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Monday, May 14, 2012

Grilled Pizza

The weather has been amazing lately. For the past week and a half, there hasn't been cloud in the sky. It has been crystal blue and the temperatures have ranged from 65-75 degrees. Every snow-capped mountain has been visible in the skyline and the tulips and cherry trees are in full bloom. Accordingly, there has been little indoor activity. I'm walking, running and biking all over town. As I write, I'm out on the back deck with a clear view of Lake Washington and the Cascade range.

I am very surprised by the weather in Seattle. As we closed out the winter season and entered spring, I found myself saying "Wow, that really wasn't bad." Ironically, everyone I have talked to in Seattle said that it was the worst winter they've had yet. What?! I have to wonder what they are talking about. Then again, I do come from dreary Pittsburgh so perhaps I am more prepared for clouds. But I can honestly say that the weather in Seattle is not what people make it out to be. And it definitely beats Pittsburgh in the weather category.

I do think that a lot of my surprise had to do with the fact that I prepared myself for the absolute worst going in to the winter. After everyone's comments, I was convinced that from October until April I would see nothing but dark grey clouds and rain buckets would be pouring on my head. I was honestly terrified and before winter started, I began giving myself sun pep talks. But it did not turn out to be bad at all. Sure, there were cold, blustery, windy and rainy days. But I think this is akin to a fierce snowstorm in Minnesota. I was pleasantly surprised by how kind Mother Nature was to Seattle. When we had rain, it would quickly follow up with sun. There's a lot of sun, actually. Most days, Seattle was 50 degrees with a fair sky. (More like 40 degrees with the water.) I saw the sun nearly four to five times a week and watched the sun set behind the mountains almost every day. I'm not kidding. I was keeping track for a while. There was a time in February when I didn't see a cloud in the sky for over two weeks.

But even though the winter wasn't bad, the past week has just been such a treat. I think it's because I'm back on my bike and able to soak in the fresh air on two wheels. Yesterday, Ron and I biked along Lake Washington and grabbed ice cream by the marina. It was awesome. It reminded me of our glorious bike rides along the Grand Rounds in Minnesota. We've also been spending a lot of time eating outside. With all of this amazing weather and with summer right around the corner, the grill has been re-introduced into our weekly dinners. I was craving something different from my usual plank grilled salmon and veggie kabob meal. When I saw this recipe for grilled pizza, I knew we had to give it a go. It was so unique and delightful sounding.

It was a bit of work and required some prep but the finished product was incredible. It was chewy in the right places, crispy in the right areas and had just a hint of charcoal taste. I do advise that you read through the recipe, plan accordingly and prep your ingredients before you head to the grill. The pizza dough is very easy to work with because it's so thin... but that also means that it cooks up super fast. It took us one pizza casualty to get it right but the pizza makes four rounds so if you mess up, you'll have plenty left to feed the hungry crowd. We'll be making pizza on the grill a lot this summer for both meals and appetizers at bbq's. I highly recommend using the best and freshest ingredients (fresh mozzerella, tomatoes, basil, etc.) you can. It's easily adaptable to whichever pizza you prefer. We made a pepperoni and mediterranean pie (cubed fontina, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and feta). Our pepperoni was brushed with olive oil, topped with fresh mozzerella and sliced pepperoni, sprinkled with some thinly sliced fresh spinach, shredded Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Grilled Pizza
from Cuisine at Home
Yield: Four 12-inch pizzas
Time: 15 minutes + 3 hours rising for dough
Pizza Dough
  • 1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • One 1/4 oz package active dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce (5 cups)
  • 4 lb Roma tomatoes, quartered (8 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, or less
  • 1/2 cup snipped fresh basil
Pizza Dough
  1. Combine water, sugar, and yeast. Proof until mixture turns foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Mix flours and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook.
  3. Add oil to proofed yeast mixture; then pour into flour mixture. Knead dough on low speed (or by hands) for 10 minutes.
  4. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, turning dough to coat surface. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.
  5. Punch dough down and divide it into four balls, pinching the bottoms closed. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for another hour.
Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, pepper flakes, and sugar in large baking dish. Toss tomato mixture with olive oil.
  3. Roast until tomatoes soften, 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and mash with potato masher, keeping tomatoes as chunky as desired.
  4. Stir in basil.
Grilled Pizza
  1. Prepare toppings and set aside. Have them set up near the grill before you start cooking your pizza.
  2. Roll out dough on a dry work surface dusted with flour. Shape it into a 10 to 12 inch circle.
  3. Preheat one side of grill to medium-high, the other side to low. (If you do not have this setting, place a baking sheet nearby to transfer dough while preparing toppings.)
  4. Transfer dough to the hot side of the grill. To transfer the dough to the grill, lift it by the edges with your fingertips and drape it directly onto the hottest part of the grill. The high, direct heat will quickly firm the crust. If your grill has hot spots, use tongs to move the crust around so it doesn't burn.
  5. Close lid and cook 2-3 minutes. The crust will bubble and grill marks will appear underneath.
  6. Before adding toppings, flip the crust over to the cool side of the grill. (If you do not have a double burner, move the crust to the baking sheet before adding toppings.) Quickly brush the crust with olive oil.
  7. Add toppings. Keep quantities light so they will cook quickly. Return the pizza to the hot side of the grill to finish cooking. Pizza is done when cheese has melted. Remove pizza from the grill using a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet. Enjoy!

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