Monday, February 05, 2007

pizza di alice

Although yesterday was the Superbowl; a highly American ritual of excess and hyper-media (or is that Extreme-media) and millions of people were spending the day watching the game, pumped up and likely intoxicated (ok more men I should clarify); I filled the majority of my day with different ritual behavior. Don't get me wrong, I had a beer, some good pizza, managed to watch the last quarter, and was impressed that the Colts coach is only the third guy to have been victorious as both player and coach in a superbowl; congrats Tony! But really, I was very satisfied that my day contained three important rituals. Or four, if you want to call watching the superbowl one.....

My niece was blessed this morning. Men gathered around and wished for the wonders of life to be bestowed upon her. Her full name was spoken for family and church before god. It was a standard performance, but one that carries deep meaning. I am not LDS, and as usual felt like I wasn't quite dressed right in church; one of those "long-hair" with beard that I am. It was the first time though that I didn't feel awkward actually being there. The congregation were welcoming, and as usual I had the slight sense that a few were getting giddy believing they had a few new recruits on their hands, but this time felt as though I was perfectly entitled to share the same ritual space, bearing witness to another cousin of the monkey in the blessing gown that H's mom so lovingly embroiders with her grandchildren's names.

We came home and the kitchen smelled of sourdough. Go figure. The monkey and I went outside and picked some herbs. The photo up above was taken a few days ago during our first real harvest of chard and parsley for the year. The herbs went into my latest veggie stock and Aunty had the chard, but it shows an example of the oregano and rosemary that were harvested for our impending dough of herby bliss.

During ritual number two (going for a run, a more sporadic ritual, but one I'm currently working on the frequency of) my mind was awash in family tradition. It made me think back to our own little blessing of sorts where we captured an image of our portly 5 month old monkey displaying her newfound talent of sitting up. We had planted an olive tree as part of our ritual. After digging the hole, we placed some compost in the bottom, including her placenta as encouragement for growth and health. We figured hey, hella vitamins and minerals in that thing, must be good for a young tree, considering some folks actually ingest the thing themselves in the form of........well, if I haven't totally grossed you out already, I'm gonna make a self-arresting move right here to not lose any more readers (and should you want to know more about it, or our own use of placenta, then just ask).

I came home all sweaty, checked the score, and eyed the big cold beer in the fridge, but I hadn't anything to eat for a good four hours at this point. I was dehydrated from the run, and the booze tops out at 9.9% alcohol, so I abstained a bit longer and chugged some water. My dough looked nice, so I pounded out some rounds and prepped the toppings.

I had some local produce (peppers, mushrooms, onions), a newfound meaty topping (Sugo di Carne, thank you Biggles), and a nice tryptic of cheese (jack, mozzarella, parmesan). Ritual number three was shaping up to be good. Maybe even seriously g__d (I'll leave that to the judge). With everything ready for assembly, we called the monkey into the kitchen for one of our newest rituals: family pizza construction. The monkey wasn't as interested in this as in the past, but H and I brought our parental obligations to the table so we followed through. We had one biggie of the thin crust variety, and four little "fluffies" more along the lines of a deep dish style. With the oven hot and the pies waiting, the ritual continued on.

While the pizza was cooking, I said hello to Aunty. We had one of "those" conversations about how lame our father is (in retrospect, this should probably count as a ritual too, though more of the purgative type). I came back in the kitchen and two of the five were being ingested. The meaty centerpiece was intact however, and maybe the beer was playing with my head, but it seemed to creep back toward the wall as I came at it with the pizza cutter. Sourdough may be tasty, but remember, it starts out most certainly alive.

The pizza was a hit. The crust was fluffy and herbal, laying a foundation in the grassy world of wheat and herbs. The carmelized onions were divine (are they ever not?) and went very nice with the woody/earthy cremini and tangy green bells. The Sugo did a glorious job as the carne, and I instantly put it into the "can't go wrong" category for pizza toppings. The cheeses glued it all together and provided the cream to bind all the flavors together. With our bellies thoroughly stuffed and the table cleared, I brought the rest of the beer and another piece of pizza upstairs to commune with SB41.

