Friday, April 8, 2011

Lonely Lady's Pizza

I have been super busy lately and I realized that I forgot to tell you all about the pizza I made TWO WEEKS AGO.  I was home with the kids, the husband working, and I would rather have been out with friends, but couldn't get a sitter.  Boo.  So I made myself a Lonely Lady's Pizza.

I have tried many pizza dough recipes, but my favorite, by a landslide, is Jaime Oliver's.  His dough rolls really easily, and bakes to a nice crisp with a desirable chew.  I simply dissolve one packet of dried yeast in one cup of warm water with a couple glugs of olive oil and a pinch of sugar.  Then I break out my baking sheet  - one that has edges, so I don't make a huge mess, sift together 3 1/2 cups bread flour, 1 1/2 tsp salt, make a well in the center and pour in the yeast once it is foamy.  Then I stir gently, incorporating the flour into the yeasty water until I have a doughy mess.  Then I knead, form into a ball and put it in a bowl, dusted with flour, to rise for about an hour.  This makes enough for two pizzas, perfect for a night spent home with the kids.

 Dough ready for rolling.

Meanwhile, I make the sauce, which is also Jaime Oliver's, and involves heating olive oil in a pan with 2 cloves of garlic, sliced.  Throw in a handful of fresh basil and one 28 oz can of whole tomatoes.  I squeeze the tomatoes as I put them in to break them up more easily.  Season with salt and pepper - and I also put in either a squeeze of Agave or a pinch of sugar.  Mash up the tomatoes as best as possible, then bring to a boil and strain through a sieve.  This part is kind of a pain, because you really have to press hard to get the stuff through the sieve, and keep wiping off the back of the sieve where the good stuff is, a task best accomplished with a rubber spatula.  Someone should really invent an easier tool for this process.  If they already have, please let me know.  Pour the sauce back into the pan and simmer until it seems as thick as sauce should be.

Sauce simmering.

Achievement of a fairly standard shaped pizza, thanks to Mr. Oliver.

This particular pizza was made fancy by the use of a cheese purchased at Lucy's Whey in Chelsea Market.  I can't recall what it was called exactly, but it was something like "Whackadoodle."  You could use Talleggio.

Also on this pizza were spinach, sauteed with garlic and chili flakes, and Gruyere, who is my best friend.

Sorry, kid.  Get your own.

I'm sharing this song with you, because it is perhaps the best song ever written for someone feeling lonely.  Try and find the live version, on an album called "Never Mind the Quality: Feel the Soul"

Spicy As Hell and so so good!

Dear Reader,

This morning I awoke, tired and limp from a night spent with relatives in town from the grand old United Kingdom and our mutual friend Ketel One.  I fed the children, sent them off to school, sat on the sofa and stared into space for thirty minutes, then headed off to the diner, desperate for some eggs and toast.  It wasn't so much the eggs and toast that I was looking forward to.  No.  The eggs and toast, and especially the potatoes on the side, were mere vehicles for my most favorite, delicious, mind-blowing, soul-satisfying condiment of the moment.  Spicy As Hell Hot Sauce.

About two weeks ago I was picking the kids up from school when another mother asked, casually, "Do you like hot sauce?"  I answered that I did like hot sauce.  "I'm brewing up a batch.  I'll bring you a bottle," she said.  Let me tell you, I am no hot sauce connoisseur.  I sometimes like spicy things, but you wouldn't find me nibbling on a habanero.  That is to say, I'm not a hot sauce junkie.  Or I wasn't until now.

Maria's Spicy As Hell Hot Sauce is indeed spicy as hell.  But it's also tart, redolent of garlic and has a vinegary edge that I can't get enough of.  I realized this morning, when I put it on the table at the diner, that it is a rather peculiar thing to carry about in my pocket.  And I have been doing that regularly. Having lunch with Mom?  Gotta remember the hot sauce!  It's good on sandwiches, chips, chicken, lentils, drizzled on a taco, mixed with a little ketchup and slathered on a burger, it perfectly enhances a frittata, and absolutely must have restorative properties, because as I write this, I feel like a new woman.

I am lucky to count Maria as a friend, and thereby have access to this amazing sauce, but you can get some, too.  She sells it on Etsy.  She makes each batch fresh to order, there are no preservatives.  I implore you to try some.  You won't know what hit you.