Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Clearance and Pizza

Happy New Year! Been laying low the last few weeks because the family was on vacation and we were spending time together. Please excuse the grainy photo. Don't know WHY photos loaded from my Android phone always looks so funky.

I have been pretty good. I did NO SHOPPING after Christmas, until yesterday.  I popped over to my local grocery store for a quick trip, and spotted a pile of cooking parchment paper. The store sells parchment paper year round, but these were clearanced along with the more mundane Christmas items. This particular brand is  one they don't normally carry, so I guess they had to get rid of it.  The regular price for one roll was a whopping $4.99, but it was on sale for $1.25. So for the price of 3 rolls, I purchased 12.

Now, you might think I went a bit nuts, but I regularly use parchment paper, and it has been a pet peeve of mine how expensive they are.  Even if they go "on sale," it is usually only marked down about 25 cents off the regular price, so you can see what a good deal this was.  I probably have enough here to last me at least 3-5 years, but I have a feeling in that amount of time, the regular price would have more than doubled.  I do believe in stocking up on non-perishable items if you have the space to store it.  The way I see it, the economy is not getting any better, and if you see deals like this, you better grab it.

Now, what do I do with this, you might ask?? Well, one good use is to make homemade pizza. I finally figured out, thanks to a good friend, that the best way to bake a pizza is on parchment paper right on the wire rack, without putting anything under it.  If you are making thin crust pizza, you can make a pizza start to finish in 30 minutes flat, no joke! You do not let the dough rest or rise, that is the trick to getting a crispy, thin crust. If you like breadier crust, then allow the dough to rise until it doubles before punching it down and shaping the dough into a pizza.The recipe I use is pretty basic:

Pizza Dough

1 package active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups flour

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of the water and allow yeast to dissolve and proof, about 15 minutes. When the yeast starts to bubble, add the rest of the water along with the salt and olive oil. Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor and drizzle the liquid mixture while you blitz the flour.  Mix until the mixture turns into a ball.

At this point you have two choices: 

Roll out the dough immediately onto a floured parchment paper as thin as you can (probably less than 1/4 inch) and top with some sauce, cheese and toppings, or

Allow the dough to rise in a covered, oiled bowl in a draft-free spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until doubled in bulk. Roll or stretch out the dough until it is about 10 inches in diameter on a piece of  floured parchment paper and top with your favorite sauce, cheese and toppings.

When your pizza is finished, slide the parchment paper onto a cookie sheet or even onto a flattened cardboard box to use as a pizza paddle to slide the pizza on top of the wire rack in the oven, paper and all.  The paper will brown but will not burn in the time it takes to bake the pizza.

Either way, the secret to a good pizza is to have no more than two different kinds of toppings, excluding the sauce and cheese.  Even if you choose the thin crust/no rise option, you still want the yeast in there for the yeasty aroma.  Otherwise, it will be like eating a cracker with cheese on top.

Bake the pizza for about 10 minutes at 500 degrees. 

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