Wednesday, May 5, 2010

PIZZA From Scratch! Oh, and Some Sushi.

I love Pizza! That goes without saying. When I was younger, my family never really ate a lot of fast food or take-out, so pizza was always kind of a special occasion. When I was 16 I got a job at a certain well-known pizza chain, and from then on I developed a fancy for thin crust, but was very turned-off by the greasiness and lack of quality ingredients (they weren't bad for American standards, just not up to *my* standards, lol).
When I moved out on my own for the first time I went on a cook-from-scratch spree that included pizza crust. Luckily, I turned out to be awesome at following recipes so the made-from-scratch thing evolved into a lifelong thing... anyway...

I've tried a few different recipes for pizza crust, but this one is by far my favorite. It's pretty easy to make and pizza dough only has to rise once. I bet this recipe would also make some tasty breadsticks, but I haven't gotten around to that. I got this recipe from the Sunset Vegetarian cookbook. This cookbook is your yesteryear veg cookbook full of recipes for unappetizing things (you know, when vegetarian meant it had to be loaded with cheese and eggs as a meat substitute), but luckily, there's a few gems in there, and I'd like to work over a couple more.

Note: I use Tone's Spicy Pizza Seasoning to give the crust a little flavor. It's a pretty nifty blend containing dehydrated onions, chili flakes, garlic, etc. If you want though, you can use 1 tsp. basil with the oregano for flavor.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust:
1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 1/2 c. warm water (about 110 degrees, like a hot tub, lol)
2 Tb. olive oil (but I usually use one)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. Tone's Spicy Pizza Seasoning
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 c. wheat germ (adds awesome)
1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour or graham flour or whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
All-purpose flour for kneading

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast, water, and sugar.

2. Once the yeast is all foamy, about 5 minutes, add the oil, salt, sugar, oregano, Tone's, wheat germ, and whole wheat flour.

3. Mix with wooden spoon until all incorporated. Add enough all-purpose flour (out of the 1 1/2 cups) to the dough so that it holds together.

4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surfaced and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

5. Place in a large, greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

To make Pizzas:
1. Preheat the oven to 450.

2. Punch dough down and divide in half (or you can be like me and divide the dough into thirds to get three thin crust pizzas or you divide the dough into a 1/3 portion and a 2/3 portion to get one thin crust and one regular crust).

3. Roll out each dough portion to form a 14-inch circle, then transfer each circle onto a greased 14-inch pizza pan.

What I do is spray the pizza pan with some Olive Oil Pam and then roll the dough out directly onto the pan. Not only does this help keep the dough an even thickness but it saves you from having to pick up rolled out pizza dough from the table and then stretching it and then trying to fix it and stuff it onto the pan. That's no good.

4. Poke holes all over the crust with a fork, and then, one at a time, bake on next-to-bottom rack of the oven for about 7 minutes or just until the bottom of the crust starts to brown. During baking, watch carefully and prick any bubbles that form. Remove from oven and set aside.

DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. "7 minutes," you say, "must not be that important. I'll just cook the whole pizza together." WRONG. If you skip the prebake step, you wind up with a nasty, doughy mess. If you wouldn't skip it for a pie, don't skip it for a pizza!
Pizza crusts in all their baked gloriousness.

5. Assemble pizzas!! Add sauce, veggies, vegan parmesan, a little more Tone's Spicy Pizza Seasoning, etc. and then bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Voila!

My favorite pizza?:
Black olives
Onions
Red, green, and yellow peppers
Artichokes
Roma tomatoes
Mushrooms
Broccoli (chopped into tiny florets)



Oh yeah! I almost forgot! SUSHI! I'm making my mom some vegan sushi for Mother's Day. She loves Sushi so I'm gonna go up to her house and we're gonna make it together. Should be an interesting time! The recipe is for California Rolls, little nori-wrapped rolls with tofu, cucumber, carrots, and avocado. I'll post the recipe soon!

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