Why is it when August rolls around I get a little panicky? These past few years it seems I dream all winter long about trips to Block Island, kayaking, sun worshipping at the beach and then BOOM; August arrives. It starts to feel like that moment when you’re at the highest point of a roller coaster, paused ever so briefly before that warp speed decent – the end of your summer ride. Block Island did not happen, nor was there any paddling. I did, however, make it to the beach for my girlfriends bachelorette weekend in Newport, RI. It was just a couple of hours but enough to keep me from saying, “NOT AGAIN?!”
At this point, I’m two weeks into my new job and feeling all grown up. They actually gave me my own department, *insert squeal! It’s so refreshing and invigorating (I swear this isn’t a mouthwash ad) to be doing something new. Check with me again in six months and I will tell you the same, it’s a great place to be. Not every day will be rainbows and unicorns, but nothing could ever compare to the misery that was my former employment. Back in January I proclaimed that I knew this would be a really good year, and so far – I’m right. I like being right.
My husband and I are four weeks out from our first half marathon of the year. Typically we run a spring race but training just didn’t happen. I always get tweaked out about these distance runs, they are as exciting as they are nerve wracking and overwhelming. I used to be a smoker. I’ll say it again, I used to be a smoker. I couldn’t run down the driveway if I was being chased by the ax wielding Jack Torrance. That was a test – if you know that famous character then we can remain friends. I’ve overcome so many challenges with the support of my better half, smoking being one and running being another. It’s amazing what you can do when you surround yourself with the right people. Don’t worry too much if you don’t know Jack, by the way, my husband doesn’t either. Anyway, the crazy man is training for a FULL marathon in October – his first! Who wants to make signs and come cheer?!
So this weekend, I decided to crack open a cookbook I had been given last Christmas: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. My hairdresser had recommended it while we bonded over our appreciation for anything made from scratch.
First up: Olive Oil Dough found on page 134. Makes four 1-pound loaves.
2 3/4 cups of lukewarm filtered water
1.5 tbsp granulated yeast (2 packets)
1.5 tbsp Kosher salt
1 tbsp organic sugar
1/4 cup evoo
6.5 cups unbleached/unbromated all-purpose flour
You will need a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment here. The book offers directions on how to do it without these.
Mix the yeast, salt, sugar, and evoo with the water in the bowl of your stand mixer.
Pop the bowl onto the mixer:
Now start adding your flour – cup by cup. If you’re anything like me, you’ll lose count and wonder if that was cup number 4 or was it 5? You can measure this out separately and make yourself another dish to wash, OR you can do it my way.
Never raise the speed above 2 with the dough hook, I don’t know what the repercussions are as far as the machine but you’ll send flour all over your kitchen.
I use unbleached and UNBROMATED flour here. Why you ask? Because I am making efforts to remove known carcinogens from our diet. The current day bleaching process (a chlorine gas bath for example) and potassium bromate additive (found in “regular” flour and outlawed in the U.K., among other countries) are both alarming – do some research. I don’t know if this particular flour is the best, but it’s definitely “better” in my opinion. For those of you who are less concerned with these things, it truly tastes better too.
Now you can turn the mixer off, detach the hook and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel for about two hours so it can go through the rising process.
When the dough collapses (flattens on top), move the covered bowl into your refrigerator and go about your day. For me, this included a trip to one of my favorite local shops – The Gray Goose Cookery. I went in with a mission to buy a pizza peel. The last time I tried to make more than one pie I realized having one would have come in handy. They had a few to choose from in different materials and price points. Honestly, I told the sales clerk that I just wanted “a cheapy” but after handling the few that they had, I went with the eco-friendly Epicurean brand. They are light, slim, durable, offer a clean beveled edge, and are made entirely in the USA. Yes I spent a little more than I intended but was ultimately satisfied with my purchase.
A super happy, flame-orange Le Creuset utensil crock may have somehow also ended up in the bag, but I’m not sure how that happened?
Friends of ours were coming up for grilled pizza and wine, a casual night to be spent outside on the patio with a fire. We don’t have the opportunity to entertain very often so both of us were kind of pumped for the occasion. It’s sometimes risky business trying new things with company but this time I kind of needed the support. Someone else had to be there to help me laugh it off should the situation have turned ugly.
This is something I’ve been avoiding forEVER! I don’t know why it intimidated me so much, I guess I just didn’t understand how it could possibly work.
Rolling out the dough was the easy part, taking pictures of the process with company…not so much.
Olive oil dough: recipe above. Divide into (4) dough balls and roll out on a floured work surface to your prefered thickness.
1/4 cup of evoo with sliced garlic for brushing
Preheat your grill to high and make sure it has been brushed clean of debris.
Prepare your dough on a pizza peel, brush with evoo
This dough rolled out so nicely. In the past, I’ve always bought the pre-made stuff from the grocery store. If I knew it was the easy I would have started making my own years ago.
Now get ready to transfer your dough from the peel to the grill. This was the scary part for me. My first attempt was NOT pretty – see?
Eventually, you get the hang of it. Brush the top with evoo while it does its thing.
When the underside is nice and crispy, flip that bad boy over. I used an Ove Glove and a pair of tongs – you may want to consider doing the same.
The bottom becomes the top of your pizza. Lower the heat on your grill to medium low and close the lid. Check on it every few minutes, it should be nicely charred and crispy in under ten minutes.
Don’t be neurotic about keeping the lid closed, this is a low stress dish remember. When it has started to really set up, start adding your toppings. I picked up locally made cheeses, pesto, and veggies for ours – everything was so fresh and vibrant!
Finally, use a pizza peel and either the Ove Glove or tongs to remove the finished pie from the grill grates. Let it rest for a few minutes, slice and enjoy!
We ate ourselves fat and happy, got rained on – didn’t care, laughed lots, and drank perhaps a little too much wine. That right there – is my happy place. The night ended with a toast over a bottle of 2010 Cuvee Carnaval White from Sparkling Pointe. This is my absolute favorite bubbly, unlike any other I’ve ever tasted and the perfect way to celebrate a successful “anything”.