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    Friday
    May222015

    Pizza Bender Mayhem!

    Although you could say we’re on a bit of a pizza bender with the number of them we’re posting this month, that’s not actually what I meant.  Here in Salt Lake there’s a restaurant called Italian Village.  It’s not a fancy schmancy place you take someone on a date and order an expensive bottle of wine.  It’s a family friendly, community restaurant. The place you grew up eating, the high school hang out spot, or if you were lucky, it was your first job.  One of their claims to fame is their pizza bender.  It’s basically just a calzone, but it’s cheap, it’s made to order, and it’s fantastic!  Pair it with one of their delicious tossed salads (seriously, why don’t all restaurants toss their salads?) and you have a fabulous meal for like ten bucks.  Since we’re doing pizza this month, I decided to try my hand at creating my own.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 ½ cups warm water
    • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 Tablespoon yeast (or a packet will work)
    • 1 Tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3 ¼ - 4 cups flour 

    If you’re using instant yeast you can follow this method, but if you’re using active dry yeast, you’ll need to proof it first, which I showed how to do here.  For instant yeast, throw all of your dry ingredients into a bowl, starting with 3 ¼ cups flour.

    If you have bread flour or high gluten flour, use that.  I just used all purpose.  Either way, stir your dry ingredients together.

    Add the water.

    And the olive oil. 

    I like to just use a spoon to mix it just until it forms a sort of blob.

    Then I hand it off to the Kitchen Aid.  If it looks like this, you need to add more flour, ¼ cup at a time. 

    It’s ok if it still sticks to the bottom, but you want it to mostly clean itself from the sides.  3 ¼ cups was the magic number for mine on the day I made it. 

    Allow the mixer to knead the dough for 5-6 minutes.  The dough should be nice and smooth.

    Pour about a Tablespoon of olive oil into a large bowl.  Since you’re going to want oiled hands anyway, just rub it around with your fingers and coat the whole inside of the bowl.

    Then relocate the dough.  It will be really soft and a bit sticky (hence the oiled fingers).  Oil your dough scraper, as well.  If you don’t have a dough scraper, you really need one

    Place the dough blob into the oiled bowl, then turn it over so that it is coated on all sides with a little bit of oil.

    Cover that and place it in the fridge overnight.  Now, there’s a good chance that your dough will grow like crazy when you first put it in there.  If it starts to grow larger than the bowl, just punch it down.

    Then form it back into a ball, cover it, and put it back in the fridge.  I had to do that twice with mine.

    The next day, pull it out of the fridge an hour or so before you plan to start on the pizza bender.  During that time it will warm up and rise some more.

    Preheat your oven to 425°. Punch the dough down and dump it onto a floured surface. Cut it into quarters and form each portion into a ball.  Cover them with a damp towel and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.  (If you want to freeze some for later, just dust them lightly with flour, drop them into a bag, and put them in the freezer.)

    After its little nap, roll a piece of dough into a circle… something like 10 inches across.  (I leave throwing to the professionals, but if you’re more coordinated than me, go for it!)

    Since I went so outside of the box with my first pizza, I decided to go uber traditional this time.  Feel free to stuff your bender with whatever you like.  (just make sure any meat that goes in is cooked first)  Here’s what I did.  A layer of paper thin pepperoni.

    A handful of good mozzarella.

    And another layer of pepperoni. 

    Regardless of what you put inside your bender, make sure you leave the edge clear.  Then, with your finger, wet the edge of the dough all the way around.

    Fold the dough over the filling ingredients, lining up the edges.

    Using a fork, crimp the edge closed.

    Poke several steam vents in the top.

    Now, moving the pizza bender once it’s put together is a bit tricky, so if you’d rather, place the dough on your pan first, and then fill it.  Either way, make sure the pan has been brushed with a little bit of olive oil. 

    Into the 425° oven for 17-22 minutes.  It should nice and golden brown when it’s done.

    Allow it to cool for about 5 minutes and then cut it into wedges.  Serve it with your favorite marinara sauce and enjoy!

    I’m going to be honest here, for homemade pizza dough, this one’s pretty good, but next time I think I might just pick some up from a good pizzeria.  It’s a lot of work to make your own, and even then, it’s unlikely you’re going to get the distinctive chew that a really good pizza crust should have.  I love being able to control exactly what goes into the pizza bender, though, and it’s fun to build your own.  What kind of pizza bender sounds good to you?

     

    Thursday
    May142015

    Mayhem: Now math-free!

