Daily Confessions of an Unintentional Housewife

Hello!  Thank you for checking out the blog.  You can find continuing recipes, thoughts, and projects over at my new website, Daily Confessions of an Unintentional Housewife.  I’m exploring the transition from Breadwinner to stay-at-home housewife.  It’s shocking how much I enjoy making things from scratch and taking care of my house and husband – I never thought I’d be cut out for this!  I hope you’ll enjoy the new blog, and I look forward to hearing from you over there!

~Melissa

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

So I was looking into what I could make for hubby that he’d reallyl enjoy.  I’m trying this “housewife” thing, and it’s more difficult than I knew.  I always thought that I’d be able to have a hot dinner on the table if only I had more time.  But that was before I knew that Netflix has Veronica Mars seasons 2 & 3 on Instant View.  Here’s what I came up with for tonight: Pulled Chicken Sandwiches.  Because (if you’re new to reading this, you’ll soon find out) I have chicken.  I do not have pork.  I made these sandwich rolls recently too, and I’m hoping that I get extra dinner points to overcome the fact that I have no laundry points for this week.

Soft Yogurt Sandwich Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup water, warm (100-110F)
  • 1 cup yogurt (nonfat/lowfat is fine; I used Greek-style)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Preparation:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup flour, the active dry yeast, the honey and the warm water. Stir well and let sit for 10 minutes, until slightly foamy.
  2. Stir in yogurt, vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of the remaining flour. Gradually stir in more flour until you have a soft dough that sticks together pulls away from the sides of the bowl (This can all be done in a stand mixer with the dough-hook attached, as well).
  3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding additional flour if necessary to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, or about 5 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Turn risen dough out of bowl and onto a lightly floured surface. Gently deflate, pressing into a rectangle. Divide dough into 10 even pieces with a board scraper or a pizza cutter. Shape each piece into a round roll. To do this, take all the corners of one of the squarish pieces you just cut and pull them together, pinching them to create a seal. This will pull the rest of the dough “tight” across the top of your roll, giving you a smooth top. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
  6. Once all rolls have been formed, press down firmly on each one to flatten. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 25 minutes.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes, until rolls are deep golden on the top and the bottom.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.
  9. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 10 rolls.

Pulled Turkey Barbecue Seibels

Gourmet  | July 1997

Ingredients:

  • 2 large onions
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco plus additional to taste
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • a 4 1/2- to 5-pound turkey breast, skin discarded
  • Accompaniment: soft sandwich rolls, toasted lightly if desired
Preparation:
  1. Finely chop onions and mince garlic.
  2. In a 6-quart heavy saucepan combine onions, garlic, vinegar, butter, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons Tabasco, salt, and pepper and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Add turkey breast, cavity side down, and cook at a bare simmer, covered, 2 1/2 hours. Transfer breast to a cutting board, reserving sauce, and cool until it can be handled. Shred turkey meat, discarding bones, and stir meat into reserved sauce. Simmer barbecue, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 hours more and season with salt, pepper, and additional Tabasco.
  3. Serve barbecue on rolls.
  4. If using boneless, skinless breasts, SUBSTITUTIONS: replace half the vinegar with chicken broth, double the butter, and add 1/4 cup brown sugar. But with the skin and bone, it’s much, much better.

The Verdict:

The sandwich rolls are lovely.  Trav said that he liked the pulled chicken.  It was a little vinegar-y for me, but that might be mostly because of how I forgot to check on it a couple of times, and then the sauce was all cooked to goo and I used vinegar and ketchup and chicken stock (but a lot of vinegar) to create more liquid.  He said that he likes a vinegar-y barbecue, so maybe that’s what he liked about it.  Anyway, it’s worth keeping in the recipe file.

