“A Day in the Garden” Pizza

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So, you spent the entire day in the garden…weeding, planting, transplanting, daydreaming, did you?  You have to take advantage of those awesome summer days when it’s not too hot, not too cold and not raining (which doesn’t seem to be happening a lot this summer).  Yesterday was glorious and was exactly one of those days.
Sometimes, you get stuck – immersed – in an activity and you think if you leave to do something else, you will never pick up the same momentum.  On those days, when your in the garden and the grumblings of your kids stomachs are loud (and you haven’t even begun to think about what you are making for dinner) try this pizza….especially when you can throw in some freshly picked goodies from the garden!  I promise you, with this awesome recipe for the fastest pizza dough you will ever make, it will be done before you can dial “967- 11…….”
Ingredients:
Dough:
3 c all purpose flour
1 c semolina flour*
1/2 c fine cornmeal*
2 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4c beer**
3 tbsp olive oil
* you can substitute both for all purpose flour (as log as you get roughly 4 1/2 c in total…but the semolina gives the dough good strength and the cornmeal gives it good texture)
**the beer is key for a fast rise, so I always try to keep a bottle in the pantry…if you only have one in the fridge, microwave it for 20 seconds on high (best if it’s not cold to work with the yeast)
Toppings:
whatever toppings you have  hangin’ out in the fridge/pantry/cellar  (see below for my “go-to” items)
1.  Throw all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl…mix for a minute.
2. Add beer and oil and mix for another minute; then change to a dough hook and mix until it all comes together (about 10-12 min)…this is key because this will replace the kneading!  If you don’t have a dough hook, you can do this all by hand…just knead for about 10 minutes to get the gluten working.
3.  Keep in in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap;  put on the cooktop while you are pre-heating the oven (set at 450).  If you have a pizza stone, now is the time to put it in the oven (it works best if it heats up with the oven).  If you don’t, just use a cookie sheet.

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After it’s been sitting for about half an hour (just enough time for me to prep the toppings). See the the little “bumpies” on the dough? That’s the cornmeal…gives it a great crunch!

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A jar of my canned tomatoes from last year…you can use a can of store bought…always have at least 6 cans in your pantry! And, if you are going to buy them, buy San Marzano (really red and always packed in thick juice) and buy whole tomatoes because you can always crush them if you need to.

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4. If you have whole tomatoes, crush one or two with the back of a fork and throw in some parmigiano and parsley and garlic (if you have any or all of these). Take a small wad of dough (like the size of 2 golf balls) and roll it out with a rolling pin to get it nice and thin. If you are using the stone in the oven, prep the pizza with the toppings on a cookie sheet with no sides or a pizza paddle (or anything that is flat and has no sides). Important step…sprinkle a bit of cornmeal on the bottom of the dough to give it a crunchy bottom!

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5. Pizza works best if you have a layer between the crust and the toppings. This is when you spread a thin (VERY thin) layer of tomato mixture). If you don’t have that, then even a brush of olive oil and crushed garlic. Then put your toppings (if any)…I used some bresaola (like prosciutto but made with beef…my dad brought it from Italy!), some sliced mozzarella (the cheap kind in the plastic…it’s what I had and I wanted to use the bocconcini for my salad!), some left over goat cheese and some cut up spring onions I pulled from the garden (see my “What I’m Growing” tab for pictures). Put the cheese last (I actually like to bake the pizza for about 5 minutes and then put the cheese on and return it to the oven so the cheese doesn’t get hard and brown).
6.  Once the toppings are on, wiggle the pizza around so it isn’t stuck to the bottom of whatever you are using to transfer it to the oven (if you are using a cookie sheet, just place it in the oven).  Bring the pizza to the oven and gently shake the flat sheet and place it over the stone on a angle (like you are going to pour the pizza off of it).  Then shake it slowly while pulling back to release the pizza onto the stone.  It’s usually not as hard as it sounds.
7.  As mentioned in #5, you can bake the pizza for about 10 minutes first and then add the cheese (or bake a total of 12-15 minutes until the edges begin to brown and the bottom of the pizza is getting some colour).
8.  You can enjoy the pizza it comes out of the oven, or if you’re like me, place your salad on top of the pizza, fold in half and eat it quick before the crust gets a chance to get soggy!
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