Monday, March 22, 2010

Best Pizza Ever.

I am a pizza snob. I know that many people claim that, but how many of those people can also claim that they used to work in the pizza industry? Hmmm? I have been privileged with a couple of awesome summer jobs when I was in college- not in the preparing-to-be-a-constructive-member-of-society kind of way (I never had an internship), but in the have-a-really-fun-summer job in which you learn about some great bands from the too-tall hipster that left all of his mixed tapes in the pizza shop and where you learned that if you put the industrial fan just so you blow the onion fumes away so that you are barely affected by them.

Ahh, yes those were good times at Burlingame Pizza, which I learned after a quick internet search yesterday, is no more. In memoriam of some of the best damned pizza, I bring you one of their specialties. I don't even remember what the name of this pizza was on the menu, I do remember that it was genius. The combination of caramelized onions, roasted garlic, capers, mushrooms and pesto make the perfect combination of sweet and savory (and vegetarian friendly!). The real secret of this pie (besides a good crust) is the drizzle of honey over the crust- really, you can trust me, I'm an expert.

The Best Pizza Ever:

I recommend making your own pizza crust, it makes it that much more special, and with a little planning-ahead is both cheaper and tastier.

Pizza dough (adapted from Pioneer Woman)

* 1 teaspoon Instant Or Active Dry Yeast
* 1 ½ cup Warm Water
* 4 cups All-purpose Flour
* 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
* ⅓ cups Olive Oil
* Fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary)

Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water.
In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with hook attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix on low until all ingredients are combined. Ratchet the speed up to medium and let the dough hook do its work for about 4 minutes

Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours. Divide the dough in two. Coat a baking sheet with flour, shape dough into disks and place on sheet. Cover with plastic and place in the fridge until you need it.

Pizza Toppings:

* Pesto
* 1 onions worth of caramelized onions
* 2-3 handfuls of spinach
* Mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
* 1-2 tbs capers
* 7 cloves of roasted garlic
* Honey

A bit of prep-work is needed for this pizza- namely caramelizing onions and roasting garlic. Caramelizing onions doesn't necessarily need constant attention, but requires periodic tending-to. Slice onions into half-rings. Heat a pan over medium-low heat. Heat oil or butter in pan and add onions. If you like your onions slightly sweeter, add a spoonful of honey. Stir occasionally until onions are dark and caramelize-y (40 minutes to one hour). While the onions are doing their thing, peel the garlic cloves. Pre-heat oven (or toaster oven) to 375. In a small oven-proof dish pour a couple of good glugs of olive oil. Add cloves and toss to coat completely. Roast garlic, stirring frequently, until very fragrant and caramelized.

Now you're ready to make pizza!

Preheat oven to 500.
Roll out pizza dough to fit your largest pan (if you have a pizza stone, lucky you). Slather a generous amount of pesto onto the dough, covering all but an inch border from the edge. Throw down the spinach. Distribute mozzarella evenly. Add mushrooms. Add garlic- break cloves up in your fingers and distribute evenly over pizza. Add capers. Dip a fork into a honey pot and drizzle all over the pizza- paying special attention to the crust.

Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is a light golden brown.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Few New Old Things.

I scored a vintage portable Royal typewriter at Garage-O-Rama this morning for $10. Garage-O-Rama is an indoor garage sale and individual sellers rent booths to sell their goods. It *might* be the kick-off to the garage sale season (spring? are you there?). Garage-O-Rama opened at 8am, I got there a bit before 9 and it was packed with people looking to score some sweet deals. I'm convinced that I got the best deal. Other great buys that I brought home included some cigar boxes, vintage cards (to type on), a garden bench and Filson hunting cap.

The typewriter needs a new ribbon, but aside from that seems to work fine. This is my second typewriter, the other one being a bulky Sears.

This is my spinning wheel- it seemed like a nice fit to place it in the same post as the typewriter. I seem to have too many hobbies at the moment to take up spinning, but I hear it is quite meditative once you get the hang of it. I think it's downright beautiful, and it makes a nice conversation piece.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pheasent Hunting

Even though I grew up in the country, I did not grow up in a household that hunted. In sixth grade when my classmates signed up for hunter-safety, I flatly refused even though I don’t think I was ever adamantly anti-hunting- that would have immediately rendered me a hypocrite due to my fondness for venison, biscuits and gravy. Killing was a part of my childhood- we raised cattle and sheep for the purpose of filling freezers (and the bank account). I fondly referred to market-day as ‘killing time’. I wasn’t completely desensitized though, I cried so hard when my spring lamb was sent away to meet its fate, I vowed never to do 4-H again due to its cruel, cruel nature (little did I know that you could still do 4-H and nothing had to die- e.g. chickens).

There was one point in college where for a consecutive 3 visits home there was something that had very recently been killed. Thanksgiving coincided with elk hunting season, and I distinctly remember the men-folk rallying to a fresh kill to haul a cow out of the forest to the barn to be hung, skinned and beheaded. I went out to spectate the cleaning process and watched with intrigue as a bonesaw was employed to do its job. Bonesaw easily became one of my favorite words for the next few months and I almost used it as part of my roller derby name.

Even though I grew up with the reality of death-to-animals-that-you-can-eat, I was wary around guns, and had never fired anything bigger than a bb gun until I was in college. I suppose you could say it’s been a downhill slide from there. Last summer I did some target shooting, and last weekend I made my first hunting trip to Wyoming to see if I couldn’t bag me a pheasant. I fully intended to firing my gun at a bird- even though it took me a couple of hours to warm up to the idea. I was mostly giddy about the fact that I was given a loaded gun to carry around.

My hunting party included Nic’s mom, Becky, and Cedar the vizsla. Nic was hunting with Mike and Stone the retriever. Walkie-Talkies were used to communicate position as well as to heckle the other hunting party after they fired and reported 0 birds down. By the afternoon, Nic had the only bird of all of us, and Cedar had only flushed about 3 birds. It was then that I realized that I might not get to shoot at anything and became a little irritated with myself and the dog- mostly on account of my competitive personality- but I quickly got over it.

Here’s something I learned about myself- I quite enjoy hunting. I now understand that hunting is a really good excuse to go for a walk, to hang out with your dog and to do some bushwhacking. Bringing home dinner is merely a bonus.