slice o' spanakopita.

There have been a lot of changes around here, lately.

First, there’s the fact that winter immediately skipped over spring and handed the baton over to summer (Hello, 90-degree heat wave! My perspiring armpits salute you.) Then, there’s the fact that I recently turned 24 and don’t feel a day over 40. There’s also the fact that Elliott just finished his last test of the first half of grad school, wiping off a good deal of blood (literally), sweat and tears (or, in his more masculine case, a good deal of frustrated teeth-clenching) away from a well-worn year.

There’s also the fact that I’ve decided, on this here Girl Versus Dough blog, to change things up a bit. You see, since its inception, GVD has been a haven for bread recipes attempted (read: Attacked) by me, so that I might do the grunt work for you and present you with the final result: Much more manageable (and less stressful) bread recipes. But though you might guess all we eat around here is bread, all day, every day, that’s not the case. My freezer, busting at the seams with half-eaten, foil-wrapped loaves from oh, two months? Eight months? ago can attest to that. No, indeed, we do eat more than bread.

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bacon, spinach & onion galette.

As of last Friday, we’ve been living in Iowa City for a year.

I still can’t believe it.

I thought about making cupcakes to celebrate the occasion, but alas, I made them instead for a co-worker’s birthday and was too cupcaked out to repeat the process for myself. I thought about making a cake, but then I realized I just made cupcakes, which are too similar and therefore, I was caked out, as well.

So instead, I decided to celebrate with a galette. Naturally.

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white wine & honey pizza dough.


In case you hadn’t noticed, I changed my blog layout. I hope you like it. It feels way more like home to me.

Because I love pizza so dang much, I thought I’d make pizza dough (a new, equally tasty version of my standby) for my inaugural post for my new layout. There are still a few tweaks and twinges to work on around here, so pardon me while we transition. In the meantime, however, make this pizza dough for dinner tonight. That’s not a request.

OK, that was rude. Pretty please make this dough for dinner tonight.
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pizza roll, half-eaten.

Ever heard of Pizza Rolls? I’m sure you have. They’re those frozen pockets of dough filled with cheese and pizza sauce as well as what I’m sure is a whole host of bad things for you.

Of course, the husband loves them.

slicing.

view from the top.

It’s become a habit of ours lately to buy nasty frozen treats like these for the weekends or for weekday dinners when neither of us has the energy to even lift a finger. Though I don’t generally partake in the heaping mound of Pizza Rolls the husband warms up for himself for lunch or game days, I have been found guilty of eating a frozen burrito or lasagna from a box. It’s shameful.

pizza sauce and cheese, yo.

they look like ravioli.

This weekend, I decided to make some changes. So, after eating buttery theater popcorn (while watching the new Harry Potter movie, of course) on Friday and helping ourselves to a generous serving of Mexican food on Saturday, I thought it best to at least make the inevitable Pizza Roll lunch on Sunday a healthy meal.

homemade pizza rolls.

I wouldn’t necessarily call these an exact replica of those infamous Pizza Rolls — they’re more like doughy pillows with a hint of cheese and pizza sauce. Still delicious, but not quite the same. If you’re going for a healthy lunch — er, snack — these will do the trick, but if you’re really craving actual Pizza Rolls, these won’t hit the spot. But they do make a tasty lunch — er, snack — and saved us from being a few hundred calories shy in our weekend of what Michael Phelps devours in a day. It’s all relative.

Debrief: As mentioned above, if you’re looking for legitimate Pizza Rolls, these aren’t quite the same. But they taste like mini pizzas wrapped in dough. Kind of like a calzone. A mini calzone pillow. Yeah.

Homemade Pizza Rolls
A Girl Versus Dough original (gasp!)

Yields: About 28 pizza rolls

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/3 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in water, yeast and sugar. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Then, add olive oil and mix ingredients together until a dough forms. Pour dough onto counter and knead about 8-10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place risen dough on countertop and, using a rolling pin, roll into a very, very thin square (about as thin as the walls of a ravioli). Using a pizza cutter, cut square into strips lengthwise and then cut crosswise so you have about 56 individual 1 1/2-inch squares (or as many as you end up making).
Put about 1/2 tsp pizza sauce on half the squares, and top with the same amount of cheese. Take the plain squares and place them on top of the squares with sauce and cheese and pinch the seams closed. Press fork tines around the edges of the squares to close the seams completely. Place each pocket on a baking stone or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly brown on the edges (I had to take mine out before they were very brown at all because the cheese and sauce was exploding out of the sides — oops). Serve immediately.

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bread bowls.

I am noticing that I talk about the weather a lot — most people do, I guess. It’s the quintessential ice breaker. I admit I’m one of those people who, when uninspired with anything to say, fills the dead air with talk of the weather. I can’t help it, though. It’s not just that it’s a wonderful conversation filler with a stranger during one of those awkward moments — though that’s nice. It’s that I feel my life revolves around the weather, so it’s often at the forefront of my mind.

semolina.tough, tough dough.
risen dough.mist.
Today, and yesterday (aka all freaking weekend long) it’s been crappy outside. When it’s not pouring rain, it’s misting. When it’s not cloudy, it’s extra cloudy (or nighttime). I feel like we’re living next to Niagara Falls (minus the beautiful view and the roaring sound of the water). And because of this not-so-gorgeous weather, I haven’t been able to ride my bike, like I wanted to. I haven’t been able to stroll through farmers markets and art/craft festivals, or go to the park like I wanted to. I haven’t been able to go to the apple orchard, like I wanted to. It’s made for a pretty cranky me.

propping the oven door.

bread bowls, pre-soup.

