Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pizza Perfected

I think we have finally come close to perfecting the art of pizza-making. We've been practicing for a few months, trying out different techniques, and finally last night the pizza was perfect. The things that I think made the difference for us:

1. A good pizza stone - it gets really hot in the oven and helps the pizza to form a crispy crust.

2. Very high oven temp - we can only go to 550 on ours, but it does a pretty good job. Our book recommends going up to 800 if you can.

3. Dylan's delicious homemade pizza dough.

4. We have an unusual technique for getting the pizza from the counter to the pizza stone. After a bunch of trial and error, we've found that it works best to form the pizza dough into a circle, flour all sides of it, then fold the circle into quarters. This is all while preheating the pizza stone in the oven. Then we pull the stone out of the oven, transfer the folded pizza dough to the corner of the stone, and carefully unfold it. We actually assemble the pizza right then and there, very quickly, while the dough is sitting on the sizzling hot stone. I think that because the stone is so hot, while we are assembling the pizza, the dough is getting cooked and crisped on the bottom. Then we throw the pizza in the oven for about 6 minutes. The technique helps us to avoid the messy business of transferring an assembled pizza from the counter to the stone. It works really well!

5. Extended cooking time - we have found that there is a point at which you may think the pizza is done, but if you wait another 30 seconds, something magical happens. The trick is pulling it out just before it starts to burn. There is a definite sweet spot when the pizza is just right, and usually it's later than we think.

Behold our beautiful pizza:

I was telling Dylan, it looked way more delectable in person. If I had a talent for photography, I may have been able to capture it. But there is no way that I could have captured the heavenly smell in the kitchen at the moment that the pizza came out of the oven!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dinner: Eggs, Spinach and Toast

Today we decided to make an easy dinner.  I baked bread today, a large ciabatta loaf using my Bread Maker's Apprentice recipe, but baking it in the dutch oven as I have tried once before with the 'No Knead Bread' - this loaf came out nicely...there weren't the large airholes that the last loaf had, but the taste was better:

We also had some eggs from last week left over and some new jam that we had bought, so this simple meal was created:

Garden: Goodbye Wong Bok!

Recently the wong bok in our square foot garden has gone a little wild.  After that impressive flowering display, a somewhat large storm rolled through San Diego and pretty much uprooted the plant.  I decided to rip it out:

Please excuse my outfit - I had just gotten back from spin class and Dana thought this was worthy of a picture.  

I am planning on transplanting some of the brussel sprout seedlings from the front yard to the new open spot.  The wong bok ended up in the compost pile.

Dinner: Steak, Potatoes, and Brussel Sprouts

Just loaded some pictures off of the camera, so get ready for some quick short posts :).  Below is a dinner from about a week ago.  Dana got some nice looking steaks at Trader Joe's and I grilled them up.  Dana also made her excellent twice-baked potatoes and we roasted some brussel sprouts.  Lately we've been roasting our sprouts, either halved or whole, with some olive oil and salt and pepper.  They are excellent that way and very easy.  Also, the outer leaves of the sprouts tend to fall off and get very crispy and are a great little pre-dinner snack for as soon as you take the sprouts out of the oven.  These 'brussel sprout chips' are so good that I am planning on experimenting with making just the chips....stay tuned for that.

The dinner: