Pizza from Scratch

And I don’t mean Boboli pizza crust and Prego sauce.  I mean flour, yeast, tomatoes, garlic, fresh mozzarella, oregano, and olive oil.  Be warned, it takes a long time to do, but it’s totally worth it.  The crust is based on a recipe that took me a lonnnggg time … to find on the internet.  I have actually tried a bunch of different recipes and have never really been able to get the crust to rise until this one (including one I got while I lived in Italy).  The original is way wayyyyyy long and detailed and I have summarized it here so if you want the original check it out here.

My Hawaiian Pizza

Serves 2

Pizza

Sauce
5 Tomatoes
4 large cloves garlic, crushed and minced
2/3 oz fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Olive oil

1. Boil enough water to cover the tomatoes (whole) and then add the tomatoes after the water comes to temp until the skins start to peel off (about a minute).

2. Take out the tomatoes and let em cool so you don’t burn your hands, then peel the skins off.

3. Quarter the tomatoes then cut out the watery inards so all you have is the mushy flesh, then chop up all the tomatoes as small as you can and mush them with your hands into a paste.

4. Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a sauce pan, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes to taste.

5. After about a minute add the smushed tomatoes and the oregano, mix it all up and simmer about a half hour.

The Dough
3/4 cup high gluten flour, chilled
1/3 tsp salt
1/6 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp olive oil
A little less than 1/3 cup ice cold water

1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast.

2. Stir in the oil and water until its all absorbed and then stir by hand an additional 5 minutes or so until its smooth, sticky, and elastic.

3. Dust with flour, cover in olive oil, put in a ziplock bag, and refrigerate overnight (this is where the yeasting happens, its called cold fermentation).

4. Take the dough out of the fridge two hours before using, and put on a floured counter.  Press it out to 1/2 in thick and about 5 in diameter.  Cover in olive oil and dust with flour so it doesn’t dry out.

5. Stretch out the dough and place on a corn meal covered pizza peel or whatever you cook your pizzas on.

Putting it all Together
1. Preheat the oven to as high as it can go, then let it continue to preheat way after it beeps at you because built in oven thermometers suck.  If you have a pizza stone preheat it with the oven.

2. Put the sauce on the dough and then put on sliced mozzarella and whatever toppings you want (less is more: the more topping you add the more water comes out of them in the oven and keeps your dough soggy).

3. Place the pizza in the oven on a baking stone if you have one and cook until the cheese starts to turn dark (about 12 min at 500 degrees F).

4. Remove it from the oven and enjoy!

Bacardi Mojito

My take on a Bacardi Mojito.  A lot of people like to use simple syrup but I prefer the raw sugar because it helps grind the mint to release the flavor.  (Hint: This is a great excuse to buy a muddler.)

Serves One

Bacardi Mojito
12 mint leaves
1/2 a lime
3 tsp sugar
1 1/2 oz Bacardi white rum
Sparkling Water

1. Quarter the half a lime (if you do it hamburger style instead of hotdog they juice better when muddling)

2. Add the lime, mint, and sugar to a highball glass and muddle until limes are juiced

3. Add rum and stir

4. Top glass with cubed ice and then sparkling water

5. Stir with a bar spoon. (Hint: If you put the spoon to the bottom and then rub the stem between your hands like you’re trying to start a fire it works really well.)

6. Add a straw and enjoy.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This is what comfort food is all about.  It’s creamy, cheesy, gooey and terrible for you.  But I think it’s delicious.  My parents would make it off and on growing up (my mom hates it) so it kind of reminds me of home.  It’s a pretty simply dish that goes really well with some plain whole grain rice (make sure to get some casserole and some rice on each forkful).  I also am not such a fan of the crust but feel free to throw way more tortillas on there if you are.

Serves Two

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
1 chicken breast, trimmed and cubed
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup (hopefully low sodium, but I’m not your mom)
1/4 cup salsa (this is where you can add the heat)
Cheddar cheese
Corn tortillas
Enchilada sauce (red or green)

1. Preheat oven to 400

2. Fry the cubed chicken and season with salt and pepper

3. Combine the cream of chicken soup, salsa, and as much cheese as you want

4. When the chicken is done add it to the mixture

5. Pour enchilada sauce in a shallow bowl and dredge the tortillas through it, putting a layer of dredged tortillas on the bottom of an 8×4 in glass baking dish.

6. Pour the chicken, cheese mixture on the tortillas and top with another layer of dredges tortillas.  Pour some of the remaining enchilada sauce on top.

7. Bake with foil over top for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.