Thursday, August 06, 2009

Back to basics: The Joy of Cooking

While I've been on the computer a little bit less, I've still been in the kitchen a fair bit. I found myself turning to the tried and true Joy of Cooking several times this week, mostly because I can often find a straight-forward, quick recipe when I'm short on time. I had never made my own pizza dough and was determined to this week. I had planned on making it Monday night to rest overnight, but it was late and when the yeast didn't activate on the first go round, I ditched the dough-making for the evening. The next day, I had to find a recipe that didn't require any of this overnight business. Hence, the good old Joy. Here it is in all its crunchy, chewy loveliness:

Basic Pizza Dough
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking
Makes 2 twelve-inch crusts

Combine in a large bowl & let stand five minutes:
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/3 c. warm water
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tb olive oil
1 Tb salt
1 Tb sugar (optional)

Mix all to blend. Knead about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled — 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 475ยบ. Grease and dust two baking sheets with cornmeal. Punch down dough and divide in half. Roll into balls and let rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap 10 to 15 minutes.

Flatten each ball on lightly floured surface into 12-inch rounds,rolling and stretching dough. Place on prepared baking sheet. Lift edge and pinch to form lip. To prevent crust from getting soggy from the toppings, brush with olive oil.

Using fingertips, dent surface of dough to prevent bubbles. Let rest 10 minutes and then you're ready to go with toppings. Bake until crust is browned and cheese is golden, approx. 12 minutes.

NOTES: I added the lesser amount of flour called for, but it was quite a wet, loose dough, so I probably added at least 1/4 cup more during kneading. Still very sticky. I didn't even notice the greasing the pan part of the recipe until I was typing it just now. I sprinkled the baking sheet with cornmeal only and it all worked out fine. No sticking. Also, I probably could have stretched it out thinner before baking since it puffs up quite a bit. Tasty!

I also whipped up a super fast sauce from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking.

Bright Red Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Super Natural Cooking

Makes 3 cups.
2 Tb. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
Saute all but tomatoes over medium-high heat 2-3 minutes until garlic is just starting to take on a bit of color. Stir in tomatoes, simmer five minutes. Remove from heat and salt to taste. I only had a can of whole tomatoes, so I chopped those up, and then threw the whole thing in the blender when it had cooled a bit. This sauce packs the perfect punch — a whole lot of flavor with some zip from the hot pepper flakes. We're planning to have the leftover sauce with chicken parmigiana tonight — yum!


  1. Try this for a veggie pieWhole Wheat Yeasted Olive Oil Pastry

    Yeasted crusts are more rustic than French-style short crusts. They’re also easier to manipulate — they don’t crack and tear. Remember to roll this out thinly so that it doesn’t become too bready.

    2 teaspoons active dry yeast

    1/2 cup lukewarm water

    1/4 teaspoon sugar

    1 large egg, at room temperature, beaten

    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 cup whole wheat flour

    1 cup unbleached flour (more as needed)

    3/4 teaspoon salt

    1. Dissolve the yeast in the water, add the sugar, and allow to sit until the mixture is creamy, about five minutes. Beat in the egg and the olive oil. Combine the flours and salt, and stir into the yeast mixture. You can use a bowl and wooden spoon for this, or a mixer — combine the ingredients using the paddle. Work the dough until it comes together in a coherent mass, adding flour as necessary. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently for a few minutes, adding flour as necessary, just until the dough is smooth — do not overwork it. Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a draft-free spot until doubled in size, about one hour.

    2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, gently knead a couple of times, and cut into two equal pieces (or as directed in each of this week’s recipes). Shape each piece into a ball without kneading it. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, and let rest for five minutes. Then roll out into thin rounds, as directed in each recipe, and line pans. If not using right away, freeze the dough to prevent it from rising and becoming too bready. The dough can be transferred directly from the freezer to the oven.

    Yield: Makes enough for one 10- or 11-inch double-crusted torte or galette, or two 10-inch tarts.

    Advance preparation: You can make the dough a day ahead and refrigerate. Once rolled out, the dough will keep for a month in the freezer if it’s well wrapped.

  2. This sounds great, BE! I can't wait to try it.