But I guess there’s always an upside to rainy days (I’m trying to be optimistic here, so bear with me). Rainy days make it easier for me to stay inside doing laundry or cleaning all day, because I don’t feel that longing to be outside. Rainy days are also perfect for sipping warm tea and catching up on episodes of “Mad Men” (my new obsession) and “Modern Family” (our new obsession). I’ve also had time to paint my nails. It’s also the perfect kind of day for soup, which is why we made this delightful carrot and cilantro soup. And what’s better for a thick, warm soup than a bread bowl, which I also had time to make? Nothing, I tell you. Nothing is better.

view from the top.

Don’t expect much with these bread bowls, at least in the size department. They’re not your gigantic Panera bread bowls. They’re the perfect size for a cup of soup (and I can attest they hold up nicely for refills). But what they lack in size they make up for in taste. The addition of semolina makes the dough soft and flavorful, and if you’re patient enough with the process of hardening the crust, these bowls will reward you with their deliciously crunchy exteriors. You can use the insides for bread crumbs or croutons, or just use them as extra dipping devices (as the husband did… I don’t think he ever used a spoon).

carrot & cilantro soup.

Either way, they make rainy days like yesterday and today a little brighter.

Debrief:
The only difficulty I had in making these bowls was kneading the extremely tough dough (I added a little water to it to make it workable) and shaping each piece into a round ball. In shaping the bowls, I used my hands to pull the sides of the dough down and tuck them under, pinching the ends at the bottom together so the top was tight and round. The underside will eventually flatten and come together through the baking process.

Bread Bowls

Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

Yields 5 bowls

Ingredients:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (or 2 3/4 tsp active dry yeast, as I used)
1 tbsp non-diastatic malt or 2 tsp sugar (as I used)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups warm water

Directions:

Combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix them together with a dough hook. Once the dough has just come together, pour the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes, or until soft and smooth (the dough will be kind of a pain to mix, and if it’s just too dry, add 1 tsp water to the dough at a time until it’s more manageable). Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Divide the risen dough into five pieces and form each piece into a round (not flattened) ball. Place each ball on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cover lightly with greased plastic wrap or a tea towel (something that’s not heavy). Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Uncover the balls and let them sit for 10-15 minutes to develop a tough skin. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Before placing the balls in the oven, mist them heavily with water. Bake the bread bowls for 18-22 minutes or until they’re a deep, golden brown. Turn off the oven and prop open the door a bit, leaving the bread bowls inside for 15 minutes to develop a thick, tough crust. Remove the bread bowls from the oven and let cool completely on a cooling rack before cutting. Cut off the tops and remove the insides, leaving about a 1/4-inch thickness all around the inside. Fill the bowls with your favorite hearty soup or chili. Enjoy the rain.

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buttermilk parsley biscuit pie crust.

Nothing like making a confusing title, huh? Sorry about that. I just didn’t want to leave anyone out.

slicing tomatoes.

buttermilk parsley biscuit crust.

This here post is a little different. You see, I was making a tomato pie from this Web site the other day, and thought, “Hey! I like the sound of this pie crust recipe!” As it turns out, the pie crust isn’t naturally a pie crust at all, but Buttermilk Parsley Biscuits masquerading as pie crust.

tomatoes in the pie.

tomato pie, pre-bake.

So really, it’s a bread that served as a pie crust that served as the bottom of our delicious dinner. If that makes sense.

tomato pie.

I have to say, the crust was probably the best part of this whole party of food. (Of course, mayo and cheddar cheese baked to a browned, gooey finish isn’t so bad either. And neither are the homegrown heirloom tomatoes hiding underneath. But even then, the crust steals the show.) It’s thick and fluffy, unlike normal pie crusts that are often thin and crunchy and rather boring. The savoriness of the parsley/oregano/basil mixture combined with flakes of sweet butter made the dough taste even more wonderful. And with juicy, ripe tomatoes from my mother’s now-rampant garden, it was a meal to die for.

slice o' tomato pie.

So long as there’s tomato pie in heaven.

Debrief: As far as the pie crust/parsley biscuit dough goes, I don’t have much to say. It did its job well. As far as the tomato pie itself, I wasn’t a huge fan of the mayo (and in fact only used 1/2 cup of the 1 1/2 cups it originally calls for). I might use something less overpowering and fattening, like yogurt or low-fat sour cream, in place of the mayo next time I make this bad boy. We also only needed four large tomatoes for the whole pie, not five or even six as the recipe indicates.

Tomato Pie Crust/Buttermilk Parsley Biscuits

Courtesy of Ruth Reichl

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
A “flurry” of chopped parsley (or Italian seasoning, as I used)
3/4 cups buttermilk

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in the bottom of a stand mixer bowl fixed with the paddle attachment. Add in cold butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas. Add the parsley and buttermilk and mix until dough pulls completely from the sides. Pour dough onto counter and knead for a couple minutes, then press into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan.

James Beard’s Tomato Pie

Courtesy of Ruth Reichl

4 to 6 thickly-sliced ripe tomatoes
Sprinkling of salt
Sprinkling of pepper
Sprinkling of shredded basil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise (or 1 1/2 cups, as original recipe suggests)

Cover the biscuit dough with tomatoes, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil. Mix cheddar and mayo together and spread the mixture on top of the tomatoes. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Stuff into face.

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