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2015 Summer Wonders #72: Hey! Ice Cream!

Another summer wonder: ice cream trucks. Imagine a world where people with ice cream spontaneously appear on your street!  It’s beautiful.  I know the folks in the photo–they ran an immensely popular local restaurant for years before selling it and starting the ice cream gig as a semi-retirement thing.  The ice cream is outstanding.  The people selling it are too.

http://weeklypaper.blogspot.com/2014/05/indiana-pa.html
http://weeklypaper.blogspot.com/2014/05/indiana-pa.html

 

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I Dare You To Make A Pizza Night–Sauce

The Make a Pizza Night Post will appear Sunday around 7pm–at which point this sentence will turn into a link

I’m serious, man.   Make a pizza tonight.

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Picture stolen from some chick on tumblr

 

Sauce.  You can get some damn fine sauce at the store, but part of the joy of pizza is the path you take to get there, so I offer this.

Get a 28oz can of the best damn tomatoes you can buy.  San Marzano tomatoes.  Or, if you’re like us, get some frozen tomatoes from the deep freeze or a jar of self-canned tomatoes from the pantry shelf–if using the latter, a small can of good quality tomato past speeds the process.  In a pinch, you can use puree, but that’s cheating.  Of course, we’ll be cheating ourselves tonight on one of our pies–I’ve got a jar of locally made sauce from Labriolla’s Italian Deli & Grocery–and cheating is perfectly acceptable.  Abandon any recipe that calls for adding sugar.

While your crust is rising….

28oz tomatoes, fresh or canned, or puree
tomato paste if you want
olive oil
1 head of garlic
salt, pepper,
parsley, basil, oregano as desired
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium low heat in a large skillet, being careful not to scorch or burn the oil (you’ll smell it if you do, in which case just wash out the pan and start again being more careful and using less heat.)

Roughly mince about 4 cloves of garlic (or more if you’re feeling it, or less if you’re–well, there’s no need for insults) and toss it into the olive oil.  Cook it just long enough that the garlic releases its scent–I don’t know how else to explain it, because I’m not a trained cook, but sauteed garlic reaches a point where it releases a puff of sweet, garlicky goodness–pay attention and you’ll notice for yourself.  That scent means that it is perfectly done, and another 30 seconds will ruin it.  Get it off the heat, or get your tomatoes in there.

Put your tomatoes into the skillet and stir to mix in the olive oil and garlic.  Add an optional half cup of a hearty, clean wine–whatever you’ve got handy or open.  Then settle in, and stir every few minutes, until the sauce is reduced.  It will turn darker as you cook–that’s the sugars in the tomatoes changing.  I have an old Italian sauce recipe that calls for cooking all day until it turns brownish, the sugars partially carmelized, but we don’t need that for a nice, wholesome tomato sauce.  If the sauce does get too thick, simply add water a teaspoon at a time until you get a good consistency.  When you’re nearly done, add a tablespoon each of fresh finely chopped parsley, basil, and two teaspoons of oregano, a pinch of black pepper, and a scant teaspoon of salt–and cook it for about 5 more minutes–you’ll get a much better, fresher taste from your herbs this way than if you cooked them all along with the sauce. If you’re using dried oregano, leave it out of the sauce and just sprinkle it very lightly over the cooked pizza when you’re done.  Some people cook onions or peppers in their sauce–don’t.  Better to dice them and add them as a topping.

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Remember: Sunday Night Is I Dare You To Make A Pizza Night

The Make a Pizza Night Post will appear Sunday around 7pm–at which point this sentence will turn into a link

http://foodstoriesblog.com
http://foodstoriesblog.com

Make a pizza.  Post a link on the Pizza Post that will appear on this blog Sunday Night.  It’s a double dog dare–you can’t refuse.  If you must, shortcuts are allowed: pre-made crusts, sauce from a jar, whatever it takes.  Hell, send out or heat a frozen cardboard pie.  I’m going to make this easy for you…here’s a crust recipe, with a sauce recipe to follow this evening.

Perfect Pizza Crust

You can make this up to a day ahead of time, or any time up to 2 hours before you’re ready to eat.  The longer it has to rise, the more subtle and tasty it will be.

1. Put 1 Cup of very warm water in large, heavy bowl.  Add a tablespoon of brown sugar, honey, or even plain old sugar if that’s all you’ve got, and a tablespoon of flour–we like pastry flour or 00 Semolina, but use whatever rocks your world.  Mix it up to form a pasty broth.

2. When the water has cooled (but remains warm–ideally around 100-105 degrees F, the temp you’d use for a baby bottle–above 114 degrees you risk killing your yeast) add 2.5 teaspoons of dry yeast, mix that in until it dissolves, and set it aside for 5-10 minutes.  It will get a little foamy–that’s little baby yeast growing up. While it proofs, get the rest of your ingredients ready.

3. Add 1.5 cups for flour, 2 tablespoons of olive oil  (or some sort of fat, like softened but not melted butter, or even vegetable oil–but if you use a solid, make sure it gets mixed in), and 2 teaspoons (or I heaping teaspoon) of salt.  Chemically, you need the salt, but erring on the side of caution is preferable to too much).  Mix this mess together with a fork until it’s a sticky ball, adding more flour (a little bit at a time) as needed.

4. When it’s relatively solid, spread a little flour on a flat, clean surface and start kneading.  Press the dough ball flat, fold it in half, turn it one quarter turn, fold it again, squeeze it flat, and keep going like that for 10 minutes, until you’ve incorporated enough flour to make the dough “silky”–pliant and smooth, but not sticky.  If the dough becomes difficult to work, let it sit for five minutes then continue. If you get too much flour and the dough feels flaky, add water a few drops–literally– at a time.

5. Put a tablespoon of oil in that large bowl, throw the ball of dough in on top, and swirl the dough around until it’s coated, then cover the whole deal with a damp towel and sit it in a warm, draft-free place to rise until double.  An hour is probably about right, but once it’s done one rise you can put it in the fridge or just leave it on the counter over night and it will be even better.  The proportions I gave you should be enough for one really big pizza, or a pair of 12-14″ pies, depending upon how thick you like your crust.

6. Preheat your oven to it’s hottest temperature.  Some people use the “self clean” setting, but if you’re like me your oven locks on that setting and burns your pie to ash.  I can get 575 out of my vintage hotpoint gas stove–but a good brick oven place is cooking your pie at upwards of 800, so don’t be shy.

7. Get your pizza flat.  The best way to do it is by stretching it, working around the edge, or tossing it.  I’m terrible at that , so I sort of push it out with my fingers from the center to the edge of the the floured surface I’m working on ( you can also squeese it out directly on the pan you’re using).  A rolling pin is an option I use when I’m cooking several pizzas in a row, for guests, but squeezing the dough changes the texture a little–and purists will regard the use of a rolling pin as sacrilege.  Stretching, if you can do it, is preferable.

8. You know your oven.  If it’s not really hot, you may want to pre-cook the crust for about 4 minutes before adding the toppings–especially if you put your pizza in a pan with an edge (like a cookie sheet).  Throw on your toppings and go to town–remember if you use a lot of watery veggies that they can make the pizza runny.  Avoid this by laying the veggies on top of the cheese and other toppings.

9. Cook until the cheese is bubbly and just beginning to brown on top.