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What Grilling Can Tell Us About Relationships

Ω September 11th, 2012 Ω Tagged , , , , , , , , Ω 12 Comments

Peter has a problem.

He loves his Big Green Egg. He really does. But every time he tries to make pizza on it, the pizza sticks to both the pizza peel and the grill like none other.

(As a side note: Peter and his dad made the custom wooden cart holding the Big Green Egg. Peter has these metal letters that will go on the front that spell out “Egg Cartin’“. I’ll just let you sit on that one for a bit.)

He’s tried cornmeal. He’s tried flour. He’s tried super-high temperatures. The last time he made pizza, back when we were still in Connecticut, the pizza caught on the pizza peel and folded in on itself as he tried sliding it onto the Big Green Egg. It came out looking like an eviscerated calzone.

When we had our dinner party last week, Peter was determined to do it right. He’d read about using parchment paper to prevent sticking. How did it work? Beautifully! … until he took the pizza off the Egg and saw that the parchment paper had been reduced to charred flakes (none of which got on the pizza, thankfully). This solution was half-good.

Why am I telling you all this? Mostly because I want you to know how much Peter loves his Big Green Egg. Even in the face of a difficulty in the relationship between man and grill, he won’t give up trying. I am lucky to be married to such a man.

Speaking of pizza, I promised you an awesome pizza crust recipe in this post. Jessie promises, Jessie delivers!

I know the recipe looks long, but most of the directions describe how to stretch the dough. So give it a try!

The Best Rustic Pizza Dough Ever

  Prep Time: 1 hour

  Cook Time: 5 minutes

  Keywords: bake grill entree bread vegetarian vegan low-sodium

Ingredients (3 14-inch pizzas)

  • 2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2-1/4 cups unbleached bread flour (we use a high-gluten flour from Restaurant Depot)
  • 1-3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or honey (optional)
  • 1-1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (for work surface)


Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for about 1 minute, until well blended. Add more water if needed. The dough should be coarse and slightly sticky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour.

Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, or continue mixing by hand, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough is smooth but still soft, supple, and somewhere between tacky and sticky.

Spread 1 teaspoon of olive oil on a work surface. Transfer the dough to the oiled surface. Rub your hands with oil, then stretch and fold the dough one time by reaching under the front end of the dough, stretching it out, then folding it back onto the top of the dough. Do this from the back end and from each side, then flip the dough over and tuck it into a ball.

Divide the dough into as many pieces as you want pizzas (we made three pizzas about 14-inches across). Form each piece into a ball, then place on an oiled baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap (alternatively, wrap each piece in oiled plastic.

Refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for several months.

Up to 90 minutes before you plan to bake the pizzas, place the dough balls on a lightly oiled work surface. With oiled hands, stretch and round each piece into a tight ball, then place them on a pan that’s been lightly oiled. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature until ready to bake.

About 1 hour before baking, preheat the oven and baking stone as high as the oven will go. If you don’t have a stone, assemble the pizzas on baking sheets covered with parchment paper and bake them in the pans.

Coat one of the dough balls in flour and transfer to work surface. Gently tap it down with your fingers to form a disk. Slide the backs of your hands under the dough, then lift it and use your thumbs to coax the edges of the dough into a larger circle. If the dough starts to resist and shrink back, set it back on the floured surface and let it rest for a minute or two. Continue working the dough until it is 10 to 14 inches in diameter, depending on the number of dough balls you have. The edges should be thicker than the middle.

When the crust is ready to be topped, place it on the floured peel (or leave it on the baking sheet). [Note: Peter used parchment paper on the pizza peel instead of flour, because flour tend to scorch on the Big Green Egg. Guess what? Parchment paper scorches, too.] Top pizza as desired, then slide it onto the baking stone (or slide the baking sheet into the oven).

Bake for about 4 minutes, then use the peel or a spatula to rotate the pizza. It will take anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes for the pizza to fully bake, depending on the oven (convection ovens and the Big Green Egg bake faster). The edges should puff up and be a deep golden brown. Remove the pizza, then let it cool for 1 minute before slicing or serving.

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My favorite topping combinations include:

*Goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, caramelized onions, red pepper flakes
*Tomato sauce, mozz, basil, anchovies (not kidding – yum!)
*Fig jam, goat cheese, caramelized onion (variation of above)

Happy Tuesday!

Q: Any suggestions for Peter on how to keep his pizzas from sticking? I think his loyalty to the Big Green Egg will only go so far.

