happy pizza friday everyone! i've been glued in my kitchen, testing up a storm (and secretly binge watching unreal and wet hot american summer) all week that it wasn't until eggpop relayed through eggboy that he was sick of reading about carrot cake that i realized i needed to deliver some pizza to you in time to make it for pizza friday. (actually in most time zones you don't have time but there is always saturday and rule #56 of friday pizza night is that if you forget to have it on a friday, you can defo have it on a saturday.)
first some updates from the test kitchen this week:
-wow, my bagel shaping truly sucks! i had my first try at bagel making that was unsupervised by a bagel teacher and they didn’t rise and looked like what i imagine amoebas look like. they tasted like very thick dumpling wrappers though, which i obviously wasn’t mad about, so even though they were a failure they were still tasty. I have a hunch that the reason they didn’t rise was because we turned on our air conditioning this week and I also got impatient when we were late for a party. This is the recipe that I used and it’s the one that bagel teacher dave loves, so I plan to try it again soon with more patience and less a/c.
-we made lox for our bagels because we received some of the season’s first salmon from alaska (thanks copper river)! i went with a pretty basic cure of salt, brown sugar, and pepper. I don’t think I used enough of it though because it just wasn’t salty enough, or maybe I should add more flavorings. There’s a very citrusy lox recipe in the Huckleberry book that I’d like to try. I’m going to Alaska next month to catch some fishies, so I’ll try it then.
-I’m working on butter cakes. I made approximately one thousand of them over #MDW (this hashtag caught me by surprise) along with a spreadsheet of all of the vanilla butter cake measurements that I could find. My goal is to make a very reliably moist* butter cake, one that’s as reliably moist as oil cakes. And after a conversation with Alana today who swore up and down that she’s never had a dry butter cake, I realized that maybe my moisture tolerance is on the high end, or rather my dryness tolerance is low end, (or that I'm getting the vocabulary wrong altogether and that what I actually want is a soft cake). Dry cakes are right up there with under salted food and death as my greatest fears. So right now I’m working on a part butter, part oil cake, and I’ve made some great ones but they collapse just slightly when they come out of the oven, which can mean that there’s too much liquid. So little by little (when some more birthdays come up, that is... Do you live in Grand Forks and have a birthday coming up? Please email email@example.com) I’ll decrease the liquid in the recipe until it doesn’t collapse and then see if it’s just as moist.
*the word “moist” is ok now.
-Because bagels and lox weren’t enough multi-day recipes to test in one week (well, because i procrastinated last week), short ribs also appeared on the schedule this week. Oh hell yeah! I spent six days making rhubarb short ribs to the sound of wet hot american summer, and I have a great feeling about this recipe. Very excited. Jazz hands. Confetti emoji. Makes up for the bagel failure. Luckily you can freeze braised meats pretty easily so we did not explode.
unglued camp registration opens on monday!!! and i'm going to be the lunch lady again!! i cannot wait. camp director ashley did a hilarious job with the f.a.q.s so go read them even if you don’t plan to register (but ummm you should plan to register because we’re going to eat hotdish and make cake and dance in banana costumes). thanks zach for these camp photos from last year!
ok let’s talk about pizza:
in the battle of chicago pizza versus new york pizza, i would have a really hard time choosing sides. i would probably cheer from the new york side of the stadium for the first half and then switch jerseys and cheer from the chicago side for the second half, although i’d probably get kicked out of the new york side before halftime anyway since my chicago accent is so strong. the only true difference between my love for the two types is that i could probably eat new york pizza every single day for six meals a day while my capacity for chicago pizza tops out at once, maybe twice, a month. i think of new york pizza more of like an open faced grilled cheese (that then becomes close faced when you do the right thing and fold it in half) and chicago pizza as a thick buttery pie that is weird not to eat with a fork and knife. it’s the perfect special occasion food when your special occasion falls on a friday, and no amount of meditating can produce the patience required for people who say that chicago pizza “isn’t really pizza.” you people, delete your account.
my mom sent us four lou malnati’s pizzas over the holidays which was one of the best gifts ever in the whole wide world, and we were just starting to run low when shelly’s book, vegetarian heartland, showed up at our door. i had carrot cake batter all over my hands so i intended to just to do a quick flip-through before transferring it to my coffee table, where i keep all of my new cookbooks that i need to go through, but then i couldn’t stop and my quick flip-through turned into a very long combing through with post-its and lists and a sudden desire to start a cookbook club just so that i could try a lot of these recipes at once. the recipes are so original and midwesty, i’m in love. when i got to the page with the chicago deep dish pizza i immediately changed around my schedule so i could make it that friday.
i’ve always considered chicago pizza to be like bagels in that they’re one of those things that are best left up to the experts, like lou and gino. and since i tend to get back to chicago at least a few times a year, i’ve been ok with that. but after having some bagel success (and before this week's bagel failure), i was feeling kind of encouraged so i gave it a try and i was really happy that i did because shelly’s pizza is the bee’s knees bomb dot com!!! The crust is bready and soft, different than the crispy flaky lou mal’s crust but so so good and buttery and not too difficult to make. I loaded ours up with thinly sliced peppers and onions and a bit of spinach for health, and then instead of baking the second one we froze it for a rainy day. I can't wait for that day.
chicago-style deep-dish loaded veggie pizza
from shelly westerhausen's vegetarian heartland
One 1 1/4-oz [7-g] packet active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar plus 1 Tb
1 1/4 c [300 ml] warm water (110° to 115°F/43° to 45°C)
1/2 c [110 g] unsalted butter
3 1/2 c [490 g] all-purpose flour
1/2 c [70 g] coarse cornmeal, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 lb [455 g] mozzarella cheese, shredded
Optional toppings: thinly sliced green bell pepper, thinly sliced onion, diced cherry tomatoes, sliced button mushrooms, pitted black olives, pineapple chunks, sliced marinated artichoke hearts
1 recipe Basic Tomato Sauce (recipe below) or 3 c [720 ml] store-bought sauce
In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, 1 tsp of the sugar, and 1/4 cup [60 ml] of the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 1 cup [240 ml] water and the butter and cook until the butter melts, about 2 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and the remaining 1 Tbsp sugar on medium-low speed until combined, about 20 seconds. With the mixer on medium-low speed, slowly add the butter mixture and the yeast mixture and mix until combined. Remove the paddle and attach the dough hook. Knead on medium-high speed until an elastic dough forms, about 5 minutes.
Oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 11/2 hours.
Line two 9-in [23-cm] springform pans or two 9-in [23-cm] cake pans that are 2 in [5 cm] deep with aluminum foil and sprinkle with cornmeal.
Punch down the dough and transfer it to a floured surface. Divide it into two equal pieces and form into balls. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough balls into 12-in [30.5-cm] rounds. Transfer the rounds to the prepared pans and press firmly against bottom and sides to keep it in place. Cover again with kitchen towels and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425°F [220°C].
For each pizza, sprinkle half of the mozzarella over the bottom of the dough, spreading it evenly. Cover with up to 1/2 cup [75 g] of toppings and then drizzle half of the tomato sauce over the toppings.
Bake until the sauce is bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges and serve. Don’t be afraid to use a knife and fork for these pizza slices!
basic tomato sauce
makes 3 cups
1 Tb extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c [60 ml] red wine (optional)
2 tsp dried Italian herbs or 2 Tb chopped fresh Italian herbs (such as oregano, basil, or thyme)
One 28-oz [794-g] can whole tomatoes
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine (if using) and herbs and turn the heat to high. Let the wine simmer until almost all the liquid is evaporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sugar (if using), and red pepper flakes (if using). Using your hands or a knife, break apart the tomatoes. Simmer until the sauce thickens and has reached the desired consistency, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.