I had been thinking for some time about trying my hand at pizza. I wanted to make my own dough, and Antonia had talked about cooking it on the grill, so I decided to give it a shot.
Because I can't seem to approach any cooking task with simplicity in mind, I elected to make a dough with herbs in it. The recipe I found called for herbes de Provence. I had no idea what they were, so I did some quick research and started to mix up a batch from what I could find in the spice cabinet. Then I noticed that Darien already had a jar of the herbs she had bought at the market. Oh. Next step, mince some garlic, saute it with the herbs, and prepare to add to the dough.
The dough turned out to be an issue. It called for bread flour (which I had to purchase) and cornmeal, and for mixing in a food processor. The sugar and yeast mixture seemed to work well, but in mixing everything together, the dough seemed too sticky and glutinous. I ended up adding more flour than I think I should have, which ended up being a theme for the evening. Just as the dough was forming into a ball like it was supposed to, the Cuisinart froze. This was going to be an expensive pizza.
I kneaded the dough ball a bit and left to rise. Meanwhile, I started on the toppings. I didn't find exactly what I was looking for, so I put together my own, basing it around roasted tomatoes brushed with oil and herbs, a fennel/garlic/onion saute, and barbecued shrimp, planning to top everything with goat cheese. What I neglected was to adjust the size of the recipes appropriately, so I ended up with several times as much as was sufficient. Antonia helped out by consuming vast quantities of the shrimp before dinner.
I made a Dijon based dressing (red wine vinegar, shallots, garlic, thyme, olive oil), while Antonia put together the romaine salad with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and salami, proudly cut matchstick style.
The dough rose nicely and I began rolling out the pies. I had to use a lot of flour to keep things from sticking, and I think I could have rolled them all thinner. I stacked them up as I finished, just as the recipe called for, but this proved to be a problem later. When I was grilling one set of pies, the others that were sitting began to stick together. I had to do emergency surgery with a bag of flour while standing at the grill, trying not to let the others burn. It was not a pretty sight.
I put everything together and popped the pies in the oven to melt the cheese. In spite of the stress, and the rather dilapidated look of the pizza, it actually didn't taste all that bad. And it didn't end up costing all that much either -- I just found out that the food processor was not permanently damaged. Whew.