Sunday, August 2, 2009

On the Grill

Incredibly, August is upon us and I'm looking back at the last four months and wondering where the days have gone. I have been very busy at work, which is both good and bad. Good considering these tough economic times, but difficult because my life has fallen a little out of balance. But as August sets off, I feel a renewed sense that I can restore some order and joy in the last days of summer.

I have been absent from the kitchen for most of the summer, but we've taken full advantage of the warm evenings and the grill in the backyard. And that brings me to pizza.


















If you haven't grilled pizza, I urge you to do so. It has become our summer favorite. We tried a new combination tonight, but don't let me stop you here. I have a million combinations in my head that would also work well. What about caramelized onion, gorgonzola, and toasted walnut? Roasted tomato, pesto, and mozzarella? Chorizo, manchego, and roasted pepper? Spinach, goat cheese, and garlic? Or gruyere, roasted garlic, and arugula?

I modified the whole-wheat pizza crust I posted a few months ago and have included that recipe below. Works marvelously on the grill.

Happy August cooking!

Eggplant, Green Olive, and Provolone Pizza
based on Gourmet, August 2009

1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pound eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch-thick rounds
4 ounces provolone, shredded
15 green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
pizza dough (recipe below)

1. Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium heat.

2. Stir together garlic and oil. Brush some of the garlic oil on both sides of eggplant and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Grill, covered, turning once, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes total. Cut into roughly 1-inch pieces.

3. Stretch dough into about a 12- by 10-inch rectangle. Transfer to a large baking sheet and lightly brush with garlic oil. Oil grill rack, then put dough, oiled side down, on grill. Brush top with more garlic oil. Grill, covered, until the underside is golden-brown, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes.

4. Using tongs, return crust, grilled side up, to baking sheet. Scatter eggplant, cheese, olives, and parsley over crust. Slide pizza from sheet onto grill and grill, covered, until underside is golden-brown and cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

We topped ours with a bit of grated lemon zest to finish.

I like to make my dough in advance, usually doubling the recipe and after step 2, I store what I don't need immediately in the freezer. If I anticipate making a pizza later in the week, I simply let the dough defrost in the refrigerator overnight and then continue with step three.

Pizza Dough
based on Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison
This dough makes enough for two 12-inch pizzas

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur)

1. Pour 1/2 cup of water into a mixing bowl, stir in the yeast and set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining water, olive oil, and salt, then mix into the flour to form a shaggy dough. Turn it out onto the counter and knead until smooth, adding more flour as needed to keep it from sticking.

2. Put the dough in the oiled bowl, turn it once to coat, then cover with a towel and set aside to rise until doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes. Turn the dough onto the counter and divide into two pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, set on a lightly floured counter, cover with towel and let rise for another 20 to 30 minutes.

[After the second rise, wrap the dough you're not going to cook immediately tightly in plastic wrap, then foil, and stick it in your refrigerator (if using within 3-4 days) or freezer (keeps 1-2 months).]

3. With the remaining dough, flatten into a square, pushing it outward with your palm and a rolling pin. Roll it out until it's about 1/2-1/4 inch thick. Cover with a towel, and let it sit for 10 minutes before using.

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