Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day Dinner

Happy belated Valentine's Day! I hope you all had a relaxing and love-filled day like mine! B and I aren't really into doing a whole lot for Valentine's Day, but in the past we normally stay in and make a fancy dinner together. Last year we had pan-seared scallops with linguine and a creamy white wine sauce. It was utterly delicious! This year I was feeling a little less inspired (or perhaps, a little more busy and a lot more tired) and I was craving our homemade pizza. Luckily, B was happy to oblige (you see, I make the dough, and sometimes the sauce, but he does everything else concerning the pizza) so last night we made our specialty - The vL Pizza Extraordinaire!

Sorry for the less-than-ideal picture, but my phone was all I had on me!

The recipe is based off of Smitten Kitchen's Updated Pizza, but instead of a small, thin-crust pizza, this makes a hearty, thick (almost foccacia-like) dough that's perfectly flavored. For the sauce, I stick to what Deb has beneath her pizza recipe (I'll blend it if I'm feeling fancy and I want a smoother sauce), but when I don't have 30 minutes to whip it up (or am just lazy, like last night) we'll use a traditional pasta sauce, lightly spread across the dough.

The vL Pizza Extraordinaire

1 1/2 C warm water
1/2 C white wine (we use Charles Shaw White Zinfandel)
2 tbsp active dry yeast
1/4 C olive oil
1 tbsp table salt
2 tsp honey
6 C flour
Corn meal

In a large bowl, whisk warm water, wine, and yeast until yeast is dissolved. Add oil, salt and honey and whisk until well blended. Add flour, and with one hand gently incorporate the wet and dry ingredients until the dough is mostly together in a shaggy lump. Then, dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, using two hands, knead together for a few minutes until smooth and slightly tacky (Alternatively, you can mix the ingredients in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment for the first two steps, and switch to the dough hook when you add the flour and knead on medium-high speed for two minutes or so, until the dough is smooth).

Clean the bowl you made the dough in (or get another large bowl) and lightly oil it. Add the smooth dough back to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Put it in the fridge and allow it to rise for approximately 8 hours. An hour before you want to make the pizza, move the dough from the fridge into the oven (or a warm, draft-free space) and bring it back to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to the highest setting (after you take out the dough, of course). Dust your pizza tray/stone with corn meal (or, alternatively, once you have shaped the dough you can lightly dust the underside of the dough with it) and shape the pizza on a floured surface until flat and round (feel free to use a rolling pin to help you get to the desired thickness and size). Put the pizza dough onto the pan (or stone) --WITHOUT SAUCE AND TOPPINGS -and bake for 6 to 9 minutes - what you're looking for is the dough to get a little puffy and baked, and LIGHTLY golden. When it reaches that golden good spot, take it out of the oven and let it stand for a minute or so, and then add the sauce (just a little bit, you don't want the cheese to swim) and top with your favorite toppings. We do: sauce, pepperoni, and a shredded mozzarella/cheddar cheese blend, and top it off with some dried herbs and a little grated parmesean. You don't want to go real heavy on the toppings because then the dough will get soggy (but par-baking the dough kind of helps with this), but a couple of ounces of your favorite topping should be fine.

Add the pizza back to the oven and bake for another 7 to 12 minutes, checking at 7 minutes for done-ness (the pizza dough will be a darker golden color, the cheese and bits of topping will have melted or slightly charred (my favorite!). Remove from the oven and allow for it to stand for 2-5 minutes to cool before cutting (otherwise the cheese will go everywhere). Enjoy!!!!

If you make it - let me know what you think!

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