P.S. Remembering 9/11 …

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» Filed under Recipes » 12 Comments

The Most Eggsellent Pizza

Ω July 11th, 2010 Ω Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , Ω 25 Comments

Remember when we made pizza right before I left for China? Yesterday, we reached new pizza heights, creating pizza that could rival any crispy thin-crust pizzeria pizza (try saying that five times fast. Go on. I’ll wait.). … How, you ask? With this little device here:

Yep, that would be a Big Green Egg, a ceramic charcoal grill that has a certain distinctive shape. You may have seen it in this post by Pet my subconscious a few weeks ago. Here it is again in case you missed it.

This grill can get up to super-high temperatures, allowing pizza crust to obtain that crispy pizzeria texture only obtained in massive bread ovens. Pretty awesome. We could, of course, not finish all this pizza ourselves, so we invited our friends Rebecca and Henry over for a sampling (hi, guys!). Peter started with a half whole-wheat flour, half white flour Peter Reinhart pizza dough:

Yes, I always photograph my pizza dough in glaring overhead light that would otherwise only be found in a prison line-up.

Caramelizing onions for our caramelized onion and goat cheese pizza.

Meanwhile, Peter starts up the grill.

Time to prepare the red pepper! I learned a trick for slicing red peppers on the day when I was slicing red peppers for what felt like hours.

Cut off the top of the pepper:

Use your fingers to pull out the insides (e.g. white ribs or any little baby peppers – wow, that sounds really cruel).

Slice ‘er up!

Meanwhile, here I am preparing dessert: grilled peaches with balsamic vinegar.  Since this is lunch “dessert”, I like to keep it on the lighter side.

Remove the skins by dropping the peaches in boiling water for ten seconds …

… then dropping them in ice water to stop the cooking process.

Once the peaches have cooled slightly, you can remove the skins easily with your fingers.

Not the most attractive picture, I know.

Let’s get those pizzas on the grill!

BBQ chicken and blue cheese pizza:

Sausage and veggie pizza:

Where’s that caramelized onion and goat cheese pizza I mentioned earlier?  I forgot to take a picture of the pizza, but check out a trio of slices on my plate.


I sprinkled a pinch of rosemary on the onion and goat cheese pizza because the ingredients taste wonderful together. As for the crust, well … I don’t have a craving for any pizzeria pizzas :) My mind must have been somewhere else yesterday because I also forgot to take a picture of the grilled peaches drizzled with sweet balsamic. Whoops. They were tasty. If you don’t have an aged sweet balsamic lying around, you can simmer a bottle of cheap balsamic over very low heat until it thickens into a syrup. Try it.

On a final note, my BIL Dave asked me a Q about olive oil about a month ago and I got around to answering it a couple of days ago (a good SIL, I am not). I thought the question was great, so I include it here:

Hey Jessie, I’ve been reading a bit about the health benefits of olive oil and am wondering if I should try to make it a daily thing. I eat a ton of peanut butter, so am thinking of subbing the olive oil for it at appropriate times (on bread, some mashed veggies, like the acorn squash and banana mash I just ate). I always shied away from it due to a belief in its high caloric value (not that peanut butter isn’t the same) but actually measured just how much a tablespoon of it is compared to the amount I usually eat of it (olive oil) and was quite surprised. Any thoughts?

First of all, Dave, please don’t make me acorn squash and banana mash next time we’re over … KIDDING! You make great food :)

Olive oil is a great source of healthy fats because it’s very high in monounsaturated fats, which is the best kind of fat out there along with the omega-3 unsaturated fats. In terms of having it every day – nutritionally, there’s no food that anyone NEEDS to eat every day. In fact, it’s better if you have more variety in your diet. Olive oil and peanut butter are both great healthy fat sources, but they are not 1:1 interchangeable because they have different healthy fat profiles in them, not to mention other good-for-you compounds (some of which we don’t even know about yet!). If you like eating them both (and it seems like you do), then incorporating both into your diet is a great move. I understand the urge to shy away from olive oil due to its high calorie content, but I think your idea of measuring it out a few times to see how big a portion size is is fantastic. Back when we used to live in Cambridge, I went through a period of eating whole grain toast drizzled with a tablespoon of olive oil every morning for breakfast (with fruit). I always measured because it’s easy to overdo oils. There was nothing like a hit of healthy fats in the morning to fill me up for a loooong time :) Now I tend to go for PB because it contains a lot of filling protein (which oils do not), and because I just plain like PB better. However, I think switching it up between the two, or even incorporating other healthy fats like avocado, is a great idea. Besides, you can always add a hard-boiled egg or similar for some extra protein if the rest of your meal is lacking.

Check out this link for a great summary on dietary fats from the MayoClinic.

Tinkerty tonk!

Q: How do you incorporate healthy fats into your diet? Share your tips! Bonus points if you can include an eggy pun in your answer :D

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» Filed under Life, Nutrition Info, Nutrition Tips » 25 Comments