Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hawaiian Pizza

Way back in 2003, I was a homesick student at University of Oxford, thousands of miles away from everyone I knew and loved. I was certainly homesick, but there wasn't much time to feel sentimental, as I was busy studying and soaking in the sights. Trips to the Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, Italy, etc., completely shocked me out of my homesickness, but I continued to feel out of place, out of my element, and all around confused.

Being a college student abroad, I was also broke. ALL THE TIME. I had a cell phone with ten minutes on it every month, a flat phone that no one from the States would call because it was too damned expensive, and a pocket full of foreign coins that I couldn't quite identify by simply feeling them in my pocket. I figured out pretty early on that the 99 p pizza at the corner market was the cheapest and most abundant answer to my hunger pangs, and I'm not sure what led me to Hawaiian pizza instead of the plainer cheese or sausage, but I like to think that I decided to try something different; to take a chance when it all seemed to be slipping out of my fingers. I roomed and was friends with students who had some serious financial backing from their parents, and all I could think about was how to make my bank account last as long as possible. Hawaiian pizza included pineapple, a serving of fruit that killed two birds with one stone (yes, it was likely dehydrated and processed, but I didn't care at the time) and that ensured I was getting at least a little nutrition into my diet.

Hawaiian pizza has always brought back the memory of feeling exhilarated, exhausted, titillated, and tired, and I love the extreme food memory that comes back to me each time I eat it.

I remember the day those foreign coins in my pocket became identifiable by touch. I was buying Indian takeaway, and in my haste to pay without thinking, I felt the change in my pocket. 25 p, 5 p, and one pence, all in a row in my jeans pocket. I had finally felt at home.

Hawaiian Pizza

1 cup diced fresh pineapple
2/3 cup diced canadian bacon
1/2 cup pizza sauce (see below)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 pizza dough recipe (see below)

1. Roll out pizza dough and place on a pizza pan sprinkled with cornmeal. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes (prick dough all over with a fork to prevent dough bubbles).

2. Spread pizza sauce over dough and evenly distribute. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over sauce, and top with evenly distributed canadian bacon and pineapple. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until crust is browned and cheese is melted.

Basic Pizza Dough

1/2 tsp. yeast
1/4 cup warm water, plus more as needed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Handful of cornmeal

1. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Place flour and salt in food processor and pulse a couple of times. With processor running, add yeast and water mixture. Add more warm water, a tablespoon at a time, to dough until a ball forms in processor.

2. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead five times. Shape into a ball and place dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil or olive oil cooking spray. Let rise in a warm place for at least one hour.

3. Roll out dough with a rolling pin into a circular shape. Top with toppings and bake.

Classic Tomato Herb Pizza Sauce

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce (preferably Muir Glen Organic)
1 15 oz. can tomato paste (again, preferably Muir Glen)
1 tsp. turbinado sugar
4 tbsp. mixed fresh herbs, such as basil, marjoram, oregano
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Saute garlic and onions for 3-4 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent. If using dried herbs, add to onion and garlic.

2. Pour in tomato sauce and tomato paste, stirring to combine. Once heated through, add sugar, turn heat down to low and cover. Simmer for 10-20 minutes.

3. Stir in fresh herbs, salt (you might not need salt if you are using non-organic sauce and paste--check the label), and black pepper to taste. Remove from heat, cool, and pour into serving sized ziplock bags. Label and freeze up to six months.

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