Some things I learned this summer:
- Fallen Leaf Lake is like a pretty, pretty little mini-Tahoe.
-Winners double-fist Airborne and beer… It’s the truth.
-Picnics need to be revived–as a THING. You know. Like how all of a sudden cupcakes were a thing.
-A whole bunch of human anatomy… I don’t know why. It’s ridiculous, but seriously, quiz me.
-You don’t have to do a whole lot to get kicked out of a fancy Napa winery, especially at around 4:40 p.m.
-Watching every single episode of Seinfeld is totally a legitimate cultural endeavor. Worth every minute… But I’m only on Season 3.
-OH! Grilling pizza makes it better. Yeah, I didn’t know that pizza could get any better either.
I even made my own pizza dough for this occasion. No corners were cut, friends. There was yeast, and water, and olive oil.
There was whisking, then mixing, then kneading.
Then there was rising. It takes a couple of hours, which you can use to make your sauce. I am not efficient, so I spent those hours putting apple goop on my face, drinking rum and calling my mother.
The photo on the left looks like a brain… If only it were this easy to double brain size. All of a sudden, we’d have zebras doing calculus.
Mozzarella made by real Italian cheesemakers, right here in ‘Murica. Also pictured are the most expensive tomatoes I have ever bought. But I grew the basil myself, so I suppose that counts for something.
The tomatoes get peeled (exactly the same way as peaches), then they get cooked down into a thick-ish sauce along with some olive oil. This is all about simplicity, which is why we have to buy expensive heirloom tomatoes (or not, honestly–some good canned plum tomatoes would’ve been just excellent).
Dough gets rolled out. My camera did not focus where I wanted it to focus… Please be forgiving.
Then, everything goes outside by the grill, where the magic happens.
We grill the dough just until it gets those pretty, pretty grill marks on it. Then comes the tricky part–flipping. I enlisted the help of my boyfriend, but it turned out to be more like one of those communication exercises where one person has to drive blindfolded… It was kind of like that, except no one was blindfolded, plus some slight burns. It’s totally possible to do this alone, actually, with perhaps a couple wide heatproof spatulas. Also, it doesn’t even matter if it breaks. Just do your best!
Grilling melts the cheese and all, but I find it’s pretty much impossible to not burn the crust yet still get the top bubbly and delicious. If you’re like me, melty is not enough, and you simply must have browned and bubbly. I finished my pizza under the broiler.
And then you top it with some fresh basil. All good stories end like this.
For the dough:
1 cup warm water
1.5 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups flour
Cornmeal for sprinkling
For the sauce/topping:
2 large tomatoes (best you can find–it’s worth it)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional, and technically cheating, but I did it)
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces fresh mozzarella
8-10 fresh basil leaves, whole or cut into a chiffonade
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan or romano cheese (optional and technically not traditional but TASTY)
To make crust:
Whisk together the warm water and yeast in a medium bowl until yeast has dissolved and starts to froth a little (if it doesn’t froth, throw out the mixture and start with new yeast), then mix in the honey, salt and olive oil. Mix in the flour, first with a sturdy spoon, then switch to your hands and knead into a dough. Knead dough for a couple of minutes (in the bowl or on the counter, whatever is easiest for you. Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil and place your ball of dough inside, and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it in a reasonably warm place for an hour or two, until it’s doubled in size as you see above.
On a floured surface, gently deflate the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes or so (keep it covered so it doesn’t dry out). Then, roll out to your desired shape (duh, whatever your grill is shaped like) thickness, or thinness as the case may be. Sprinkle with cornmeal and cover while making your sauce (if you haven’t made it already).
To make sauce:
Peel and roughly chop tomatoes and combine in a small saucepan with olive oil, salt and tomato paste, if using. Simmer on medium-low heat until thickened, about 30-40 minutes.
Preheat grill to medium-high heat and generously brush grate with olive oil. Also preheat your broiler, at 350 degrees or so. Carefully plop the rolled out-dough onto grill and grill for about 4-6 minutes, until browned and firm on the bottom. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil and carefully flip dough. Immediately layer the sauce onto the dough, followed by cheese(s). Cover and grill for a another few minutes, until the dough is well marked on the bottom and cheese melts. Transfer onto a baking sheet and finish pizza under the preheated broiler until browned and bubbly (another 4-6 or so minutes). Top with fresh basil before serving.