    NO. MORE. MATH.

    Well, at least, no more calculus. Well, no more calculus that I have to do by hand with no reference material, and sometimes not even a calculator. From now on, it’s just the everyday calculus we all do in our heads without even realizing it. No, really, you do! Every time you…

    For fuck’s sake.

    NO.

    MORE.

    MATH.

    What there will be more of though is every starving student’s favourite meal (and the only reason we join clubs that meet after class around dinner time):

    PIZZA!

    But, of course, since this is Mayhem, we’re not doing the usual. Well, not yet. We just have to start off weird here because, well, that’s what we are.

    Biscuits and Gravy, Pizza Style

    Yup, I’m serious. Biscuits and gravy in a pizza.

    I had no plans to do this wacky (and omfg tasty) mashup, but then I saw Taneasha’s first post and dude, it was on. It was mother fucking on. (ha! I made it 160 words before a fuck. Go me!)

    The crust is basically just half a biscuit recipe, with only 1 tsp of baking powder.

    The Crust

    • 1 c flour
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 2 tbsp butter, cold
    • 6 tbsp milk (give or take)

    Stir the flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl.

    Cut the butter into the flour (otherwise known as ‘mash it in with a fork’) until there are no more big chunks.

    Gradually add the milk one tablespoon at a time, stirring as you go, until the crumbly mass starts to come together into something dough-like. If you need more than 6, keep going, but if 6 is too much, you can make it less sticky by adding a tablespoon of flour.

    Dump it out onto the counter and press it into a ball, disc, thing.

    Roll that out into an amoebic shape that is nothing at all like Taneasha’s fucking perfect, round circle of crust. Holy shit woman.

    Poke it a bunch of times with a fork – really, it’s only fun for the first few times, but you’ll manage – then … dammit, oven’s not hot. Preheat the oven now while you cook the sausage. Totally planned it that way.

    Sausage Gravy

    • 2 big sausages, of whatever kind you like (mine are Andouille, made in store, and a bit spicy, but whatever kind you want or have will work)
    • 1 tbsp bacon fat
    • 2 tbsp flour
    • Salt and pepper
    • ½ tsp garlic powder
    • 1.5 to 2 cups milk
    • Fresh thyme leaves

    Remove the sausage from the casings, crumble it, and fry it up over medium heat until it’s got yummy crispy little golden bits in it. I recommend doing this in a pan that is not non-stick. You want the stuff that’s stuck to the pan. It’s tasty, and it will come up off the bottom after a couple more steps.

    Your oven should be hot by now, so pop in the biscuit crust and bake it at 425 F for exactly 4 minutes. Hey man, she did it first.

    Once it’s done, take it out and let it hang out for a bit while you finish the gravy. Also, turn up the heat on the oven as high as it will go: mine went up to 525 F.

    Remove the sausage from the pan, leaving as many of the drippings behind as possible. Reduce the heat to medium low, and since sausage never leaves enough drippings, add the bacon fat. Once it’s melted, stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Whisk this around in the pan for a minute or so.

    With a whisk in one hand and the milk in the other, slowly pour milk into the pan while you’re whisking. The brown bits from the bottom of the pan will be whisked in, and the gravy will immediately thicken. Just keep stirring. And keep slowly adding milk until you have a very thick gravy, almost custard or pudding consistency; this should take about 1 cup.  And then add the thyme leaves.

    Blob a few tablespoons of gravy onto the crust, spread them around, all the way out to the edges. You should still have lots of gravy left in the pan. This is a good thing.

    Toppings

    • Crumbled sausage
    • Crumbled bacon
    • 1 to 1 ½ cups shredded cheese: cheddar or a cheddar – jack mixture
    • Green onion
    • Thyme leaves

    Spread your sausage and bacon on top of the gravied crust, then top with cheese.

    You can put the green onions and thyme on now if you’d like, but I left mine off so I’d have a bit of sharp fresh flavour on top of the creamy cheesey sausagey biscuitness.

    Bake in the hottest oven possible until the cheese is melty and bubbly, and the edge of the crust is golden.

    While it’s baking, pour the rest of the sausage into the gravy and gradually add the rest of the milk until you have a nice gravy consistency. This gravy, you can use for dipping your pizza into, or for spreading on top of the pizza.

    Once it’s out, decorate it with the onion and thyme (if you haven’t already) and serve with gravy!

    Holy crap.

    Why didn’t I think of this sooner??

    Oh, right. FUCKING MATH.