Homemade Pizza Recipe that Will Change Your Life

Second

Name one of your friends that doesn’t love pizza.

Exactly.

If there is pizza, it will be eaten. Full disclosure: years ago I was told I’m sensitive to lactose. Not full-on intolerant, but I should proceed with caution before taking down the entire cheese wheel. That hasn’t stopped me from ingesting the Italian precursor to tostadas.

There was a dearth of holiday plans for NYE this year. So, my girlfriend and I invited friends to her casa for some drinks and dinner before going out. Grappling over what to make to feed our friends, we landed on homemade pizzas since we thought it would be the easiest and least time consuming.

The below pizzas–I don’t like calling them pies–were made off the dough recipe in Bon Appetit’s October issue. Their homemade pizza recipe and sauce is also a winner with anchovies as the secret flavor punch.

Life-Changing Pizza Dough from Bon Appetit

  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for surface

I have long avoided making legit, homemade dough mostly because when I want pizza I can’t wait 4 hours or definitely not 24 hours for dough to rise. Having made this dough twice in the past 5 days, I can vouch that it is doable to make your own pizza and stop relying on delivery or a frozen pizza.

This dough does take a full day to develop its flavors, BUT it only takes about 15 minutes to make. The rest of the time it sits in the fridge. In that time, you could clear your freezer of frozen pizzas bought in moments of weakness. You can also make a double batch of dough and freeze one for a later date.

Tips

  • Use a Kitchen Aid if you have one. It makes this insanely easy.
  • Make a double batch.
  • Be sure to oil the bowl and coat the entire ball of dough before refrigeration (flip it over once the bottom is coated).
  • Get creative.
  • My pizzas only took about 15 minutes instead of the recommended 20-30. So, watch them closely.

Once the dough is done with its day spa in the cooler, you need to get it back to room temperature before trying to stretch it onto a pan. This took at least 30-45 minutes for my double batch of dough. From then on it’s up to you to twirl your mustache and top it with your favorite veggies and meats. I learned one thing when asking for input before topping: a lot of people hate mushrooms.

We made three homemade pizzas on NYE with variations on the below toppings:

  • Onions
  • Red bell pepper
  • Italian Sausage
  • Pepperoni
  • Hot Capicola
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh basil

Endless possibilities await.

What are your favorite toppings?

Emmy-Award Winning Dinner

chicken, dinner, emmy, northwestern

 

Dani Carlson commented on one of my many food pictures a few months ago. I first met Dani in college where she ran the show for the on-campus news program. She taught me most of what I know about broadcast news. Network and Broadcast News taught me everything else. She also won an Emmy this year for her reporting work at WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, MI.

Since her request to learn how to cook chicken that wasn’t mushy I have been tinkering with different recipes to find one that would conquer her challenge.

I make a fair amount of chicken dishes, but this summer has been dominated by grilling. Earlier this week I took a stab at a new recipe from Bon Appetit.

As is often the case, I didn’t have all the ingredients so I swapped a few for what I had on hand. Here we go with Dinner for an Emmy-Award Winner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper–don’t use the pre-ground stuff. It’s a waste.
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry red (Recipe calls for white)
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Optional: mushrooms, carrots, other veggies
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme plus thyme leaves for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Process:

  1. Start pot of water to boil for noodles.
  2. Heat the skillet over medium heat.
  3. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. If the chicken breast is more than an inch thick, either slice it in half (parallel to your board) or pound it out.
  4. Add oil to skillet and swirl it around.
  5. Place chicken in the hot pan. If you don’t hear a distinct sizzle, the pan isn’t hot enough. I let mine get hot for about 5-6 minutes.
  6. I added carrots, which were too sweet for the savory vibe the rest of the dish had going.
  7. After 6-7 minutes on one side, flip the chicken to sear the other side.
  8. Let that cook for another 6-7 minutes. The chicken should start firming up.
  9. Remove the chicken and let it rest on a plate.
  10. Add onions, garlic and optional veggies. Stir. Let cook for a minute. Add chicken stock, mustard, wine. Stir. You’ll need to let this cook a few minutes on medium/medium-high heat to cook out the booze and let the flavors combine.
  11. Place the chicken back into the pot. Cover.
  12. Transfer 1/2 cup of pasta water to the skillet/sauce. Stir.
  13. Drain the pasta.
  14. Plate it up.