Gorgonzola, Fava Bean, and Purple Potato Canapes

Here’s my inspiration (from epicurious.com), as well as my personal editing (I’m taking out these parts of the published recipe, and adding in these parts), based on what I actually have on hand:

Gorgonzola, Fava Bean, and Purple Potato Canapes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup shelled fresh fava beans* or lima beans (about 3/4 pound in pods)
  • 10 small purple potatoes or small red potatoes (each about 2 inches in diameter; about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 6 ounces Gorgonzola blue cheese, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese (about 3/4 cup), softened plain yogurt, strained through a coffee filter
Preparation:
  1. Finely chop walnuts. In a small heavy skillet cook walnuts in oil over moderate heat, stirring, until golden and transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
  2. Have ready a bowl of ice and cold water. In a kettle of boiling salted water blanch beans 1 minute and immediately transfer with slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking. Drain beans and gently peel away outer skins.
  3. Return kettle of water to a boil and cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Cook potatoes 8 minutes, or until just tender, and transfer with slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking. Drain potatoes in a colander and pat dry with paper towels.
  4. In a small bowl stir together Gorgonzola and cream cheese until combined well. (Canapé ingredients may be prepared up to this point 2 days ahead. Keep toasted walnuts in an airtight container at room temperature. Chill beans and potatoes separately in sealable plastic bags and chill Gorgonzola cream covered with plastic wrap.)
  5. Assembly: Spread about 1 teaspoon Gorgonzola cream on each potato slice and top each canapé with a bean, pressing down gently. Sprinkle canapés with walnuts. Canapés may be assembled 6 hours ahead and chilled, covered.
The Verdict:
These were fine.  They weren’t spectacular, and they took quite a bit of work for the outcome.  On the other hand, I didn’t have to go grocery shopping, and I used produce from the CSA.  Even though I have an unholy love of all things crostini, it’s a little weird when they’re done with potatoes instead of bread.  I know starches are meant to be interchangeable, but I found it a little strange.  So in the end, I likely won’t make quite this item again.  I may decide that the flavor was good enough to create a fava bean, blue cheese potato salad, but we’ll have to see whether I even decide that’s worthwhile.

Another Visit to Flour Tortillas

Just FYI: there’s likely to be a lot more about flatbreads here. I’m thinking about perfecting the process of making every flatbread from every culture. As long as I can use my Cuisinart or KitchenAid, of course. I’m feeling really good about pizza crust and pita breads, and I’m on the verge of getting tortillas just how I want them. Next up will likely be naan, just because I love it. My father mentioned lavash, and Ethiopian flatbread (whatever that’s called), and apparently there’s a sweet version from Norway… Anyway, this is a warning that many of my recipes and posts will likely involve flatbreads. Because I love them.

Which is why I re-tried that flour tortilla recipe from The Weekend Gourmande.  I (of course) converted it to the Cuisinart and tried cooking it with the newfound knowledge I gained from Pioneer Woman.  This time, the tortillas came out just the right color.  They had a lacing of golden brown on one side and spots of dark brown on the other.  These are a bit thicker than the lard-version, and I don’t know how well they’ll hold up as burritos because of that factor.  However, they cooked up beautifully and I’m considering how they would work with an extra step of rolling them out just before cooking.  Yes, that would mean that I’m resting the tortillas 3 different times, in 3 different shapes in the recipe.  But the alternative is driving to BONNEY LAKE for one ingredient.  I’m only really lazy when it involves going out in public.  And mixing things by hand.  And housework.  Other than that, I have dogged determination that will see me through this flatbread experiment.  I’m quite looking forward to it.

Pita Bread

Admit it – there’s no such thing as too many posts on flat bread recipes, right? That’s what I thought.

I found this one at greekfood.about.com, and I like how it turns out. It took some experimentation to find the pita recipe we were really interested in eating.  We love pita bread as a flat bread, not as a pocket bread so much (although sometimes these will inflate and create pockets as well).  Our breads are a little thicker than the pocket breads usually are (1/4″ – 3/8″ or so) and are perfect to use for dipping in hummus or heating up with feta on top.
Prep Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 21 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 4 cups of bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Dissolve in the yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water and set aside, covered, for 15 minutes. Dissolve salt in the remaining 1 cup of warm water.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add flour and make a well in the center. Put flour in the blow of an 11-cup food processor.  Pulse briefly to settle the flour.  Continue pulsing while adding Add yeast mixure and salt water in a steady stream.  Continue pulsing until dough forms, then turn food processor on for 30 seconds or so. Knead with hands for 10 minutes in the bowl. Add olive oil and continue to knead process until all oil is absorbed. Shape into a ball in the bowl, place in 8-cup measuring cup, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm area to rise until doubled in volume, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Punch down the dough and knead for 5 minutes more briefly.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C), and lightly oil baking sheets tear commercial-sized parchment paper in 1/2.
  4. Take pieces of dough slightly larger than an egg and roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of 3/8 to 1/4 inch. (For larger or smaller pita bread pieces, take more or less dough). Prick the bread with a fork in several places and brush lightly with olive oil.
  5. Place on baking sheets parchment paper and bake at 350°F (175°C) on the lowest oven rack for 2-3 minutes, then turn the pitas over and bake for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven and place on another sheet of parchment paper tray covered with a clean dishtowel, with another clean towel on top. When thoroughly cooled, pitas can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or frozen.
  6. Before using, brown in a lightly oiled frying pan for a few minutes until browned on both sides or re-heat briefly in the oven.

