He is Greater than any fear
He is closer than anyone else near
He delights in you and wants your best
He watches over you while you rest
He is strong yet sweet
He knows no defeat
He provides warmth and comfort from the cold
He provides a shield in battle for the bold
He is beyond your reach, yet within your soul
He’s the other half of you that makes you whole
He is what guides you in moments of unknown
He is always there, you’re never alone
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I recently was making homemade pizza with my family in Maine. No big deal, right? Well, my boyfriend Facetimed me as we were finishing our little creations, and started getting really serious, asking relentlessly about the crust, consistency of sauce, and even the type of toppings we chose.
He divulged that he worked at a pizza shop in high school for 3 years, where he honed his pizza making skills and more importantly, his love for concocting the perfect pizza. I could tell as his voice was quivering with joy and some drool began to form, that he was more than just a connoisseur. He was a full blown pizza extremist*, and today he’s sharing his secrets with us to craft the most delectable Italian-inspired dish topped with cheesy, tomatoey goodness. Read on…
Tip #1: If you’re not using self rising flour, you’re not in the game
Tip #2: The dough is the most important part, then the sauce.
Tip #3: The sauce has to have a strong consistency.
*”The best pizza in the world is Naples, Italy. I only had two days in Italy and I took a train all the way to Naples and walked through several back alleys to go to a pizza shop. I was first in line to get seated.” – Michael
Anyways, Mike’s invasive questions about our pizza party made me laugh, and I hope you were able to find some humor in it too. Although his tips aren’t too profound, I’m just going off of a few texts from him before his phone died. So as soon as his battery is back up, I’ll ask more strategic questions to get to the bottom of what it really takes to make a pizza truly special.
Here’s my brother’s recipe…I hope you enjoy. It was amazing!!
Garlic Butter Recipe:
Fresh Garlic, at least 2 entire Bulbs (3 for stronger flavor)
1 stick (8 T) softened salted butter (e.g. Kerrygold)
1T olive oil
(Seasoning amounts are estimated. I add them to taste, feel free to do the same.)
-1 1/2t Paprika
-1 1/2t Italian herb mix
-1/2t Oregano (optional)
-1/2t Parsley (optional)
-Pepper to taste
-1t Lemon juice (optional)
Prepare in small electric food processor / chopper.
Soften butter at room temperature before mixing for best results.
Peel garlic cloves then chop in food processor.
Add oil, seasonings, and half of the butter to processor and mix thoroughly.
Add remaining butter and keep mixing until you have a smooth, uniform spread.
Store in refrigerator or freezer.
Pizza Dough Recipe:
Yields 4 12″ pizza crusts (~250g each)
625g bread flour (e.g. King Arthur brand)
12g sugar and/or honey (e.g. 8g honey, 4g sugar)
31g olive oil
1 small pinch Active Dry Yeast (e.g. Fleischmanns brand)
At least 1 day before cooking, prepare in large covered bowl or pot with lid (e.g. stainless steel). Rising dough triples in size!
These instructions are for mixing by hand.
Start with a poolish, which is a wet fermentation of flour, water, and yeast. It adds flavor and texture to the dough.
Add 300g water, 300g flour, and yeast* to bowl.
*Very little yeast is required, and too much can result in over-rising dough.
Mix thoroughly with spoon, 1-2 minutes. Scrape remainder stuck to spoon back into bowl.
Cover bowl and let sit at room temperature at least 8 hours.
Add to bowl: remaining water (56g), 100g flour, and all other ingredients (salt, sugar, oil).
Mix with spoon until poolish loosens and mixes with everything else, about 1-2 minutes.
Add remainder of flour (225g) in batches of 75-100g at a time, mixing with spoon between batches.
When dough is too thick to mix with spoon, add all remaining flour and thoroughly mix by hand, about 15-20 minutes.
Keep stretching and folding the dough on top of itself (but do not tear) when mixing.
Dough may be sticky, but try to mix as much as possible, adding 1-3T extra flour only as necessary.
Form into ball, place in covered bowl, and let sit at room temperature overnight (or 1-3 days in fridge) before cooking.
Spread thin layer of flour (1-2T) on aluminum foil or countertop.
Tear dough into 4 250g dough balls (for 12″ pizza crusts) and place them on floured surface.
Cover dough balls with flour, and with dry hands, gently flatten and spread them into round crusts. Add more flour if dough becomes tacky.
Cook on lightly greased aluminum foil (12″ square sheets) in 460 degree oven, preferably on a preheated cast iron pan or pizza stone.
He whispers to me, “you’re not alone”
I’m here with you, in me you have a home
A dwelling that’s safe and always secure
A protection from weathering, that’ll always endure
You’ve always had the keys, just walk inside
Come back to me girl, my door is open wide
I’ve been waiting for you, I’ll never leave
I’m here for you, you can cry on my sleeve
There there my girl, your tears are safe with me
We’re together now, all that’s left is for you to just be
No need for words or explanation
I know you fully, I’ve always been your strong foundation
I gave you freedom to reach the edge
You’ve been walking so far out on the ledge
Is it worth it my child? What’s on the other side?
Do you like the world that awaits, or do you want to hide?
Your choice, it’s all yours you see
Do you want more and more, or do you just want me?
We were entangled by our thoughts and cares
Together, united – you showed up without question, constantly there
You swept up my mess of pain and tears
That manifested from the darkness of the past two years
You allowed me to cry and heal every day
By just being you, like an angel sent my way
How do I repay this beautiful soul, this treasure of a friend?
Lately I’ve been aloof, each day from start to end
I’ve been watching us ravel away, slowly, thread by the thread
I feel helpless, and honestly, absolute dread
How can this be? Me? The one unthreading our strands?
Carelessly unwinding the tiny pieces woven together, with my own hands
Watching the clock tick away, I wish somehow you’ll stay
I feel so faded, tangled, alone, astray
I pray, I pray, some day the grace you’ve offered me
Will be sent back to you, more vast than any sea
Truly a sister, my friend, I miss you
The Tapatio and lime to my Mexican stew
This poem is dedicated to my best friend. Pretty sure she knows who she is. I love you.