Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Culinary Kicks

It takes a certain resourcefulness to fill the long silences between Trip’s posts (he promises a rumination on The Gilmore Girls any day now), and today we turn to food. Loyal reader (and noted epicurean) Mary steps up to the plate today, offering not only a quick and superior alternative to pre-fab pizza crusts, but also a recipe for the kind of high-brow pie rarely consumed around these parts. To keep this topical, I’ll suggest preparing the dough while listening to Grinderman, the latest effort from the irrepressible Nick Cave. The remainder of this post comes entirely from Mary’s keyboard.

Quick Pizza Dough

2 to 2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
A ¼-ounce package fast-acting yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

In a food processor, combine ¾ cup of the flour, the yeast, sugar, and with motor running, add 2/3 cup hot water (130 degrees Fahrenheit). Turn motor off. Add the oil, 1 ¼ cups of the remaining flour, and the salt, and process the mixture until it forms a ball, adding more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if it is too dry, or more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if dough is too wet. Knead the dough by processing it for 15 seconds.

The dough can be used immediately, but for better flavor it is best to let it rise once. Put the dough in an oiled bowl and turn it to coat with the oil. Let the dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until it is double in bulk. Punch down dough before rolling out for crust.

White Clam Pizza

Yellow cornmeal for sprinkling on the pizza pan
1 recipe pizza dough
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 – 6 ½ ounce cans minced clams, drained
3 tablespoons minced garlic
¼ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

Sprinkle an oiled 14-inch pizza pan or baking sheet with a tablespoon or two of cornmeal. Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface to fit whichever pan you’re using, and fit dough into pan. Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle it with the clams, the garlic, the red pepper flakes, the parsley, and the Parmesan. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over the pizza and bake the pizza on the bottom of a preheated 500 degree Fahrenheit electric oven or on the floor of a preheated 500 degree Fahrenheit gas oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board, cut into wedges, and serve.

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