The O-town Scene

October 14, 2010

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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The Avant-Garde Pizza Making your own pizza at home takes some time and preparation, but is incredibly satisfying. Especially if your husband's favorite topping is ancho- vies, your son is begging for pepperoni and olives, while you are a vegetarian craving spinach, garlic and ricotta. Welcome to my world. Several things make or break home- made pizza. The principal ingredient is using a pizza stone, which helps create that thin, restaurant-quality crust. Add fresh herbs to the crust and/or sauce instead of dry, particularly rosemary, oregano or basil. Do yourself a favor and forgo all pre-grated and processed cheeses. Do not overload your pizza with toppings or it will not have a chance to cook properly. Last, but not least, carefully choose the right combi- nation of ingredients. Instead of adding your favorite foods as toppings, think about what ingre- dients will work well alongside one another. For example, if you want to make a dairy-free pizza, which tends to be bland without cheese, a vegan pesto is a great base for roasted vegetables. Another fantastic combo is finely chopped jalapeno with chunks of pine- apple smothered with a mild cheese like mozzarella or monterey jack. Creativity and experimentation in the kitchen are key factors to becom- ing a better cook, but so is following directions. Whereas, the pizza chef may substi- tute red sauce for white, it is important to follow a crust recipe exactly, until you are more experienced, as dough is unforgiving. By the way, I call this the avant-garde pizza because I never make the same pizza twice. — Hope Von Stengel Hope's Fantabulous Pizza Crust 2 T (or two packages) dry active yeast 1 1/4 cups warm water 1/4 cup olive oil 2 T honey 1 tsp. Salt 1 cup whole wheat flour (plus extra for kneading) 2 1/2 cups white (unbleached) flour Dissolve yeast in water with the honey. After several minutes combine with oil and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the flours, one cup at a time. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Put into large, oiled bowl. Cover with a (barely) damp towel and place in a warm spot (I set my oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes, turn it off, and then put dough in oven). Let dough rise until doubled in volume, about 1½ hours. Punch dough and knead for several more minutes on floured surface, then divide into 3 balls. Use a rolling pin (wine bottle or 22 oz. beer bottle work well) to roll out crust, adding flour as needed. Put pizza stone in oven and preheat at 400 degrees. When oven is at 400 degrees, remove and lightly flour the pizza stone, then carefully lift the uncooked crust onto the stone. Pinch a lip around the crust's edge and pre-bake for 3 minutes. Add rest of toppings, turn oven up to 450 degrees and cook until it looks delicious enough to eat! Creates three 12-inch pizza crusts. Uncooked dough freezes well. Enjoy. Oct. 14, 2010 O-Town Scene 13

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