I’ve mentioned the illustrious Pizza of Doom before. However, I don’t think I’ve actually ever posted any pictures of the magnificence that is summoning your own personal pizza to serve you good tasting satisfaction. Well, worry no more my illustrious 1d6 non-bot readers!

I have yet to try the recipe since moving out to the Pacific Northwest wildlands, where bigfoots roam and beers beg you to drink them. How will the water and climate affect the dough rise and ultimate consistency? The cooking, if you allow for an oven variance, how long will it take and how will the crust turn out? Questions galore that refuse to be put off any longer!

I must practice my kung fu in a new way and in anew time zone cooridnate, solar systems are go and wooo!

Luckily, I am able to assemble the ingredients in an appealing manner. Pepperoni and cheese are whatever you can scare up, but because there is the Tillamook cheese manufacturing power in this area, i am able to score a grated cheese combo attack of mozarella, provolone, and parmesan all in three! Yowza. Feel the power.

Oh, and bonus. The package has enough to cover the pizza. Those other cheese conglomerates, always short you cheese such that you can never quite cover the mega-mutha. May they roast in profits hell. You see, these little details matter! One must always have access to the proper goodies. Every small ingredient, physical or mental, affects the space time continuum of crafting.

Came out well too. I like it when the ingredients sink nicely and the rim forms a good crispy final bite to a slice. Sauce was iffy since I had to go with the tomatoes I could and the pre-cooking of the sauce is a random variable I have not compensated for in the phase variance. But still tasty. I ate it. K ate it. Our tummies thank us.

But wait, there’s more! We also went picking triple crown sweet blackberries and brought some back for pancake toppings, general snacking, and cobbler. Alas, I could not translate my cobbler recipe so I had to crib from the internet. More work is to be done, yes I need to meditate on my cooking powers. But the topping was cooked well, and the blackberry sauce was delicious.

This thing will not last the week, I tell you. Iron rations for dungeon adventures in the Cascade range!  Eeegah, prepare for doom.

My favorite food is pizza. I’ve been making my own for fifteen years. I’m always fiddling with my recipes, so there’s a certain amount of drift in the formulas I use to make food and drink. I look at my written recipes as nautical charts for reference. There are times when the sandbars and currents change. One must be prepared.

I still enjoy ordering pizza, and I am not above trying out local flavors. Like a Kung Fu master searching the land to perfect and complete his style quest, I examine what I encounter for tips and tricks to improve my methods. For now, the Pizza of Doom formula is as follows:

Dough (2-3 pies worth):
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons whole ground flax meal
Numerous cups flour

Sauce (2 pies worth):
28 ounces of blended tomatoes, any source
Half an onion, preference on sweeter or milder varieties
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons oregano (dried, but fresh is better)
2 tablespoons basil (dried, but fresh is better)
1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (for kick)
20-30 grinds of pepper

Fixins (per pie):
Some extra olive oil
Mozzarella cheese, 5-8 flat slices or 12 ounces shredded
Provolone cheese, 5-8 flat slices or 12 ounces shredded
3 ounces pepperoni (or sliced onion, or mushrooms, etc.)

Anthemic eighties rock music with extensive vamping preferred

Leaving the flour out, I mix the dough ingredients together with a wooden spoon in a large antique glass bowl I have (any container of large size will do). I “proof the yeast” for 15 minutes, which means I leave the yeast alone to get psyched at all the tasty nutrients. You’ll see small light brownish areas begin to erupt in the mixture as the yeast proofs into overdrive.

You start adding flour and mixing it in with a wooden spoon. I add a mix of bread flour and regular flour, with a cup of whole-wheat flour for extra texture. The mixture will go from soupy to gummy as you add flour. Look for the transition point where the dough becomes thick and slightly sticky. You’ll switch to using your hands to knead the dough, adding small amounts of flour to keep the surface from getting too sticky.

Avoid over kneading. Massage the dough into a ball, cover the bowl, and let it rise. Once it’s risen to a good level (about 2 times in size), punch it down and massage it back into a ball. It won’t shrink to its original size, but that’s okay. Let it rise again (it should rise quickly now). Mix the sauce ingredients in a blender and set aside while you wait.

