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Friday, October 22, 2010

Thrifty Thursday

I have a feeling that Thursday is going to be difficult in keeping with the alliteration theme.  But, luckily this Thursday was actually thrifty, and only required me to buy one additional ingredient, which cost $1.09.

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".

Pizza Margherita

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.

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