Thursday, October 05, 2006

Easy, cheesy pizza crust

When it comes to pie crust (I mean sweet pie), I find the homemade variety a nice-to-have, but not a need-to-have. That is to say, if I have the time and inclination, I'll make it from scratch, but with so many readymade options that taste just as good, I don't mind cheating so I can concentrate more on the filling. Not so with pizza crust. I've been routinely disappointed by any sort of premade dough or crust, despite trying many brands and varieties. And don't even get me started on those vile Boboli shells.

Then I discovered the pre-made pizza dough at Trader Joe's. It comes in a small ball, just the right size to cover a petite cookie sheet and it really yields a lovely crust. Plus, ringing up at something like a buck, you just can't beat it for a cost-conscious way to feed a group.

Take last night, for example. I had a friend from high school and her husband coming to town and I was asked to make dinner for 6 to bring to someone else's house (because her kitchen is under construction). And yes, that was a ridiculous run-on. I blog like I talk--too much, too fast. Anyway, I prepared 3 pizzas and cooked them in advance, leaving them in the oven just a few minutes shy of their optimal cooking time. Then, once I transported them to her place, we finished individual slices in the toaster oven for perfectly crispy crusties.

Easy pizza idea

(This entry is really feeling like it should be on that "Semi-Homemade" show with Sandra whatshername and her crafty cheater recipes. There or one of those midwestern mom mags like Ladies Home Journal.)

Anyway, if you can get past the "cheating" aspect of this assignment, check out the refrigerated dough at Trader Joe's. Don't be tempted by the wheat or herbed versions. Stick with the basic old dough and grab a couple while you're there. To prepare them, let them come to room temp for 20 min or so. Then, liberally flour a work surface, rolling the dough around it and kneading and stretching it for at least 5 minutes. This is important so it becomes elastic enough to fit your pan. Lightly grease a small-sized baking sheet (or as many as you have rolls of dough). Then stretch and work the dough until it covers the pan. From there, you can go to town with the toppings. I like to make one with a tomato sauce (in this case, I used the red sauce I made by pureeing grilled tomatoes and onions from our last BBQ), a plain white version and, if I'm feeling saucy (groan), a pesto option.

A nice option for the white pizza is a grated fontina base, topped with rounds of goat cheese and finely chopped rosemary. It's so simple, but the strong rosemary flavor combined with the tart chevre is deeply satisfying. I also love to use olives anywhere possible, be they kalamata, green or picholine. That salty, briney taste really jacks up otherwise dull toppings.

Then, just pop 'em in a 350 pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and crispy. Molto buono!

So, that's about it for today. Sadly, I have no photos of my creations, but in my effort to keep posting here regularly, I have to march forth, photos be damned! (Well, until the next time I have my camera handy in the kitchen) Till then....ciao ciao my little cheeselings, and thanks for reading.


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