Thursday, June 7, 2012

The farmer's market rocks + DIY pizza crust.

There's not much else to say, so this will be a short section. I went to the DeKalb Farmer's Market the other day, which is like heaven for those of us who haven't yet mastered backyard gardening. The best way to describe it is as the size of a box store but with an international sampling of goods. The main aisle is Meat, Fish, Fruits & Vegetables, and when you talk produce, this is stuff you've never heard of before in abundance. Fresh aloe? Beets? Mung beans? Sugar cane? Look no further.

Our take:

From left to right: 10 pounds of red potatoes, 25-pound box tomatoes, three huge heads of romaine lettuce, spinach, a seedless watermelon, fresh celery, 5 pounds of oranges, 3 yellow squash, 6 zucchini, freshly-baked bread, goat cheese, 3 pounds of limes, 2 pounds of mushrooms, 3 peaches, asparagus, 6 ears of sweet corn and not pictured 6 freshly-baked bagels and cilantro.

The price tag? $67. Let me tell you my favorite purchase: $14.50 for the tomatoes. I purchased three tomatoes from Publix for $2.66 and they were half as big as the tomatoes in this box.

The best part besides price and obviously awesome, colorful and healthy food? This produce will stay fresh for 2-3 weeks. The lettuce will be 90 percent as good in three weeks as it was when purchased.

Consequently, after this trip, I punched up our dinner to full-on fresh tomatoe, spinach & mozzarella pizza.

Here's how to do it yourself:

Yummy toppings:
Four large tomatoes, sliced. You can seed if you want. I didn't.
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup grated mozzarella. We use part-skim.
Olive oil to drizzle
Italian seasoning
Parmesan to garnish

The crust (and for the love of all things kitchen, PLEASE don't buy or fake make or shy away from making a pizza crust. It is not that hard. I promise.)

In a mixing bowl, add 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast (or that little packet they sell). Pour over: 1 1/3 cups hot water (I let the tap run until it's hot enough to soak dishes but not scalding). Do not stir this mix. Let the yeast activate (it bubbles). About five minutes is good.

Keeping with form, the actual recipe from the Joy of Cooking (which I believe every amateur and foodie alike should have) calls for a tablespoon of sugar. I don't think it's needed. I skip it.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir in 3 1/2 to 3/4 cups of flour. I use a wooden spoon to initially stir in the flour to the yeast and then switch to kneading. This allows me to use the flour I'm adding gradually to get the sticky dough off the spoon. I'd advise taking your rings off for the kneading. Add flour until your dough is slightly sticky and somewhat elastic. It looks like this:

When it gets there, oil another large bowl and put the dough in seam-side down (the seam is where you've last folded the dough to knead it). Let the dough rise for about 30 minutes (cover with a clean towel). Divide your dough into two - and flour a workspace.

Using extra flour, knead the dough again and use the flour you need to keep from sticking. Depending on the shape of your pan, you should be able to press out the shape of your dough - a circle or rectangle. You can't do this too much as the dough should now be smooth. I made my dough larger than the pan and folded the excess in to make a crust:

At this point, you can put your sauce on (I just used the raw, sliced tomatoes), drizzled olive oil and added toppings. The best part of this pizza besides the taste is that you know exactly how many ingredients your pizza has, and that there are no extra preservatives, colors, chemicals and random animal products.

*Note on the crust: You can use wheat flour, soy flour, a mixture of flours or regular old white flour. I use unbleached and add flax, cornmeal, rosemary, sesame seeds, and/or whatever flours seem right at the time. There aren't rules when it comes to add-ons. Just keep the actual flour to the same proportion.

*Note 2: Store uneaten pizza (hahahaha) in the fridge and eat within a day or so. Without preservatives, this goes fast. In our house, it goes in one meal.

*Note 3: Second crust can be frozen. More on that to come.

Eat healthy, my friends!

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