Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Something Out Of Nothing.

Wednesdays, for us, are all about scraping the bottom of the barrel, or, to be more precise, getting as creative as possible with the skimpy selections in the kitchen. Our food-ship doesn't cruise in until Thursday, the CSA pickup day, when we have excess and plenty, which is why Wednesdays are magical, difficult and inspiring: Wednesdays, we make something out of nothing.

Right now in my refrigerator I have some wilting beet leaves, half a package of mozzarella and a paltry portion of long-ignored kale. Fortune favors the bold, however, and my backup staples are always waiting to assist me: flour, yeast, sugar, olive oil, milk, garlic, and thank goodness, half a lemon. It's the bare bones basics, but I think it will get us through another meal until tomorrow.

The big idea was pizza (with a white sauce, of course). Our tomato supply was diminished earlier in the day, half of our last tomato was divided into thin wedges and placed with care on toasted tomato-cucumber paninis (the cucumber is gone too). Therefore, the last option was a white sauce. Milk, garlic, butter and flour took care of that in a flash, and once the dough completed it's second rise, a pizza with kale, capers on a garlic white sauce was bubbling in the oven. The smell of it baking sent our hungry tummies into a shark-like feeding frenzy and, though I would be doing a discredit to all our other meals by saying this, turned into the winner of the week. Hey, it's pizza, what more can I say?

Tomorrow will bring fresh eggs, maybe even a twin yolk or two, vegetables, coffee, baguettes, shiitakes and so much more. We'll play, experiment, devour, taste, admire and cook to our heart's content. But Wednesday will sneak up on us again, driving us to scour our dwindling cabinet supply, which is why it's always important to have a Wednesday night staple. I guess to- die -for "bare bones pizza" will be ours.

The recipe for the dough is from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors. Since everyone's minimal food supply is different, (and I'm tired) I am supplying only the pizza dough recipe. If you'd like some tips for the white sauce, just ask and I'll freely oblige.

All or Nothing Pizza Dough

Makes two 12-inch round pizzas or one 12x16 inch pizza.

1 1/4 cups warm water
1 scant tbsp. active dry yeast (we use Red Star)
pinch sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed
1 tsp sea salt (or kosher salt)
1 tbsp olive oil

Put the warm water in a mixing bowl and stir in the yeast, sugar and 1 cup of the flour. Set aside until foamy 20 -30 minutes. Lightly oil a clean bowl for the dough. (Hint: if step one doesn't produce foamy results, start over, your yeast was inactive.)

Stir in the salt and oil, then start stirring in the flour until the dough is fairly stiff. When too stiff to stir, turn out onto a lightly floured counter and knead the dough until it is smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes. Add more flour as needed. put the dough in the oiled bowl, turn once to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

Punch down the dough, making sure to release all the air and recover to rise again, this time it should take less time.

Divide into 2 or 4 pieces, shape loosely into balls, then roll out into thin circles. For one large rustic tart, roll into a large thin rectangle and bake it on a sheet pan. 


Anonymous said...

This looks delicious! I like the way you use up all your leftovers. I'm going to try the pizza dough.

Beatrice said...

This is one of my favorites, Annie. I love the idea of using everything you got, even when it seems like nothing! Keep it up!

A.Kelley said...

Thanks, Bea! I'm tryin!

tacy said...

ah, gotta love the ex nihilo style.

facebook sent me here. enjoyed reading! love orangette. speaking of foodie books, have you read "cooking for mr. latte"? SUCH a fun book.

i have a cousin in athens right now. he is getting a ph.d in philosophy at ga and his wife doesn't so much like it yet. they moved from uruguay... a big city by the ocean.

A.Kelley said...

Hey Tacy! Thanks for checking out the blog - I hope you'll stick around :)

I have not read "CFML" but I think I might try to get a copy this week because I've heard great things about it and I finished "A Homemade Life" (awesome) and wanted to stick with the cooking/novel genre. Have you read "Bird by Bird?"

Anyway, if your cousin and his wife need some friends, please put us in touch. John and I had a rough start here but love it now - although I can't imagine coming here after Uruguay... we'd love to meet them, let me know.

Tacy & Stephen said...

yah! thanks for the re. their names are robert and elizabeth scott, they have 2 kids. it would be cool for you to meet them!

your blog really has made me want to get into some kind of produce co-op. when i do i will have you to thank! :)

congrats to you and john by the way. you can tell him that i have a great memory of him singing along with the cake song 'sheep go to heaven' in a van to ponderosa. what are blog comments for if not to bring up awesome stuff like that?! :)

A.Kelley said...

I will make sure and tell John - I can just picture it. He serenades me with the theme song to Karate Kid all the time, it's such a joy - good to know he hasn't changed, eh?

If you want to email me their info, we will get in touch - John will be especially thrilled if they speak spanish...

Tacy & Stephen said...

that they do... speak spanis,h that is. i'll send their email address to you. i'm sure you would enjoy elizabeth.... you might be able to babysit for them if you like taking care of kids! they're so sweet.

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