When the dough has risen enough you separate it into pieces depending on how many pizza pies you want to make. My pizza screen is 16 inches in diameter, and I find I get about 2-3 pies total. It depends on how much I let the dough rise. I usually make 1 pie, then make a second the next day. You can put extra dough in the fridge for later. On days when I need lots of pizza, I use the whole shebang.

Warm the oven up to 450-500 degrees depending on your oven’s strength (you will know how efficient it is). You don’t need a pizza screen — I’ve used lasagna dishes and cookie sheets. You’ll need a large, flat surface to put the finished product(s) on, preferably wooden so you can cut the pie into slices.

Sprinkle flour onto your rolling surface, and plop your piece of dough onto the surface. Massage the piece into a circular shape and gradually form it into a disc. Then gently, patiently use a wooden rolling pin to flatten the dough out. Flip it, sprinkle the exposed side with flour to keep it from sticking, and roll it flatter.

You’re looking for that magical state of thin without breaking when you pick it up to put on your screen. You might have to bunch it up and start over to get the right elasticity. If you want a thicker crust then you don’t need to go as thin, but be aware of how much the crust rises when it cooks. A huge crust will mean a drier crust down the line.

I lay mine over the screen, then use a rubber spatula to cut the edges evenly around the screen. I then half fold, half roll the edges of the pizza down and under the rest of the dough. This creates a raised “border” at the edges of the pizza to keep all the goodies from overflowing onto your oven.

Using your fingers, spread olive oil all over the top, including the edges. This will keep moisture in and help the crust rise properly. If you want a crunchier crust skip this step. Add sauce to the pie, keeping in mind preferences for sauce amounts. I typically aim for an amount that just covers the pizza — you can see the crust in small gaps or if you disturb the sauce layer with the flat of a fork.

Add the cheese. I prefer shredded, but if you use flat slices start in the middle and work your way around and out. If say, you start with the provolone and find you have gaps, remember you can cover most of those when you put the mozzarella on next. Pepperoni goes on last (or whatever topping(s) you prefer). Pop it in the oven and let it cook for 18-20 minutes.

Now comes the hard part. You don’t want an undercooked pizza, which can look like it’s done when it’s not. I find that you have to let that pizza bubble and brown a little before it gets to that good spot. You’ll need practice before you can discover when the right time to take the pie out has arrived. You also don’t want that pie to start smoking either, so your challenge is to identify that gap between boiling hot but not quite done and whoa crispy broil bleh.

Take it out when you determine the moment of Doom has arrived and let it sit for two minutes. This allows the alchemical process to settle down and enter into our reality a little better. Then slide it onto your prepared surface and let it crystallize into yummy goodness for two more minutes. I use an ulu to slice it, but any big-bladed knife, cleaver or pizza roller blade will do.

You probably want to wait 5-8 minutes before eating, but I understand the hunger lust — I’ve burned the roof of my mouth a few times for that volcanic ecstasy sensation as the molten pizza satisfies every nerve center.

May your Pizza of Doom always satisfy!

I’m not a big fan of the Washington Post, or the “Court Circular” as some call it.  Well, I’m not a fan of corporate media period as a lot of its product is junk.  But as they say even a blind cat catches a bird now and then.  One of their features had a focus on cookies, and since I’m always on the lookout for additional recipes, I gave it a sensor sweep of the peepers.  Several items came up on the ol’ mental viewscreen for testing out, but one in particular really caught my eye.  The Anzac Biscuits have that euphonious sound quality that rolls over the tongue, so I decided to try it, even though I hate coconut.

I had to scramble to get a hold of the syrup, which turns out to be the cornerstone of the recipe, but I manage to manufacture a batch and give them a try.  K and I both agree the cookies are uncommonly delicious.  We scarf them down and have to make another batch.  And I think we have a winner!  A good combination of sweet and base flavors, and it really sticks to your ribs.  Even Frankie wanted some!  Something about the smell of the Anzac biscuits that got her watching us from her perch on the refrigerator with curiosity.  Her detectors must have been reading the heavy concentration of food regeneratives coming from the discovery of ancient food technology!

