Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sausage and Bell Pepper Pizza

Pizza recipes are a little tricky, because everyone has different preferences when it comes to pizza -- how thick the crust should be, how much sauce, how much cheese, what kinds of toppings, etc. But if you want a good food storage pizza recipe to try out and then tweak according to your preference, try this one I made a few days ago.

I was bringing pizza to a party I was doing, and wanted to have enough for my family as well. So I doubled the crust recipe and did a long rectangle pizza and a round pizza, which is why you'll see both shapes in the photos. What you won't see in the photos is the crust in the making - I forgot to take some, sorry! Hopefully it will be easy enough to explain.

I'll review and explain the dough, the sauce, the cheese, and the toppings, all separately, so we'll start with the dough. This crust recipe is one I have used before from my Aunt Bev. I substituted the regular milk, eggs and shortening with their THRIVE components and didn't notice a difference at all. Here's the recipe I used for a single batch:

Pizza Dough
1 tbsp yeast + 1/2 c warm (but not too hot) water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp THRIVE shortening powder + 1/2 Tbsp water 
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 Tbsp THRIVE powdered milk (non-Instant) + 3/4 c water
1 Tbsp THRIVE whole egg powder + 2 Tbsp water
2 ½ - 3 c flour
THRIVE Corn meal

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in ½ c warm water. Add sugar.
2.In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup + 1/2 Tbsp water with shortening powder, salt, and milk powder. Scald.
3.Cool and add yeast mixture.
4.Beat in 1 Tbsp egg powder and 2 Tbsp water.
5.Add flour. Mix well and knead.
6.Let rise for 15 min. great 18 x 12” pan and sprinkle with cornmeal. Stretch dough to cover pan.
7. Bake at 400-425 for 10 min.
8. Add sauce and toppings. Bake another 10 min or until done.

1. In the original recipe, you can use shortening or butter, so if you don't have shortening powder on hand, try making it with butter powder instead.
2. Since the shortening is in powder form and doesn't need to melt, I'm thinking it might be possible to skip the whole scalding and cooling phase, and just combine the shortening, milk, and egg powders, with their appropriate water amounts, straight into the yeast mixture. I will try omitting this step next time I make it and let you know how it turns out.
3. This makes for a pretty thick crust. If you like a thinner crust, really hone your dough stretching skills, and you can get a small personal pizza on the side in addition to your 8"x12".

Okay, now on to the sauce and toppings. I used THRIVE Tomato powder, Bell Peppers, TVP Sausage and Freeze Dried Mozzarella Cheese. (See below)

For the sauce, I used 1/4 c Tomato powder, and 3/4 cup water. Then I added 1/4 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp pizza seasoning, and an additional dash of garlic salt. But you can season yours according to your preference. And if you like a thicker or runnier sauce, simply adjust the amount of water you add. That's the beauty. I did a double batch of this sauce and it was more than enough for my double batch of dough.

Then it was time to reconstitute the toppings. Reconstitution is a fine art. It's not too hard, but it does take a little practice to get the hang of it. That's why I like THRIVE foods to much. They taste so good, I don't mind incorporating them into my every day diet, which means I get practice on how to use them in my every day recipes. I'd hate for an emergency to come up and not know how to use the food I had stored up.

My Ham Fried Rice experience taught me about the loss of TVP flavor in excess water. So this time I did 1/2 cup of Sausage TVP in small bowl, and added 1/4 c hot water on top. I put the lid on and let it sit for about 5 minutes. I noticed it needed a little more water, so I added another 2 Tbsp. That was just the right amount. There was no excess water to drain off, so the full flavor was left in my sausage pieces. 

The bell peppers were a ration of 1 part pepper, 2 parts hot water. Cover and let them soak (preferably with a lid on) for a few minutes until tender.  Drain the excess water. (there was a bit of excess water to drain,  but I didn't think it drained away the flavor of the peppers at all).

Here's a close up picture of the TVP and peppers once reconstituted.

Then it came time for the cheese. However much cheese you want, place it in a bowl with a lid, and add enough cold water to cover it. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Once rehydrated, drain off the excess water. Now that's the tricky part. Getting all the excess water out. I had heard a tip that once the bulk was drained, you should use a paper towel or cheese cloth, put you newly hydrated cheese in there and give it a light squeeze to get out some of the extra water. So I tried that. Only problem is that by squeezing it, I had mushed the cheese into a ball. And when i tried to separate them into individual shreds again, it didn't work.  So as you can see in the picture below, my cheese didn't look very pretty.
 I had to put it on the pizza in little clumps, rather than evenly dispersed shreds. This is what it looked like before I added the toppings:
It might have looked funny before, but guess what? You couldn't tell a difference once it was baked! The cheese melted together beautifully and spread out evenly over the pizza. I had some leftover mozzarella in the fridge we needed to use up, so I did the below pizza half regular shredded and half reconstituted clumps. And when it came out of the over, it looked uniform. You couldn't tell a difference.
Not only could we not see a difference, but we couldn't taste a difference either. We tried a slice of the regular cheese and a slice of the THRIVE cheese, and they tasted the same. So if your first attempt at reconstituting the cheese turns out to be not so perfect in appearance, don't fret. It will still melt and taste just like real cheese (because it IS real cheese).

Now, on that note, let me just say that I have seen and tasted perfectly reconstituted THRIVE cheese before, moist, but not clumpy, individual shreds separated, the kind you could sprinkle on top of a salad or taco. After this attempt at reconstituting the cheese myself, I've spoken with other consultants to get their tips, and next time I'm sure it will be better. I'll do a future blog specifically on how to reconstitute cheese once I fine tune my methods.

But to summarize the whole pizza -- Dustin (my hubby) gave it a 7 or 8 as an every day meal, and an 8 as emergency food, mainly because there was too much crust for his liking.  I don't know how long this recipe took me to make. I had family over and kept starting and stopping between stages to deal with other things.  Some things to improve on for next time, but all in all a great little comfort food made possible by THRIVE.

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