Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How to Make an Excellent Pizza Using Trader Joe's Fresh Pizza Dough

Making pizza at home is a great way to save money and can be a whole lot of fun.  Trader Joe's sells an excellent pre-made pizza dough for under 2 dollars.  If this is your first time making pizza using fresh dough, it can be a little tricky.  These 4 tips will show you how to make an excellent pizza using Trader Joe's fresh dough:

1.  Place The Dough In a Covered Bowl Ahead of Time

When you cut that bag open and wrestle the dough out, the glutens inside the dough are getting activated.  The result is elastic dough that is awkwardly shaped and difficult to stretch.  Taking the dough out ahead of time and placing it in a covered, slightly oiled bowl will allow the glutens to relax and let the dough form into a round ball.  I usually do this right when I get back from the store.  However, you'll be fine if you do this an hour ahead of time.

2.  Use Ample Bench Flour

It's really important to use ample flour when shaping your dough.  This will prevent your dough from sticking to your peel and make it easy to get your pizza into the oven.  When you're ready to get started, take the ball out of the bowl and dunk into a pile of flour.  As you shape the dough, the excess flour will shake off.  Instead of flour, you can also use semolina or cornmeal.  However, in hotter ovens cornmeal tends to burn.

3.  Use a Peel

Using a peel to get your pizza into the oven is a must.  They can be found at kitchen and restaurant supply stores and are relatively inexpensive.  Place your stretched dough onto the peel after flouring lightly.  Now you're ready to top your pizza with sauce, cheese and toppings.  Have your toppings ready to go ahead of time and give your peel a little shake every few seconds to prevent sticking.  If the dough does get stuck to the peel and you're unable to get it into the oven, all is not lost.  You can always fold it in half and create a calzone.

4.  Crank Up Your Oven and Use a Stone

If you're making pizza (deep dish and sicilian style excluded) without a stone, stop reading this and go buy one immediately.  A hot oven and a sufficiently heated stone is key.  Crank up your oven as hot as it will go and make sure your stone heats up for at least 45 minutes.  This might sound like overkill.  It's definitely not and will make a huge difference.

Give these tips a try and let us know how it goes.  Please be sure to post your questions or comments!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

5 Delicious Recipes Containing Arugula

Over the last few years arugula has skyrocketed in popularity.  Native to the Mediterranean region and cultivated since Roman times, this leafy green is full of vitamin C and potassium and is known for its rich, peppery flavor.

Given its Mediterranean roots, arugula is staple of Italian and neighboring cuisines.  It is commonly used in salads, pizzas and pastas.  We at FoodPair are huge fans arugula use it whenever we can.  The next time you pick up some arugula at the market, be sure to try one of these simple, yet delicious recipes:

Arugula Pesto
Ingredients in this recipe:  arugula, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and walnuts

Arugula Salad with Parmesan
Ingredients in this recipe:  arugula, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt and black pepper

Arugula with Steak, Lemon and Parmesan
Ingredients in this recipe:  arugula, steak, olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt and pepper

Savory Fig and Goat Cheese Tart with Arugula
Ingredients in this recipe:  arugula, goat cheese, honey, fig jam, Marcona almonds, balsamic vinegar, buter, sea salt and flour

Pasta with Tuna, Arugula, and Hot Pepper
Ingredients in this recipe:  arugula, canned tuna, fettuccine, garlic, olive oil and kosher salt