January 16, 2007

Winter Weather Pizza

This was a winter weather nightmare for many across Missouri this past weekend. On Friday, the news was calling this storm system a 15-25 year storm and they were correct.

For three days the storm system dumped freezing rain, sleet and snow across the Midwest. Springfield and St. Louis areas were those that were hit the hardest. More than 3 inches of freezing rain and sleet have knocked down trees, transformers and lines in the areas.

Being from the Springfield area my heart goes out to the many residents that are without heat during this bitterly cold weather. My husband and I have many family members and friends that have been without electricity since Friday night. You can check out photos of the Springfield area from the News Leader site.

There is hope in sight for Missouri. Governor Blunt today announced President George W. Bush granted his request for a major disaster declaration following the deadly ice storms that swept across the state over the past weekend. In addition to helping share the cost of recovery, the approval of Blunt's request opens the door for new federal resources for Missouri such as generators.

After declaring a state of emergency early Saturday, Blunt sent approximately 550 Missouri National Guard Troops to the Springfield and St. Louis areas in response to the storms. In addition, the governor provided extensive state resources to communities hit with the severe ice storms including access to dozens of large power generators and Meals-Ready-to-Eat.

Blunt noted the severe winter storms caused eight deaths and knocked out power to over 330,000 Missourians.

JC Ice Storm 2007

In Mid-Mo we received quite a bit of ice. Here is a photo of our back porch. Doesn’t look as though the ice will be melting anytime soon – the temperatures are staying in the 20’s most of the week.

Since my husband and I were trapped inside most of the weekend we did a lot of cooking. On Saturday we made some homemade pizzas with a new recipe for pizza dough that I found on Simply Recipes, which is a great cooking site. Here is the recipe instructions for the dough.

Making the pizza dough

Making the Pizza Dough
pizza recipe from Simply Recipes

Makes enough dough for two 10-12 inch pizzas
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) of active dry yeast (check the expiration date on the package)
3 1/2 cups bread flour (can use all-purpose but bread flour will give you a crisper crust)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar

In the large bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer add the warm water. Sprinkle on the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Stir to dissolve completely if needed at the end of 5 minutes.

Attach a mixing paddle to the mixer. Mix in the olive oil, flour, salt and sugar on low speed for about a minute. Remove the mixing paddle and replace with a dough hook. Knead using the mixer and dough hook, on low to medium speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If you don't have a mixer, you can mix and knead by hand.

Dough Rising Place ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough around in the bowl so that it gets coated with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place (75-85°F) until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If you don't have a warm spot in the house you can heat the oven to 150 degrees, and then turn off the oven. Place the bowl of dough in this warmed oven to rise.

Dough Doubling

Preheat the oven to 450°F for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.

Remove the plastic cover from the dough and punch the dough down so it deflates a bit. Divide the dough in half. Form two round balls of dough. Place each in its own bowl, cover with plastic and let sit for 10 minutes.

Prepare your desired toppings. Note that you are not going to want to load up each pizza with a lot of toppings as the crust will end up not crisp that way. About a third a cup each of tomato sauce and cheese would be sufficient for one pizza. One to two mushrooms thinly sliced will cover a pizza.

Rolling Out Dough

Working one ball of dough at a time, take one ball of dough and flatten it with your hands on a slightly floured work surface. Starting at the center and working outwards, use your fingertips to press the dough to 1/2-inch thick. Turn and stretch the dough until it will not stretch further. Let the dough relax 5 minutes and then continue to stretch it until it reaches the desired diameter - 10 to 12 inches. Use your palm to flatten the edge of the dough where it is thicker. ou can pinch the very edges if you want to form a lip.

Brush the top of the dough with olive oil (to prevent it from getting soggy from the toppings). Use your finger tips to press down and make dents along the surface of the dough to prevent bubbling. Let rest another 5 minutes.

Repeat with the second ball of dough.

Tomato Sauce Recipe
by Lane

Easy way: Cheat and buy a good quality tomato sauce and add to it chopped shallots (or onions), crushed garlic, basil and whatever else seasonings you wish.

Pizza 1

Or make your own homemade
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp of salt and pepper
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp. basil or oregano
½ cup chopped shallots or onion

Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until desired thickness.

Spread about 1/3 to ½ cups over pizza dough. Then apply your toppings.

Pizza 2

Topping time (these are some of my favorite toppings):
Feta Cheese
Bacon (Pancetta is my favorite to use)
Sun Dried tomatoes
Parmesan Cheese

The best part about making your own homemade pizza is you can be adventurous with the toppings. Whatever mood you are in you can create your own personal pizza. I love making homemade pizzas also because it gives my husband and I a chance to cook together and have fun.

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