The story behind today's meal actually began about 6 years ago. I was a young, fresh-faced, college freshman, wandering the streets of Italy. No, not alone. Have you met my parents? I was with approximately 50 other members of the Concordia Orchestra, and my bassoon of course! It was here that I was introduced to today's meal. Pizza Margherita. I could go on and on about the joys of eating real pizza in real Italy, but that just seems so Julia Roberts in "Eat Pray Love".
1 package dry active yeast
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup warm water (divided)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp oil
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
2 large garlic cloves, smashed (it still isn't gone)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 basil leaves (plus extra for garnish)
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup reduced-fat, part-skim, shredded mozzarella cheese (alright you food-purists, don't freak out, see further explanation below)
I started with the dough, which I was hesitant about. My last experience with homemade pizza dough was on a warm, June evening in Matthew's warm apartment. It ended in a sticky, gooey, unhappy mess.
I stirred the yeast, 1 tbsp of flour, and 1/4 cup of warm water and let it sit for about 5 minutes. I added in the remaining dough ingredients, kneaded it on a floured surface, and placed it in a covered bowl to rise.
It rose for about 75 minutes, so I had plenty of time to make the sauce. Which involved the MAGIC BULLET! The use of this kitchen device will never cease to entertain me. I briefly blended the tomatoes in the Magic Bullet, until they were chunky. Before they could go into a pan, I needed to put my garlic-smashing skills to good use.
The garlic went into a pan with the oil, tomatoes, sugar, salt, and basil.
This simmered for about 40 minutes. It was then that I encountered my first "tiny kitchen problem" as I like to call them. I was supposed to heat a pizza stone or pan in the oven at 500 degrees for 45 minutes. I painfully discovered the round pizza pan we own won't fit into our oven (without tilting it). Since I didn't want the pizza to be lopsided, or to slide to the bottom of the oven, I decided we would have rectangular pizza. Feel free to gasp now. I know, I know it's hardly authentic Italian, and Julia Roberts would have never eaten it.
After all these conundrums my dough had risen.
I shaped the pizza (rectangularly, remember?) on parchment paper and moved it to the hot rectangular pan to assemble the pizza. I spread on the sauce, which had reduced down to this:
I then added my shredded, highly processed cheese. Feel free to gasp again. I am fully aware of how delicious our pizza might have tasted had I used fresh mozzarella. But, I had three goals in mind A) To not spend $6.00 on 1 ingredient for 1 meal B) To not have tons of ridiculous ingredients left over see: Super Saturday: Part Two. C) To make this pizza a tad more health conscious. So, after much yearning in the dairy aisle over that fresh-looking buffalo mozzarella, I grabbed the processed kind, and hoped the clerk couldn't sense my embarrassment. The assembled pizza (processed cheese and all) looked like this:
It baked for about 11 minutes. It looked like heaven. I wish the crust was a bit thinner, and it didn't taste like anything I had in Italy, and I'm sure Julia Roberts has had better too. Nevertheless, it was pretty darn good.