Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Deep Dish German Pizza {Recipe}

I'm sure I've mentioned before that Darling is an amazing cook, and has taught me so much in the kitchen. (I didn't know what a roux was until him!) I've always loved food, but eating with him has given me an even greater passion for both eating and making delicious food. We've gotten to the point where most restaurant meals don't even appeal to us because they taste too processed or because we think of a dozen ways we would change it to make it better. (There are a few places that have yet to disappoint us, so we still blow more money than we should on restaurant purchases. haha) We've even started doing that with a lot of the recipes we try at home, and so our version sometimes ends up just barely resembling the original. I have to give him most of the credit for this, because they're usually either his ideas, or my ideas that came from him teaching me so much about culinary arts.

I've been making homemade pizza a lot more often since finding this tasty deep-dish pizza crust recipe, and we've enjoyed trying different toppings along with it. But then Darling discovered this Kraut Bierocks recipe, and we knew it would make an excellent pizza flavor! And so the following recipe was born...

Deep Dish German Pizza

Crust:

1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (half a packet, or you can use the whole thing if you don't want to store leftovers)
3/4 c. warm water
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 - 1/2 c. olive oil
butter for greasing

Toppings:

1 lb. ground sweet or mild Italian sausage
1 small onion, diced
1 to 2 c. shredded (or chopped) cabbage
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
pepper to taste
8 oz. creamy Gruyere cheese, shredded
8 oz. mozzarella, shredded


Turn on your oven to its lowest temperature (mine is 170 degrees) for about 2 or 3 minutes, then turn it off before it has the chance to get that hot. We want it warm, but not too hot to touch.
If you have a stand mixer, add the yeast and about 1/4 cup of the warm water to the bowl and let it sit for a minute or two until the yeast dissolves. Then add the sugar and 1/4 cup of the flour, and give it a good stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and pop it into the warm (but not hot!) oven for about 20 minutes. It should be a bit bubbly and starting to rise.

Remove the bowl from the oven and add the remaining ingredients. Let your mixer do the work and turn it on low with the dough hook for about 3 or 4 minutes. The dough will be sticky and wet, but elastic. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap again, and pop it back into the warm oven for another 2 to 3 hours.

If you're a slow knife-user like me, start getting your cabbage and onion ready just before your dough is finished rising. If you are shredding your own cheese, go ahead and do that too. Use about 1 tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil to generously grease a cast iron skillet (the one I use is 12 inches). Then dust it with yellow cornmeal. Set it aside for now.

Begin browning the Italian sausage in a different skillet with the onion, take the bowl of risen dough out of the oven, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle some cornmeal on to the dough and knead it for a few minutes, adding more cornmeal if needed. Then spread the dough into the prepared cast iron skillet and let it rest for 20 - 30 minutes while you finish the toppings.

Once the sausage is browned, drain the grease and add the cabbage, mustard, and pepper. Cook it, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until the cabbage gets a little bit tender. Then add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the shredded Gruyere cheese, and stir it around until the cheese has melted. Once the dough has finished resting and the toppings are done, spoon the sausage mixture onto the dough, leaving about 1 inch around the edges for a nice crust. (We had some leftover toppings, which we attacked with a fork while the pizza was baking. Feel free to add as much or as little as you like your pizza to have.) Sprinkle toppings with any remaining Gruyere cheese, and then top with shredded mozzarella. (The Gruyere cheese browns quickly and easily, so the mozzarella keeps it from getting burnt.) Bake it for 30-40 minutes, and enjoy!

Note: With this crust, it's also really good to put the cheese directly onto the crust, and remaining toppings on top. I haven't tried it that way with this version, so I'm not sure if the exposed cabbage and Gruyere would do ok or not for the duration of the baking time. Let me know how it turns out if you try it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Celebrating Osias

I love spring! I love how it is filled with new life, as the world awakens from its wintery slumber and once again revives under the warm sun. Last year at this time, my tummy was bulging with a new life of its own -- our sweet baby Osias. I was just weeks away from delivering him into the capable hands of doctors, and months away from delivering him into the even more capable hands of the Greatest Physician.

This spring has been an emotional one so far, as it has been filled with various challenges and reminders of experiences both painful and sweet. We've already faced a few first birthdays of other heart babies in our lives -- some who are still here to take their first tastes of cake, and others who spend their big day in Heaven. I can't even describe how that feels, because there is such chaos bubbling around inside my heart.

My first instinct is to dread April 25th, as we will be spending the significant milestone without the one it's all about. I'm sure the coming weeks will hold plenty of tears, but I really want my focus to be on the joy he gave us. Darling and I have decided we want his birthday to be a celebration, and an opportunity to bring joy to others like Osias gave to us. Our big focus this month is to do what we can to help others and to make the world a better, happier place. Part of that will include eating cupcakes, because who doesn't get happy when eating cupcakes?!

If you'd like to join us in bringing on the happy this month, please check out The Osias Project on Facebook and let us know your plans! :)

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Mighty Oak

A passage I've been holding close to my heart lately is the first three verses of Isaiah 61:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord's favor has come, and with it, the day of God's anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

I tend to be a bit too optimistic sometimes, especially in my Bible reading. I look at promises like the one above and often see only the good parts. It's a very "What's in it for me?" attitude that I'm not proud of.

I was pretty excited about being like a "great oak" (vs.3), imagining its sturdy trunk, roots planted firmly and deeply into the ground. A pillar of strength free from any hurts of this world. That sounds perfect! my wounded self thought, clinging ever tighter to those verses. And then another wound came. And another. And another.

I grew up in Florida, where I was surrounded by glorious oak trees -- excellent for climbing in, building forts under, swinging from, and finding shade. However, Florida is also known for some pretty brutal hurricane seasons, where the winds blow strong enough to knock the branches off of -- or even uproot -- some of these gigantic trees.

the Lord has planted for his own glory

His. Own. Glory. My glory wasn't even mentioned there, so it was a bit presumptuous of me to think my oak tree likeness would be for my own benefit and to spare me from all further pain. Perhaps God is using all these storms blowing through my broken branches, maybe even severing me to my core, for His own glory.

I can't even begin to understand the why or how of such plans, but I'm slowly learning to stop asking. My questions are beginning to bend a different direction -- toward Him -- as the storms rage on and yet another branch is peeled away. God, what can You do with this? What good can You make from this situation? How can this be used for Your glory? Help me find the faith to see the beauty instead of these ashes.