Artichoke Tapenade and Chicken Pizza (or, Not-Quite-Homemade Pizza)
I debated whether to even put this up here, because I didn’t actually make anything you see in that picture above (oh, except the chicken, which was leftover from a roast I made a week ago). I bought the pizza dough, and the tapenade, and the cheese, at Trader Joe’s, because I was feeling a little lazy. I decided to write about it, though, in the spirit of a review, and because it was such a good combination of ingredients that I had to share.
I am an unapologetic lover of Trader Joe’s. When I first discovered it, in my college years, I was immediately addicted. They have great prices on staples, like olive oil, and luxury stuffs, like champagne vinegar and truffle oil. When I didn’t have time to cook, their frozen dinners were much better than anything I could find at the local supermarket. They had all kinds of meats and cheeses that were otherwise hard to find, and I could get a big canister of delicious dark roasted coffee for $3.99! Despite the fact that coffee is now $5.99, and that I have to beg Mr. X to drive me or walk seven loooong city blocks during my work day to get there, I still love Trader Joe’s. I went yesterday because I needed coffee, and was completely tempted by the vision of an interesting pizza dinner that floated into my head when I caught sight of the Artichoke Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade.
I also thought I would test my previous pizza techniques with dough made by someone else. Store-bought pizza dough has had a long, slow fermentation, because it comes refrigerated and obviously wasn’t made an hour ago, so it would be a good test of Peter Reinhart’s slow fermentation theory. They only had the garlic and herb dough available, but I wasn’t about to complain because I love garlic and herbs. I picked up the aforementioned artichoke and red pepper tapenade and some small balls of fresh mozzarella, and I was in business.
There is no recipe involved here, but I will talk a bit about the technique. I was able to get my oven to 500F last night (miracle of miracles!) but the oiled baking sheet trick still didn’t really do anything, except prevent it from sticking (the dough was stickier than my homemade versions have been). The dough ended up getting way too thin in the middle, even though I thought we’d mastered the windowpane effect pretty darned well. Apparently, the windowpane effect creates pizza I don’t like to eat. Other than its thinness in the center, the crust was pretty awesome. Nice and crunchy on the outside edges, not too bread-y. It’s what I’ve been going for in all my own attempts, and this one was foiled only by my deficiencies in rolling out pizza dough.
The tapenade was just as awesome as I expected: salty and incredibly flavorful and only a little bit sweet. It might have to become a staple in my pantry, I loved it so much. The cheese was fresh and melted just the way I like it, not all rubbery. The chicken…well, I cut in into too-big pieces, but the slight lemony flavor from my roasting melded nicely with the tapenade. I thought of adding spinach, too, and I kind of wish I had, but maybe another time.
So yeah, I’m not really sure what the point of this post is, other than to be an unpaid ad for Trader Joe’s. Hm. If there isn’t a TJ’s around you could probably make your own artichoke and roasted red pepper tapenade, and you can definitely make your own garlic and herb pizza dough. In fact, once I figure out how to actually make pizza dough I like, I’m sure I will try a garlicky herby variation. And after my oven experimentation, I feel even more convinced that I need to break down and buy another pizza stone. Maybe then my pizzas will turn out crisp and unsoggy, the way I like them.