Pizza Dough Transcended

bacon bread.jpg

I am a woman with simple needs, with one exception.....food!  Beyond that I don't care about jewelry, expensive clothing, perfume, or makeup.  What I like to spend money on are food and travel.

One thing I splurge on a regular basis is house cleaning service.  I realize I am not an efficient cleaner.  Most of all I hate cleaning but with the mess I make in the kitchen, I need somebody else to do the dirty job.

After the cleaning lady leaves, I stand in my kitchen and admire the nice smell, the orderly look and I vow to keep it looking like this as long as I can, which is usually about half a day! Especially today, I have been cooking a lot and with a lot of leftovers, so I told my husband that I don't have to cook for a few days.  We can have rice with curries, pita with lamb kofta, pad Thai, and pho. But something gets to me today...it's the pizza dough..

A few days ago, I cooked five Indian curries and invited a couple of friends over to join the feast. I made basmati rice to go with the curries but I also wanted to serve naan with the meal.  It's really not hard to make but with all the dishes and pans in the sink, I didn't want more mess, but I also didn't want to serve ready-made naan either!   I spent hours cooking those curries, they deserved something better.  I decided to make naan from Trader Joe's fresh pizza dough!

I always have been fascinated with the tandoori oven.  I wish I had one.  I also want a salamander as well.  The list just goes on an on.  But since I do have a commercial 30,000 BTU wok at home, I should be able to imitate a tandoori oven with that, a stove top tandoori! If you don't have a wok, you can use a cast iron pan in the same manner.  I heated up the wok with a lid on while I worked on the dough.  I grabbed about a golf size ball of the dough and flattened that into an evenly thin 7-8 inch round. A $1.19 bag of pizza dough should give you six naans.  Make sure that your naan are pressed evenly so you don't end up with some raw dough spots.  Not good eats! By this time my wok was very hot and started to smoke, and registered about 500 degrees on my hand-held thermometer.  I lowered the heat down, waited for a few seconds and plopped one of my dough disks on the ungreased wok and put the lid back on. This took only a few seconds, check your bread periodically.  You want a nice char, not burnt. Then flip it to the other side.  The thinner your dough the less time it takes to cook.  Once your naan is cooked, take it out the wok and slather it liberally with butter.  Use garlic butter if you want garlic naan.  Repeat the steps until you are done with all the dough.  My guests were super impressed to be served with freshly made buttery naan to mop up the spicy curries.  Now I know I can have fresh flat bread anytime with practically no mess in the kitchen.  The possibilities are endless.  I would serve this buttery hot flat bread with my cheese platter. Mind you, it doesn't have a crust but I would take this over store bought bread anytime.  It's chewy, buttery and warm, waiting for you to slap a piece of cheese on, together with some fruit chutney.  Heavenly.

With that success, I started thinking about how else I can transform this cheap pizza dough. I asked my husband to buy me a couple of bags of Trader Joe's pizza dough to do some experiments, not cooking. :)

I made some more naan/flat bread again and used it like a pita bread for my leftover lamb meatballs, topped with tomato and jalapeno chutney, raita, and pickled red onions.  Delicious!  My son will love this.  I have to make it for him when he comes home. 

Have you all heard about bacon wrapped bread sticks?  Could I use pizza dough instead of bread sticks?  I rolled a piece of ping-pong sized dough into a long thin rope the same length as your bacon slices.  But first, I flavored the bacon slices by brushing one side with a mixture of an equal amount of maple syrup and whole grain dijon mustard. Do not make your rope too thin; your wreaths will be too salty.  You want a good balance of bread and bacon. Then I started wrapping the bread rope with the bacon slices with the flavored side facing inward (otherwise your bacon will burn before it is cooked) and pinched the bread ends together to make a wreath. Wow! A holiday appetizer!  From one bag, you should be able to get at least 12 bread and bacon wreaths.  Let your wreaths rest for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the bread and bacon wreaths for about 25-30 minutes until they are golden brown.  Do not burn!  When I first made this, I precooked the bacon slices in the microwave oven for two minutes to make sure that the bacon would be cooked and to drain off some fat.  But I found it easier to wrap using raw bacon.  The bacon fat made the bread more yummy and with a cooking time of 30 minutes, the bacon was cooked just fine. These are delicious nibbling away with cocktails, wine, or bubbly.  It might be easier to form into bread sticks than wreaths.  You can use toothpicks to secure the bacon at both ends (remove before serving!).  Make sure not to roll your rope too thin.  You will end up with limp bread sticks , lacking enough strength to hold their shape.  A dipping sauce of honey mustard would be nice too.

Ready for baking!

Ready for baking!

Now it was time to fry up some dough.  Pinch of a ball of dough smaller than a ping pong ball, then flatten it into thin three inch rounds.  Heat a medium sauce pan with 1/2-1 inch of oil to 350 degrees (or you can put a small ball of dough into the oil, once the ball is golden brown, you know the oil is at the right temperature).  Fry the dough disks a couple at a time, otherwise you will lower the oil temperature and your bread will be oily.  The dough will puff up, cook for a few seconds until golden brown, then flip to cook the other side. Once your bread is cooked, drain it on a paper towel, use a stick of butter and rub it all over the bread on both sides. Immediately sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar, don't forget to put a pinch of salt in your cinnamon sugar.  Think churros here.  This fried bread will be good served with hot chocolate after dinner. My daughter, Marie, would be all over it.  Or you can use it as a base for your dessert.  What about topping it with an apple compote and some creme fraiche? The possibilities are endless.  You can also skip the sugar and use it for your savory dishes.  I am sure I can come up with more dishes, eventually.  I do eat all my creations to make sure that they are good enough to post.  And these are all I can do today.

After all this cooking and eating, two things came to mind:

One, Trader Joe's should pay me for this post and two, I really need to exercise today. :)