When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Big Pizza Pie…

The pizzas pre-baking.

This one’s for the food snobs.

 If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you’ve heard me rant about the hot plate that masquerades as a stove in my apartment in Africa. To a girl that loves to cook as much as I do, that’s like handing Michelangelo a five-pack of Craylola crayons and telling him to go to town on the Sistine Chapel.

 …that may be mildly dramatic, and probably sets you up with unrealistic expectations should I ever have you over for dinner.

 The point is, I’ve dearly missed cooking! It’s such a stress reliever for me-I absolutely adore sorting through my glorious stacks of cookbooks and throwing the most random of ingredients into mouth-watering concoctions that leave you convinced that you can finally die happy. I’m an absolute disaster when I cook-but clouds of flour floating listlessly through the air and globs of butter resiliently sticking to anything that will stand still in my kitchen turn into such hopelessly, head-spinningly delicious chocolate concoctions that I feel like I ought to be forgiven for the giant mess I leave in my wake.

 Well, that maddening little African hot plate has put a bit of a cramp in my style over the past year. Chicken parmesan and chocolate souffle unhappily surrendered to chewy beef and hot-plate brownies. [Recipe? Dump the brownie batter in a skillet, and stir until it globs together in a sort of defeated looking lump.] Beef stroganoff and chicken pot pie became distant memories as my team and I learned to love bland rotisserie chicken and rice. [Over. And over. And over again. ]

 You do what you have to do. I have, however, LOVED having access to a full kitchen, Harris Teeter, and that aforementioned stacks of cookbooks over the past several weeks! Ian’s birthday was a couple of days ago, and Stephen and I decided to make him a birthday dinner. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza. If you’re a pizza person, this is a must try!

 Deep Dish Pizza

Ian and I on his birthday.

 Crust:

1 cup warm water

1 t active dry yeast

3 ½ cups flour

½ cup course cornmeal

1 t salt

¼ cup vegetable oil

 Toppings:

1 lb sliced mozzarella

1 lb sausage

1 can whole tomatoes drained and coarsely crumbled

2 cloves minced garlic

3 t dried oregano [I add more]

4 T parmesan cheese

 Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl and dissolve the yeast with a fork. Add one cup of the flour, all the

The finished product!

cornmeal, the salt, and the vegetable oil. Mix, and then add the rest of the flour ½ cup at a time. Knead until it’s no longer sticky.

 Let the dough rise 45-60 minutes. Punch it down and knead it briefly. Press it into a 15 inch pan with sides at least two inches up.  Let the dough rise 15-20 minutes before filling with the toppings.

 The toppings go on in the following order:

Cheese

Meat

Vegetables

Tomatoes

Parmesan

Oregano

Stephen threw together the leaning tower of German chocolate cake--but it tasted great!

I add fresh tomatoes and sautéed spinach to the veggie stage, and a throw a dash of tomato sauce over the top.

Heat the oven to 500 [yes, 500] degrees, and bake it for fifteen minutes. Lower the temp to 400, bake it for an additional 20-25 minutes, and voila!

 Now that’s amore.

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