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a blog from Eli the Bearded
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Grilled Pizza

I've cooked a lot of pizza over the years. These day's I'm using the Ken Forkish Same Day Straight Pizza Dough recipe, but I was using a simpler one of my own for a while:

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 2 oz, plus some olive oil
  • yeast
  • dash of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Mix the water, sugar, and yeast and set aside. Measure out 3 1/2 cups flour and mix in the salt. Pour in the oil and yeast water together, stir to a dough, and knead in more flour until it is not sticky, then knead some more. Pour some more oil in the bottom of a bowl, put the dough in and rotate to cover the dough surface with oil, cover with a damp cloth and put aside to rise. The oil, both in the dough and on the surface, and the damp cloth help a lot. Let rise a while, how long will depend on temperature, at least one hour but probably two, refrigerated it might take eight. Then divide in half and shape.

I developed that recipe after getting a pizza stone for Xmas in maybe 1997. The stone broke after three to five years and I got a better stone which is still going strong. Usually I preheat the oven as high as it will go and give the stone at least twenty minutes at that temperature to soak up heat. I generously use coarse corn meal (sometimes called "polenta") on the peel to keep the dough from sticking to the peel or the stone.

But today was not usual. Today it was very hot and I decided to try the barbecue grill method I've heard about. I have a propane BBQ with a cast iron grill that I cooked directly on. First off was an extra thorough cleaning of the grill, then preheating it. With a shaped but untopped round of pizza, put it directly on the metal grill and cook for two minutes. Then scrape it off, which was pretty easy. (I used a metal pizza peel, but spatulas would work.) Grill mark side up, top it, then return to the grill for five minutes. At this point the dough was cooked, but the cheese could have used a little more heat, so I finished it with a hand propane torch.

I have a trigger start propane torch that is intended to sit on top of a 14oz tank, Ace Trigger Start Torch, I've seen nearly the same used in commercial kitchens to cook meringue, so I don't have qualms about using it for food cooking. I just waved it back and forth until the cheese was nice and bubbly and it came out great.

I expect I'll be cooking pizza this way again.

First side cooked

Off the grill with one side cooked, ready to be topped. The underside is slightly sticky, so be careful sliding it off.

Returned for more cooking

Back on the grill for some more cooking. I found gently lifting one side off the peel, pulling the peel out to the opposide of that, then dropping lifted part worked well. (I cooked it, both sides, with lid closed.

Finishing the cheese

Bubbly and slightly browned is just right.

Ready to eat

I made four pizzas, one completely consumed by the time this photo was taken. Two plain cheese, one pepperoni, and one pesto.

I also made, with leftover dough from the recipe, a BBQ focaccia (not pictured).

Grant Loaf

A variation of Doris Grant's 1940s no-knead "Grant Loaf". This is a dense whole wheat bread good for toast.

Line a loaf pan with baking paper. I used a 8"x4"x4" "Pullman" pan, which has a lid to use during baking. Recipe in grams and baker's percentages.

Add to a bowl:

  • 450 g wholemeal bread flour (100%)
  • 5 grams salt (1.1%)

Whisk together to mix and aerate.

Mix in another container:

  • 450 ml warm ("hand hot") water (100%)
  • 7 grams dried yeast (1.5%)
  • 7 grams molasses (1.5%)

Pour the wet into the dry, and mix with a wooden spoon for three to four minutes. The dough will be very wet. Transfer into the pan and cover to rise. I waited about an hour.

While it is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). When adequately risen, bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from pan and return to oven for 5 more minutes to give it a better crust.

fresh out of the pullman pan

Just out of the pan, the top weirdly textured from the baking paper.

Spicy dal

A simple to make, if slow, simple dish. I eat it as a hot side dish, add something for crunch to make a hot soup, or cold as a cracker dip. Today's lunch was the hot soup version with some (packaged, store bought) fried onion for crunch. I adapted this from an old Madhur Jaffrey cookbook. There she basically says "Here's the how, adapt the spices to your taste." I'm going to pass that recommendation on to you.

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1" to 2" ginger

In a suitably sized sauce pan, start heating the water on full heat. While that's happening, give the lentils a good rinse to wash the dust off, it helps reduce the froth, then add to the heating water. Peel the ginger and cut into three or four good size hunks and toss those in the pan, too.

When it starts to boil, skim off the foam on the surface. Add

  • 1 teaspoon tumeric powder

Give it a good stir to mix in the tumeric, lower the heat to a simmer, put a lid mostly on, but leave a crack for some steam to escape. Then let that go for an hour to ninety minutes. If the heat is too high and the water has boiled off, add some more hot water to make it soupy. (And adjust the heat.) You can pretty much ignore it during this stage.

After hour to ninety minutes you can fish out and discard the ginger. Get a small fry pan heating.

  • a teaspoon or so of oil
  • a teaspoon of whole cumin
  • a teaspoon or two of crushed red pepper
  • a pinch of asafoetida powder (aka "hing")

Add the oil, let it heat a bit, then add the cumin, wait a few seconds and add the red pepper and asafoetida. Stir it in the pan a bit to get all the spices covered in oil and lightly toasted. The asafoetida may smell a lot, it really needs just five or ten seconds in the oil. The others thirty to sixty seconds. Then add the hot oil and spices to the lentils. Maybe add

  • a teaspoon or so corriander powder
  • a teaspoon or so salt

to the lentils as well. Stir to mix the spices in, turn off heat.

As a side, it's done now. As a soup I feel it needs something more. I've used crumpled crackers, broken chakli, crunchy fried onions, chopped cashews, etc.

Left over cold I use it as dip/spread for crackers. Or it can be reheated to be a sidedish / soup again. Easily made a day or two in advance.

It's boring and simple looking, so no photo.

Black pepper tofu, after Ottolenghi

I find the peppery sauce in this addictive. It's simplified (a bit) and moderated from the original in Ottolenghi's book Plenty. His recipes are good, but complicated.

tofu prepared, next to cookbook photo
  • 1 1/2 lb firm tofu
  • cornstarch to coat tofu
  • enough vegetable oil to fry the tofu

Cube drained extra firm tofu, roll in corn starch. Then fry in shallow oil in batches, turning frequently, until golden on all sides. Drain on paper towel.

  • 1/4 lb butter
  • 12 small shallots (figure an ounce each), peeled and thinly sliced
  • some chilli peppers, thinly sliced, quantity and strength to taste, I suggest two jalapeños
  • 1/2 head of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 inches of ginger root chopped

With tofu aside, reuse same pan to cook shallots, chillies, garlic, and ginger at low heat in the butter. Stir occasionally and when soft, 10 to 15 minutes, add

  • 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
  • 4 tablespoons regular soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Stir those in then add

  • 3 tablespoons black peppercorns freshly coarse ground

Ottolenghi calls for more soy sauce and pepper. I like his pepper quantity but it is too much for my wife. Stir again and add that tofu put aside earlier. Stir to coat on all sides as long as needed to warm the tofu back up. Finally garnish with

  • handful small, thin spring onions, cut into short matchsticks