Sunday, March 2, 2014

Why have I not gone to Italy yet?

If you discount beds that I have paid for, I have slept in seven different places in the last six months. I'm going to blame that fact for this fact: I cannot find my camera cord. Anywhere.

Because I can't find my camera I can't write the post I was planning to all day yesterday -- I went hiking in Palo Duro Canyon! It's the sort of cactus-filled, red rock desert where I feel right at home.

(Well, I could write it, but without the pictures it's just not really worth it. So you must wait.)

Instead, I will be writing about something that is as close to my heart and tastes infinitely better. (West Texas is windy. That's how I know Palo Duro tastes like dirt.) Anyway, on today's menu: garlic!

If you roast garlic and then peel the skin off, you're left with really fantastic soft garlic and this beautiful flower. I'm saving them and will make myself a bouquet. I already have the first one in a vase. 
Today was fast Sunday. In the LDS Church, we don't eat breakfast or lunch on the first Sunday of each month and, instead of planned talks, we have a testimony meeting where anyone from the congregation can share what they're feeling. (This is really great in Ireland.) This is a really spiritual day and also, dinner tastes really good on these days. 

Which made the dinner that I made delicious squared.

Today was pizza bianca day. I learned about pizza bianca from Spilled Milk, the food podcast to which Rachel introduced me and I now listen to religiously. Pizza biance is crust, olive oil, salt and rosemary. That's all. Sound plain and uninspired? Make this once, and pepperoni pizza will forever taste like it's compensating for something.

So here we go!

Roasted garlic pizza bianca (adapted from Amateur Gourmet)
Time: 3.5 hours preparation (most of it is uninvolved), 20 minutes cooking

1 or 2 bulbs of garlic
3 cups flour
1 2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 tablespoon dried rosemary 
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Take your garlic bulb(s) -- I'll get to more of this in a minute -- and slice off about a quarter of an inch off the top so you can see the garlic inside. Wrap it up in aluminum foil, stick it in the hot oven for about 40 minutes. Take it out, get the garlic meat out (it's sticky) and mash it up some with a fork.

** Re: the garlic: Roasted garlic is out of this world. I realize that not everybody has the same love affair with garlic as I do (and if you do -- back. off. It's mine! I will cut you.) But really, the garlic. Roasted garlic has lots of flavor, but an entire bulb of roasted garlic is nowhere near as potent as a bulb of garlic. I put two in. It had hints of garlic flavor, except where there were a couple of chunks and it was very garlicky. It's garlic. Go big or go home.

This is what roasted garlic looks like. You can eat it plain, you can spread it on bread, you can add it to potatoes. I can't say for sure because I'm not the FDA or God, but it cannot be proven that it does not have miraculous healing and/or restorative properties.

2. Put the flour, water, the garlic and one teaspoon of salt into the mixer; mix on low speed for two minutes until it's uniformly combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl to get it all in. Let it rest for 20 minutes.

3. Add the yeast and sugar; mix on low for two minutes, then turn it up on high for about five minutes. If you have a KitchenAid (you SHOULD have a KitchenAid), put a kitchen towel underneath it so it doesn't walk across the counter. I came back into the kitchen to find it on the verge of hurling itself off the counter.

4. Thoroughly grease the bowl with one tablespoon of oil; put the dough, which will be much more runny than normal bread dough, into the bowl and use a spatula to turn it over so it's coated with oil. Put another tablespoon of olive oil on top; cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise for two to two and a half hours. It should about double in size.

5. If you have a pizza or kitchen stone, one hour before the dough has finished rising, turn the oven on to 450 degrees with the stone in the oven. If you don't, don't worry about step 5. Just preheat the oven to 450 when you're ready to cook.

6. Put two tablespoons of oil into a rimmed cookie sheet; make sure all the pan, including the sides, are greased. There will be pools of oil in the pan and in the bowl with the dough and oil sitting everywhere. You will be tempted to use less oil. DO NOT give into that temptation, and here's why. First, olive oil is a good fat. It's good for your cholesterol levels and blood sugar and is generally considered a healthy fat. Second, this pizza is perfect. If you skimp on the oil, you will ruin it.

7. Pour the dough and all the oil that's in the bowl into the pan. Using your hands, gently stretch the dough into all corners of the pan. Let it rest for five minutes.

8. Stick a fork into the crust 30 to 40 times, then sprinkle the tablespoon of kosher salt evenly over it. If you're a sea salt lover, let me attempt to dissuade you, or at least give you a warning -- sea salt comes in big chunks. You'll end up with really salty pizza. If you have more finely ground sea salt, go to town. Don't use table salt. Really, you can replace table salt with kosher salt in just about anything. Just something to think about.

9. Bake for 10 minutes, put the rosemary on top, bake for another 10. You can leave the pizza stone in the oven if you're using one. Take it out when it's browned on top. Use a spatula to get it onto a cutting board and slice it up, or, if you live alone, move the pan to the table and pull pieces off it. 

10. Admit that I'm right and this is really fantastic pizza. Then invite me over for pizza. 

Pair this with a salad and get some protein in your meal, and you, my friend, will have as good a dinner as I had today. Happy eating!

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