First thing is first: my apologies for taking a two-week hiatus from blogging. If you refer to my last post, that may explain things a bit further. On the flip side, that means that I’ve got to make up for those blog posts soon, so double blog post weeks are on their way! My goal is to do at least a blog per week this year.
It has definitely been a rough few weeks, but friends and I are gradually getting back into the swing of things. We all have our own ways of recovering. Mine would be eating tons of sugary and carb-loaded foods and working out in long stretches to compensate.
It’s called balance, people. Doesn’t mean the balance is necessarily right.
Thankfully, I just put the need to do something physical and the need for good food together by combining them in my first attempt to make pizza. I needed something light, something that would make me feel good (as much for my brain as for my waist), but it had to scream, “I am pizza! HEAR ME SIZZLE AND CRUNCH!”. I immediately thought of a pizza bianco, a traditionally sauce-less pizza decked out with onions, cheese, garlic, and in my case, basil and spinach (hence the semi-bianco, or semi-white).
Not to knock psychiatrists and therapists, but cooking is probably the best therapist you will ever meet. Somewhere between the whirring of a mixer, the sizzling of a skillet, and the heat of an oven lies the key to a release so basic and so simple; knead some dough and try to tell me you don’t automatically feel better. Not to mention, you get some great food afterwards (unless it all goes down south, in which case…lesson learned! I’m speaking from experience, people.)
(Just don’t ask me about pretzels, that tale stays between me and the garbage disposal…)
(But I digress.)
So thank you, food, for being my punching bag. Nothing against you, actual punching bag in the gym that I’ve spent so much time with during the past few weeks; you’ll get some attention after I indulge myself on this incredible pizza.
1 1/2 cups flour (I replaced ½ of this with white whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1-4 tablespoons more)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon honey
1/3 cup each grated parmesan and mozzarella (personally, I recommend using more; my pizza turned out more like a flatbread with cheese than a full-blown pizza, but it was still delicious)
½ white onion, thinly sliced
1 bulb of garlic, roasted (I like my pizza very garlicky; don’t worry, roasting cuts the strength of the garlic)
3 basil leaves, chiffonade
½ cup baby spinach (this is a guesstimate; I used a handful)
Salt & Pepper
Note: May I suggest a few dabs of ricotta cheese here and there on the pizza?
- Add yeast to a standing mixer bowl or other large bowl with warm water and honey. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until yeast blooms (a fancy term for letting the yeast activate).
- Add the rest of the wet ingredients, then gradually add the dry ingredients as you stir the mixture together into a homogenous ball shape. If using a mixer, use the dough hook attachment. Add extra tablespoons of water if dough is too dry or isn’t forming together very well.
- Dump the dough ball and any straggling flour and dough pieces onto a lightly floured surface and knead (my favorite part!) into a ball.
- Lightly grease the bowl you just used and put the dough back in, making sure to coat the dough ball with oil (I have olive oil in mind since that is what I used to coat the bowl). Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and let rise until double its size, about 1-2 hours.
- After the dough has risen, dump back onto a lightly floured surface, gently punch the dough down, recover with the same plastic wrap or cover and let rise for 10-20 more minutes (the longer the better, but I understand if you can’t resist).
- It’s time to crank up your oven! I put mine up to somewhere between 55o-600 ˚F, my oven’s upper temperature limit.
- After the dough has risen again, shape your pizza dough into a thin circle or oval (I went with the latter) with a rolling-pin (or you can use your hands, but it might take a bit longer). Place this dough onto a pizza stone, or if you lack one like I do, a greased, overturned (yes, upside-down), dark baking pan; it works like a charm!
- Sprinkle the cheese, pre-roasted garlic (I usually roast my garlic skin-on with some pepper, salt, and olive oil until golden brown at 325-350 ˚F and then peel or squeeze out the innards), and onions on the dough. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a minimal amount of olive oil, and stick that puppy into the oven for anywhere from 5-15 minutes. The time depends on how hot your oven can get, but your pizza is done when it is golden-brown, blistered, and even a bit charred.
- Take it out (CAREFULLY; this sucker is HOT) and slide onto a cutting board (my wooden one doubled as my serving platter). Immediately sprinkle basil and spinach onto pizza so they can both wilt from the humid heat of the pizza.
- Drizzle a tiny bit more olive oil, slice, and eat. Delicious!