Searing the chicken should avoid the squidgy chicken texture you despise. But it shouldn’t be super dried out either. If you can win an Emmy and teach people how to use AVID, you should have no trouble with some chicken!

chicken, dinner, emmy, northwestern
Finished product.

Chicken a la Vomit – The Worst Meal I’ve Ever Made

20140127-212643.jpg

20140127-212547.jpg

“Oh my God.” [Weird noises that don’t belong in the kitchen]

“…this…is…amazing!”

If you’re like me and watch cooking shows more than is societally acceptable, you’ve noticed the hyperbole of mind-blowing culinary masterpieces. Today, I share the dark side of cooking for yourself. Mercifully, this dish was only consumed by me. Well, me and the garbage.

20140127-212526.jpgWhilst flipping through Bon Appetit — in between watching cooking show episodes on my DVR — this recipe caught my attention. White beans with broccoli rabe and lemon. Simple ingredients. Minimal effort. Sounded like my type of dish.

I never had broccoli rabe before, but it was a green. Would this be the next kale?! My mind wandered with the possibilities. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

So there I was. Me and the ingredients. Let’s call it a date.

20140127-212509.jpg

I seasoned and seared butterflied chicken breasts in olive oil. After they were done, I put them on a plate to rest. Then I began following the recipe. Because of my hubris, I opted to add in a few extra ingredients. Nothing radical, a diced tomato, sliced baby bellas, and chicken stock instead of water. Otherwise I followed the recipe.

Once all the ingredients were ready to simmer for a spell, I added the chicken on top of the beans and greens, put a lid on top and finished cooking the chicken.

I plated the dish and had my ritualistic photo shoot, that I fear is becoming a compulsion.

As I sliced the chicken I knew, like you know, the chicken was tender and moist. Spearing it like Poseidon with my four-tined fork, I gathered a bite of the greens, beans and bird.

Instantly I knew, like you know, the taste.

Vomit.

100% organic, locally-sourced vomit.

The acidity was overwhelming. The lemon slices imparted an incredibly bitter taste from beginning to end. Short of dumping a bag of sugar into the pot, I couldn’t think of any way to salvage the dish. I suffered through it for a while. Then I remembered I had some self worth, not much, but some. For the first time, I threw out an entire meal. Shitty meals happen. I’ve heard you learn more from your failures than your successes. They really meant you die of starvation from repeated failures.

I removed and sliced the chicken, put it on a tortilla with pepper jack and lettuce.

The cause for the Chicken a la Vomit was one of a few things. Cooking the chicken in the pan beforehand probably didn’t leave the greatest of flavors to build a sauce, but I think the main culprit was a sour lemon. You know what they say, when life gives you lemons, you chuck them as far as you can and make a burrito.

chicken, tortilla, wrap, dinner, lunch
I’ll never leave you again sweet, sweet tortillas.

Rich Kids of Instagram Got Nothing On Me

Here are my photos from last night’s Yelp Elite event at E+O Food and Drink in Mount Prospect. If you’re an elitest like I am, you find complete bliss in the exclusivity of being invited to private dining events. It gives me a glimpse of what life must be like for Adam Rapoport at Bon Appetit or Phil Vettel over at the Tribune.

“How do you get on the list?” you ask.

Start reviewing your experiences for the places you frequent. The main focus is building community, so interact with others. Like or comment on their check-ins. The neatest (I’m bringing ‘neat’ back) element is interacting with people that you primarily know from the app/online.

Another fun bit is being in a room with a bunch of other people who constantly photograph everything they put in their mouths. No judgment. Just good food and good people. Maybe you too will meet your Yelp wife at an event.