Sometimes when life is at its most overwhelming and I am feeling utterly powerless against it, cooking really helps. Chopping, pounding, kneading do wonders to work out frustration - and nothing beats the sense of accomplishment at the end when you have a delicious meal to enjoy. Especially when making something new and exciting that I have always been afraid of - like pizza dough.Making things like this make me feel less afraid to tackle the other things I have been avoiding in my life due to misplaced anxiety - like taking German classes. For 22 months I have been avoiding signing up for German classes, all the while struggling along in a life where I can't read my mail or understand the customer service agent on the phone. Its lame, living a life where you don't make your own pizza or speak the language simply because you afraid of trying something new.
But I conquered the pizza. I am sure my dough will get better and better as I practice but I did it. I just topped it with what was sounding good that day and were inexpensive at my local market - fresh local asparagus, caramelized onions and goat cheese (which I haven't stopped craving since we were in France). It was actually pretty easy, and the final product was amazing. I also realized something as I was making my humble little pizza - pizza is super cheap and (depending on what you put on it) doesn't have to be too bad for you either, which makes learning how to make it all the better.
Which brings me back to the German classes. There is a school right in my neighborhood, its affordable, and you can register online. Why haven't I done this before again? Well, if I can successfully make Pizza (which for some reason I never thought I could) then I am sure with a little practice and effort I can learn German too - and starting next month I am taking classes. So here is to getting over ourselves - and enjoying life more in the process!
Roasted Asparagus, Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza
5 to 10 thin green asparagus stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 very large onion, thinly sliced
1 log goat cheese, sliced into thin rounds (like a cup or so)(come on, pizza toppings don't need to be exact)
2 or 3 Tbs Simple Marinara sauce
1/2 recipe of pizza dough (see below)
adapted from Alice Waters' Art of Simple Food
2 tsp dry yeast
100 ml lukewarm water
1/2 cup (50g) whole wheat flour
3 1/4 cup (325g) unbleached plain white flour (type 550 in Germany)
3 tsp salt
175 ml cold water
50 ml olive oil
Stir together the dry yeast and warm water. Add the 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. Allow to sit until it gets bubbly - around 30 minutes.
Add to that the white flour, salt, cold water and olive oil. Mix throughly by hand. I just kneaded it right inside the bowl I was using since it was nice and big, but you could turn it all out onto a floured surface also. Knead for around 5 minutes.
Cover the dough inside a large bowl and let rise in a warm-ish place until it doubles in size (around 2 hours). You can also let it rise slowly overnight in the fridge, remove 2 hours before shaping.
Divide the dough into 2 balls. You can stick one in the freezer. Take the other one, cover it loosely in plastic wrap and let sit on the counter for an hour or so. Flatten into a disc, flour lightly then let sit another 15 minutes.
While the dough is rising the first time, start preparing your toppings. In a large skillet heat a couple tbs each of olive oil and butter. Add the sliced onions and saute over low heat for 20 minutes or so until carmelized and brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
Toss the chopped asparagus in olive oil and coarse sea salt and roast at 220 C (425 F) until its just starting to brown and soften (it will cook just a bit more on the pizza so you don't want to over do it). Remove from oven and set aside.
Place a pizza stone on the lowest rack in the oven (if you have it) and preheat the oven to its highest setting.
When you dough is ready, (its in a flat disc and has been sitting for 15 min or so), gently stretch it into a roundish shape (its really hard to get it perfect!) over a large piece of parchment paper (this will help you transfer it to the oven so you can cook it right on the pizza stone. If you don't have a pizza stone, shape it on an inverted baking sheet or pizza pan).
Spread the marinara over the dough, leaving an inch or two crust around the outside. Evenly distribute the toppings on the pizza. Transfer the pizza to the oven and cook for around 10 minutes - until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbly.
I heart film. - A little over a year ago I bought a Canon Ae-1 and last week I found the first roll of film I shot on it and finally had it processed (Its been a crazy year ...