Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Cooking Class

I know, I'm late. I was supposed to update with a new post on Sunday, but in all honesty I got distracted. And now I cannot remember by what.

There is good news, however! Instead of making up for my tardiness with a hastily scraped-together post on Monday, I decided to wait until after my Tuesday evening cooking class. It's a legitimate class, so I figured it would be good, right? Correct. Be glad I somehow got so wrapped up in something or other on Sunday that you now get to find out about grilling pizza.

Roll your dough as flat as you possibly can. That's a bit of cornmeal you see on the dough, to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin and the grill.

Yes, I know, two out of my first seven blog posts will now be about pizza. But grilled pizza is good. Very good. So good, in fact, that I am happily imagining so many deviations from my usual plain-cheese pizza preference. Taco pizza? Sounds terrific. Chili pizza? Yum. Chicken alfredo pizza? Sign me up.

Cook the bottom of the pizza before flipping and adding sauce and toppings.

But I'll get to the actual pizza part in a moment. A main point of this post, you see, is the cooking class itself. Now, my interest in taking cooking classes this summer stems both from my interests in everything culinary and the fact that I am getting practically no hours at my part-time summer job. On a larger scale, though, it seems I'm not even close to being the only person interested in learning about cooking in a hands-on social setting. Case in point: I couldn't sign up for the July Wilton cake decorating classes at my local Jo-Ann because it's completely booked. Also, my local newspaper includes a weekly rundown of places all over the Chicago-land area that offer cooking classes. The supermarket where my grandmother shops offers twice-weekly stand-alone classes. People want to attend these classes. People want to learn how to cook new and interesting things. Doesn't that make you feel good about the world?

I hope, for part of my research, to get more information on the number and types of cooking classes being offered in the country, as well as information about the people who attend them. But that will be later. Now comes the pizza.

What do you like on your pizza?

Like any pizza, grilled pizza is comprised of three parts. And like any really good pizza, you get to pick all the details of those three parts. So I'm just providing loose guidelines and suggestions as far as ingredients go.

Pizza crust:
Use your favorite! Stick with a white pizza crust, try a wheat one, or you can Google something new and exciting, like a cornmeal- or polenta-based crust. The class instructor suggested seasoning your crust; most pizzerias don't, so this is your opportunity to really improve.

This is a picture of the pizzas before they go on the grill after topping them...

Use your favorite! Stick with a tomato-based pizza sauce, use olive oil (as in an Italian "pizza bianca," or white pizza), or try a pasta sauce. We had a great alfredo sauce. Try salsa. Chili. Pesto. Barbeque sauce. If it's even remotely sauce-y, try it!

Use your favorite! My only suggestion is to make your toppings match your sauce. Tonight I tried tomato, onions, and mixed cheeses over olive oil, and my mom tried chicken, spinach, and Parmesan over alfredo sauce. Both were terrifically yummy.

...and this is a picture of the finished product, melt-y and delicious. Have I mentioned I love pizza?

Cooking instructions:
Make sure all of your toppings are cooked through; this means that meats should be fully cooked and veggies should be cooked to your liking. Heat the grill to high heat. Roll your pizza dough into the size and shape you prefer, and roll it as thin as possible (it will puff up a bit as it grills). Place the dough on the grill using a turner or your hand. Cook, covered, for about two minutes or until the bottom side is done.
Take the dough off the grill with a turner. Flip it over so the cooked side is facing up. Cover the pizza with the sauce and toppings of your choice. Reduce the heat of the grill to about medium and place the pizza back over the heat. Cook, covered, until the cheese is melted (or, if you didn't add cheese, until the toppings are hot). Carefully remove pizza from the grill using a turner and let cool for a few minutes. Slice and serve!

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