This week we will depart once again from the merry go round of political boondoggles and fantastic stories of redemption to delve into the delicate issues of food offered today by the New York Times food section. Logic and reason are once again at stake and however minute the threat actually is we must work diligently to protect these sacred values from corruption. For what truly is life without an onion and pizza to slice? So forward we forge to ensure our slice of the pie and perhaps a tear in our eye.
Firstly we consider the plight of the Vidalia Onion. According to reports the state legislature in Georgia have strict controls on when their farmers are able to release the Onions into the consumers hands. April 21st is the date that was enacted into law by the “Vidalia Onion Act” of 1986 to apparently “protect the brand”. Far be it from the common sense of the farmer to decide when the fruits of their labors be released into the wild. Recently, despite the pleas from farmers, chefs and grocery store owners, the Georgia Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black pronounced there would be no early shipments.
For those of you not familiar with the Vidalia Onion you have been deprived of one of life’s rare treasures. This is an onion that is so mild and sweet one can slice it without fear and use it in place of bologna on a sandwich. Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip, whatever your favorite condiment is then applied and you have a gourmet treat. The onion is so mild and sweet your taste buds will dance will delight. The ways to prepare this culinary treasure are limited only by your imagination.
This law must be revised it must be abolished! Let the farmer decide when to bring forth the fruits of his labor. To rule otherwise is an abomination to nature!
The second offensive position the food section brought forth was a supposedly simple pizza dough recipe. In this simple recipe great offense was taken that the flour be measured on a gram sensitive scale. Say what!? Ye old cocaine scale!? Are we out of touch and does everyone now have a gram scale in the cupboard? But there it was in black and white. One must measure an exact amount, in grams, of two different types of flours which even had numbers assigned to them apparently correlating to how fine the grind of flour is. The recipe went on to demand that the “sea salt”, yeast and olive oil be measured gram specific as well. This was supposed to be a simple recipe mind you.
Well this is not a chemistry lesson nor is it gluten free. So gird your loins and heretofore is a simple, no fail pizza dough recipe which you can garner with your favorite toppings when you feel so inclined. Try this and you will not be perplexed or disappointed.
Reach for the flour. Four cups of the brand you prefer. If whole wheat is your preference you must temper it with a white type and use half of each. We need the gluten! There is science here but it is not gram specific. So fill one large bowl with four cups of flour. In the other large bowl fill it with one and one half cups of water. Heat the water until it is lukewarm. Use the microwave please fear not the free radicals! A minute usually does it. When it’s warm to your finger add one teaspoon of yeast, more or less, to the water and whisk it in. When it’s dissolved begin sprinkling two cups of your chosen flour to the bodacious mixture. (Yes that will be half of what’s in your other bowl.) Stir it in the same direction for a minute or two. Clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere. Just kidding in the same direction will work no matter where you are!
Now cover that bowl. The yeast is happy and beginning to multiply. The feared gluten is developing. Cover and let it rise in a warm place for two or four hours. If it’s bubbling you know the cells are dividing and creating the crust you want. The volume should double more or maybe less. Keep the yeast happy! If you have to…. put on jazz music to make it feel sexy. Maybe you have classical yeast! In that case play Vivaldi or whatever suits you. Rastafarian yeast? Reggae Jah Mon! Marley is good in any climate!
Take that beautiful sexy sponge of mytosis now and add a teaspoon or so of salt and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Get a big stirring device, stir and add the rest of your flour. When it’s too thick to stir turn it out on a well floured surface, something you can stand over and apply leverage to. Start kneading it. Press it down with your knuckles. Put flour on your hands when they get sticky. Fold it over on itself again and again. Do this for eight or ten minutes. Sip on a beer or cocktail or use your blue tooth to call your parole officer this way you can multitask. They’ll wonder what your doing as they hear all those slapping sounds.
Now take the bowl that you’ve emptied of flour and put a splash of olive oil in it. Place the living mass that you’ve created and coat it with that oil. Cover it and let it rise again. Two or four hours, or so in a warm place. When it is ready, you will know because it has doubled or more in mass. Mytosis in the workplace! Isn’t this fun!? Now you’re ready to make the pizza.
Take the dough out and divide it into workable sizes. Two will make two large pies. Be sure to use a floured board. Stretch it into a pan that has been greased with olive oil. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Put on your favorite toppings. Cook for ten minutes and check the bottom. Don’t burn it!
“Give me an Onion and Give me breath” — Jake Shween
Get off the cell phone and drive! — Jake Shween