All Things Andrea

All Things Andrea

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pizza and Champagne!

I had a wonderful time last evening celebrating my 5-year cancer milestone with family and friends over pizza and champagne.  The weather was lovely, and it was a perfect way to celebrate health, honor dear ones who had walked with me, and to feature the in-season  food God so wondrously designed our bodies to be nourished by and enjoy.

One of the fruits of my cancer journey was discovering the "local/in-season/organic" approach to eating.  While I certainly wasn't happy about having to endure a cancer diagnosis and treatment, I will be eternally grateful for where I landed food-wise; it was very significant for me to celebrate that aspect of the journey last night as well.

Everyone pitched in and helped...

... young and old.

 Since garlic was one of the featured ingredients of the evening, it seemed only fitting to include the beautiful garlic scapes... part of the decor, in addition to incorporating it into the menu.

The Menu:
Crostini Appetizers:
Goat Cheese with Strawberry Jam
Champagne & Sparkling Cider
Strawberry Sorbet with  Fresh Whipped Cream  

Peter Reinhart's pizza crust recipe was the backbone of the evening, so here's the recipe:

Peter Reinhart's All-Purpose Pizza Dough
Source:  adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

5 c. unbleached bread flour (22.5 oz.)
1 T. sugar
 1-1/2 t. sea salt
1 t. instant yeast
2 T. olive oil
1 3/4 c. plus 1 T. water, room temperature
olive oil spray

In a large bowl using a large spoon, combine all ingredients.  Mix until ingredients are combined and all the flour is wet.  (Dough will be soft, and gluten won't be fully developed at this point.)

Turn dough out onto lightly-floured counter and knead until dough is smooth and supple, about 3 minutes.  If dough seems very stiff, incorporate more water, a teaspoon at a time, as you mix; if the dough is wet and sticky, sprinkle in more flour as you mix.  Dough should be tacky but not sticky.  Lightly grease a bowl with olive oil.  Form dough into smooth ball and place in a deep bowl, turning to coat the surface with oil.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap but do not let wrap touch dough.  Let dough stand at room temperature 30 minutes, then refrigerate overnight, or up to three days.  (The dough will continue to rise in bowl until it goes dormant from the cold.)

Two hours before you plan to make the pizzas, mist a baking sheet with olive oil.  Cut dough into 4 equal pieces, and form each piece into a smooth, round ball.  Place dough balls on prepared pan, mist lightly with olive oil, and cover lightly with plastic wrap.  While dough proofs and comes to room temperature, prepare toppings and preheat oven.  Stretch into 8-10" rounds and place on parchment paper.  (Be sure to click on this helpful link to learn Peter Reinhart's technique for shaping pizza dough.)

To bake pizzas:
About 45 minutes before baking, arrange an oven rack one-third of the way up from bottom of oven.  Place pizza stone on rack.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Prepare pizzas as directed in recipe.  (You will be baking the pizzas one at a time.)  Using pizza peel or flat cookie sheet, slide topped pizza along with the parchment paper onto the hot baking stone in oven and bake 5-7 minutes until toppings are bubbling, cheese is turning golden, and edges of the pizza are golden brown.  Rotate pizzas halfway through for even baking if necessary.  Remove pizza from oven with peel and allow to stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Yields: 4 crusts

"The quality of the pizza is determined by the crust.  A pizza with a great crust can have anything on it and still be memorable."

Cancer Treatment Centers of America logo, as drawn by my nephew Ricky.  :)
(Thanks, Juanita, for snapping most of the pictures!)


  1. awesome, amazing!! congrats to one of the most wonderful women i have ever had the privlage of knowing. our world is blessed by you.

  2. Such a wonderful evening. Great friends, tasty food, and presented in your superb fashion. Truly an event to be celebrated, and Andrea you do it with such amazing class!

  3. What great pictures Juanita - you captured so much of the evening through the camera. Andrea, it was a pleasure and joy to be part of your evening - thank you my kindred spirit friend!!!

  4. I am grateful to have celebrated life with you! What a delight to enjoy wonderful, wonderful food & fellowship!! I appreciate the purpose & creativity you gift your guests with each time you host! :)