The Verdict:

We love these pitas.  I made a whole mess of them (I think it was three recipes or more) recently to take on family vacation with us.  They’re absultely wonderful.  They’re good used to make pita sandwiches, used as thick wraps, or cut into wedges to eat with dip.  You may have noticed that the technique I use for these pitas is pretty much the same as the technique I use for pizza crust.  That’s just because I’m really lazy.  And I don’t enjoy mixing any kind of dough by hand.  If it can’t be made in a Cuisinart or KitchenAid, I’m not likely to cook it.  Luckily, most recipes can be adapted to one contraption or another.

Flour Tortillas – Take II

My good friend thought I would like Pioneer Woman (how well she knows me!) and I spent some time this afternoon checking out what look to be amazing recipes.  I was just browsing through until I came to a recipe for homemade flour tortillas.  Anyone who has read anything on this site knows how I love my flatbreads!  I tried flour tortillas a few months ago, but found that the ones I was making didn’t turn out how I’d hoped.  It turns out that Pioneer Woman has a recipe using lard.  I’ve never used lard before to my knowledge, but it sounds like just the thing to add flexibility and chewiness to my flour tortillas.  Here’s me giving it a go!

Recipe: Homemade Flour Tortillas

 |   |   | 

Ingredients

  • 2-½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2-½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ½ cups Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
  • 2 Tablespoons (additional) Lard Or Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 cup Hot Water

Preparation Instructions

  1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large wooden bowl. Stir together. 
  2. Add spoonfuls of lard or shortening (use 1/2 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons), then use a pastry cutter crumble the lard with your hands to combine the ingredients. Cut mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. 
  3. Slowly pour in hot water, stirring to bring mixture together. Lightly knead dough 30 to 40 times, or until it becomes a cohesive ball of dough and is less sticky. Cover with a tea towel and allow dough to rest for at least an hour. 
  4. Roll into ping pong size balls, place on a tray piece of parchment paper, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rest for another 20 to 30 minutes. 
  5. When you’re ready to make the tortillas, heat a dark or cast iron griddle flat pan to medium/medium-high 7.5 heat if your electric stove goes to 8 (and then HI)Be sure to allow your pan to fully heat, or you’ll think it’s too cool and then you’ll turn it up, and then you’ll burn some… One by one, roll out balls of dough until very, very thin. Throw tortillas (one by one) onto the griddle. Cook on each side for 20 to 30 seconds, removing while tortillas are still soft but slightly brown in spots. Remove and stack tortillas, and cover with a towel to keep warm. Serve immediately or allow to cool before storing tortillas in a container. To warm, nuke tortillas in the microwave, or wrap in foil and warm in the oven. 

Helpful tips: 

* Make sure the water you pour in is very warm.
* Allow the dough to rest, both after kneading and after forming into balls.
* Roll out very thin.
* Get the heat right on your stove: Too hot, and the tortilla will burn in spots. Not hot enough, and the tortilla will begin to crisp before you can get it to brown. I get my stove between medium and medium high heat; that seems to do the trick.
* Use a dark griddle or cast iron skillet to brown the tortillas.
* Cook just long enough to lightly brown the tortilla in spots; don’t cook too long or tortillas will crisp. You want them to be soft and pliable when you serve them.
* Finally: Have fun! And enjoy them. They’re absolutely scrumptious.

