fruit of the vine

I’ll try to stay focused on home ideas but you’ll have to bear with me because sometimes I find food very distracting!  I have a (gift) subscription to Bon Appetit magazine and that’s as far as my authentic foodie credentials go: I can’t name every lettuce I see in a salad or expound the merits of one wine over another.  But, like most people I know, I like to eat.  Last night I enjoyed a meal I wish I could have shared with you.
The base is “GTC Magic Pizza Dough,” which sounds like something from a refrigerator case at the supermarket but is actually a from-scratch recipe my nutritionist sister-in-love recommended to me.  I’m sorry to have to tell you that Good Things Catered, the blog that lends its initials to the recipe title, is no longer available online.  I will type the recipe below this post for anyone who’s curious; it is worth your time if you love a chewy thin crust.
You may be wondering about the toppings: chicken, cheese, and–are those grapes?  Uh-huh.  Has she gone off the deep end?  Well, she’s talking about herself in the third person now, so….
Really, though.  Yes, they are grapes.  I submit to you that you have not fully experienced the joy of food until you have eaten a hot grape.  Did she just say “hot grape?”  You bet your britches.  (Technically I think that’s supposed to be spelled b-r-e-e-c-h-e-s, but I find that as ridiculous as “broach” being spelled b-r-o-o-c-h.)
I ate my first hot grapes on a vacation with one of my aunts.  The entree was swordfish steak–oooh la la; let me try to describe that briefly.  I don’t cook much fish so I can’t be sure what wizardry the chef had worked on this firm white steak, but the golden, slightly crisp, salty crust gave way to a lovely interior, the whole shebang glitzed up in beurre blanc and ringed with–that’s right, hot grapes.  His were white grapes, and I’m pretty sure that during the meal I embarrassed myself by launching one in my aunt’s direction, because whose etiquette ever taught them the proper method of piercing a grape with a fork?  Slippery buggers, those.

The memory of those grapes, presented in such an unexpected format, has lingered with me.  I decided to create my own riff on the concept.  So, onto a pre-baked GTC Magic Pizza Dough crust I’d been saving in the freezer (wrapped in waxed paper and foil) I drizzled extra light olive oil, sprinkled Asiago cheese, distributed ever-so-slightly caramelized onions, arranged thin chicken slices, and flung half grapes.  Then more cheese.  After about seven minutes at 350 it was hot, grapes and all.  Paired with a tall glass of gin-splashed icy lemon water, this meal marked a fitting end to a summer day.   

Good Things Catered Magic Pizza Dough
Ingredients:
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
3/4 c. water, 105-110 degrees F
scant 1/4 c. good-quality olive oil
Directions:
-In bowl of food processor, add flour, yeast, and salt.  (If you’re using the dough the same day use 2 1/4 tsp yeast.  This is one envelope if you buy yeast that way.)
-Turn food processor on and while running add honey and water. Slowly add olive oil just until dough comes together around the blade (there will still be distinct “pieces” of dough).
-Using hands, pull dough together with a few throws against the counter.  If it’s too dry or too sticky, add water or flour.
-Refrigerate overnight.  (If using the same day, let rise in a warm place for at least an hour.)
-Remove dough from fridge and allow to come to room temperature.
-Place a large pizza stone on the bottom of the oven and preheat to 500 F.  You can also do this on a grill.
-Place dough on parchment (I sprinkle my parchment with a tad bit of cornmeal), cover with plastic wrap, and roll or press as thin as you can.  I divide the dough into two pieces to fit on my round pizza pans, and I think it’s easier to roll that way, but it’s your call.
-Remove plastic wrap and transfer crust to rimless cookie sheet or pizza peel.  Top as desired.  Carefully slide it all onto the stone waiting in the oven.
**If you’re the kind of person who cracks open the oven door to pop things in, do yourself a favor and open the door completely.  Ever got your arm stuck in an oven door that sprung closed on you?  I did.  Once.  Take care of your arms, chefs.  Always exercise extreme caution when working with a hot oven.**

-In no more than 10 minutes your pizza should be looking pretty darn fetching.  You’ll want to gobble it immediately but do yourself a favor and wait 3 minutes before you cut into it.  Enjoy!

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