Friday, May 30, 2008

This is why i love natural dyeing. the range of colors is just great - even for a novice such as myself. Many of these were compost dyed - I've been unwrapping scarves that have been compost-dyeing since last August, sept. and oct. - if you can believe it! The colors and patterns are just wonderful with compost-dyeing, and soooo unpredictable.

Monday, May 26, 2008

So last night, we had a little dinner party - grilled pizza, from 98% local ingredients. It was so much fun!

I've been experimenting with pizza alot lately - homemade totally from scratch. Here is my favorite crust recipe so far. It's versatile and freezes beautifully.

3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/4 tsp. yeast
2 tbsp. olive oil (extra virgin organic is my choice)

Combine flour, sugar, honey, salt, olive oil, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add 11 oz. warm water (if I have it, I use whey left over from cheesemaking). Combine just until the dough comest together into a ball, then let it rest for about 5 minutes.

After it's rested, knead the dough pretty thorougly, until it's smooth, uniform, and not too sticky. Add more water or flour if needed.

This recipe makes 2 pizza crusts. I like to vary the flours. I usually use 1 cup white flour, and 2 cups of either whole wheat, 7 grain flour, or cornmeal, and then 1/2 cup semolina. the semolina REALLY make the dough stretchier and easy to handle, and I just love the texture. You can get nice crust without it, but I do highly recommend adding the semolina. I get my grains from Pauls Grains in Iowa.

Now. You can let your dough rise, if you're ready to use it. If not you can either 1) put it in the fridge in a plastic bag for up to 3 days, or 2) freeze it. I like to make several batches at once and put them in the freezer, then you have them ready when you need! The dough will actually ferment somewhat in the freezer, and this counts as your "rise"; so when you take the dough out of the freezer, as soon as it defrosts, it's ready to use. how cool is that?

Next: The Sauce

There are many sauce options. I freeze large quantities of pesto each fall; pesto makes wonderful pizza sauce. You could also use leftover pasta sauce, or alfredo sauce. Yum. Lately I've been making a "cleaning out the freezer" sauce that is most delicious. I'm using up the last of the CSA veggies from Small Potoatoes Farm - basically all I have left in my freezer is some chopped red peppers, and some grated carrots. Into the saucepan they go,with loads of garlic from John at Sunrise Farms (an organic herb farm in Woodward), and some gorgeous Sun-dried tomatoes from Blue Gate Farm. I add a little cream from Picket Fence Creamery, because it's in my fridge and I need a little something to hydrate the tomatoes. I add SCADS of herbs - just loads. Dried sage, basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary and parsley from my garden. A little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and let it simmer until thick. Sauce is done.

The Toppings:

Anything is fair game for toppings. We are just using what we have seaonally. Last night, we had the last of our fresh morel mushrooms, so I sauteed them in some butter from Picket Fence, with some chives that came in our first CSA box for 2008. I also used some sun-dried tomatoes from Blue Gate Farm. MMMM!

The Cheese:

As far as I am concerned, all cheese is good cheese. To get 100% local cheese, I bought some goat's milk parmesan from Northern Prairie Chevre, and had been gifted some amazingly mild and soft feta from Reichert's Dairy Air (SO GOOD!). I also made some 30-minute mozzarella using a gallon of fresh whole milk from Picket Fence Creamery.

The Grilling:

Grilling pizza is easy, fast, and delicious. It SOUNDS like it might be difficult, but I swear it is not!

The important thing to remember is - it goes fast. So have all your ingredients ready. I get all the topping chopped, all cheese grated and assembled on one plate, ready to go, sitting beside the grill.

SO. Start by preheating your grill - I set it to high for the first stage. get it nice and hot.

Roll out your dough, then lightly coat one side with olive oil (I use a pastry brush). When grill is hot, put your dough, oil side down, on the grill. this is the trickiest part of the whole operation, as the dough is floppy! Once you get it down, close the lid of the grill and let the bottom grill until it's lightly cooked. The top will bubble; that's fine. When the bottom is lightly browned, oil the top (using the pastry brush again - a long-handled one is helpful), turn the crust over with a long-handled spatula, and TURN THE HEAT DOWN AS LOW AS POSSIBLE. At this stage, the trick is getting the toppings warm and the cheese gooey, wihtout burning the bottom crust.

Now, top your pizza. Spread the sauce, add toppings, and assorted cheeses. Fresh herbs if you like. Close the lid of the grill, and let it cook until the bottom is browned and the cheese is bubbly. It only take a few minutes. Slide off grill onto pizza pan, turn off grill, feast.

We enjoyed our pizza with some delicious Midnight Rain wine from Madison County Winery.

i think it would be really fun to host a 100% local foods dinner once a month or so; this would really encourage us to fully enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of each season.