An Open Cookbook

An Open Cookbook

9.29.2010

Italian Dinner Party

My two girlfriends and I had a little dinner party for ourselves last Friday and were quite impressed with the outcome!  It was an Italian feast with sparkling, white and red wine.  Our menu was as follows:
  • Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
  • Tomato, Cucumber and Avocado Salad dressed with fresh grown herbs from T's back yard
  •  Herbed Chicken with Sauteed Polenta
  • Wheat Pizza with Blue cheese, Parmesan, Tomato and Arugula

T's locally (except for the avocado) grown salad and dressing.




I left my camera's memory card at home, so M so nicely took pictures for me on her iPhone. 



M's prosciutto wrapped asparagus appetizer we snacked on while cooking.

The pizza dough is so easy to make.  I came home from work, mixed it all together, and let it sit for an hour while I got ready.  Then just carted it over to T's house, and was ready for it's brief second rising.  I am calling it wheat pizza dough, because I did one half whole wheat flour, and one half all purpose.  I have tried doing 100% whole wheat, which is definitely healthier and more fiberful, but it makes such dense dough, and it doesn't rise nearly as much.  But you can certainly use all whole wheat, and just make a denser crust.   I also spiked the dough with black pepper to pack a subtle spicy punch.

Dough during brief second rising.

The blue cheese I used was so great.  It came in thinly sliced sheets divided by parchment paper.  Perfect for sandwiches, bruschetta or pizza.

Every single bite of everything was so delicious.  A true mix of flavors, colors, textures and love.  It was a night of three of our favorite things: good conversation, great food, and wine.  And if you haven't noticed, our initials spell out ATM, which we pridefully call ourselves.



Wheat Pizza with Blue Cheese, Parmesan, Tomato and Arugula

1 packet (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup lukewarm/warm water, and extra if needed (warm to the touch, about 100 degrees)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour, extra for kneading
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tsp olive oil

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese
Blue cheese
Sliced roma tomatoes

Arugula

In a measuring cup, combine the warm/lukewarm water, yeast and sugar.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the two flours, pepper, salt and mix evenly.  Drizzle the 2-3 tsp olive oil over flour mixture.  (This ingredient can be left out, but it does add a little crispness to the dough).  Integrate the oil into the flour. 

Check on the yeast/water.  The yeast is ready and activated when the water is cloudy and the top is sort of bubbling.  Add to flour mixture.  Mix well with a large spoon.  Balance out the dough by adding more flour or water, so that it is a consistency that you can easily hold in your hands and knead on a board.

Coat a surface or cutting board with a healthy portion of flour.  Put the dough on board and begin kneading, folding in half, flattening, folding in half, etc.  Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.  If the dough is sticking to the board, keep adding flour little by little, to make the dough smooth.

Take a large clean mixing bowl and put a thin layer of olive oil, or spray oil all inside it.  Put dough in bowl, and roll it around so it gets coated with a little oil.  Cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm area of the house.  Let sit for 1 hour.

While it is rising, you can prep the rest of the ingredients.  Chop the roma tomatoes.  Mix the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  (Note: you can also substitute with a marinara sauce, pesto, or no sauce if you like.)  Also, feel free to add any other ingredient for topping.  I added corn and carmelized onions to mine in another recipe. 

After 1 hour, dough should have doubled in size.  Punch down with knuckles to release air bubbles.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll out dough, into whatever shape you like.  You can make a crust, as above, or make it uniform in thickness.  Once in place, let the dough sit for about 10 minutes, for a brief second rising.

Drizzle olive oil mixture over dough, just enough to coat it.  (Or marinara, pesto, or your favorite sauce.)  Next sprinkle with parmesan and blue cheese, to whatever cheese amount you like.  I just did a thin layer, because the blue cheese adds a ton of flavor, without going overboard on amount.  Place sliced romas on top. 

Bake until cheese is melted and dough is thoroughly cooked, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with fresh arugula.  Also really good to drizzle a little balsamic vinegar on top too.  Enjoy enjoy enjoy!




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