The Verdict:

These are really wonderful.  Travis loved them.  I loved them.  They had a strange texture when we used them to make our normal tacos.  Instead of getting hard and crispy and weird, they were instead still pleasantly soft.  I don’t know if that’s the lard or the fresh-cooked aspect, but I’m calling it a “win” for now.  Now that I’ve figured out the intricacies of actually cooking the tortillas, I’m going to have to try the other recipe again.  Not that I have anything specifically against lard, but it’s difficult to find in our city.  And then it is partially hydrogenated, when the entire point of lard (for me) is to avoid the trans-fats (and stick with the regular fats only).  There’s apparently a butcher in Bonney Lake that makes their own lard, but since I can’t seem to get myself to the store to buy bacon, going a few towns over for lard seems…  let’s go with unlikely.  We’ll see.

Fava Beans!

I’ll admit – just two years ago, I would have categorized myself in the group of people that learned everything they knew about fava beans from Dr. Hannibal Lecter (liver & a nice Chianti, anyone?).  Then they appeared in my CSA share one week and I asked what to do with them.  I was surprised at the enthusiasm Valerie answered with – she really loves these beans.  A little research for recipes, and I found that seasonal eaters and farmers from around the country look forward to the taste of fava beans as one of the harbingers of spring.  After last year’s fava bean season, I find myself re-categorized.  So today, two different fava bean recipes – enjoy!

Fresh Fava Bean and Pecorino Salad

(found on the NPR website)

 Fava bean and pecorino salad

David S. Deutsch 

Fava beans are a spring favorite in southern and central Italy. This salad, adapted from Patricia Wells’ Trattoria (William Morrow 1993) is popular as a starter or as part of an antipasto spread. If you can only find a hard grating pecorino, use a soft goat cheese. If there are leftovers, saute the beans and cheese with a little oil in a small skillet. They are fragrant and delicious as a warm appetizer.

Makes 8 to 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh fava beans (about 2 cups shelled beans)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley basil leaves, snipped with scissors
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red peppers (hot red pepper flakes), or to taste
  • 8 4 ounces soft sheep’s milk cheese such as a pecorino or a soft fresh goat’s milk cheese feta cheese, cut in small cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Bring a small or medium pot of water to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, string and shuck the beans.
  3. Add the beans to the boiling water for one minute, then drain & run under cold water to stop them from overcooking.
  4. Each individual bean has a waxy coating that needs to be removed – the bright green bean will look so much “springier” than the pale green casings do.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, and toss to blend. Taste for seasoning.

 The Verdict:

Obviously, I made quite a few changes to the recipe, based on what we actually had here.  I don’t know how true to the original we were, but this dish was full of flavors we love, so I think we made the right choices!

Tuna and Fava Crostini

(found at epicurious) Bon Appétit  | June 2006

Tori Ritchie

yield: Makes 6 servings

Favas lend a fresh note here. For the most robust flavor, use tuna packed in olive oil rather than water.
Ingredients:
  • 18 thin baguette slices
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces fresh fava bean pods
  • 1 6- to 7-ounce can solid light tuna in olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion purple scallion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley plus 18 leaves for garnish
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet; brush slices with 3 tablespoons oil. Bake until bread is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes. Rub fresh garlic clove on each baguette slice.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Set aside.
  2. Bring medium saucepan of water to boil. Shell fava beans, then drop beans into boiling water and cook 1 minute. Drain. Slip beans out of skins. Place beans in small bowl; add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and toss to coat.
  3. Combine tuna with its oil, minced red onion scallion, chopped parsley, and lemon juice in small bowl. Using fork, mash tuna mixture to coarse paste. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Baguette slices, fava beans, and tuna mixture can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Let baguette slices stand at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate fava beans and tuna mixture separately.
  5. Divide tuna mixture among baguette slices. Top with fava beans and garnish each with 1 parsley leaf.

The Verdict:

I have what may be described as a crazy amount of love for all things crostini-related.  At our engagement party, Travis & I had several appetizers that involved crostini.  We (along with several of our closest friends) made about 15 loaves of bread into crostini.  That may be an exaggeration – it’s been 4 years – but I’m pretty sure that there were more than 10 loaves of bread.  We had bruchetta and tapenade, and I ate those leftovers for the next week straight.  I did not know about fava bean & tuna crostini back then, so it wasn’t on the menu.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love this version of crostini topping as well!