The recipe has some interesting history behind it.  The biscuits were put into care packages for soldiers from Australia and New Zealand during World War I.  The ingredients were chosen to allow for the long transportation times without refrigeration, and were packed in tins to maintain crispy freshness for as long as possible.  Church groups of wives, mothers and girlfriends spent enormous amounts of time manufacturing these biscuits for as many soldiers as possible, and so it became something of an institution.  In Australia the biscuit is a part of national identity.  Who knew?

I tell you, there are treasures of knowledge and tasty chompin’ goodness all over the place.  K and I just got the pump up.

Coming up is K’s birthday, and that means valuable cards and prizes for her. In true game show fashion, she opened a catalog, pointed at the object of her desire, and said, “this!” Whatever you say drill sergeant! “This” turned out to be a yogurt maker from a health food catalog specializing in juicers. The ordering experience was friendly, but odd. It’s in the catalog, but not available yet. You can have a confirmation number, but call back tomorrow to get it. I guess that’s to be expected from a catalog where wheatgrass juice is considered a tonic equivalent to a Potion of Healing. Might very well be, but let me be the judge of that!

Yogurt making sounds fun, so why not? Healthy, probiotic stuff! You heat up some milk, throw in some culture powder, fill the nifty containers, put on the lid, and turn on the machine. Well, okay, not quite. The instructions that came with the maker, and the ones on the label of the culture container were both wrong, and we got a bunch of milk that smelled like yogurt, but that’s it. After some research on the internet for formulas, and the use of coffee filters to filter out the whey, yes we now have yogurt. Fresh is good. Much better than store bought. But the hoops are a little more than was advertised.

My legendary pizza of doom recepie continues to gain daily in power. We ordered a pizza from Pizza King and it was way good. Me, ever the pizza master, always examine a pizza to see how it was manufactured, and wow! Secret kung fu trick discovery! They curl the pizza crust inwards to get the edge crust, so I give it a try on my next pizza training bout. Most cool. Sauce drip and overpuff of edge crust eliminated, plus new handy curl makes grasping easier for muncheroo destruction! Overall, a nicer, more appealing look of pizza, and I achieve 100% toppings containment with less handling time. The only drawback is the technique is slippery, and the edge crust cooks very hot, and becomes a little too crunchy. Clearly, there is an additional kung fu maneuver in there to be mastered, but baby steps, I tell myself, baby steps to world pizza domination.

The rum punch alchemy experiments are drawing to a close, to the satisfaction of pirates and barbarian raiders everywhere. My secret orc investors should see a nice return on their brain-bashing, party vertical initial public offering, thanks to my frankenstein efforts. I still have some finalizing to do, but the basic recipe goes like this:

A big glass punch bowl
2 Grapefruits
4 Valencia Oranges
8 ounces of Water
9 ounces of Appleton White Rum
14 ounces of Appleton Rum (The regular, amber colored stuff)
15 ounces Myer’s Dark Rum
30 ounces of fresh squeezed orange juice
64 ounces of Nature’s Promise Pomegranate Juice

I use a grater to grate the skin of the grapefruits and oranges into the bowl, then squeeze the juice in. I don’t go ape with the grating, you’re looking for the citrus tang, not necessarily volume. I leave the pomegranate juice for last, since you’re going to have to add until you get the taste you want. I usually end up having to add the whole thing anyway, and make any difference up with more orange juice. You want the tingle of the alcohol, without the bite or the flavor, so you won’t know you’ve gone too far until it’s too late.

For drinking containers, every fiesty plunderer ought to use the pirate mugs from Archee McPhee! These things are solid construction, have got character out the wazoo, and fit nicely in your hand for easy access.

The blackberry/cherry/orange rum punch was a success, but the work involved in straining the juice was a little too hard core to justify the result. I’ll tag that one for a furture development project down the line. You’ve got to be cutting edge when you’re a pirate, ahrrr!

Edit 02-04-2008:  It should be noted that the fresh squeezed orange juice is in addition to the Valencia Oranges.  You are squeezing the Valencia Oranges into the mixture for the fresh tang of citrus, but you will also be adding orange juice from a container.