Although the kitchen still smelled of carmelized onions, confronted with the inevitable cold pizza and empties, I was a bit sad this morning. It was back to the ritual of a typical monday: deciding what we're gonna eat tonight. We have some yummy fish on board, and I have a line on some garlic quark that will be part of another ritual around here: quiche. If I only had some more brown shugga and pizza toppings, I just might be able to replicate the experience. Or should you want to experiment on yourself and/or family then read on.

Herbed Pizza Dough

1 cup sourdough starter
3 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat
1 cup warm water
2 T olive oil
1 t salt
I T finely minced fresh oregano
1t finely minced fresh rosemary

Mix ingredients and knead until smooth. Let rise in a warm place for several hours until it has doubled in size (how's that for an original line in a recipe huh?. I've just got to plagiarizing someone there....) Form into whatever pizza style floats your boat. Let rest for a bit while you prep the toppings.

Alice's toppings (she doesn't even have teeth and is purely on a milk diet at this point, but I'm sure she will like this one in the future. Also, I just couldn't relate this one to the game or it might have been called Peyton's pizza or some other cheesey title (snicker, snicker).

3 carmelized onions
1 julienned green bell pepper
8 thinly sliced medium cremini mushrooms
1 jar/can tomato paste (6-8 ounces)
1/2 lb grated monterey jack
1/2 lb sliced fresh mozzarella
2 ounces microplaned parmesan
1/3 jar (4-6 ounces?) Sugo di carne (I'm working on getting savvy at linking stuff to my blog, go to the fatted calf site to read more)

With the dough ready, prick it numerous times with a fork, if putting onto a non-perforated baking sheet, and spread tomato paste thinly, until all but the outer crust is covered. Put down a base layer of cheese (most of the jack, and all of the mozzarella) Pile on some onion, mushroom and bell pepper. Distribute the meat. Add the rest of the jack and generously sprinkle with parm. Place into a 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Serve with high alcohol beer, brewed with brown sugar and you can't go wrong......unless your serving this to your toddler, and then come on, who would share such a good beer with their kid, I mean hey, they're not suppossed to have the stuff, so drink it all yourself, and quickly for child safety sake.


Callipygia said...

Congrats on your niece's blessing. Years ago I remember a baptism at Berekley Presbyterian (the congregation is huge)which was unbelievably touching. It was almost as if the "hand of God" descended upon her forehead... Anyways it was beautiful and reminded me of the one you described. The pizza looks great too- can you imagine a one with a persimmons sauce... Really, just kidding!

Callipygia said...

I just re-read what I wrote and can't believe how poorly written it is- I got distracted by my overly used persimmon joke. Crikey-

D-man said...

Callipygia, thanks for the idea: persimmon pizza sauce. It made me think of how some folks pair blue cheese and pears on pizza, so why not a sweet sauce with smelly crumbles (on sourdough of course). There are (GASP) two more frozen hachiya in the freezer to consume and then my season of persimmon will officially be over.....

Alison said...

Guess i will find out if after a year, anyone might still come across his blog's comments. I was looking on the internet for some recipes for persimmon pizza, and your blog came up! It is a great blog, and I will use your dough recipe when I put together my pizzas tomorrow. As for the persimmon sauce, I once had the most memorable persimmon pizza at a restaurant in Sebastopol CA called Lucy's. A late fall pizza with sliced persimmons instead of sliced tomatoes baked on, with sage and blue cheese. Looking in my kitchen, these are the ingredients I have, so they goin on the pizza with or without any online recipes. Aye, the internet has never failed me before. Guess I will have to publish my results on my blog now too.

Monkey Wrangler said...

Alison: Howdy, and glad you liked what you found! As for the pizza in Sebastopol thing, that's a bit strange because I'm from there. Weird huh? (Although I don't recall going to Lucy's unless it was around 10 or 15 years ago....)

Anyways, I'd love to know your results, let me know.