New Potatoes with Garlic & Lemon

This week, we had potatoes in the CSA for the first time this season.  Of course, this early in the season, they’re bitty.  I love potatoes in many different (fat and/or dairy-soaked) preparations, but with new potatoes, I love the simplicity of roasting.  Since they’re too small for me to want to peel and since their skins are so tasty anyway, this is a delightful way to prepare spring potatoes.  Trav and I let our potato plants die again this year, but maybe next year we’ll actually have potatoes from our own yard as well!

Spring Recipe: Teeny-Tiny New Potatoes with Lemon
(found at thekitchn.com)

Here’s a quick, easy recipe for roasted tiny potatoes, tossed with lemon for brightness and sweetness. Of course you can also add in other things like herbs, or a bit of chopped prosciutto. Try some leftover new potatoes baked with an egg on top, too! That’s a wonderful spring breakfast.

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound teeny-tiny new potatoes, ideally no bigger than your thumb
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, put through a garlic press
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Preparation:

  1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Clean the potatoes and pat them dry.
  2. Saute the garlic in the olive oil for a moment or two, until fragrant.
  3. Toss the potatoes with enough olive oil to coat, and with salt and pepper. Spread them on a large baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until they are tender enough to be pierced with a fork, and their jackets are wrinkled and crispy-golden.
  4. Toss immediately with the lemon juice and zest, and serve.
  5. Options: After roasting, toss with a bit of chopped mint, rosemary, or thyme. Toss with chopped cooked bacon, or pesto.

~Faith Durand

The Verdict:

I loved these.  I don’t know why I have a continual habit of taking something that could be reasonably healthy and soaking it in fats with a little lemon juice.  Oh, yeah – because it’s really, really tasty.  I HAD to add garlic to the recipe, because what’s the point of cooking if there’s no garlic?  I really should have topped the whole thing with bacon, but we were out and I’ve become super lazy about going to the store.  Good for the grocery budget (read: I only cook what we have at home), bad on the variety of foods front.  But we still have tons of flour, so it will be a while before this becomes an issue!  I’m sure Trav & I can survive on flatbreads and CSA for weeks and weeks…

Blue Cheese Dressing

This is strongly based on the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook recipe, and we make it enough that I’ve stopped measuring.  This is something I always like to have on hand during the early season of the CSA (when we have lettuce every week and there’s always something I enjoy raw, dipped in dressing).  This week, I enjoyed this as a dip for kohlrabi, snap peas, celery, and even as salad dressing (on salad)!

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces (or so) blue chees
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup + buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup + sour cream
  • 1/4 cup – mayonnaise
  • pinch sugar
  • splash vinegar (white wine vinegar is recommended, but as long as you don’t mind a brown tint or red tint to your dressing, balsamic or red wine vinegar will both work as well).
  • salt & ground black pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Mince garlic or put through a garlic press.
  2. In a small bowl, combine blue cheese, garlic, and buttermilk.  Mash together with a fork until the mixture has a cottage cheese-like consistency.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and mix together. 
  4. Use as a dip or to top salad.

The Verdict:

What I love about this recipe is the extra bite that comes from the fresh garlic as well as the tang from the buttermilk.  Although many grocery store brands of blue cheese dressing are overly heavy on the mayonnaise taste, this recipe includes both buttermilk & sour cream to round out the flavor.  I really dislike being able to taste the mayonnaise, so I go easy on that part and then increase the sour cream.  I love this recipe, and I’ve even added buttermilk to our milk delivery schedule so that I never have to run to the grocery store for buttermilk to make this recipe happen.  I do have to figure out how to make buttermilk pancakes or biscuits or something though, since I don’t like the taste of buttermilk by itself and I don’t ever use up the whole carton before it goes bad.

You wanted more pizza crust posts, right?

