Friday, May 25, 2007

Beulah, Make Me A Pizza!

Several years ago I was in a women's Bible study group and we were studying The Worth of a Woman. One particular day we were discussing the Proverbs 31 woman - she can do anything!(she's kind of like a biblical Martha Stewart, except she's nicer, doesn't go to prison, and actually likes kids.) As our discussion wound around what an amazing woman she was and how impossible it was to be like her, I made the comment that she could do all of that because she had servant girls. If I had servants, sure, I could be wonder woman, too!

One of the older, wiser women in the group turned to me and explained to me that I do have servants. I have servants who wash my clothes, wash my dishes, beat the dirt from my carpet, chop the wood and stoke the stove, haul in the ice to chill the food, and bring in fresh water from the well. I was well and soundly put in my place. I hadn't considered how much easier my appliances made my daily chores, especially when compared to the way my grandmother or great-grandmother had to keep house.

That image has stuck with me through the years and often when I'm loading up the washing machine or the dishwasher I'll remind myself that I'm setting my servant girls to their tasks. Although I'm a fan of doing things by hand, I'm also a fan of my servant girls and I've recently discovered a new talent for one of my girls, Beulah. Beulah Breadmaker, to be precise.

I inherited a breadmaker from my mother-in-law. She passed it along to me with some boxed mixes and some bread machine cookbooks. I made the mixes (didn't want them to go to waste) and then it sat idle. The truth of the matter was that I was a bread snob. I didn't like the weird square loaves the machine made and I was proud of my lovely, if infrequently made, hand-kneaded loaves.

Then one day I happened to mention to my sister, the excellent baker, that I now had a bread machine squatting in the corner of the kitchen. She enthused about her bread machine and how great it was. Then she told me the secret - she never bakes in it. She just lets it handle the dough and then she shapes and bakes it in the oven. Aha! I now saw that I had another servant girl who'd been sitting idle. I put her to work. And one of the ways she most earns her keep is with pizza dough.

Although I love the hand-made pizza dough, I've come to really enjoy the dough that I make in the bread machine. It's quick, easy, and lets me still make home-made pizza, even on a busy day. Plus, because bread flour is used, the crust is more tender, and if I let it sit for a while, it gets quite light and puffy.

So today is a two-fer. You get the bread machine recipe (which you may or may not be able to use, depending if you have one of those servants) and the recipe for the incredible West Coast White Pizza. It uses ranch dressing for a sauce and it's a totally different pizza experience. Three different cheese melt together, giving a succulent balance to the tangy ranch dressing. Pour yourself a glass of milk or chardonnay, put on the Beatles' White Album and savor the flavor of white! For dessert, perhaps, you could try this or this or this.

Bread Machine Pizza Dough
from Best Bread Machine Recipes(makes large thick-crust pizza)

Into the bread machine place:
1-1/3 cups water
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1-1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Select the dough cycle. When cycle is done, remove dough, punch it down, and place on a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Roll to fit your greased pizza pan, transfer to pan, pinch the dough up around the edges to form the crust.

West Coast White Pizza
adapted from Pizza

2 cups shredded sauteed or roast chicken breast
1/4 cup plus 1/2 cup of your favorite bottled ranch dressing (more or less to taste)
1-1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup coarsley shredded provolone cheese (I had sliced, so I just cut it into bits)
2 cups shredded mozarella cheese
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 large roma tomato, thinly sliced

1- Preheat the oven to 450 deg. F. Put the rack in the middle of the oven. Toss the shredded chicken with the 1/4 cup ranch dressing. Set aside.

2- Spread the remaining 1/2 cup ranch dressing over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange the chicken evenly over the sauce. Evenly distribute the garlic over the chicken. Scatter the provolone and mozzarella cheeses over the top. Distribute little blops of ricotta over the other cheese. Crush the thyme between your finger and sprinkle it evenly over the cheeses.

3- Place the pizza in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese begins to brown a bit on top.

4- Remove from the oven. Top with the tomato slices and cut the pizza into wedges, then serve immediately.


Kelly-Jane said...

Hi, your pizzas all look delicious mmmm!

Anonymous said...

All of these delicious looking recipes have been making me hungry. I can't WAIT to be done with school so I can have some time to try them.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Happy cooking

**doffs her cap and vanishes**

Helene said...

I have a bread machine that I only use for dough rising. I really hate the look of BM breads. Our house is very drafty and the wehter here in SC so unpredictable that I rely on it to make my dough rise without a hitch.
Your pizza dough recipe is already on my list!

Jerry said...

I have a friend who swears by her bread maker, but like you I am wary of its gifts. I like kneading and watching it rise. I have a problem peaking at anything I'm cooking or baking. Whoops!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Lynn, using ranch dressing on a pizza is completely new to me! I'm sure it is delicious, though. :)

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Molly - I'm so glad it worked for you! Personal pizzas are wonderful - everyone's happy!

Kelly-Jane - Wish I could share a slice with you.

Gabe - Isn't school done yet?? You need to get out of the classroom and into the kitchen with your baking buddy. :-)

Helen - Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. You are my kitchen hero!

Jerry - If you get the chance, try a bread maker just for mixing. I think you'll love it.

Patricia - Maybe some Saturday you can give it a try.

Belinda said...

Ooohhh...I LOVE the idea of using the bread machine as a *servant* to help with the pizza crust and bread making process. All of your pizzas look fabulous, and I'm now inspired to make homemade pizza too. :-) And I know this comment is oddly out of time frame, but I just discovered your blog, and I'm enjoying reading the archived posts! :-)