Thursday, June 12, 2008

CPK Copycat

Florida is a nice place to live. It's warm, there are always some sort of flowers blooming, there's no state income tax. Of course, there are some downsides to living here as well. The most unfortunate of these downsides is the lack of good pizza and chinese take-out. We do have CPK's around here, but as those of you familiar with 'California Pizza Kitchen' know, they do not deliver, and I don't always feel like going to the mall to get it. Luckily, several years ago my sister gifted me with a pizza stone and peel, and I have made good use of them. 

One of my CPK favorites is a Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese, so that's what we made Wednesday night. I slapped together a whole-wheat dough, and we roasted eggplant, red and yellow bell peppers, mushrooms, and broccoli while I caramelized some onions and made a quick spicy red sauce. This is what we came up with:

Deeeeelicious! I know making our own pizza isn't exactly original, but people really seem to be surprised when we tell them that we do. All I know is that when we make pizza for friends and family, they really seem to love it, and that's what matters. 

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
adapted from Silvana Franco

This crust is filling, so don't be surprised if you eat a piece less than you might normally. I like to roll it out nice and thin, and it gets quite crispy and delicious. I use yellow cornmeal on my pizza peel to keep the dough from sticking as I slide it into the oven. It works much better than just sprinkling flour on the peel, but if flour is all you have, be liberal. If you want to use all-purpose flour, reduce the water to 1/2 cup. 

1 2/3 cup whole-wheat flour, plus extra for sprinkling 
1/2 tsp salt
1 package active dry yeast (1/4 oz)
2 tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup tepid water

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix just until combined. Make a well in the center and add the water and oil. Gradually work the flour into the liquid to create a soft dough. If it feels sticky, add a little flour. The dough should be pliable and smooth. If it is too dry, add a little water. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, sprinkling with flour as necessary to prevent any sticking. When the dough is smooth and elastic, rub a little oil on it and place back into the large bowl. Cover with a clean towel and place in a warm spot to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size. Remove dough to a lightly floured surface, knead for a minute, then roll out into a thin approximation of a circle. 
(If you have a big kitchen mixer, you can do all of the mixing and kneading with the dough hook attachment. Huzzah!) 

Sprinkle cornmeal or flour on the pizza peel and place the rolled-out dough on top. Thinly spread sauce or garlic oil on, then add your favorite toppings and cheese. Slide the pizza off the peel, onto a stone in a preheated 425 degree oven (be sure to place the pizza stone in when the oven is cold and let it gradually heat!) for 17-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and crust is crisp. 
Hubband and I also love barbecue chicken pizza with red onions and cheddar, or Thai chicken pizza with mozzarella, peanut sauce and bean sprouts. Sometimes we put on onions and wilted greens, and halfway through the cooking we crack a few eggs onto the pizza for breakfast-style. What are your favorite combinations? 

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