Now don't take this the wrong way, but one of the best things about getting married is all the new kitchen stuff you get to register for. I know Tyler backs me up on this, because he gets to eat all the yummy creations I come up with while using this stuff. The registering part is fun- going kind of crazy with that geeky little gun...."I want THAT....and THAT....ooooo and THAT...."
And don't even get me started with the online registry. It can go on for daaaaaaays. Literally pages and pages for each store. So many wonderful gadgets that I could never possibly afford, let alone fit in our tiny midtown apartment.
Which is why, with our one-year wedding anniversary rapidly approaching, I recently logged in to my online registeries, created a year and a half ago, to mourn the possibilities that were never actualized...the beautiful All-Clad waffle-maker, Vita Mix, and elusive Kitchen Aid mixer I WILL have before I die.....but also to celebrate the precious little machines we did receive that have made such a huge difference in my culinary life.
Namely....specifically....my bread machine.
I know there are people on both sides of this argument. Some swear that certain breads are better when made by hand the old-fashioned way, rising in a oil-covered bowl...and I don't doubt it. Until I expand my baking knowledge and practice, I will believe the experts. But for those of us who live in tiny little uninsulated apartments with no temperature control...for those of us who have not yet graduated past basic french and whole wheat....for someone like me....I prefer the ease and efficiency (and temperature regulation) of my beloved Cuisnart bread machine.
You LITERALLY just throw the ingredients in and forget about it until it beeps at you! Amazing! And my favorite feature? Pizza dough.
It's completely opened up a world of possibilities with homemade pizza. Garlic herb crust? Whole wheat? Perhaps a honey cinnamon (mmm dessert pizza...)? Oh the possibilities!
Over the past year I have experimented with many different types of pizzas (mostly vegetarian varieties), and each time I make one, Tyler swears it's the best one yet. But honestly, every one seems to be the best one. Maybe it's the careful spacing of the toppings (cooking is one of the only activities where I seem to have major OCD), maybe it's the homemade sauce, or maybe it's all the love that goes into it- but nothing seems to beat homemade pizza.
This is just the latest concoction, though also my first pizza post on this blog. Expect many more to come. Because here in the Madden house....we sure do like our pizza.
Wheaty Parmesan Pizza Crust:
2/3 c luke-warm water (about 80-90 degrees) (I found I needed a liiiiittle bit more as it was mixing)
1/2 tsp sugar or honey
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 c bread flour
3/4 c wheat flour
1 Tbsp toasted flax seeds
1/4 c finely grated parmesan
1 1/4 tsp yeast
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 c warmed milk
2-3 oz gorgonzola crumbles
salt and pepper to taste
a small handful of cornmeal
2 1/2 c mozzarella/parmesan cheese mix
1 large red onion, cut in 1/4 inch slices
2 small zucchinis, sliced as thinly as possible
a couple big handfuls of spinach
2 thinly sliced tomatoes
1 head roasted garlic*, roughly chopped
1/4 c toasted pinenuts, if you can
*Cut the tip off the head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Place cut-side up in a pouch of foil. Drizzle with a healthy amount of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Close up the pouch, twisting the foil at the top (almost so it looks like a garlic clove!). Roast in oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes, then remove cloves by squeezing from the bottom. They'll pop right out!
Start with the dough. Place ingredients in order listed in the bread machine and follow your appliance directions. While the dough is working, prep the toppings and sauce (directions to follow).
In a small saucepan, heat butter on low until melted but not browned. Whisk in flour, continuing to mix occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Slowly and continuously whisk in warmed milk, stirring constantly. Once the mixture is smooth, continue to cook, stirring every so often to allow sauce to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in gorganzola crumbles until just incorporated. You want to keep it kind of lumpy!
Coat a medium-sized skillet with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add zucchini and saute for a few minutes, until slightly softened. Drizzle with balsalmic and cook for about a minute more. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl.
Wipe out skillet with a paper towel and again, coat with olive oil and bring to med-low heat. Add onions and continue to stir occasionally for about 10 minutes, until the onions are softened and starting to brown the bottom of the pan. Deglaze with a small amount of balsamic or red wine (oh yum), cook for another few minutes, then remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees (or as hot as your oven will go) and put a pizza stone in the oven (if you have one). Once the dough is ready, remove it from the machine and transfer to a lightly floured counter top surface. Roll flat and stretch dough to the desired shape and thickness. Remove heated pizza stone from the oven and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Transfer crust onto the hot stone. It will quickly start to shrink, so you may need to continue to stretch the dough as needed. With a fork (or your fingernails- they're clean, I swear!), poke very small holes in the crust. Brush crust with olive oil and put in the oven for about 4-5 minutes, or until the crust starts to turn slightly golden. Remove crust from oven, add ANOTHER drizzle (yes! again!) of olive oil, and with a rubber spatula spread the sauce as evenly as you like (I like the sauce to reach the very edge, but you might be a little less crazy).
Layer the toppings in the following order**:
**Think of the cheese like glue; it's important to do a few different layers, especially if you have a lot of toppings, otherwise your toppings may fall off in one big chunk, and you certainly do not want that. So see? There is always. always. always! a method to my madness.
Cook at the highest oven temp you can go until the cheese is melted and the edges of the crust are nice and crispy. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes before cutting (so the cheese can set). Top with red pepper flakes and extra fresh grated parm if you like. Yummy!
In my next pizza post I will tell you about Fat Tuesday...every Tuesday. It's sick, really.