last call for tomato dishes

cold-ferment pizza dough is here

It’s the end of tomato season! Can you believe it? I feel like it just started last month. I went to the farmer’s market yesterday to check out their tomato selection (slim pickings, honestly) and found this bad boy -- a tomato that has three butts. Wild, right?

As soon as I got home, I thinly sliced it, then drizzled some EVOO and sprinkled a little Maldon salt on top. It was fantastic. Maybe that surprise warmth last week really helped fruits & veggies, or perhaps three butts just make a tomato taste better, but either way this tomato was bursting with flavor. It was definitely out of character for end-of-season tomatoes.

Hopefully y’all have been making the most of tomato season. Most of my favorite foods involve tomato in some way (salsa, paneer makhani, cherry tomato confit) so tomato season is my prime. In the event you haven’t made the most of tomato season, no worries. It’s been hectic these past few months. You’ve got about a week (at least in the Northeast) before the season is done for the year, so grab some tomatoes and make a slow-roasted sauce to go with the dough recipe in this email.

This week’s recipe is an overnight cold-ferment dough, which means if you make it tonight, you’ll be able to make yourself a pizza sometime these next few days with minimal effort. All it needs is 10-15 minutes on your part today, and then another 30-45 sometime in the week to actually shape the dough and make the pizza.

Speaking of effort, these past few weeks have required extra energy and care. Whether you chose to follow election coverage constantly, or stayed off the internet for a few days/weeks, consider this an invitation to slow down and take care of yourself before the holidays, to meal prep tonight and make your week a little easier. Light a candle, some incense, something stronger if that speaks to you. Stick a nice bottle of wine in the fridge! What are you saving it for anyway, if not month nine of a pandemic?

WATCH

  • The Duchess (2020) on Netflix. Not to be confused with Kiera Knightley’s 2008 film of the same name, this television show is a cross between Emily in Paris and Gilmore Girls -- hilarious, horny, and highbrow. Plus most of the cast have British accents.

  • Jeopardy! - Play with a buddy and pretend you’re on the show! Alex Trebek hosted 37 straight seasons of Jeopardy (1984 - 2020) and I can’t imagine what the show will look like without him :( This tweet is also good.

  • The trailer for Bridgerton. I’m getting major Gossip Girl but period piece vibes and I’m so excited.

READ

  • The Falling In Love Montage by Ciara Smyth is the perfect blend of romance and queer YA. The novel breaks free of traditional queer YA tropes (unlike a certain Hulu queer Christmas rom-com that of course is about closeted relationships for some reason).

  • The New Wilderness by Diane Cook - there’s a reason this novel is shortlisted for a Booker Award. Read if you’re looking for more gloom (lol) and a general sense of malaise about our environment.

EXPLORE

  • Emily In Parasite. Would explain further, but you should click on the Instagram link and see for yourself.

SKIP

  • Dash and Lily. I might be in the minority here, but this show is pretty bad. I watched four episodes and that’s two hours of my time I’ll never be able to get back.

THIS WEEK: PIZZA DOUGH

The recipe below is my go-to pizza dough recipe, created by Peter Reinhart, who spent two years tracking down the perfect pizza. Like all good things, the dough requires a wait (a minimum of sixteen hours, to be precise) but consistently results in a perfect crust.

Rather than rising at room temperature, Reinhart’s dough ferments in the fridge. One of the biggest benefits of a cold ferment is that it allows for the yeast to slow down — that is, the carbon dioxide is released much slower, which in turn allows for more complex flavors to develop in the dough. Plus, it’s an easy way to meal prep for the week. Homemade pizza on a weeknight? It’s more likely than you think.

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups flour, chilled
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water, cold

Remember: the goal here is to keep the dough as cold as possible, so the colder your ingredients, the better.

Pre-Work

1. Stir together dry ingredients (flour, salt, yeast), then drizzle in the olive oil. Mix a little to distribute the olive oil throughout, then slowly add in water and continue to mix until fully combined.
2. Knead for at least 7-8 minutes, or until dough is smooth. It’ll still be sticky — the sweet spot is when it doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl, but requires a little bit of work to unstick it from the bottom. If it’s too wet or too dry, adjust by adding a tablespoon of flour or water as needed.
3. Split dough into equal pieces - the larger the pieces, the larger the pizzas. I’d recommend cutting it into somewhere between 4-8 equal-sized pieces. Roll the dough pieces into balls, then coat with olive oil so they don’t dry out during their extended stay in the fridge!
4. Put the dough balls in a container or plastic bag, then allow to hang out in the fridge at least overnight but ideally for 2-3 days.

Pizza Day

1. Congrats! You’re ready to make pizza. If you’re here, it means at least one day has passed since your dough went in the fridge. It’s probably pretty cold by now, so remove it from the fridge two hours before you plan to bake it.
2. Dust a flat surface with some flour, then remove the dough balls and flatten into disks that are at least palm-sized. Cover with plastic wrap or a wet kitchen towel so they don’t dry out. Dry dough is the enemy! Leave them for two hours.
3. Shape the pizza - you can use your hands, a rolling pin, something else if there’s a fancy device for shaping pizzas I don’t know about - into a large, flat circle. Other shapes are okay too.
4. Pre-bake your pizza (this is important!) for 4-5 minutes at 450-500 degrees F, then remove and top with sauce, cheese, etc. I tend to go for tomato sauce and hand-torn mozzarella, but go wild here if you want.
5. Stick your pizza back in the oven until the cheese is melted and the crust is starting to get a little dark. If you stick a spatula under the pizza, the bottom of the pizza should be brown.
6. Remove from the oven and drizzle some EVOO on top. Add some basil and Maldon!

Here’s to plenty of pizza (and good wine) in your future.

A