before I even make the dough, I cooked down a few leeks and let it cool. Then I made the dough.  Here’s a tip for those of you in hot climates: put your pastry utensils in the freezer or fridge before using them.  I use those handy plastic cutting boards from the dollar store when I am working with dough.  It makes it easy to transfer my dough from the board to my baking tray, or pie pan if you’re making a pie.  I put my rolling pin and the floppy board in the freezer so it’s nice and cold and therefore offsets the horrible humidity that makes baking here not so fun.

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t do this for the first crust.  And so it ended up sticking to my counter and would not transfer properly and, well, needless to say, was a total failure.  I was so irritated I forgot to take a picture.  Perhaps it’s more like I was embarrassed that I never seem to learn my lesson. 

I started again and make sure my utensils were cold and voila, a beautiful crust.  It looked like this after it got rolled out and was topped with the cooled leeks and cheese of my choice, which was Manchego, a cheese that is easily found here in Mexico and similar to Mozzarella, and Feta.

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Then I added those beautiful tomatoes, sliced in half.

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Then I went about folding up the edges. I love this part, it’s actually where the messier your edges are, the nicer it looks.  ( I can work with that).

tart4

Then this beauty got baked until that crust was golden brown.  We cut this up like pizza and it was gobbled up quickly.

Try it today and let me know what combinations you like!

 

INGREDIENTS:

CRUST:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 TAB sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup + 1-2 TAB buttermilk

FILLING:

  • 2 leeks, sliced thin
  • 1 TAB olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (or any white cheese of your choice)
  • about 1 1/2 cups multi-colored cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil

DIRECTIONS:

Saute the leeks in oil until softened and slightly browned.  Set aside to cool

Crust: Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together.  Add butter.  Use a pastry cutter to cut into dry mixture, doing so until mixture looks crumbly.  Add 1/3 cup buttermilk and stir to combine.  (You may need to add a few more tablespoons of buttermilk to create a dough that sticks together). Transfer dough to floured surface and knead into a ball.

Place dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roll into a circle about 12-14 inches round.  Sprinkle the leeks, leaving about a 1 inch border around the edge.  Add cheese, then tomatoes.  Gently fold edges toward the middle, on top of the filling.  Sprinkle basil on top and salt and pepper.

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.  Let cool for about 10 minutes, then slide tart onto a cutting board and serve.

Adapted from: Recipe Girl