One fine Tuesday, I invited my friend, Jocelin over for dinner. I didn't plan ahead, so I didn't grocery shop for any particular meal's ingredients. I thought of using whatever supplies I had already since I had a lot of fresh produces from CSA. I knew she wouldn't mind; and that's comforting for me being able to just winged it and being myself.
Since I just made jars of tomato sauce the Sunday before, I decided to make a pizza. I took out summer squashes, red bell pepper, onion, portobello mushrooms, and garden onion cheese. We prepared the ingredients together, when the dough was in the process of fermentation. I enjoyed the process, as we got chance to talk about anything coming across our mind. About an hour later, our pizza was ready not too long after my stomach started to growl.
Hubby told me not to cook today because he wanted to take me out for dinner. I asked him if we wanted to check out a wood-fired pizza place in town. His quick respond was a "No". He said that he liked my heavy-on-vegetable pizza better. Haha.. He is just too sweet.
Anyway, I enjoyed our pizza dinner with our friend. Isn't it nice to have a good friend and neighbor? *wink
We've been having a lot of tomatoes in the house! Some are from the CSA box, and some are extras we bought from the CSA farmer. Since tomatoes are best stored on counter to maintain their tastiness, we stack them in a bowl on a high counter. Their shiny bright color is enticing. No wonder hubby likes to grab and eat them before dinner is ready.
I wish tomatoes are as tasty and as plenty as they are now in this time of the year. I could get tomatoes from grocery store all year round, but they are brought from somewhere else whenever it's out of season. The long distance travel cause the price to be higher; and since it takes time to transport, they are picked before they are fully ripened, hence their less freshness. When bragging about our bountiful tomato supply to my family the other day, I realized how lucky people back home are to have tomato in all season -something I took for granted.
Having a lot of tomatoes allows me to make many kind of sauce. Pizza sauce is the first one I made this season. The original recipe calls for peeling the tomato skin and getting rid of the seeds, but I didn't want to make such effort. I think both hubby & I are practical (read: lazy), and not picky about this kind of stuff. We are just happy enough to have a large amount of homemade pizza sauce in the fridge.
Pizza Sauce 10 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or other herbs
4 stalks celery
1/4 cup Burgundy wine (optional)
In a sauce pan over medium heat, sautee onion and garlic in oil until fragrant. Puree chopped tomatoes, celery, and onion mixture in a blender or food processor.
Pour the puree back to the sauce pan. Add the herbs and wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 1-1.5 hour.
Concerning my lack of sleep last night, hubby offered to buy food for our dinner. He had to work from home tonight so he couldn't cook. He didn't want me to cook either since he knew I was too tired from finishing my writing. The writing is due this Friday, so I stayed up until 5 am to do some revisions. On the way home after handing out the writing to my adviser, he asked me where we wanted to have dinner. Knowing that our refrigerator was full of organic vegetables, I told him that I would cook something simple. He agreed, with one requirement; he couldn't help because he had to prepare a presentation. I nodded.
Among those summer vegetables, bundles of basil leaves, squashes, portabella mushrooms, tomatoes, and peppers jumped out at me. Pizza! Making pizza doesn't require much time.
I started with making the dough. While the dough was fermenting in the sun room, I peeled some garlics, coarsely chopped the basil leaves, mixed olive oil and salt, then food processed the whole ingredients. Voila! the pesto was done. The next step was chopping the vegetables and mushrooms. In the mean time, I boiled four cups of water and a cup of salt for salted eggs. Making bothok telur asin has been on my list this past few months.
I found out that making pizza is a perfect one person's job. When the topping preparation is finished, the dough was ready. It took no time to spread the pesto on the dough, arrange the topping and seal it with cheese. My stomach was growling and hubby was about to faint from starvation when I was about to bake the pizza. Fifteen minutes later, we enjoyed fresh-vegetable pizza while watching Mr. Monk, our favorite TV show. Yummm...
Pizza Hut was the biggest pizza place in my hometown. Just like other fast food restaurants including Mc.Donalds in my country, Pizza Hut is also considered as a nice restaurant. Yes, it is a restaurant where people sit while enjoying their pizza. The restaurant's interior is also designed to make people comfortable using the space to celebrate special occasions or have a date or get together with friends. Since the food this restaurant offers is pricey for average income, this restaurant, that is usually located in a shopping mall, could be considered a "luxury" restaurant.
My sister and I also liked to visit this place once in a while. We had pizza dates when I went home during my college time. We ordered personal pizza, risotto, and a portion of salad. For the salad, we could only fill up our bowl once or we would get charge for the second portion. So, sist & I (as well as some people) would use our best talent to pile up the vegetables and fruits as high as possible. Haha...hubby always got annoyed when I did that. My sister and I always had a great time. We were excited with the food at the first bites, then the satisfaction dwindled as we scooped more and more food. Before we finished everything, even before we filled full, our stomach usually would feel queasy and we promised not to visit that place anymore. But, the next day or two, we changed our mind and planned for another pizza date. Haha...she still brings this thing up sometimes when we see Pizza Hut restaurants.
I think I like pizza more than I did before, because I can always finish at least 2 slices of big pizza, and my stomach is fine. I also sometimes have moments when I really crave pizza. Furthermore, now I like to make my own pizza like what I did on one Friday evening. For the crust, I used recipe from More-with-Less Mennonite cookbook I got from my friend Ruthie on our wedding day. For the topping, I used whatever vegetables I could find in my refrigerator. Hubby loved...loved...the crust.
Source: More-with-Less Mennonite cookbook
Ingredients: 1 cup warm water
1 pkg yeast (about 7.5 gr)
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup additional whole wheat flour
Combine water and yeast, let sit for 10 minutes. Add sugar, salt, oil, and 1 1/4 flour. Beat until smooth.
Add the whole wheat flour. Knead until elastic, about 5 minutes.
Place in greased bowl and let rise until double, about 45 minutes.
Divide the dough to 2, roll and stretch to fill 2 greased pizza pans. I don't have pizza pan, so I used the 3 base of my round springform pans with diameter 8, 9, and 10 feet. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Pour the sauce over crust, arrange the toppings, and sprinkle the cheese. Bake at 400'F for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
When still got weekly vegetable boxes from Megan, we had superfluous fresh basil leaves in our refrigerator. Since I was sure we couldn't finish the whole things before they got rotten, I made pesto basil then saved it in the freezer. I almost forgot about my frozen pesto basil, until I thought about making pizza the other day. My favorite pizza is ones from Tomato Head, a local restaurant at the heart of downtown. They have a lot choices of pizza sauces, not only the regular tomato sauce one like most pizza places offer. One of my favorite is their pesto base pizza topped with mushroom, spinach, olive, and other vegetables. Yummm...
Pizza Crust Recipe is adapted from here
Mix: 1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. instant yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
Add: 1 ¼ cups warm water
2 Tbsp. oil
Mix to form a soft dough. Cover and let rise until nearly double in bulk. Grease large pizza pan or cookie sheet. Roll out dough on floured board. Place on greased pizza pan or cookie sheet. Stretch the dough as necessary.
Pesto basil sauce, adapted from here 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
black pepper Combine the all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
Spread pesto basil, leave 1/2 inch from the edge. Sprinkle half of the cheese. Arrange spinach, tomato, mushroom, and red onion. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese.
Bake at 425º for 15 minutes or until it bubbles and the cheese just begins to brown.