October 17, 2012

A Flat Slice of Heaven

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An incredibly wise soul once said, “Pizza is a lot like sex. When it’s good, it’s really good. When it’s bad … it’s still pretty good.” While I do not wholeheartedly agree that even bad sex can be good (sadly, there are those few unfortunate individuals who are actually capable of ruining the world’s most enjoyable activity), the implication that all pizza is tasty, regardless of quality, is most definitely true.

Breaking it down to its basic components, pizza consists of three essential ingredients: crust, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Assuming that the crust isn’t stale, the tomatoes aren’t rotten and cheese isn’t moldy, it is almost impossible for the combination of these three things to not taste at least acceptably palatable. This fundamental three-ingredient base allows for an unlimited amount of things that can be added, and therefore endless types of pizza that are produced. Thus, pizza is unique because it is not a food that somebody craves for only when he is in a certain mood; rather, his mood determines the type of pizza that he desires. For instance, when I’m watching the game (read: Say Yes to the Dress) with my friends while drinking Blue Moon, I absolutely prefer a shitty pizza from Domino’s, oozing with four parts cheese and one part grease, over some artisanal pancetta-topped whatever.

Going one step further, pizza is universal in that almost every place has taken the basic recipe and put its own distinctive spin on it. Regardless of the friendly competition between locations for whose style is the best (because we all know that New York already won that ages ago; sorry not sorry Chicago), pizza breaks down barriers between races, cultures and classes, enduring as a common constituent of our lives that we can all relate to.

One of the best pizzas that I have eaten in Ithaca, as well as in life, comes from the Ithaca Farmers Market. Made by Finger Lakes Flat Bread, this thin-crust pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven to achieve a soft, chewy texture that’s crispy in all the right places, accompanied by a delectable melding of flavors by the heat … I’m honestly getting turned on just thinking about it. This baller (and low-calorie!) pizza is absurdly simple to make at home, and you don’t want to end up like my housemate, E, who always manages to drop her pizza when travelling with it; I will never forget the time that she dropped her slice, cheese-side down, on Catherine Street, picked it up and kept eating it. Cheese. Side. Down. Thus avoid the journey as well as the potential loss of dignity by recreating the delicious Finger Lakes Flat Bread Pizza in your own kitchen.

Copycat Finger Lakes Flat Bread Tomato Basil & Mozzarella PizzaThis is a recipe is for the most basic flat bread pizza; use your own discretion when making this for yourself, depending on your personal preferences for toppings, as well as for cheesiness and sauciness. Enjoy!

Directions1. Make Tomato Basil Sauce, adapted from Tyler FlorenceIngredients:3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil2 minced garlic cloves1 (16-ounce) can crushed tomatoesSugar, salt, pepper (to season)4 chopped basil leavesDirections: Coat a saucepan with two tablespoons of the oil and warm over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir until soft. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of sugar, and then salt and pepper to season. Raise the heat to medium and simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the basil and remaining oil. Makes two cups.2. Make No Yeast Pizza DoughIngredients:2 ½ cups flour2 ¾ teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt3 tablespoon oil (vegetable or olive)1 cup waterDirections:Mix the dry ingredients, and then add the water and oil. Mix everything together until it forms a ball of dough that is soft but not sticky (add more water if the dough is stiff; add more flour if the dough is sticky). Cover a surface with a little flour, and knead the dough for about three minutes, spreading it out. Place the dough onto a baking sheet.

3. Bake the No Yeast Pizza Dough at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes. Remove from the oven and add on however much Tomato Basil Sauce and mozzarella cheese you prefer, in addition to any toppings. Cook for ten more minutes, and then your pizza is finished! Makes about four servings.

Original Author: Michelle Kim