I should really change the name of this blog to, “Melissa writes about making pizza crust.”  I just keep coming up with new insights to the process.  And I’m a bit of a pizza crust geek.  And my friends have asked me specifically if I have my pizza crust recipe on the blog.  Add all that together, and it’s a miracle ALL the posts aren’t about pizza.  Besides, it’s so easy to turn most things into a meal just by cooking them on top of a pizza crust.  Plus, if we’ve eaten creative pizzas for a couple of days, I usually only have plates and cutting boards to wash (instead of piles of pots and pans and prep bowls).  Anyway, here’s my newest realization:  instead of using my regular recipe, I think I’ve fully converted to the slow-rising option (below).  The first time we tried it, I thought I might go crazy because the dough just wouldn’t change shape as I tossed it.  It took 5 minutes to get a dough ball ready for the oven instead of 2.  I was hungry and this was slowing up my dinner!  However, I soon realized that the crust shapes we were making were much better than normal.  The dough wasn’t getting brittle and thin in the middle, even after many minutes of tossing.  And then the flavor was lovely as well.  I read somewhere that recipes using less yeast with a longer rising time develop a more complex flavor.  Add to that the fact that the dough rises for 6-8 hours on the counter and can rest in the refrigerator for up to 16 hours before that.  This means that I can start the dough up to 24 hours before I’m ready to make pizza!  Plus, yeast is one of the most expensive ingredients in my pizza crust.  This recipe cuts the yeast from 2 1/4 teaspoons to just 1/2 a teaspoon.  I’d been toying with a cost break-down post idea, and I’m pretty certain that’s coming soon.  Here’s the updated recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 1/2 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for oiling the bowl and brushing the top)
  • 4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting the work surface and hands
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
  • fresh basil
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces pepperoni, peeled and sliced thin (it sounds like they expect you to buy pepperoni from the sausage store and peel and slice it yourself, but I usually buy a huge bag of pepperoni slices at Costco and keep it in the freezer for use as necessary.)
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup) or more, to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese or more, to taste

Preparation:

  1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes.  Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.
  2. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor, pulsing to combine.  Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube.  If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms.  Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.
  3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead by hand for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball.  Put the dough in an 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup and cover with plastic wrap.
  4. At this point, you can put your dough in the refrigerator for up to 16 hours.  When you’re ready to proceed, continue with step 5.
  5. Leave covered dough on the counter and let rise until doubled in size, 6 to 8 hours.  I use the 8-cup measuring cup because it’s really easy for me to see when the dough is done rising.  Press the dough to deflate.
  6. While the dough rises, prepare the pizza sauce (or go to work, or get a massage, or sleep through the night – your time is your own!).  Heat the oil and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the garlic is sizzling, about 40 seconds.  Add the basil and cook untilo fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the sauce thickens enough to coat a wooden spoon, about 15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Heat the oven to 475 degrees for at least 30 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Use a chef’s knife or dough scraper to divide the dough into four pieces.  From each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball and cover it with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.
  8. Spread a large piece of parchment paper on the counter for shaping and transporting the crust.  Working with one piece of dough at a time and keeping the others covered, flatten the dough ball into a disk (thicker at the center) using the palms of your hands.  Using a combination of stretching the dough on the counter and tossing the dough, shape each of your dough rounds into a flattened pizza shape (more detailed instructions here).  Prick the dough in several paces with a dinner fork.
  9. Lightly brush the dough round with olive oil.  Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the dough round, leaving a 1/2-inch border uncovered.  Scatter a third of the pepperoni slices over the sauced dough round.
  10. Slide the dough onto the heated stone.  Bake the pizza until the crust edge starts to brown, 6 to 12 minutes.  Sprinkle with 1/3 cup mozzarella and a third of the Parmesan and continue baking until the cheeses melt, 2 to 3 minutes more.  Remove the pizza from the oven, let rest for 5 minutes, and serve.  Repeat the topping and baking steps for the remaining two crusts.

Alternate preparation method:

  1. Follow steps 1-5 and 7-8 above, skipping step 6. 
  2. Lightly brush the dough round with olive oil.  Slide the dough onto the heated stone.  Bake the pizza for 2 minutes.  Remove the pizza from the oven, cool on the counter for 30 minutes or so, and wrap with plastic wrap to store.  While the first pizza crust is cooking, you can shape the second crust (with practice).
  3. Par-baked crusts will last for up to a day on the counter, up to a week in the refrigerator, or for up to two months in the freezer (wrapped in plastic wrap AND foil).  When you are ready to prepare a pizza, make the sauce.  Since the pizza will already be par-baked, you’ll put the sauce, pepperoni, and cheese on all at the same time, and bake until the cheese is bubbling and staring to brown.

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